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We are glad to inform you that after our pleasant experience with the Italian blog, the IIMA Human Rights Office has decided to open a new blog in English.

On this blog, you may follow our main activities with the United Nations and its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as news from the UN bodies and IIMA offices in different countries related to the right to education.

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Panel on history teaching and memorialization processes

On Thuesday, September 9th, 2014 IIMA attended the High-Level Panel Discussion on history teaching and memorialization at the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The President of the HRC(Baudelaire Ndong Ella) opened the meeting by giving the floor to Flavia Pansieri (United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights), who has introduced the two reports of Pablo de Greiff (the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and Guarantees of non-recurrence).
In the first report on the writing and teaching of history, the Special Rapporteur stressed that, in many countries, the historical narratives promoted by States in schools are different. There are cultural diversity and the multiplicity of historical narratives. In the most acute cases of conflict, such policies can be seen as either the continuation of war in the area of culture and education, or as a means to prepare revenge in the future. They constitute worrying obstacles to peace-making and lasting peace. In the second report on memorialization processes, the Special Rapporteur noted that States withdrawing conflicts or periods of repression are increasingly driven to engage in active memorial policies as a means of ensuring recognition for the victims, as reparation for mass or grave violations of human rights and as a guarantee of non-recurrence.
Flavia Pansieri states: That narratives of the past can and will be distorted and employed as propaganda, creating the illusion that conflict is the natural state between specific groups, and thus laying the ground for repeated conflict. The necessary conditions to approach these narratives, she continued, is critical: critically analyze the different interpretations to understand the present and the contemporary changes. Contributions were then given by the experts, the first panelist was Marie Wilson (Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on residential schools for aboriginal peoples) beginning with “Parallel memories create parallel realities that make it difficult for peace and reasoning to occur. Take note that a war is always understood as just/liberty on one side and unjust/ suppressing on the other side.”  Then Sami Adwan (Professor of Education and Teacher Training, Hebron University, State of Palestine) intervenes with “a good practice to avoid social tension (ex. Israeli and Palestinian conflict) is giving both narratives an equal amount of space, and to train teachers on multi-perspective approach.” Dubravka Stojanovic (Professor, History Department, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade University, Serbia) takes the floor: “Those who condemn the past are doomed to repeat it.” The states are then given the floor: Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Group) who recognized the risk that in countries that have experienced conflict  the history could be interpreted differently by political forces especially by authoritarian regimes. Algeria along with Sierra Leone and Armenia emphasized the importance of the commemoration of the victims of the past through museums such as The Museum on Genocide, The Peace Memorial Museum and The Garden Museum. At the conclusion of this thematic discussion it was clearly recognized that “history is not one, it’s not only written in books, nor only told by a "powerful" voice, but it's in the blood of the victims, in the unspoken words, and in the people: history is everywhere.”

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