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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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High-Level Panel on Human Rights Education and Training

On the 14th of September 2016, the United Nations in Geneva held a High-Level Panel on the Fifth Anniversary of the Adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training during the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council.

H.E. Mr.Choi Kyong-lim, President of the Human Rights Council, declared the start of the High-Level Panel. The panel was introduced by Ms. Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, followed by a keynote address by Mr. Jordan Naidoo, Director of the Division for Education 2030 Support and Coordination, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and later a panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Cristiana Carletti, Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Roma Tre in Italy. 

In her introduction, Ms. Gilmore reminded States that they possess an obligation under international law to provide Human Rights Education (HRE) and training. Recognizing that there are more individuals under the age of 25 than there have ever been in history, Ms. Gilmore stressed that education is the most powerful weapon to be used to bring about positive change in the world.

Mr. Jordan Naidoo began his keynote statement by signaling the prevailing global mood of disenchantment in regard to the protection of human rights. Therefore, he highlighted not only the need to provide HRE for people of all ages, but he stressed its capacity to empower individuals to make concrete changes in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.

Following these comments, Ms. Cristiana Carletti chose to set the stage of the upcoming panel discussion by introducing a five minute clip from the documentary “A Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education.” The video told the success stories of children and adults in Southern India, who were discriminated against based on their sex or caste, but were able to recognize their innate value as human beings as a result of HRE. Not only were they eager to claim their rights, but they were also determined to protect those of others.

The first panelist, H.E. Ms. Sonia Marta Mora Escalante, Minister of Education of Costa Rica, shared the decision of her country to incorporate the 2030 Agenda into its national curriculum, focusing efforts on, for example, ending sex- and gender-based discrimination, as well as teaching global citizenship. Next, H.E. Ms. Flavia Piovesan, Secretary for Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice of Brazil, spoke on her country’s National Guidelines for HRE based on the principles of human dignity, equality, recognition and appreciation of diversity, secularity of the State, democracy and education, and social and environmental sustainability. Ms. Piovesan further described a prize awarded by her Government to individuals and institutions that have stood out in the protection of Human Rights. The next panelist was Mr. Driss El Yazami, Chair of the National Human Rights Council of Morocco, who shared the guidebook his country had developed in conjunction with UNESCO for the HRE of youth. Additionally, Morocco’s National Human Rights Council conducted a survey to assess the status of human rights in the country, which would be very helpful to identify what priorities must be addressed at the Government level. The final panelist, Mr. Herman Deparice-Okomba, Executive Director of the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence in MontrĂ©al, Canada; identified violent outbreaks of radicalized individuals to be a phenomenon resulting from a lack of HRE. Mr. Herman called for a preventative approach to radicalization by working to address the root causes of this kind of violence.

During the discussion among States, many highlighted the special link between HRE and achieving the SDGs. States also encouraged their peers to make use of the well-designed World Programme for Human Rights Education. Slovenia highlighted the fact that refugee and migrant children should not be left out from HRE. Ecuador and the Republic of Congo shared that HRE was part of the training that their public servants already received. NGOs called for collaboration between national human rights institutions and Governments, as well as for States to allocate more money to education rather than to military budgets. The International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (OIDEL) stated that providing HRE is compulsory based on international law and, therefore, reports to UN human rights treaty bodies must seek to measure States’ efforts to make this education available to all.     

The final comments of the panelists included highlighting the need for countries to mainstream HRE in the process of achieving of each of the SDGs and as a stand-alone goal, allocating more funding for HRE, increasing efforts to provide all members of society with this formation, and making use of the Internet as a means to promote HRE. Ms. Carletti had the final word. After commenting on the audience’s shared understanding of the catalytic role of education, she thanked the Office of the High Commissioner, the members of panel for their contributions, and all Member States for their comments.

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