NEW RELEASES – The importance of education should never be underestimated, just like its role in the promotion of human rights throughout the world. As the second day of the 33rd Human Rights Council came to an end, the key role of education had been discussed thoroughly and deeply during the 5th session – a report of which is presented in this article.
In the afternoon of the second day of the 33rd Human Rights Council, the assembly focused on the issue of education. Interestingly, the approach adopted was not a general one, shaped around the importance of the fulfillment of the right to education. Instead, the Council specifically discussed the importance of receiving an education on human rights. The crucial role of being educated on human rights and knowing how human life can be given worth and value through the enjoyment of fundamental rights is particularly evident in the context of developing countries. The issue of accessibility to education makes the importance of receiving academic training even more important for many children around the world. Moreover, the possibility of being educated on human rights plays a key role in the growth of a child whose perspectives of life are often dark and uncertain.
Thus, the discussion was opened by the President of the Council, who presented the panel. Subsequently, Ms Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner, stressed the importance of human rights education as a formal power that people have. She noted how the international community should create rights from real situations and, at the same time, how real situations should shape human rights in a continuous evolving process. Ms Gilmore also stated the vital role played by NGOs, highlighting the value of stakeholders, in promoting education on human rights as part of a cooperation among all actors. Finally, she concluded claiming that human rights education is fundamental since it fosters tolerance and a recognition of humanity that goes beyond all differences.
The word was then given to the Director of division of education (UNESCO), Mr Jordan Naidoo. He importantly mentioned how access to education is a crucial key factor to be taken into account when discussing human rights education. Mr Naidoo also remembered the strong commitment undertaken by the international community exemplified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In conclusion, he remarkably noted that UNESCO is trying to mobilise the interventions of the international community to advance education and highlight it as a fundamental human right.
Ms Christiana Carletti, Professor of International Law at Roma Tre University, intervened introducing the panel of speakers that she was going to moderate (Ms Mora Escalante, Costa Rica Minister of Education and Ms Flavia Piovesan, Secretary for Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice of Brazil.) Hence, the assembly focused on the screening of a documentary released by the High Commissioner called “Addressing discrimination in Southern India” (Path to Dignity.) The documentary illustrated the academic and educative journey of young students – with a particular focus on girls – who were educated daily on human rights and on the role they played in their lives in schools opened after a collaboration between the Government and NGOs.
At this point, Ms Mora Escalante presented the example of her country, Costa Rica, and the progress made in the past few years for the promotion of human rights – particularly well aligned with the pacifist tradition of the country. She stated that ensuring public education is the first step to be undertaken to build up an experience of respect and tolerance. Ms Mora Escalante also stressed how the project must involve all actors: people, civil society and governments, cooperating and sustaining each other. Moreover, she stressed the efforts made by the government of Costa Rica to re-think the curricula based on human rights and to revisit the normative legislation. The final aim, Ms Mora Escalante claimed, is to have laws that can effectively allow students to express their identity (sexual, cultural, ethnical etc.) since this is a crucial aspect of education.
Thereafter, Ms Flavia Piovesan shared the experience of Brazil. She particularly mentioned that the content of human rights education should focus on the promotion of human rights for everyone, since inclusion is key for strengthening a full educative process. In Brazil’s case, human rights policies came in the late 80s. At that point, an educational national plan that was adopted inspired by the international framework and structured in many different ways. Then, in 2009, the country adopted a new national plan, endorsing a human rights culture with six guiding areas. Today, continuing on those lines, Brazil keeps on fostering human rights education, highlighting the importance of diversity within the country but also aiming at shaping society in the most inclusive way possible.
In conclusion, attending the 5th session of the 33rd Human Rights Council was a real source of inspiration and motivation. The vital role that education plays in our lives should always be remembered and its importance should motivate all actors involved to find new solutions and methods to foster human rights education. Truly, if we constantly aim at improving the quality of human rights education, the promotion of a culture based on tolerance and respect will be further endorsed and lives of many people deeply ameliorated.
MR - Research Assistant at CIPADH
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. Available at: http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html