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Human Rights

Back to listMar 20, 2007

SGI Representative Moderates Panel Discussion on Human Rights Education

Ingeborg Breines of UNESCO addresses HREL forum; Kazunari Fujii, SGI UN representative in Geneva, is seated third from the right

On March 20, 2007, at the UN European Headquarters in Geneva, a panel discussion parallel to the 4th session of the UN Human Rights Council on the UN World Programme for Human Rights Education and the Right to Education was organized by the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education & Learning (HREL) of CONGO (the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationships with the UN).

The discussion was moderated by Kazunari Fujii, Chair of the NGO Working Group on HREL and representative of the SGI UN Liaison Office in Geneva, and featured Vernor Muñoz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Thérèse Björk of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and Ingeborg Breines, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office, Geneva, as well as El Baghdadi Abdelfattah, representative of the Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme (CCDH), a national human rights institution of Morocco, and Alfred Fernandez, president of OIDEL, an international organization promoting the right to education and freedom of education.

A key theme for discussion was assessment of progress made during the first phase (2005-2007) of the World Programme for Human Rights Education (WPHRE) which focuses on elementary and high school education.

Thérèse Björk spoke of the need for phased implementation and the need for civil society to be involved, as well as introducing key resources and examples of progress made in Burundi, the Netherlands, Brazil and Spain.

Ingeborg Breines highlighted the link with the right to education and the need for political will in order for human rights education to be implemented. She commented that most countries have prestigious military academies, but few have made human rights education a priority.

El Baghdadi Abdelfattah then described in detail Moroco's recent program for the promotion of human rights education which consists of a 5-year plan for integration of human rights education into the citizenship education curriculum, human rights training for professionals and an information campaign to increase public awareness.

Alfred Fernandez of OIDEL pointed out the low level of awareness of the WPHRE and the need for further resources and teacher training.

Vernor Muñoz commented that human rights education should ideally be integrated across the curriculum, not just taught as one component. He also highlighted the need for further efforts to increase awareness and implementation of the WPHRE.

During discussion, questions were raised about the need to consider the whole ethical aspect of education and the issue of real violence in schools. The idea of creating a TV program on human rights education was proposed, and welcomed by UNESCO.

As moderator, SGI representative Kazunari Fujii closed the meeting, commenting that teachers also have a role as human rights defenders and made a commitment that the NGO Working Group on HREL would continue its efforts to ensure the participation of NGOs in the processes of global policy-making on human rights education.

[Adapted from a report from the SGI UN Liaison Office, Geneva, Switzerland]