The 9th World Human Rights Cities Forum has been successfully finished at Kimdaejung Convention Center in Gwangju Metropolitan City from September 30 to October 3. Under the theme of ‘Local Governments and Human Rights: Reimaging Human Right Cities’, more than 2,000 people from 100 cities across 40 cities attended the event and had a meaningful time to talk about various things.
The 9th World Human Rights Cities Forum has been a venue to review the meaning and practical achievements of local governments and human rights through 48 programs in 8 fields. In a congratulatory video, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed the importance of a role of local governments in implementing the nation’s human rights obligations as well as delivered messages in which local governments and human rights organizations should work effectively together and engage in close dialogue with state agencies. In order to build strong partnerships with civil society, she wished participants to discuss the above matters to make human rights cities flourish and widespread. In the report on ‘Local Government and Human Rights’ submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last September, the World Human Rights Cities Forum highly esteemed and received international attention as for its achievements and roles. From this year, the forum was evaluated as a representative for the international conferences on human rights by expanding cooperation with overseas human rights organizations.
For the first time this year, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) participated in the forum as a co-hosting organization and hosted the 2019 Gwangju Peace & SDGs World Citizens’ Festival and received lots of attention. In particular, the Global Human Rights Training Program for Asian Government Officials will be implemented in cooperation with the KOICA, Gwangju Metropolitan City, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has been significantly expanded its human rights education and training functions from this year. In addition, by appointing international human rights experts as an international subcommittee, the 10th World Human Rights Cities Forum next year is expected to be more active in international level discussions with the reflection of the opinions from those members starting from the planning stage.
In terms of event management, the Green Campaign and Child Care Service, which were first introduced this year, have received a lot of attention from participants. The Green Campaign lent mugs to participants to minimize the use of disposable products, minimized post-disposal products by using QR code downloads, and made effort to retrieve recyclable items such as handbooks, program books, badges, ID cards, etc., and this eco-friendly forum had a good reaction by participants. In addition, the Child Care Service, provided only to preregistered participants, will be expanded gradually in the future. As for the side events, human rights dark tour and cultural tours, including Gwangju Design Biennale and Korean Classical Music Performance, drew the attention of participants while the Gwangju Office of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea provided a space for viewing human rights movies through tablet PC as well as reading human rights books.
The various points discussed at the 9th World Human Rights Cities Forum shared the view that humankind should make efforts to promote each human rights in order to support and protect human rights and expressed the need to establish networks among local governments and civil society with the incidents such as Hong Kong, Yemen, etc., through the declaration. Furthermore, Gwangju Metropolitan City emphasized once again that the city will strive for a sustainable human rights city by using ‘the report on Local Government and Human Rights’ adopted by the UN Human Rights Council as a common practice.
The World Human Rights Cities Forum is planning to co-host with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from May 17 to 20 next year as 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Uprising and the 10th anniversary of the World Human Rights Cities Forum. We are grateful for your participation in the 9th World Human Rights Cities Forum, and please give your attention to the upcoming forum in 2020.