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HREA Online -- March/April 2004


International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March 2004 (Image: UNESCO)

  • From the HREA staff: 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights
  • Croatian human rights education project concludes
  • HREA partners with NGOs and ministries of Education and Human Rights in Morocco
  • Collaboration with Bilgi University NGO Centre





    Many of us are closely watching the UN Commission on Human Rights, which is currently together in Geneva for its annual six-week session. (It is possible to follow the meetings through summaries and audio streaming at the Commission's website.) Aside from the annual "naming and shaming" of UN member states with questionable human rights records, the so-called war on terrorism will most likely cast a shadow over the discussion of the 53 states that are represented on the Commission. Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, governments around the world continue to infringe on civil and political rights in the name of counter-terrorism.

    Of special interest will be the debate on a possible second United Nations Decade of Human Rights Education. The Sub-Commission on Human Rights has recommended to declare a second Decade following the end of the first in December 2004. HREA has actively taken part in consultations and discussions, in Geneva and elsewhere, about the importance of a second Decade and the importance of coordinated lobby efforts to support a second Decade. Our sense is that there seems to be consensus within the NGO movement that despite the mixed results of the current Decade, a second Decade will be critical in order to promote human rights education on the public agenda.

    At the moment of this writing it is unclear if there will be sufficient support for another Decade. If the UN Commission on Human Rights adopts a resolution for a second Decade, HREA and partners will organise an on-line Global Consultation in May and June to provide input in the drafting of the required plan of action for such a second Decade. If political will among UN member states for a second Decade or similar international framework turns out to be lacking, HREA will nevertheless continue to promote human rights education at the international and regional levels.

    Felisa Tibbitts
    Executive Director


    HREA has supported human rights education efforts in Croatia since 1998 through partnerships with the Ministry of Education, the National Committee for Human Rights Education and the newly established Research and Training Centre for Human Rights & Democratic Citizenship at Zagreb University.

    Project director Vedrana Spajic-VrkasThe project involved the development of teacher training materials for lower primary school teachers that would assist teachers in meeting the new national standards calling for cross-curricular integration of human rights themes. Through the efforts of local project coordinator Vedrana Spajic-Vrkas, draft manuals were written for pre-school and lower-primary school educators and piloted in regional trainings.

    The manuals were completed in March and will be distributed to teachers throughout Croatia. This project was supported through the generosity of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Learn more about this initiative in the article Lessons learned from Croatia.


    HREA has signed agreements with key NGOs and authorities as part of a groundbreaking human rights education initiative in Morocco. The initiative includes the organisation of roundtables, textbook review and the training of judges in the new Family Code recently adopted by the Moroccan parliament.

    Staff member Abderrahim Sabir met in January with NGOs and officials of the ministries of Education, Human Rights and Justice to finalise the project, which we hope will eventually also include the introduction of human rights education in high schools. Mr. Soulaih El Mostafa, a well-known human rights trainer in Morocco, will be representing HREA locally.


    HREA’s Director Felisa Tibbitts, on the right, conducting a training on NGO Project Development and Management in Istanbul in January 2004. Photo: Bilgi UniversityThe NGO Training and Research Centre of Bilgi University in Istanbul has asked HREA to contribute to their ambitious, new training programming. The mission of the non-profit centre is the empowerment of civil society in Turkey by providing capacity building services, training and education programmes, disseminate information and practical resources to NGOs, and construct strategic partnerships. There are many exciting developments in the Turkish NGO sector at the present time and HREA is pleased to be a small part of this.











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    Distance learning course on the European Human Rights System

    The application process has started for HREA's distance learning course "Introduction to the European System of Human Rights Protection and Promotion", which takes place from 13 September-5 December 2004. Course instructor is Dr. Gerd Oberleitner (London School of Economics). Other courses offered in the year 2004-2005 include a new course on Human Rights Advocacy for human rights activists in the Middle East/North Africa (in Arabic) and our annual courses on Project Development and Management in the NGO Sector, Rights-Based Programming and Human Rights Advocacy. Find out more about these and other upcoming distance learning opportunities.

    Conference on impact of UN Decade in Europe (Soesterberg, 3-4 December 2004)

    On 3 and 4 December HREA will organise a conference on the impact of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. As part of the activities of the "Democracy and Human Rights Education in Europe" (DARE), participants will take stock of the accomplishments during the Decade (1995-2004) in Europe.

    HREA organises international colloquium on human rights and ICTs

    From 5-7 November 2004, thirty experts will be meeting in Boston (USA) for a hands-on colloquium to share and discuss experiences and good practices in the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Main themes will be advocacy & campaigning, education & training, information & documentation, including monitoring, and privacy & security. Colloquium participants will include staff members of, among other organisations, Amnesty International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, FIDH, Forum-Asia, Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. Preparations for the colloquium are in full swing.

    Launch of Francophone HRE Listserv

    On 5 April, l'Union Interafricaine des Droits de l'Homme (Burkina Faso) will be launching the Francophone Human Rights Education listserv. The aim of the list is to electronically network NGOs, educational institutions and other organisations involved in education and training for human rights in francophone Africa and other parts of the world where French is spoken. HREA staff member Frank Elbers was in Ouagadougou in early March for planning meetings and to train the UIDH staff.

    The Francophone HRE listserv is part of HREA's and regional partner's efforts to facilitate communication and networking in the field through the Global Human Rights Education Network.

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