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Announcing: Soon in this space. PDHRE's World Report on Human Rights Education

"Making The Connections --
a World Report on Human Rights Education For Social Transformation"

Our premises:

  • Human Rights Norms and Standards exist for people to claim. They matter and ought to matter to all people wherever they are. The goal is for all people to know human rights as relevant to their lives, and as a way of life: being in the world in dignity with others.

  • All cultures harbor some intuition that all life in society with others, all truly human life, depends on and is defined by specific behaviors that enhance dignity, value cooperation and solidarity, inform daily deeds in the light of moral values, and protect the welfare of human beings.

  • All inhuman social systems are rooted in a basic ambivalence: On the one hand, the old intuition of humanity, of basic human needs, a prehistory of 'human rights' as it were, has continuously energized people's claims for justice. On the other hand, an equally old urge to 'belong by excluding' has had the practical effect of allowing the existence of social systems that violate the very values/virtues which supposedly define humanity.

  • The most violative institutions (slavery, holocausts, poverty, patriarchy) as well as all more detailed violations or ambient neglect of specific 'human rights' have rested on the existence within the group psyches of some other group (defined by age, gender, race, class or any number of other standards) that was deemed 'not quite human'.

  • Human beings, human societies have had a notion of human rights, they have wanted human rights, they have not yet made them truly functional values . The central (utopian) task of Human Rights Education will be to wean human beings away from these old habits of exclusion, compartmentalization, oppression and submissiveness.

  • Human history is, among other things, the record of human persistence in dreaming a world that would allow the free development of individual human beings cooperating in the production and reproduction of sustainable just societies. Through the centuries, a multitude of processes have been generated, whereby issues are resolved and fundamental change is created---throughout communities of varied sizes, and in a number of different contexts. In a myriad different situations, people have identified, and successfully claimed their human rights, experienced empowerment and initiated a process that led to true social transformation

  • In the late 20th Century, in response to the specific nature of the world-wide economic and political system, this intuition has come to be formalized, encoded and universalized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the many international instruments it has spawned.

  • Human rights struggles are multiple and varied. To this day relatively few people know that they own these human rights and even fewer claim them

  • This is true even though de facto learning about human rights is taking place through a multitude of processes. A variety of educational processes and contexts are available and can be used separately and in combination, leading to real (and sometimes lasting) personal change, itself a part of real (and sometimes lasting) social transformation.

  • This learning may occur in structured fashion; sometimes as a side-effect of local struggles; it is more and more often integrated in advocacy for and protection of economic and social justice

  • Yet even when provided in programmatic fashion by 'specialized' agencies it still often lacks a systemic analysis or dialogue about the holistic nature of human rights norms and standards....--cause and effect.

  • One main effect of economic and political developments over the past 50 years, has been a shift towards the concept of human rights and the institutions and instruments of human rights such that civic education anywhere in the world must increasingly be human rights education ( The learning abut human rights as related to people's daily lives..).

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and human rights instruments have provided a theoretical framework whose multiplier effect upon existing community initiatives and energies can help build the indispensable foundation in which to anchor our sense of shared humanity during the years ahead.
  • Several questions run through our report:

    1. What is the process whereby, in a myriad different situations, people have in the past successfully identified, claimed and put to use their human rights?
    2. What is the process where by people having claimed their human rights have experienced empowerment and initiated a process leading to true and sustainable social transformation?
    3. What is needed to translate this claiming of our own rights into the identification and claiming of the rights of others identified as fellow human beings?
    4. How can Human Rights education generalize and further enhance the successive stages of this process?
    5. How can Human Rights education make visible the connections implied in the concept of universal, interrelated and interconnect rights? (Article 30 of the UDHR concludes the Declaration by basically saying that no one human rights can violate another human right)

    PDHRE's world report is based on reports and narratives received from associates around the world , as well as on a wide range of secondary sources and analytical materials. It is a multi-level report about consciousness-raising, the deconstruction and reconstruction of belief . people adopting new conventions, new behaviors, new 'stories', for the good of the community and the well being of its members, communities operating in very different political settings to devise methods for the empowerment of people as agents of change. It examines the abolition of specific, localized practices, as well as large scale, nationwide transformation over a long period of time, passing through formal training under various auspices, as well as self-- education within grassroots organizations or utopian communities.

    Our report will make the point that it is imperative for all actors of civil society, governments and international agencies to engage in a major effort of education for holistic Human Rights .This should fully utilize, interconnect and maximize the existing energies currently deployed by grassroots everywhere, so that human rights will become a vital tool for sustainable community transformation.


    For more information, please contact PDHRE:
    The People's Movement for Human Rights Education, 526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025
    tel: 212.749-3156; fax: 212.666-6325; e-mail: pdhre@igc.org