Around this time of the year, one of Gwangju’s biggest landmarks, the Kimdaejung Convention Center gets busy for an annual international forum that perhaps best represents the city The World Human Rights Cities Forum.
Starting on Wednesday, this year’s event marked its tenth anniversary.
Hosted by the city along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO, this year’s theme is “The Future of Human Rights Cities: Local Memories and Global Sharing.”
Mayors and local authorities from more than 130 countries will discuss their current status in terms of human rights and share their hardships and goals in protecting their residents’ rights.
While the city hosted around 2,000 participants last year and with the number consistently rising COVID-19 prevented it from breaking another record this year and most will participate online.
Despite the unprecedented situation, the opening speakers agreed that this forum couldn’t come at a better time.

“Globally, COVID-19 has generated an unprecedented health, economic, and social crisis that has made these challenges even more pressing. COVID-19 has exposed pervasive inequalities and structural discrimination in every society.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown us the true worth of this solidarity between cities”

The city’s mayor says this event is more special as it marks the 40th anniversary of the May 18th Democratization Movement, an infamous milestone in South Korea’s path to democracy in the 80’s but since then, the city has come a long way.

“Gwangju’s historical and enduring path towards democratization and human rights is cited as a model example and a benchmark in places where democracy and human rights are oppressed, such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, and all across Southeast Asia.”

As for the event, it will go on until the 10th, and all discussions among the participants will be live-streamed for viewers across the world.
In addition, live translations are available in different languages.

“Education, environment, safety, and transparency in government are all being discussed as the event seeks to create solidarity between both on-site attendees, and those taking part online.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News, Gwangju”

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