Know your rights and claim them by Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie and Geraldine Van Bueren

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Foreword by Angelina Jolie. As an ambassador for Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie became angry that we have basic rights espoused by international charters and conventions but both adults and children still have to advocate and fight for those rights no matter where they live. Children are particularly voiceless and disenfranchised.

Designed for children under 18, the sub-title “how to claim your rights” is a claim that is not borne out. Whilst “Know your rights” uses many examples of extraordinary individuals protesting for their rights, it can’t possibly cover every country or jurisdiction, or analyse separate legal challenges – in short, how exactly the downtrodden can secure the thing that is denied to them.

Part one covers the history of human rights whereas Part 2 lists common breaches of the 1959 UN Declaration of the rights of the child – from lack of basic Identity/Birth Certificate, to personal Bodily integrity, Education, Freedom of Thought and the basic right to Play. Part 3 contains checklists for skills like improving your speeches or participating in protest marches etc. Part 4 is a resource list of organizations who can provide information/support and is prefaced by glossary of terms.

Rights mean little if they can’t be enforced. General actions taken by individuals and those who helped each child claim their rights are outlined,  but these serve mainly as inspiration. Readers might need more help to access legal aid, find a lawyer, or drill down to practicalities etc.

Dujuan Hoosan is an indigenous boy who travelled to the UN to lobby for the age of legal responsibility to be raised to 14, in order to help youth in his community in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Moses Akatugba was on death row after being coerced into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. While he coached the prison football team, the actions of Amnesty International led to 800,000 letters of support for his release.

At only 16, Heidy Quah volunteered in a refugee school and her idea to set up her own NGO to help refugees meant that 35 schools for refugees in Malaysia and Myanmar were established as places of basic education, safety and healthcare.

By the end, Know your Rights is a broad primer for burgeoning advocates who of course will need to master skills and networking to attempt to claim their rights.

Greta Thunberg should have the last word, “This is the perfect book for young people who care about the world and want to make a difference.”

Themes: Children's Rights, Human Rights, Human Rights Mentoring and Advocacy, Respect for Persons.

Deborah Robins