August 19, 2016

Civil Servants and Human Rights Knowledge

Dr. Khine Khine Win

In Myanmar, people including civil servants have limited knowledge on human rights. Due to the political reason over the fifty decades in Myanmar, people have rare chance to have knowledge about human rights. I myself have been civil servant for fifteen years in the past and let me confess I have never heard about UDHR when I was a student and a civil servant. However, today Myanmar is on the way to democracy with civilian government and in this juncture this is the time for all people including civil servants to have knowledge about human rights. With the aim to build democratic society, people including civil servants have to have knowledge about culture of human rights such as basic principles of human rights, essence of human rights and character of human rights etc. The civil service is a subdivision of government which is usually grouped with the executive, and without which government cannot function.
During these days I have heard the news relating to establishing the Myanmar Civil Servants Academy with the idea of the government of Myanmar. I really appreciate and welcome this valuable idea. At the same time I wish there is a course about human rights at the newly established academy. It is important to create sufficient awareness of human rights for civil servants and it is the right place to introduce human rights knowledge to them. I believe civil servant training in human rights helps to ensure that the rights of all civil servants within the workplace are respected. This can have a positive impact on civil servant morale and can be of tremendous benefit to any organization. Satisfied employees are likely to be more productive, deliver a higher quality service and stay loyal to the organization.
Civil servant plays a crucial role in democracy and administrative system. There is immense importance of the civil service system in the administrative system which acts as most vital tool for governance. Nurturing good governance is essential to ensuring respect for human rights. If we want to establish good governance and clean government we have to respect human rights. However if we don’t know what is human rights, how can we respect human rights? That’s why in order to have good governance in civil service system civil servants have to know knowledge about human rights especially for the civil servants who lives in the country which is going to build democratic society. Without doubt, human rights are violated when governance failed.
In any democracy, ministers are responsible to the people through parliament and therefore civil servants are accountable to the ministers.  At the same time, implementing the policies of the duly elected government is a core function of civil servants. Indeed Civil servants impact on people’s lives and environment particularly in key areas such as health, education, social welfare, housing, child protection, justice, disability etc which are relevance to human rights.
Human rights education promote attitudes and encourage all individuals to know their rights and those of others. And also it can enhance awareness not to violate the rights of others. Even Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has been giving lectures at some courses at Central Institute of Civil Service ( Phaunggyi and Zeepingyi) since last year. I think it is not enough as there are many civil servants in Myanmar and most of them are missing the chance to learn the lectures about human rights at institute. In this regard if we can expand the course to academy it would be another opportunity for civil servants to know human rights there.
If civil servants know more on human rights, they can have respect for human rights and they can do better for their daily work in civil service system. Excellence in civil service is essential for the nation’s prosperity too. In addition, civil servants have a duty to respect, protect and fulfill people’s human rights when developing and delivering government policy and services. In this regard, civil servants must have knowledge of human rights law and standards.
To perform the statutory duties of civil servants effectively and impartially, it is important to strengthen the culture of human rights awareness which will reduce the potential for any violations of human rights by government department. I fervently hope that one day every civil servant in Myanmar realize the effectiveness of human rights which will help them to implement policies effectively with good governance.


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