Cairo Declaration on Human Rights Education and Dissemination

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Adopted by
The Conference on Human Rights Education and Dissemination:
A 21st Century Agenda

The Second International Conference of Human Rights Movement in the Arab World
13-16 October 2000, Cairo

At invitation of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in
coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, with the
participation of around one hundred human rights experts and defenders
from forty human rights groups from 14 Arab states, as well as experts
from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, the Conference on Human
Rights Education and Dissemination: A 21st Century Agenda was held in
Cairo from the 13th to the 16th of October, 2000.

The Conference,

Having considered the international human rights instruments, as well as
documents, declarations and reports adopted by relevant regional and
international conferences, especially the UNESCO's International Congress
on the Teaching of Human Rights Vienna, 1978, International Congress on
Human Rights Teaching, Information and Documentation Malta, 1987, the
International Congress on Education for Human Rights and Democracy
Montreal, 1993, the UNESCO Regional Conference on Human Rights Education
in Africa Dakar, 1998, the UNESCO Regional Conference on Human Rights
Education in Asia and the Pacific Pune, 1999, the UNESCO Regional
Conference on Human Rights Education in the Arab States Rabat, 1999, and
the First International Conference of the Arab Human Rights Movement
Casablanca, 1999,

Having reviewed the United Nations Plan of Action for the Decade for Human
Rights Education (1995-2004), and the progress achieved halfway through
the Decade,

Having held extensive deliberations throughout its sessions, taking into
consideration the close link between the lack of respect for human rights
and the prevalence of poverty and corruption as evidenced by the World
Human Development Report and the Report on Corruption in the World, and
also noting the increasing concern at the adverse effects of globalisation
on the economic level, the abuse of human rights considerations in
international relations, and the grave injustices they caused against
peoples, especially in the Arab World,

Decides to adopt the following Cairo Declaration on Human Rights Education
and Dissemination.

Participants reaffirm:

	* Human rights principles are universal; civil, political,
economic, social, cultural and collective rights are closely
interconnected, interdependent and indivisible; women's rights are an
integral part of the human rights system.
	* Human rights values are the fruit of the interaction and
communication between civilizations and cultures throughout history, the
product of the struggle by all peoples against all forms of injustice and
oppression internal and external. In this sense, such values belong to
humanity as a whole.
	* Commendable cultural specificity as a human right- entrenches
people's feeling of dignity and equality, promotes their participation in
the conduct of public affairs in their countries, and promotes their
consciousness and awareness of the common destiny of all humankind. It is
not used to justify marginalizing or consolidating the inferior status of
women, nor to justify excluding the other on whatever religious, cultural
or political grounds, or to waive commitment to international instruments.
	*Respect for human rights is a prime interest for every person,
group, people, and for humanity as a whole. This is considering that the
enjoyment of dignity, freedom and equality by all is a crucial factor in
the flourishing of the human person, in advancing nations and developing
their material and human wealth, and in promoting the sense of
	*Human rights education and dissemination is a fundamental human
right.  This imposes on governments in particular great responsibilities
to explicate, propagate and disseminate human rights principles and their
protection mechanisms.

First: The Concept of Human Rights Education and Culture

Human rights education is, in essence, a public endeavour to enable people 
to learn the basic knowledge essential at once for their emancipation from 
all forms of oppression and suppression and the inculcation of feelings of 
responsibility and concern as regards the public good. Human rights culture 
comprises the host of values, mental and behavioural structures, cultural 
heritage, norms and traditions commensurate with human rights principles, 
along with methods of socialization that transmit such culture at home, 
school, intermediary agencies and the media.

	Human rights education and dissemination is a continuous and
comprehensive process that covers all the aspects of life, a process that
should be brought into all kinds of practices whether personal,
professional, cultural, social, political, or civic. It is necessary that
all professions adhere to codes of practice committed to values that are
inspired by the fundamental human rights.
	The fundamental purpose of human rights education is to interweave 
knowledge and practice. Human rights education, inculcating dignity and 
responsibility along with social and moral responsibility, inevitably leads 
people to mutual respect, collective support and adaptation to their 
respective needs and rights. It leads people to accept working together to 
reach freely suitable and renewable formulas that would ensure the balance 
of interests and joint work towards the common good, without the need to 
resort to the sway violence, arbitrary or organized, which does away with 
the freedom of everybody.

Second: The Objectives of Human Rights Education and Dissemination

1-	Developing and flourishing the human personality in its spiritual, 
intellectual and social dimensions, and entrenching people's sense of 
dignity, freedom, equality, social justice and democratic practice.
2-	Enhancing men and women's awareness of their rights so as to help enable 
them to transform human rights principles into social, economic and 
political reality. It would also enhance their ability to defend, maintain 
and advance human rights on all levels.
3-	Consolidating friendship and solidarity among peoples; promoting respect 
for the rights of others; cherishing cultural pluralism and diversity and 
encouraging the flourishing of the national cultures of all groups and 
peoples; enriching the culture of dialogue, mutual tolerance and renouncing 
violence; promoting non-violence, fighting bigotry, and immunizing the 
people against the discourse of hatred.
4-	Promoting a culture of peace that is based on justice and respect of 
human rights, foremost of which are the rights to self-determination and to 
resist occupation; in addition to democratising international relations and 
institutions so as to reflect the common interests of humanity.

Third: Recommendations
Having studied the obstacles to human rights education and dissemination in 
the Arab World, the Conference makes the following recommendations:

1-	Calling upon the Arab governments to:
1-1-	Ratify all the international human rights instruments; to drop 
reservations for those states that have ratified with reservations; to 
monitor their practical application; to respect all human rights 
indivisibly; and to not use the manipulation of human rights by some 
parties in the international community or cultural specificity as a pretext 
to justify waiving their commitments towards their peoples and citizens.
1-2-	Eliminate all restrictions to the freedoms of opinion, expression and 
assembly, and academic freedoms, in conformity with the universally 
recognized human rights principles, and to the right to own and manage 
radio and TV stations and print media channels.
1-3-	Draw up national plans for human rights education. This would be the 
greatest contribution to the promotion of the sense of belonging and 
citizenship, considering that raising people's and societies' awareness of 
human rights is the first line of defence of human rights and nations' rights.

In this regard, special attention should be given to:

i)	Revising educational curricula and media materials to rid them of 
messages against human rights, and enriching educational curricula with 
human rights content.
ii)	Including courses on human rights in higher and post-graduate 
education, and encouraging MA and PhD research in human rights.
iii)	Including human rights in literacy and informal education programs.
iv)	 Including human rights courses in programs qualifying teachers, 
lawyers, judges, physicians, media personnel, religious scholars, police 
and army officers, civil servants, and those who work in the different 
fields of art.
v)	Establishing national institutions for human rights education and 
dissemination; enhancing the role of those already existing in some Arab 
countries; and coordinating efforts to realize national plans in 
cooperation with local, regional and Arab human rights organizations.
vi)	Consolidating cooperation with the relevant United Nations bodies and 
the international human rights education institutions.
vii)	Paying special attention to the role the arts and letters may play in 
human rights education and dissemination, given their special capacity to 
address and inspire human consciousness. Special attention should also be 
given to knowledge of living reality as a starting point, in addition to 
developing non-traditional educational materials (such as films and plays).
2-	Urging the League of Arab States to concern itself with the human rights 
issues of the Arab peoples and citizens. This requires revising the Arab 
Charter for Human Rights so as to bring it into conformity with human 
rights values and principles; establishing a special system for the 
Permanent Arab Committee on Human Rights in order to activate it; and 
opening channels of cooperation with Arab non-governmental organizations. 
Also, the League of Arab States is urged to contribute in activating the 
plans of the United Nations bodies concerned with human rights education 
and dissemination.
3-	 Establishing an Arab regional committee for human rights education and 
dissemination to include Arab governments that are active in this regard 
and the relevant Arab non-governmental organization, with a view to develop 
plans and programs in cooperation with the relevant United Nations bodies.
4-	Urging education experts to develop human rights education curricula to 
address the heart and emotions as well as the mind. Such curricula should 
not be restricted to conveying information and knowledge; they should seek 
to develop critical thinking and attitudes. Thus they may help create a 
cultural environment that safeguards individual and collective rights and 
furthers the establishment of the state of law and right. It is necessary 
that such curricula be based on the universal human rights principles while 
drawing upon the respective people's specific culture and historical 
experience in resisting all forms of political, social, cultural and 
religious oppression and foreign occupation.
5-	Calling upon the political parties in the Arab World to declare their 
full commitment to the international human rights instruments; to enhance 
the human rights content in their platforms and practices on the ground; to 
follow democratic practices internally; and to attach special importance to 
human rights culture in their cadre-training programs for the youth.
6-	Urging the radio, TV and the print media to consider seriously promoting 
human rights values, pluralism and diversity, and to avoid all that may 
instigate racial or religious hatred, deride the opinions of the other, or 
degrade human dignity. Also, the Arab Press Union, the different press 
syndicates and civil society institutions are called upon to monitor the 
media's adherence to professional codes of ethics in this regard. Moreover, 
human rights institutions, both governmental and non-governmental, are 
called upon to adopt special training programs for media personnel.
7-	 Urging human rights institutions, both governmental and 
non-governmental, to make the best use of media channels, especially the 
radio and TV, in disseminating the human rights culture. This may include 
establishing special platforms, designing special programmes, and making 
use of modern technology to this end. Human rights organizations are urged 
to study the components of popular culture that form the consciousness of 
individuals, with a view to reaching the discourse suitable for the 
dissemination of human rights.
8-	Calling upon the Arab intellectuals, politicians and religious scholars 
to abstain from entangling religion in a confrontation with human rights, 
to consider those rights provided by the international human rights law as 
a minimum to build upon not to be reduced in the name of cultural 
specificity or any other pretext, and to work towards the entrenchment of 
human rights values in the Arab cultural traditions.
9-	Calling upon academics, researchers and religious scholars to work for 
highlighting the roots of human rights in the Arab culture, to underscore 
the contribution of the Islamic and Christian civilizations in establishing 
human rights values, and to dismantle that artificial contradiction between 
a number of human rights principles and some obsolete fundamentalist 
10-	 Urging the non-governmental human rights institutions in the Arab 
World to promote local and regional coordination among them, as well as 
with the relevant local and regional governmental agencies, and with 
religious institutions concerned with human rights culture. They are also 
urged to carry out field research to assess the Arab experiences, both 
governmental and non-governmental, in human rights education, with a view 
to identifying the obstacles and making recommendations for improvement.
11-	Urging the Secretary-General of the United Nations to take special 
notice of the issue of human rights education and dissemination, and to 
designate his yearly address on Human Rights Day, December 10th, this year 
for calling upon governments to enhance their efforts in this regard, 
particularly in activating the United Nations Decade for Human Rights 
Education, including the mobilization of the necessary human and material 
12-	Urging the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to 
undertake the necessary doubling of efforts in order to activate the United 
Nations Decade for Human Rights Education in the best possible way, and to 
extend better support to the governments and non-governmental organizations 
active in this field.
13-	Urging the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the 
UNESCO to consider the translation of all publications related to human 
rights issues into Arabic and making them widely available for the Arabic 


Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies "CIHRS"

tel: +202 794 37 15 / 795 11 12
fax +202 795 4 200
9 Rustom St. Garden City- 7th floor
flat 35 Cairo- Egypt

mailing address: P.O.Box 117 Magles Al Shaab
11516 Cairo -Egypt

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