How to get HRE at a higher speed, at the national, regional and international levels? The initiative, in 2000, to start up our organisation for HRE (VORMEN) has been taken by members of civil society in the Flemish community in Belgium, as there did not yet exist any body or NGO with HRE as its main mission until then. The initiative was morally supported by a broad range of individuals and of academic and NGO actors in the human rights and educational areas. Obviously, in the process of establishing the NGO the framework of the Decade was frequently used. We believe that one of the main tasks of the authorities of Western European countries with respect to HRE is the integration of HRE in the curricula of the education system as well as in the training of civil servants and other persons who, in the context of their duties, have a special responsibility for human rights (police, prison guards,...). And, as the media are key players in the opinion-making of people, provisions must also been made for the media which guarantee that they also contribute to this aim. Another major task for the state is to enable the civil society to set up expertise and capacity in the HRE area, which also can function as a watchdog. A third task, which is rarely mentioned, could be to provide for funding of international cooperation and partnerships in the area of HRE and for funding of initiatives/NGOs for HRE in poorer countries. In the Flemish (Dutch speaking) community of our country human rights are integrated now in the core curriculum of compulsory education: in this area we have made a good step forward. With the issue of funding for HRE, VORMEN has mixed experiences. Though we are glad with the project-based support that we, until now, have received from different authorities (at federal level, and at the level of the Flemish Community), it remains difficult to get the resources needed for a long-term, stable functioning of the organisation. Several factors are hindering this: 1) The complexity of our state structure (federal level, community level,...). 2) The lack of a minister with explicit overall authority over human rights education. In practice, human rights education falls under the authority of a series of ministers: Minister of Education, Minister of Justice, Minister of Youth and Culture, State Secretary of Development Cooperation,... 3) The nature of the existing funding frameworks. Most of these frameworks are target-group oriented: youth organisations can be funded, organisations for adult education can be funded, ... No structural funding opportunity for a HRE NGO exists in the Belgian Flemish education system. Funding for thematic education exists for development education purposes, but it is not really clear that this framework will allow for the funding of the range of activities that a NGO for HRE would want to deploy. The access to structural funding for development education is only allowed for NGOs which can prove a rather high level of activities during the last three years. Moreover, some additional conditions of rather administrative nature are hampering access to funding for new organisations. 4) The lack of political will. This means: nobody is against, but nobody tries to overcome the difficulties mentioned above. We would like to make two remarks that apply to the regional European level. A) As far as we know, the Council of Europe, which has both human rights and education in its brief, did not take major initiatives to stimulate or coordinate the implementation of the Decade in its countries. Recently, its Committee of Ministers announced a European Year of Citizenship through Education (see http://www.coe.int/T/e/Cultural%5FCo%2Doperation/education/E%2ED%2EC/ What%27s%5Fnew/recommendation.asp), to be prepared by the member states (it is said that this year possibly will take place in 2005). Though human rights are mentioned in its texts, we recommend to make it a major sub-theme of this European year, and to explicitly include the decades objectives in it. B) If the European institutions (EU and Council of Europe) are serious about human rights education, they need to offer substantial funding opportunities that are explicitly open for this area of activities. Special funding possibilities for that purpose could contribute to European networking, to more expertise in the HRE NGOs, to commonly developed educational materials, etcetera. On the international level now... A second decade could be helpful, on condition that the international community recognizes that the majority of countries have still to take the necessary initiatives. It should aim at giving HRE permanently the place it deserves. A regular UN reporting system, where states have to report extensively on HRE, and get UN comments on their report, can be a good long-term strategy. One could think of a system that is similar to the children s rights convention system, which already partly also covers HRE. Reports and comments should be made public as well, which could facilitate public discussion of the issue. And why the HRE NGOs could not take the initiative to, in a coordinated effort, publish regularly regional or international reports on HRE, as a tool of pressure on their governments and on the existing regional and international structures? This is a naming and shaming strategy, that proves to be successful in other human rights areas! -- Wim Taelman, co-ordinator VORMEN vzw (Vlaamse Organisatie voor Mensenrechteneducatie) (= Flemish Organisation for Human Rights Education) Address: Lange Gasthuisstraat 29, B-2000 Antwerp (Belgium) E-mail: email@example.com URL: http://www.vormen.org (or http://vormen.org) Tel.: + 32 3 293 82 15 ======== Global Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/markup/maillist.php 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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