Meet the Ambassadors championing human rights around the world

This Sunday 10 December  marks Human Rights Day and the launch of the UN’s upcoming year-long campaign to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948. From the prohibition of slavery to the right to move freely, the Declaration sets out universal values to uplift the dignity of people from all backgrounds and walks of life around the world. Given that the One Young World Summit 2018 will take place in The Hague, dubbed the International City of Peace and Justice, human rights is a natural overarching topic. 2018 will be an historic occasion - marking the 70th anniversary of the Declaration, the UN will launch a year-long campaign starting Sunday.

In recognition of this day, discover some of the young leaders on the frontlines working towards equal, just and free societies in their respective countries.  

Evodius Gervas: Protecting women & girls from violence in Tanzania

Evodius is the founder of Hakizetu Tanzania which works to prevent violence against women and children. In Tanzania, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a common practice, with over 1,000 girls in the Mara region made subject to FGM in 2016 alone.

“I am working on translating commitments, laws and policies into action to prevent and protect women and children from violence and other harmful practices. Using community-based engagement strategies, I am working to strengthen gender equality and ensure human rights for all,” said Evodius.

Within the past 6 years, over 1,700 young mothers and children have benefitted from legal aid and social counselling provided by Hakizetu Tanzania, and more than 5,600 people have been made aware of these issues in Tanzania through open dialogues in schools. Evodius hopes to expand the reach of his project into Kenya and South Africa through the help of Ambassadors in those regions.

Stephen Diaz: The national focal point for anti-trafficking in Belize

In Belize, human trafficking is a daily occurrence largely due to weak border control and protection, and the country also faces high rates of child sexual exploitation and teen pregnancy. Serving under the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Stephen is tackling these issues through grassroots education, working with young Belizeans to increase awareness and understanding of their human rights.

“In my professional capacity as a teacher and government worker contributing towards ending human trafficking in Belize, I believe that serving the Belizean population in providing an integral service is essential for the complete recognition of rights and dignity for all citizens,” said Stephen.

Maria Luisa Martinez Dibarboure: Providing free legal aid in Uruguay

Uruguay is a country that is still recovering after years dictatorship and deep economic crises during the 1990s, with current living conditions and educational services suffering in the country. As a way to help alleviate the lack of access to affordable resources, Maria created the first free legal clinic in Uruguay where people can receive free advice.

“ I served as a coordinator in the biggest Uruguayan free legal clinic to promote basic legal services, open doors to access to benefits and promote human rights. In my second year, we expanded the program to different prisons of the country and gave humanitarian help, always with the mission of resocialisation and reconciliation,” said Maria.

Since founding this clinic, Maria has gone on to found the Uruguayan Digital Party, which is the first 100% digital party in Uruguay, enabling citizens to vote on an open-source digital platform and, thus, allowing bills to be passed more efficiently and effectively. By organizing this new party, Maria works to build a more transparent government where people will understand their rights and be involved in the policies being made.

Cecilia Aransiola: Restoring dignity of prison inmates in Nigeria

Nigeria is a country rich with diverse ethnic groups, but in recent years, a lack of strong leadership has given way to sectarian violence and groups like Boko Haram to gain traction. With minority groups and marginalised communities suffering from  the various conflicts affecting the country, Cecilia launched Steps to Life Nigeria which works to restore the dignity of the affected  people.

Steps to Life Nigeria envisions a just, equitable and peaceful society where human rights are fully respected, protected and fulfilled. Its mission is to build a sustainable human rights culture, contribute to the overall quality of life of Nigerians and assist citizens to live in dignity as human beings,” said Cecilia.

Steps to Life uses a three step process known as Reformation, Reconciliation, and Rehabilitation to give inmates psychosocial support, vocational training, basic literacy classes, and more to prepare the inmates for when they are released.

Cecilia was one of the leading figures in the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, which liberated more than 1,000 women and children from Boko Haram - the movement was launched when the government failed to adequately deal with the widely reported kidnapping of the Chibok girls.


Evodius, Stephen, Maria Luisa and Cecilia are are four of OYW's Peace Ambassadors, an initiative recently launched by OYW with the support of the European Commission. The aim is to empower and celebrate the role young leaders play in preventing and countering violent extremism, peace-building efforts and conflict resolution.

As part of the Peace Ambassadors initiative, One Young World has identified 80 young leaders from developing countries whose work contributes to building lasting peace – whether by directly tackling violence, countering the harmful effects of environmental change, or promoting social inclusion. The ambition for One Young World Peace Ambassadors is to encourage and empower young leaders to play an active role in building cohesive and peaceful societies.

To learn more about the work of these 80 young leaders from around the world, please visit: