What Do Human Rights Mean to You?

What do human rights mean to you? Unfortunately, far too many people see human rights as some far off ideas discussed at the UN — words that have no meaning and no impact on their lives.

I could give a definition and list all of the international treaties. I could describe the obligations that states have to protect and defend human rights. I could get into the details in so many ways. But I won’t. And the reason why is because, in the end, it’s so simple. Human Rights are about recognizing the humanity in each person.

I guess you could get depressed and feel hopeless after four days of films and discussions about serious human rights issues like genocide and honour violence. But for me, at the end of this first Lund Human Rights Film Festival, the solution to many of our problems seems clearer than ever.

On the surface, I imagine this solution will sound simple, but when you’re really being honest with yourself, you realize how difficult it can be.

We need to meet each other and talk. We need to shake hands and learn how to pronounce names. We need to find out where you come from, what type of food you like to eat, and what kind of music you listen to.

What if these “simple” interactions were the key to building empathy, to understanding and sharing other people’s feelings, and ultimately, recognizing their humanity?
Empathy, like a seed planted in a field, can break out of the darkness and grow into something that nourishes all human beings, universally.

The films we watched and the people we met during these past four days allowed us to see what they see, feel what they feel, and know what they know. No longer were they numbers. We could empathize. And that’s a pretty good start.

The Institute would like to thank Biografen Kino i Lund for a great cooperation, as well as Film i Skåne AB and Lund Municipality for co-financing the festival.

In addition, we’d like to thank all of the amazing speakers and moderators who participated in the festival.

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