August 19, 2016

Human Rights Education

Dr. Khine Khine Win

Human Rights education is an essential tool for implementation of government’s obligations:  respect, protect and fulfill of human rights. And also it is essential to the long term prevention of human rights abuses. The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “every individual and every organ of society, keeping this declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms”. In deed human rights education included in many international human rights treaties: ICERD’s article 27, ICESCR’s article 13, CEDAW’s article 10, CAT’s article 10, CRC’s article 29, ICPRMW’s article 23 and CRPD’s article 4 and 8.
Despite having many meaning on human rights education, they all include elements of awareness raising and participation. According to OHCHR, human rights education promotes values, beliefs and attitude that encourage everyone to uphold their own rights and those of others. To claim their rights and seek for violations, people first need to understand their rights. In this regard, National human rights institutions (NHRIs) have a crucial role to play in advancing human rights education in their countries. It is a core part of their mandate. The Paris Principles set out that NHRIs have a responsibility to “assist in the formulation of programmes for the teaching of, and research into, human rights and to take part in their execution in schools, universities and professional circles”.
In December 2011, UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, HRET. This declaration asserts that everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about their human rights and fundamental freedom.  HRET encompases education about human rights, education through human rights and education for human rights.
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) is mandated to promoting public awareness of human rights and efforts to combat all forms of discrimination through the provision of information and education (Section 22(a)). With this mandate, MNHRC has been delivering human rights education programmes for a broad range of stakeholders, proving training on human rights to the police, military and other government officials working with the grass-roots level to build the capacity of communities.
Above mentioned all training activities have been conducted with the aim to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of universal human rights standards and principles, to develop a universal culture of human rights, to contribute to the prevention of human rights violations and abuses and to the combating and eradication of all forms of discrimination. The activity of human rights education focuses on strengthening respect for the human rights and dignity of participants and enabling their full and active participation.
For instance, recently MNHRC have conducted human rights training workshop for police officials of No. 3 Chief of Security Police Command, Mandalay on 5th and 6th July with an aim to promote knowledge on human rights norms and standards. This is a two-day training workshop. Apart from human rights subjects, comparison between police manual and constitution (2008) is one of the lectures of the training workshop. As police officials are acting as state agent, they are therefore obliged to respect and protect the rights of people. On the other hand, they are entitled to the same rights and freedom as other persons and are protected by human rights when performing their jobs. In this regard, police officials need to understand their rights and rights of others to perform their duties impartially based on understanding of human rights norms and standards.
Human Right Education is a lifelong process that involves all ages and levels.  Some urgently need to understand human rights because of the power they have or the positions of responsibility they hold. As holders of power, it is important to understand that human rights benefit the community and themselves and human rights provide the basis for long-term stability and further development.
Only with full awareness, understanding and respect for human rights can we hope to develop a culture where they are respected rather than violated. The right to human rights education is therefore increasingly recognized as a human right in itself.

References: Human Rights Education, A Manual for National Human Rights Institution, APF


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