Young people demonstrating for human rights

Published 20 September 2019 in:

As part of the Raoul Wallenberg Academy’s school programme ‘The cube – Everyone can make a difference’, students at 38 schools in Sweden, Madrid, Budapest, Paris, Belgrade and New York work on the 30 articles in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Each school is allocated a human right and, with the aid of a large black steel cube, they are to interpret that particular right during a whole school year.

The students decorate the cube with their art works and messages, and at the end of the year all of the cubes are exhibited in Stockholm – to other school students and the general public.

Knowing about the fundamental human rights as stated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is vital for understanding the basis for world democracy. That is why the Swedish Institute has modelled an international version of this Swedish school project. Thanks to the support from the Swedish Institute, Swedish Embassies can partner with local schools worldwide, with the aim of increasing young students’ knowledge on human rights.

Examples of activities that the 38 participating schools have carried out during the academic year 2018/19 are UN role plays, hosting human rights activists or survivors of the Holocaust, talking about Raoul Wallenberg’s life in the classroom, entering into the role of a wrongly convicted person or a displaced person in exercises in creative writing … 

Dance and theatre students on the Arts programme at Sundsta-Älvkulle upper secondary school in Karlstad put on the musical Vagn 7. This tells the story of a group of young people in Berlin in the 1930s. The strong performance received very good reviews and played before full houses several times during the spring. The students performed a song from the musical on the large stage at Kungsträdgården when the exhibition was opened in Stockholm.

Södertälje Municipality exhibited the cube in a square in the town centre and allowed five schools to share it. The schools have worked together on Article 23: the right to an adequate standard of living.

The Swedish upper secondary school in Paris (Lycée Suédois de Paris) has been a small section of a large French school for the past 18 years. The cube has helped create closer cooperation between the Swedish and French parts of the school, helping teachers to get to know one another and students to spend time together. Human rights have been a theme during the school year 2018/19. The school has held 14 different exhibitions based on the articles in the UN Declaration.

Most recently, they held an exhibition on the theme of antiracism and discrimination, created by both Swedish and French students. In April, the school received a visit from former French football star Lilian Thuram, who gave a lecture and started up a friendly match between Swedish and French students on mixed teams.

In Serbia, the Swedish Embassy partnered with the Child rights organisation organisation C31 in the cities of Belgrade and Kragujevac. During the project the six participating schools have worked with five rights: 2. The right not to be discriminated against (Bečej), 5. The right not to be tortured (Kragujevac), 12. The right to honor and reputation (Smederevo), 18. The right to freedom of thought (Žitište) and 24. Right to rest and leisure (Belgrade).