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Virtual Study Tour: Human Rights

We recently had our first virtual study tour of the year! This tour was not organized around a particular location, but instead focused on the theme of Human Rights.

We started the tour by meeting with Ambassador Bob Rae, the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. This meeting is highlighted in a separate blog post, but the discussion we had with Ambassador Rae primed us for our tours of the UN Headquarters in New York City and the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg.

This study tour allowed us to think about human rights through international and national lenses, and the interns went away with a deeper understanding of the historical development of human rights, and their fragility in the modern day.

UN Headquarters

We were thrilled to attend a virtual tour of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, hosted by Elyana Chin and Jonathon H Mishal from the UN Visitors Services branch. The unique thematic tour allowed us to explore Asia and the Pacific, and learn more about the connection between the region and the international community.

The tour celebrated the many contributions of Asia and the Pacific to the United Nations and paid close attention to the region’s involvement in promoting sustainable development, indigenous rights, peace and security, and disarmament. Most notably, we were fascinated to learn more about Peace efforts in Timor-Leste and Myanmar, the key role of notable figures in the preparation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and current issues impacting the region today.

We were interested to learn that the region is home to nearly 70% of the world’s Indigenous populations and 60% of the world’s population. The hosts passionately described several UN initiatives that have amplified the voices of Indigenous communities in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the instrumental role of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in promoting Indigenous rights around the world.

A few screenshots from the tour!

The Canadian Human Rights Museum

The Holocaust exhibit at the Canadian Human Rights Museum.

Later in the day, we had the pleasure of attending a virtual tour hosted by the Canadian Human Rights Museum located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Opening in September 2014, the museum has 10 core galleries and countless exhibits that have welcomed visitors from all across Canada and tourists from around the world. The museum aims to provide a space for visitors to explore the subject of human rights, both within the Canadian and international contexts in order to promote a more pronounced understanding of the history of human rights.

Our tour guide, Wesley, walked us through the many intricately curated exhibits at the museum. The tour allowed us to feel like we were walking side-by-side with the tour guide. We felt like we were experiencing the museum’s many galleries first-hand, including galleries dedicated to Indigenous peoples in Canada, the Chinese Head Tax, the Holocaust, and the Underground Railroad.

We were impressed by the museum’s ability to invoke both reflection and hope amongst the interns, particularly upon touring one of the museum’s most popular features, the contemplation garden. This allowed us to take a moment to contemplate our role in the advancement of human rights in Canada and the world at large.

This was a great way to kick off our study tours. Thank you to the UN Visitors Services team and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights for kindly hosting us on these wonderful tours!

The view of downtown Winnipeg from the Israel Asper Tower of Hope.

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