We have a duty to build capacity in people so that they know what their basic human rights are, how to find support for protection of these rights and to understand how they can take action to protect other people’s human rights.
Check out UNICEF’s Voice of Youth site for more information about children’s rights.
Instead of heeding lessons of the past, we seem to be reading more and more in the news about child soldiers, sexual violence being perpetrated as a weapon of war, civilians being injured, tortured, killed as a way of ‘undermining governments’ policies’ and as a general threat to innocent civilians. This is also in the context of a wide availability of more sophisticated weapons in the poorest of countries and a general plundering of natural resources , particularly minerals such as diamonds leading to a wider range of conflicts.
The next generation will already be receiving this situation, handed down by their parents -education of the next two generations is necessary to get a real change in attitudes and behaviour and and for all children , no matter where they live, have their basic rights protected and enforced.
The text below comes from the HREA Quarterly Newsletter ( July-September 2009)
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR), the Council of Europe, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have jointly published Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America: A Compendium of Good Practice. HREA was retained to develop the Compendium under the guidance of these partners.
Designed for primary and secondary schools, teacher training institutions and other learning settings, the new tool, which collects 101 exemplary practices from Central Asia, Europe and North America, is a valuable resource for teachers and education policymakers.
It provides resource materials relevant to key elements for successful human rights education, including 1) laws, guidelines and standards; 2) learning environment; 3) teaching and learning tools; 4) professional development for educators, and 5) evaluation.
The collection demonstrates creative approaches to human rights education and aims to facilitate networking and exchange of experience among education professionals. The practices can be adapted to local conditions anywhere in the world.
Below is an example of a good practice included in the Compendium:
Crimes of War – What the Public Should Know: Educator’s Guide
Intended Audience: Upper secondary school and university students (ages 16-22) and their teachers.
Purpose: The Educator’s Guide was developed to make the reality of war crimes more accessible to youth, young adults and future decision makers in a classroom learning environment.
The assumption is that if students and their teachers know the depth of the horrors of war – the same wars that are often described in mainstream media as “precise”, “modern”, or “just” – they would take a more active role in deciding when, where and why to go to war, and in influencing the way those wars are fought.
Description: The Educator’s Guide accompanies the second edition of Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, composed of case studies written by prominent field journalists. The Educator’s Guide was developed in co-operation with the Crimes of War Project (publisher of the second edition) and the United States Institute of Peace.
In the Educator’s Guide, there are eight thematic chapters: weapons, violence against civilians, child soldiers, sexual violence, terrorism and torture, genocide, international courts and tribunals, and humanitarian intervention. Each of the thematic chapters is linked to case studies contained in the second edition of Crimes of War, as well as United States national education standards. The chapters include the following elements:
• an essential question;
• learning objectives;
• background information on the theme;
• discussion questions (organized from simplest to most complex);
• extension activities (that can be used for additional class work or homework);
• ways that learners can take action; and
• additional film, Web and print resources for the classroom.
In addition to thematic, case study chapters, the Educator’s Guide contains a Glossary of Terms and a “Background and Key Concepts” section that presents the history of international humanitarian law and key concepts of the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols.
In order to strengthen students’ sense that they can do something positive in addressing crimes of war, each chapter provides an “action” section with practical activities, such as participating in awareness raising and action campaigns. Furthermore, two of the chapters address justice mechanisms for addressing crimes of war: courts and humanitarian intervention.
Strengths: The Educator’s Guide supports educators in addressing the themes of crimes of war and international humanitarian law, which are rarely addressed in school settings. While making use of journalistic case studies to engage students, the lessons also provide historical and technical backgrounds necessary for understanding the themes.
The resource is designed for flexible use by teachers. For each thematic issue, educators can choose from a range of related case studies in the second edition of Crimes of War. The discussion questions are organised from simplest to most complex thinking so that those most suitable for the students can be selected. The reference section of each chapter links teachers with original sources and multi-media tools that can be used to enhance the lesson.
Adaptability: The Educator’s Guide is intended for use in cross-national settings and was written to be culturally nonspecific, with regional examples from Europe, Africa and Asia. The second edition of Crimes of War is available in English and Arabic, and a French edition, as well as additional translations, are forthcoming.
Availability: The Educator’s Guide can be downloaded at http://www.hrea.org/crimesofwar. Two sample chapters, “Weapons” and “Violence Against Civilians: Sieges and Sanctions”, are included in the Compendium Annex. The main text, Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (second edition), can be found on-line in English and Arabic at http://www.crimesofwar.org/thebook/book.html.
E-learning – online capacity building
HREA is offering fourteen e-learning courses in the first trimester of 2010 (1 February-20 April), including courses on child rights programming, gender mainstreaming, human rights-based programming, human rights litigation, human rights of migrants and migrant workers, introduction to human rights education, monitoring children’s rights (in French), national human rights institutions, and the UN Human Rights Council. Find out more about these and other upcoming e-learning opportunities.