Dear colleagues, As you know, the United States are in opposition to the initiative to develop the Convention on Human Rights Education. I think, it's just time for us to draft an outline of such Convention as an argument to be used in Geneva. First of all, the Convention, I think, should state the right of the individual to know and act upon his rights as specified in the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. One of the possible definitions of this right was published by Ms. Evgeniya Pavlenko in 2003: "The right of individual to know his rights is possibility of individual set in international legal acts and guaranteed by the state to acquire knowledge, values, views, practical skills and abilities by studying, review, discussing issues of theory and practice of human rights and freedoms, receiving and imparting relevant information, and requiring from the state and international organizations to create proper conditions for implementation of this right, as well as to claim its protection." Then, the Convention should include the recognition of the remarkable dual character of this right: as a particular case of the right to freedom "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas" (UDHR's Article 18), it is the civil, "negative" right, in the same time, as a particular case of the right to education (UDHR's Article 26), it is a social, "positive" right. Therefore, the obligations of the state in this field should not be only in protecting human rights education efforts of civil society, but in direct state policy in this field. Then, referring to UDHR's Article 26 p.2, the Convention should set that "the states are obliged to take measures to ensure that education at their territories shall be directed to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups." Maybe this statement should be revised taking into account the definition of human rights education from the UN Plan of Action which is following: "...Human rights education shall be defined as training, dissemination and information efforts aimed at the building of a universal culture of human rights through the imparting of knowledge and skills and the moulding of attitudes and directed to: (a) The strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; (b) The full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity; (c) The promotion of understanding, tolerance, gender equality and friendship among all nations, indigenous peoples and racial, national, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups; (d) The enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society; (e) The furtherance of the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace." Concretely, it should be set that the member states should encourage including human rights issues into curricula at all levels of education, set such requirements in the state educational standards abd guidelines, should establish human rights expertise of curricula, manuals and textbooks for every teaching subject, support extracurricular and NGOs activities in informal human rights education, etc. It is very important to include to the Convention the statement that the member states recognize the diversity of approaches to human rights and their development in time, otherwise we have a risk to receive very dogmatic system of education similar to the Soviet one, when even the conditions of tasks in mathematics schoolbooks were designed in order to provide "ideological bringing up" without changes during decades. ;-))) I think that the Convention should establish the Human Rights Education Committee, the eighth UN's "treaty body", in order to consider state reports on human rights education every four years. What is your opinion? Sincerely yours, Roman Sinelnikov ======== Asia Pacific Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <email@example.com>. **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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