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Parallel to the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which took place from September 8 to 26 at the UN Office at Geneva, SGI’s representatives to the UN in Geneva, together with other NGOs, participated in and supported two public side events promoting human rights education: the launch of a new web resource on September 10 and a workshop for media professionals and journalists on September 16.
The September 16 workshop, titled Human Rights Education: Media Professionals and Journalists Make a Difference!, brought together some 70 representatives from NGOs, governmental and intergovernmental organizations with media professionals to explore ways of implementing the Third Phase (2015–2019) of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, which has as its focus “media professionals and journalists.”
Kazunari Fujii, SGI representative to the UN in Geneva, who chairs the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning in Geneva, organizers of the workshop, stressed the importance of raising awareness of human rights education among the media. He mentioned as good practice the programs created by the BBC every year to mark December 10, Human Rights Day.
The Platform for Human Rights Education, comprising the governments of Costa Rica, Italy, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, Slovenia and Switzerland, cosponsored the event.
related article SGI-Bolivia Gives Seminar on Buddhist View of Human Rights On October 22, SGI-Bolivia representatives were invited to give a seminar on Buddhist principles and how they inform the idea of human rights at a Professional Ethics course at Domingo Savio Private University in La Paz. In her keynote presentation, Anne Bennet, executive director of Hirondelle USA, a non-profit organization advancing the right to information through journalism, underlined the key role played by the media. She said, “Journalism makes human rights relevant to the population, transforming abstract norms into real life situations for the listener or audience. And where the rule of law is fragile or non-existent we’ve seen how the media, in particular radio, can serve as a catalyst to propagate basic human rights and to put pressure on governments to respect these rights.”
During the open discussion that followed, participants exchanged views on topics such as how to engage the media in promoting human rights education and the challenge for reporters of safeguarding human rights in conflicts where they are working embedded with military forces.
The September 10 side event, organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, saw the launch of the new web resource “The Right to Human Rights Education” which outlines all the existing commitments made by UN Member States and at the regional level to undertake and promote human rights education.
The resource, three years in the making, is the outcome of a partnership of numerous groups including the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning and HR2020: Global Coalition for Human Rights Education, both of which SGI is part of. It is intended to serve as a guide and advocacy tool for governments, national human rights institutions, intergovernmental organizations and civil society.
[Adapted from a report from the SGI’s UN Liaison Office in Geneva; photo courtesy of Soka Gakkai International Office of Public Information (SGI-OPI)]
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