20/09/2016

Human Rights Education: the challenges of implementation

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The wider international community recognizes that human rights education plays a key role in building inclusive societies and a sustainable future, strengthening social cohesion, especially in situations where the physical and psychological uprooting, casualization of families and disorientation occur in an extensive and stronger way such as today. Investing in human rights education serves as a sustainable strategy for a people-centred human, social and economic development.

The UN Declaration on HRET, at the initiative of Switzerland and Morocco, was adopted by the General Assembly in December 2011, motivated by the desire to send a strong signal to the international community to strengthen all efforts in human rights education and training through a collective commitment by all stakeholders.

 If the UN General Assembly had already recognized the significance of HRE as a growing discipline when it proclaimed the period 1995-2004 the Decade for Human Rights Education, followed by Resolution 59/113 which established in 2005 the “World Program for Human Rights Education” in its consecutive, on-going phases, the UN Declaration on HRET was very welcome although the challenges of its implementation and monitoring still remain.

 Before then, UNESCO made a remarkable work, especially by clarifying extensively the concept of human rights education. The UNESCO Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms adopted in 1974 is a useful tool and we encourage States to submit to the UNESCO mechanism by sending quality reports.

 We also wish to mention the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education, adopted in 2010 by the Organisation’s 47 member States in the framework of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7. The publication of Guidelines aimed at supporting States efforts in this domain is also remarkable. We would recommend the last updated one, containing the Committee of Ministers’ guidelines to member States on the protection and promotion of human rights in culturally diverse societies (13 June 2016).

 Since then, many other initiatives were born. The adoption a year ago of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the General Assembly and of the Education 2030, Framework for Action by UNESCO opens up new opportunities for the implementation of Human Rights Education at all levels as it has brought Human Rights Education to the highest level of policy making. 

 Goal 4 in its target 7 is particularly relevant to Human Rights Education as it states: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

 Likewise, the Incheon Declaration para.9 stresses the importance of Human Rights Education and Training in order to achieve the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, notably through the implementation of the dedicated UNESCO Programmes “Education for Sustainable development” (ESD) and “Global Citizenship Education” (GCED)

 Claire de Lavernette, Chair of the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning (UN)