On Thursday, August 25, 2022, participants from Canada and Nepal gathered for the Mills & Mills LLP “Human Rights and LinkedIn” workshop. The virtual event was a continuation of a first human rights workshop given by Taras Kulish, a Senior Charities Lawyer Associate at Toronto-based Mills & Mills LLP, during a service trip to Nepal in July 2022, for the vocational students aged 16-18 of HOPE worldwide Nepal’s Asha Vidhyashram School.

Group photo of Taras Kulish and vocational students of HOPE worldwide Nepal's Asha Vidhyashram School standing outside

In a Nepalese Courtyard

Commenting on the first workshop given outside in the courtyard of the school, Diwas Rathod, the Program Coordinator for HOPE worldwide Nepal, said, “The vocational school students really appreciated learning about human rights from a renowned Canadian charity law lawyer, Taras Kulish, who presented a terrific in-person workshop to the students. They learned about basic human rights and discussed with Taras what this means to them in their daily lives.”

A Zoom Workshop

The August 25th workshop was a bit more structured because it was on the Zoom platform. Speakers from Mills & Mills LLP reviewed six key articles in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and spoke about two prominent human rights advocates of our time: Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

Questions to Ponder

The workshop sought to discuss and answer key questions such as: What are our human rights? What do they mean to us in different contexts? How can we express our human rights? What can we do to tell the world about human rights violations to people on the other side of the world? How important are human rights during a war or conflict and could the government suspend them during those events?

Right To Life/Freedom From Torture

Kulish started the introduction to human rights by speaking about the right to life, liberty and security of person. Then he spoke about the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment, with the examples of Iraqi prisoners’ mistreatment at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

Equality Before The Law/Freedom of Movement

Hasan Atasoy, a licensing candidate with the Law Society of Ontario, and marketing intern at Mills & Mills LLP, discussed the concepts of equality before the law and the equal protection of the law without discrimination. In addition, Atasoy reviewed the meaning of freedom of movement and individual mobility rights with examples of restrictions imposed by governments during wartime.

A lion and lamb on a balanced scale statue.
“Equality Before The Law” by Eldon Garnet – Toronto Courthouse
A lion and lamb on a balanced scale

Freedom Of Expression/Right To Education

Adnan Subzwari, a litigation lawyer at Mills & Mills LLP, spoke about the freedom of opinion and expression, especially its prominence in one’s ability to question the status quo. Subzwari quoted French writer and philosopher Voltaire’s statement, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” We may disagree on affairs, but our “right to say” should always be there and respected, he added. Subzwari continued with Malala Yousafzai’s remarkable fight against ignorance and in favour of girls’ education and her famous quote, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

The Medium Is The Message

The second half of the workshop introduced the students to Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote on the medium and the message, followed by an informative discussion on LinkedIn, and its use not only for professional development, but also for human rights advocacy. Kulish noted that social media can have an enormous impact on human rights advocacy. Then he gave examples of a tech company, a CEO of a beverage manufacturer, a news commentator, a business lawyer and finally, the President of packaging solutions corporation that contribute to human rights advocacy and humanitarian causes in the current war theatre of Ukraine. As part of their advocacy, they all use LinkedIn, reaching out to their professional networks, and informing them of the human rights violations as well as the increased humanitarian needs caused by such violations.

Questions From The Floor

During the question period, Shristi Shrestha, a lawyer from Nepal who also participated in the workshop, raised a question about how to draw a line between the right to exercise freedom of speech and the obligation not to defame others when doing so.

Vision With Action

To inspire the students, Kulish quoted Nelson Mandela: “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.” Kulish gave the charge to the students to have a vision for their lives, and act upon that vision by pursuing their education and to use the resources of LinkedIn to develop their own professional networks. Then they could use their future connections to help change the world.

Putting Vision Into Action – First Steps

The enthusiastic young students in Nepal were eager to create their own LinkedIn profiles and to start networking. One inspired young participant from Canada created her first ever resume right after the workshop to seek a volunteer position.

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