On Thursday 21 March the Subcommittee on Human Rights held its monthly meeting at the European Parliament. One point of the committee’s agenda was the public hearing on Education in Human Rights: Progress, Lessons Learnt and Challenges.
After the introductory remarks of Mr. Pier Antonio Panzeri, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Dr. Manfred Nowak, Secretary- General of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC) and Dr. Veronica Gomez, Co-Director of the Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LATMA) explained in depth the EUIC program and its approach. The EIUC is a global campus for human rights; it’s a network of one hundred universities around the world seeking to advance in the human rights and democracy domain. It acts as a strategic hub for advancement, interconnection and coordination of key resources and expertise in these two domains in all regions of the world. The EU, through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), is the primary donor and supporter of this project. Both speakers emphasized the importance of human rights education which is key for the sustainable implementation of human rights and the strengthening of democracy. Both also adhered to the fact that the EU is expected and should continue to expand its development cooperation in the field of human rights education. On the other hand, the European Parliament should continue to be a driving force behind the EU foreign and development policy aimed at promoting human rights education.
Among the participants there was also Ms. Cecilia Oluwafisavo Aransiola, Founder of Rightarium Foundation and Programme Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network in Nigeria. She highlighted the importance of human rights education as well, especially in more rural areas, where there are different realities, higher inequalities and lower access to education. She stressed on the fact that this human rights education should not be available only for an educated elite, but it should be introduced in all dialogues with local communities and leaders. In light of these observations, she gave the example of gender mutilation practices. She explained that through conversation and human rights education these human rights abuses can be prevented and resolved.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) is pleased to know that policy makers and NGOs are advancing in promoting human rights education especially considering the recent global backlash against human rights and the ongoing threats in academic freedom occurring around the world. In these days, we are experiencing a shrinking space for human rights defenders therefore it’s important that we build capacities to strengthen human rights and democracy at local, regional and global level and in particular in countries which lack human rights education. We are also delighted that the EIUC has expanded its network also in the MENA region with the creation of the Arab Master’s Programme in Democracy and Human Rights (ARMA). However, as the speakers suggested there is still a lot of work do, especially in creating a safe environment for students to who study in this region this thematic.