Public Lecture Human Rights Irungu Houghton 27112018 009
Mr. Irungu Houghton (Executive Director, Amnesty International - Kenya) during a Public Lecture organized by the Department of International Relations in the Humanities and Social Sciences on Tuesday, November 27 in the Lecture Theater II. PHOTO:ANTONIO LONGANGI

By Antonio Longangi

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences through the International Relations Program hosted Amnesty International Kenya’s Executive Director Mr. Irungu Houghton for a public lecture on Tuesday, November 27 at the Chandaria School of Business’ Lecture Theater II. The lecture revolved around the significance of human rights 70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and locally and global youth engagement in human rights activism.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a historical document consisting of 30 articles underlining universal individual rights. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, as Resolution 217 following a vote by member states including two African countries - Ethiopia and South Africa.

Using South Africa’s embrace of apartheid, and the status of Kenya as a Colony and Protectorate at the time the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, Mr. Houghton elaborated on how individual rights were then second to colonial laws, while locals were subjects and not citizens. 70 years later, the situation has evolved, where all citizens have the equal opportunity to their basic human rights respected and the rule of law upheld.
However, despite this evolution, numerous human rights challenges such as an adequate standard living, access to justice, right to education, right to social security, and freedom from discrimination, are yet to be adequately addressed.

According to Mr. Houghton, these challenges present an opportunity for the youth to act, to become part of a movement where young people can involve themselves in human rights activism. He argued that these challenges can form the basis for a career, and students of USIU-Africa should take advantage of that through positive and selfless actions and voluntarism.

As a senior management professional Mr. Houghton specializes in areas of public policy advice and advocacy, institutional strengthening and expansion. In addition to his role as Executive Director at Amnesty International Kenya, he is also a columnist and public interest advocate.