U.S. Supports Human Rights University Contest in Santa Marta

Thanks to the support provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office, the final round of the Seventh Human Rights’ University Contest will take place today in Santa Marta. This contest seeks to promote the inclusion of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) into the country’s undergraduate academic curricula and encourage university students’ commitment to the respect, legitimacy, and guarantee of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Participants who made it to the finals are students from Universidad EAFIT in Medellin and the Universidad Libre in Pereira. The judges of the contest are two auxiliary magistrates from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Horacio Guerrero-Garcia, Delegate Defender for Indigenous Affairs and Ethnic Minorities and Congresswoman Orfinia Polanco-Jusayú, Representative for the Indigenous constituency. Also on the judges panel is Tatiana Rincon-Covelli, Consultant for the Ombudsman’s Office and Human Rights Specialist.

The winning university will receive two tickets to send a couple of students from the winning team to the Annual Human Rights Inter-American Contest organized by the American University in Washington D.C., two internships at the Ombudsman’s Office (either at central or regional levels), and a collection of books on human rights and IHL.

Participants who make it to the finals will have to analyze, under the supervision of a mentor, a hypothetical case of a human rights violation involving government officials. The contest includes mock trials to promote students’ capacity for analysis and investigation, the quality of the written material and how they argue their cases. This year’s hypothetical case issue will involve the rights of indigenous communities. There will be 73 teams from around the country a 46% increase from last year’s event.

The protection and defense of human rights is a priority for the U.S. Government and, in Colombia, it does not focus exclusively high-level dialogues with the Colombian Government, but it seeks to promote academic spaces where these issues may be discussed more thoroughly. The U.S. Embassy supports this contest as a valuable opportunity to raise the level of awareness among young people on the importance of defending human rights.

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