When I first began researching this article on Human Rights activism and advancements in Galway, Ireland, I expected to find a number of news pieces on the celebrated Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) which boasts a number of superb programs including programs in Human Rights Law, Criminal Justice, and Peace Operations. Perchance, I assumed I may have stumbled upon a commentary or two on the appointment of Michael O’Flaherty, a Vice-Chairperson for the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as Professor of Human Rights within NUIG’s Irish Centre for Human Rights who, without a doubt, will begin immediately to make a positive impact on the already thriving institution and its scholars. Moreover, I expected to find a piece or two on NUI Galway’s Summer School in Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy, a marvelous program now in its 9th year and taking place from June 26th to July 5th this year. I found all of this, but my search was far from over.
In reality, the further I dug into NUI Galway’s dedication to human rights advocacy, the more awed I became with the devotion, commitment, and passion I found in those who are in a constant fight for the rights of all people. The plethora of information I found pertaining to human rights in NUI Galway left me not only impressed, but also encouraged, inspired, and hopeful for the future of Ireland and its European Union affiliates.
With all of the above-mentioned already transporting NUI Galway to new heights in the realm of human rights advocacy, I was quite frankly floored to find that, in addition to the aforementioned feats, Galway was also host to what could be described as one of country’s greatest human rights proceedings since the publication of the White Paper, the Irish Foreign Policy Paper, in 1996. On the 24th of January 2014, the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University Ireland Galway held a gathering of 23 of Ireland’s most well-known human rights support groups in order to discuss, brainstorm, and create the new “Galway Platform on Human Rights in Irish Foreign Policy”.
It was only after reading through the platform (a few times, admittedly), that I realized just how much of an impact such a document could, and undoubtedly will have, on not only Irish foreign policy, international connectivity, and human rights advocacy, but also in the fight for universal human rights for all peoples. Covering topics spanning from the rights of women, children, minorities, laborers, and migrants, to a large emphasis on the issue of enforced disappearances, “The Galway Platform on Human Rights in Irish Foreign Policy” leaves no vital subject or concern, no matter how controversial or debated, overlooked or ignored. Under the “General Principles” portion of the recent document, the following is written:
Human rights foreign policy should respect the indivisibility of human rights, in recognition of the equal status of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights and of the need to promote and protect them in a manner that recognizes their inter-dependence.
It is with these words in my mind that I know, without a fraction of a doubt, that Ireland is taking all of the right steps towards a more peaceful, compassion-filled, unprejudiced, unbiased, and just future, with Galway paving a clear path for this procession of change. Let’s hope that other countries will soon follow suit and be courageous enough to face our world’s most essential, though sadly habitually disregarded, human rights concerns thus leaving a multitude of footprints amidst those left by Galway’s human rights advocates.
For more information on…
The National University of Ireland Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights: http://www.nuigalway.ie/human_rights/
The Appointment of Michael O’Flaherty: http://www.nuigalway.ie/irish-centre-human-rights/news/nui-galway-appoints-michael-oflaherty-as-professor-of-human-rights.html
The Summer School in Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy: http://www.chra.ie/
To Read the Galway Platform (including a list of signees): http://www.nuigalway.ie/media/intranet/Galway-Platform-Final-Version.pdf