The nature of human rights, Iceland

The nature of human rights, Iceland


In July 2012, twenty-three youth workers from Belgium, Armenia, Russia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Cyprus, Sweden, Norway and Iceland participated in the international seminar entitled “The Nature of Human Rights”. During the project, participants learned about the principles, the nature and regulating mechanisms of human rights. Well-known tools and methods of non-formal education were primarily used during the seminar.

Several activities took place, which let the participants visit, sightsee and interact with different youth NGOs in Iceland, creating opportunities to get acquainted with local problems and achievements and to exchange participants’ own unique country experiences. The “Nature of Human Rights” seminar was attractive, unique and one of the more glorious parts of the project that has been objectively mentioned many times by participants. In this seminar, they had an opportunity to go hiking, which was another chance to enrich their knowledge of human rights by presenting their group work while in the great outdoors. This great occasion, in its turn, helped them to have discussions in a more open atmosphere.

Participants also had the opportunity to meet representatives from the Human Rights Office in Iceland and the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. The representative from the European Youth Foundation presented the main goals and issues of the Council of Europe and its future activities, which aroused a great deal of interest among the participants. The program was concluded with a unique party, during which the European Youth Foundation’s 40th anniversary was celebrated. The European Youth Foundation was established in 1972 and has been supporting the implementation of such wonderful youth initiatives since then.

Here are some anecdotes from participants!


"The seminar called The nature of Human rights took place in magnificent Icelandic nature. Our base was set up in wooden cottages in the middle of nowhere. We had our own privacy and the only place where we could hang out was a common room or hot tob. Due to that fact, we became instantly friends with each other really fast. The leaders from different countries spent the preparation week right before the exchange took place. They prepared nice program for all days and all the activities had a point and came in a right time and place. Human rights were discussed everywhere. Different methods like role plays, discussions, games or even activities during the hiking ,took place. The final all day hike was the main goal that the seminar leaded to. Gained knowledge were put together and it made a really nice ending to the program."

Jan Buchalcev - Czech Republic.


"In studying for my degree in community youth work and having an interest in human rights education with young people and international youth work, I applied to participate in The Nature of Human Rights seminar in Iceland, thoroughly enjoying and gaining a lot from participating in it.

Coming from Northern Ireland, with a history of religious/political conflict, human rights has and continues to be a contentious issue. Gaining a greater knowledge and understanding of human rights from an international perspective through the seminar was invaluable.

Furthermore, I had never previously considered using nature as a method for working with young people around issues. The opportunities to explore this through hiking and visits to Þingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir during the seminar provided an understanding of new ways of working with young people around human rights issues.

Getting to know youth workers from various different countries and discussing similarities/differences between the youth services in each country was not only insightful and interesting, but has proven helpful in my studies in Community Youth Work. Having met some wonderful people during the seminar, these friendships will also hopefully continue past the seminar, along with the learning.

Overall, I found the seminar to be extremely enjoyable, educational and informative, with many thanks to the prep team, other participants, ECYC, Samfés and EYF for enabling this."

Laura O´Hare - Northern Ireland