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Home » We invite you to Maastricht Human Rights Week!

We invite you to Maastricht Human Rights Week!

From May 22 through May 26, 2023, the past, present, and future of human rights will all be covered in a variety of activities for all ages throughout the city of Maastricht.

The 175th anniversary of the Dutch Constitution and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds equality, justice, and freedom for all, are both observed in 2023. This week aims to encourage everyone to join the fight for a more just world by increasing awareness of human rights.


Each day holds a distinct theme. Although admission is free, some events are invitation-only or demand advance registration.

Monday, May 22: We are all human rights defenders

Human Rights Week Opening

4.00 pm – 6.00 pm, Stadhuis (City Hall). Invitation-only.

Mayor Penn-te Strake will touch upon human rights in the Netherlands and Shelter City among other topics. Several speeches will follow from prominent people in the human rights field including Pamela Habibovic, rector magnificus Maastricht University, Wytze van der Woude, director of Constitutional Affairs and Legislation, Jacobine Geel, president of the Human Rights Board, Jan de Vries, human rights lawyer. The event will conclude with a Q&A led by wethouder (member of the municipal executive) Anita Bastiaans.

Film Night (EN)

7.30 pm – 10.00 pm, The InnBetween, Capucijnenstraat 122. Free entrance. 

Tuesday, May 23: Shelter City

Shelter City Photo Exhibition opening

4.00 pm, Het Beihuis, Brusselsepoort shopping centre. Free entrance.

This exhibition highlights human rights defenders who found a safe haven in Maastricht with an honorary mention of Maastricht residents and organisations that are striving for more equality. The exhibition will be held at Het Beihuis until July, 18. After that, the exhibition will be displayed at other locations in Maastricht. These will be announced later on.

Guest lectures on prejudice and discrimination

12.45 pm – 3.15 pm, Vista College. This event is private.

In our daily encounters, preconceptions may occasionally be helpful, but they can also have unwanted and subconscious repercussions. We’ll explore the effects of stereotyping on people and groups, debunk the idea of discrimination, and pinpoint the tipping point at which prejudiced attitudes turn into overt discrimination in a fun, interactive workshop utilizing virtual reality.

Stumbling stones city walk (NL)

1.30 pm – 3.00 pm, meeting point at Stadhuis (City Hall). Free entrance. The walk is wheelchair accessible.

Take a guided stroll through the houses where Jewish residents of Maastricht were deported or killed during the Second World War. Square stones known as struikelsteentjes (‘stumbling stones’) can be found outside these homes that serve as a permanent memorial to the victims.

Sign up via email to mensenrechten@maastricht.nl.

Shelter City Night (EN)

7.00 pm – 9.00 pm, Law Faculty, Statenzaal (entrance Bouillonstraat 1-3). Free entrance.

A panel of human rights experts will be discussing the role of human rights defenders worldwide. Judge Alapini-Gansou, who has worked tirelessly for decades to improve the lives of human rights defenders, will share her own experiences and talk about the challenges they face. Afterwards, Roland Moerland (Director of the Human Rights Centre) will lead a discussion about these challenges, possible solutions, and what we can do to support and protect human rights defenders. The panel will include Sebastiaan van der Zwaan (Director of Justice and Peace Netherlands and co-founder of Shelter City) as well as a guest from Shelter City.

Wednesday, May 24: Future

Prejudice Game

09.00 am – 12.00 pm, Scharn Elementary School. This event is private and only open to pupils of Scharn Elementary School.

Pupils in grades 7 and 8 will be learning about prejudice, tolerance, diversity, and discrimination in a fun, interactive way. The activities aim to promote respectful treatment of one another and reduce bullying and exclusion.

Studium Generale debate café: Rights of Future Generations (EN)

8.00 pm – 10.00 pm, Dominicanen Bookstore, Dominicanerkstraat 1. Free entrance.

When discussing human rights, a greater emphasis is frequently placed on the present than on future generations. The Maastricht Principles, created by Maastricht University, provide an outline of the human rights of future generations. A thorough discussion and explanation of this concept will take place during the Studium Generale debate.

For registrations, please go to Maastricht University’s website.

Thursday, May 25: Neighbourhood

Stumbling stones city walk (NL)

10.30 am – 12.00 pm, meeting point at Stadhuis (City Hall). Free entrance. The walk is wheelchair accessible.

Take a guided stroll through the houses where Jewish residents of Maastricht were deported or killed during the Second World War. Square stones known as struikelsteentjes (“stumbling stones”) can be found outside these homes that serve as a permanent memorial to the victims.

Sign up via email to mensenrechten@maastricht.nl.

Participation Day: Human Rights in the neighbourhood

5.45 pm – 6.30 pm, Servatius housing foundation. Invitation-only.

ADV Limburg, The Quiet Community, and 150 volunteers will be focusing on addressing and identifying inequalities in the neighborhood. Not everyone can participate fully in society or has equal access to opportunities. What can The Quiet Community and ADV Limburg do to support those who are discriminated against or living in poverty? And why is taking action so important?

Human Rights Café (NL)

7.30 pm – 9.30 pm, Café Paulus, Oude Tweebergenpoort 8a. Free entrance.

Mpanzu Bamenga (known for his stance against the Marechaussee’s use of ethnic profiling), Uschi Prick (The Quiet Community), and Sheila Oroschin (The Masters Maastricht) strive to advance human rights in the Netherlands. Opposing racial discrimination, criticizing the Dutch welfare system, or providing aid to local communities; a discussion on the matter will follow, facilitated by Erwin Gerardu.

Friday, May 26: Peace

Inauguration Hiroshima Peace Tree (NL)

3.00 – 4.30 pm, Tapijnpark. Free entrance.

Join us as we unveil a very special Peace Tree alongside the Children’s Mayor, wethouder (member of the municipal executive) Fokke and other members of the Maastricht Children’s Council. Descending one of the two Ginkgo trees that miraculously survived the Hiroshima atomic explosion, this is how we demonstrate the intrinsic relationship between human rights respect and world peace.

From gay rights to LGBTI+ rights (NL)

7.30 pm, COC Maastricht, Bogaardenstraat 43. Free entrance.

A discussion of how gay rights evolved into LGBTI+ rights in connection to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the recent amendment of Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution (the legislation on equal treatment and prohibition of discrimination).

Right to Play (Monday to Friday)

According to Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children and young people have the right to play, rest, and engage in cultural and artistic activities. Based on this, Maastricht Vital City and several organizations have organised events for kids between the ages of 0 and 18.

Children and young people nowadays experience more pressure to perform and have less time to play. Only three out of ten children play outside, and Dutch children are the least motivated in all of Europe. As playing is a crucial part of life, this ought to change. The development of their imagination and motivation, collaboration, taking risks, and playing is key to all of these. This right is essential also for children with a refugee background.

* Maastricht Human Rights Week is organised by Gemeente Maastricht (the municipality of Maastricht), Maastricht University, Mondiaal Maastricht and Anti Discriminatie Voorziening (ADV).

Maastricht, a Shelter City since 2015, provides a safe haven for human rights defenders at risk worldwide. Human rights defenders receive tailormade support, expand their knowledge and skills, and broaden their network with students and organizations to advocate for human rights.