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Human Rights

Back to listDec 19, 2011

The General Assembly adopts the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training

United Nations Human Rights Council (March 2009)United Nations Human Rights Council

On December 19, 2011, during the month of International Human Rights Day, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training.

This landmark document stands as a new UN instrument solely dedicated to the advancement of human rights education and training. The UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training (UNDHRET) is a crucial guiding document promoting values, beliefs and attitudes that encourage all individuals to uphold their own rights and those of others.

Prior to its adoption SGI President Daisaku Ikeda had stressed the pressing need to construct such a global framework for human rights education, placing significant emphasis on the crucial role it could play in creating a universal culture of human rights. In order to help ensure that a global framework on human rights education has universal acceptability, it was essential that a wide range of voices from civil society be reflected in its conception.

To this end the SGI has made significant contributions in collaboration with other NGOs to transmitting views and proposals of NGOs in the drafting process of the declaration. These efforts were made through the network and efforts of the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning, which currently comprises more than 40 NGO members. The NGO Working Group was formed in May 2006 in Geneva as part of the NGO Committee on Human Rights, one of the thematic NGO committees of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO). SGI currently serves as Chair of the Working Group, with the International Organization for the Development of Freedom of Education (OIDEL) as Co-Chair.

The voices of NGOs expressed through the NGO Working Group have played a pivotal role in ensuring civil society's participation within the policy-making process, through activities such as drafting and facilitating joint written and oral statements addressed to the Human Rights Council and organizing meetings in parallel with the Council's sessions on the Declaration.

Working with the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training (an intergovernmental group of seven UN Member States: Costa Rica, Italy, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, Slovenia and Switzerland, committed to promoting human rights education and training in the Human Rights Council), the NGO Working Group has become the channel for the Platform Member States to communicate with NGOs, and in this regard SGI has played a crucial role in creating a bridge between NGOs and governments, especially in the drafting process of the UNDHRET.

The efforts by SGI to reflect the views and proposals of NGOs that contributed to the construction of the UNDHRET include submission of responses to questionnaires conducted by the Human Rights Council's Advisory Committee (CAC) and consultations with Drafting Group members of CAC, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education.

SGI will continue its efforts and collaborations with all stakeholders including NGOs, other civil society actors, international and regional intergovernmental organizations to promote human rights education and training initiatives, to help ensure the effective and universal implementation of this Declaration.

[Report and photo courtesy of SGI-OPI]