Millennials, Human Rights, and Returning Home

photo 2 copyGuest Blog Written by Christy Dehus

Millennials that leave their home country, are raised in the west, then return to their home countries leave an impact on both countries. It?s similar to the brain drain phenomenon, but this generation has the potential to positively impact both countries: their home countries by returning and the countries they are raised in by educating from afar via social media. Ugaaso Boocow is an example of this. She uses Instagram to document her journey back home to Somalia after spending the majority of her childhood and young adult life in Canada. Through this process she depicts the Somalia that the media doesn?t portray: a country full of rich heritage and geographical diversity. Her friends in the west learn about life in Somalia and Somalia is positively impacted by the education she obtained in the west.

How does the influx of millennials returning to their home country after living in the west mold their understanding of universal human rights? In Somalia, as in other war-torn countries, human rights are violated on a daily basis. International humanitarian law, which provides laws to protect civilians and combatants during armed conflict, is violated. The spirit of humanity is captured through Ugaaso?s Instagram pictures, providing hope for failed states. Perhaps the return of these young people will create pressure for failed states to change. They are the champions for their countries.

I?ve recently come across a number of Congolese refugees living in Denver. The Democratic Republic of Congo is another country that has been drained due to continuous conflict. What if a critical mass of educated Congolese living abroad returned to Congo? A sense of rebuilding the country would be imminent. It would take a significant organized movement combined with the return of citizens to create change.

Are the freedoms that are enjoyed in the west transferable with citizens upon returning to a not free country? Do those citizens uphold a responsibility to create space for the development of human rights? Conflict-torn countries are delicate webs that need to be untangled. Millennials returning to their home country can contribute positively to change not only within their country but to the stereotypes that exist.


About the Guest Blogger: Christy?s research has focused on state building in DRC, the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations in DRC, the history of the Mobutu regime and U.S. influence, and implications of foreign aid in African countries. She has consulted for International Development Exchange, Kaskazi Environmental Alliance, Teach with Africa, and Do Good Lab. She has focused on data management, performance improvement within teams, and organizational effectiveness. She currently lives in Denver, CO and is pursuing her MA in International Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.