World Programme for Human Rights Education

ICJW’s representative to the UN in Geneva, Eftichia Simha, reports on a panel Discussion on the World Programme for Human Rights Education entitled “What Focus for the Fourth Phase?”

The discussion was organized by the NGO Working Group on Human Rights
Education and Learning with the co-sponsorship of the States platform on Human
Rights Education (Brazil, Costa Rica, Italy, Morocco, The Philippines, Senegal,
Slovenia and Thailand).

The World Programme for Human Rights Education is a global initiative which aims
to provide a common sense of purpose, goals and actions as well as to enhance human
rights education around the world.

It is an ongoing initiative structured in consecutive phases. The first phase (2005-
2009) focused on the consideration of Human Rights in primary and secondary
education systems. The second phase (2010-2014) focused on the consideration of
Human Rights in higher education, and on Human Rights training for teachers,
educators, government officials, law enforcement and military officials.

The plan of action for the third phase (2015-2019) highlights the key actions to be
undertaken to strengthen the preview phases and to further promote Human Rights
training for media professionals and journalists.

His H.E Mr Mauricio Enrico Serra, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Italy,
opened the discussion by announcing the issues facing the World Programme for
Human Rights Education: the issue of cross-regionalism and the issue of division
between generations and genders.

Mr Abdulaziz Almuzaini, Director, UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office, added that the
international community needs to reinforce the values of global citizenship and

The Panelists were:
a) Johan Olhagen, Human Rights Officer, Methodology, Education and Training
Section OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
b) Lydia Ruprecht, Team Leader, Global Citizenship Education, UNESCO
c) Charline Thierry, Chargée de Mission, Commission Nationale consultative des
Droits de l’Homme, Paris
d) Patrice Meyer-Bisch, Président de l’Observatoire de la Diversité et des Droits
Culturels, Fribourg

Charline Thierry highlighted the following challenges:

  • How can we reach the general public outside the school system,
  • How can we help women and girls get more involved in the programme,
  • Should we educate parliamentarians, executives of the private sector and administrators on Human Rights Education?

Patrice Meyer-Bisch took the floor to address the challenges: “Human Rights
education is not a specific education. It is the essence of education itself! Yet, there is
no universal consensus on the cultural content of Human Rights. Each State defines
them differently”.

He continued by proposing a solution to this important issue. He said that we should
primarily understand where and which are the differences among the different states.
Next we should work on the documents that would clarify the concept of universality.
And finally we should not focus on the concept of Human Rights but on the concept of
Human Dignity.

All panellists agreed that education is a fundamental component of Human Rights. We
have to work all together in order to maximise our efforts for better education.
Education, as a bridge between different cultures can open the doors of dialogue and
lead societies towards peace.