Many countries are working towards transforming their countries into 'human rights states'. The UDHR offers a basic statement on common human rights aspirations of the people of the world. Perhaps the practical nature of our predicaments and socio-economic realities in the so called ‘third-world’ countries makes the UDHR too ideal to have any practical meaning to majority of our people, but nevertheless its statement adds value to our determination to work towards developing and refining our values system not to merely conform with some western stereo-type ideologies but more importantly to engage reason and to question those indigenous values that are so obviously against conventional wisdom and a blatant violation of human dignity. While culture is a very important aspect of any people, it can create excuses to marginalize or condemn some members of the human family into perpetual oppression. Human rights education therefore serves as an important liberating tool to empower people to rise above such conceptual oppression. Unfortunately, when people are oppressed for a very long time, they embrace the ego of the oppressor and accept their fate as a way of life and cannot see another way of doing things. But basic human rights guidelines dictate that the only limitation to full enjoyment of human rights is the limitation that we do not infringe on the rights of other people. This is a realistic measure of human rights standards. Thus no matter what the culture or however entrenched it is in the people, if it subordinates a part of a population and make them slaves of others, then such cultures must out rightly be perceived as violating human rights standards and in great need of change. Human rights education becomes even more crucial as a forum for people to share their experiences and to jointly design new workable approaches that ensure equality of access to opportunities for development while at the same time guaranteeing individuals' self-determination. But then beware of attempts to globalize and internationalize standards for cultural viability rest we find ourselves trapped in imperialism that wholesomely demonize all aspects of our cultural way of life and angelize external ideologies as universal ideal culture. Cultural diversity is a beautiful thing that adds value to humanity. What we need is cultural dialogues that instead of merely criticize other cultures engage various communities in sharing their experiences and negotiating on common human rights standards that serve as grund norm upon which harmful cultural practices can be deviated from. This is one task the HRE experts cannot afford to fail our people on. --------------------------------------- Patrick Karanja Executive Director Youth Rights Forum International P.O Box 1590, 00606 Nairobi. Kenya. East Africa. Fax: +254-20-3744266 Phone: +254-721-365630 www.freewebs.com/yhrkenya "Rights-Based Youth Empowerment" ======== Global Human Rights Education listserv ======= Send mail intended for the list to < >. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/ **You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source.
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