New York City - On August 23rd and 24th, when young delegates from such diverse countries as Australia, Guyana, India, Nepal, South Korea, South Africa, Zambia, Germany and the United States arrived at the United Nations in New York for a two-day international human rights summit, 17-year-old Rosemary Lokko was there to represent the youth of her own country - Ghana.
Rosemary, the secretary of her school's Youth for Human Rights Club, has a passion to improve human rights for all children in Ghana. In her own words: "The worst cases of human right abuses occur in the areas of child trafficking or slavery, child labor, and the deprivation of children's rights to free education."
Trafficking in children is a global problem affecting as many as 1.2 million children every year, including more than 400,000 youth from the West African Region alone according to Mark Taylor, a US State Department Specialist in Trafficking of Persons.
In Ghana, where, through a government program, hundreds of trafficked children were freed in September from employment by fishermen along the banks of the Volta River, a draft Trafficking In Persons Prevention Bill has been proposed to deal directly with this issue.
Ghana's Interior Minister Hackman Owusu-Agyemang attributed child trafficking to poverty and the emergence of refugee camps as a result of conflicts in the sub-region. He has called for more drastic efforts to stop the activity.
Youth For Human Rights delegate Rosemary Lokko, who was selected to represent Ghana at this international summit because of her record of contribution in the area of human rights, said "It has always been my dream to champion the campaign against human right abuses, not only in Ghana but the world as a whole. I'm vehemently involved in education of youth about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights both in my school and in my neighborhood. I am of the view that participating in the youth conference at the United Nations will furnish me with knowledge and experience to effectively carry out my duties."
Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) visited Ghana earlier this year as part of a 13-country 34-day tour to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Realizing that the Declaration has to be made available in a form understandable to the young, in March 2002 YHRI released the English-language edition of What are Human Rights? This booklet contains a simplified version of the Declaration written especially for children. Instantly popular with teachers, government officials, community and religious leaders, and children, the booklet has already been translated into 19 languages and is in use in more than 25 countries.
Rosemary Lokko's ideals and aspirations are echoed in the words of two other delegates from Africa, 10-year-old Tamara M'hango from Zambia and the youngest delegate to the summit, 12-year-old Sasha Rajah of the Republic of South Africa.