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The following final report has been written according to the guidelines provided by ACT/NORWEGIAN CHURCH AID. The requisite terms of reference do not in all cases apply to the PDHRE project. It is important to emphasize the collaborative and participatory nature of the project which necessarily commits decision-making to the organic process of consensus among members of a heterogeneous group made up of government representatives, international NGOs, local NGO's, local associations and community leaders. The initial report that was submitted at the time that funds were requested reflected the proposed schematic outline of the project and its eventual implementation. It was understood throughout the process of meetings, workshops and dialogues, as described below, that the concrete outline of the countrywide program would be and will be defined by the members of the target groups with PDHRE and NCA as facilitators.


The project reported below started when Ms. Shulamith Koenig, Executive Director of PDHRE met Mr. Adama Samassekou, Minister of Basic Education of the Republic of Mali, at the International Conference on Adult Education, in Hamburg, August 1997. Ms. Shulamith Koenig was attending that conference in her capacity as the Executive Director of PDHRE, presenting there the ideas that have been at the core of PDHRE's work over the past ten years. Despite the remarkable success of the international institutions in creating a complex and far reaching body of human rights instruments, a quick glance at the world shows that much more needs to be done in the way of information and effective education for human rights. Despite the existence of these instruments, despite the fact that governments have signed and ratified these agreements, worrisome questions haunt us: 1) Most inhabitants of the world will live and die not knowing that they have human rights and that the tools are available to enforce them. 2) Groups working for social transformation are often unaware of the tremendous potential that a systemic analysis in terms of human rights could offer to their existing work.

Equally important, where human rights are being fought for, the struggle often comes after the violations have occurred, for the simple reason that human rights are not considered a matter of daily human lives.

The struggles for human rights are often marred by a lack of awareness that human rights can only be truly effective if they are universal, interconnected and indivisible. We cannot ensure one person's or one group's human rights at the cost of another. No human right can violate any other human right.

Any sustainable change in political, social and economic conditions will require a fundamental change involving the integration of human rights approaches into every part and parcel of the social body, every process, every institution

Human rights education must build on the historic memories and cultural traditions of each group as the foundation of universal human rights values. International Human Rights law must be studied and applied in conjunction with local and customary law so that any discord between the two may be dealt with directly and systematically.

Human rights must be perceived as the basis for guarantee of economic and social rights without which sustainable human development may never be achieved. PDHRE sees itself as a catalyst. It does not intend to replace or supersede groups already working in the field of human rights and human rights education. But it has focused on the support of grassroots organizations' own capacity to impact their constituencies' lives, by working directly and indirectly through its affiliates and a support base of educators, community works and social justice groups. In this mission as a facilitator of Human rights education, PDHRE defines the educational process as one in which Human Rights is interpreted and translated by the people through their communities into the fabric of their daily lives, thematically and regionally. Given the broad, all inclusive scope of this definition, it is necessary that PDHRE work with groups at the grass roots level while, at the same time, relying on the cooperation and networking capacities of national governments .

PDHRE's advocacy work was instrumental in the United Nations proclamation of a Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004). Its staff, board members and endorsers include experienced educators, human rights experts, United Nations officials, and world-renowned advocates and activists who collaborate to conceive, initiate, facilitate and service ongoing programs. Earlier in 1997, PDHRE had become connected with an initiative in Rosario, Argentina to proclaim Rosario a Human Rights Community. This entails a major effort to identify and coordinate organizations already at work in a variety of sectors, on a variety of themes. This coordination of efforts aims at anchoring throughout the community the values of human rights, the knowledge of human rights instruments, and a value system based on the awareness that all actions have consequences, that the well being of some cannot be bought at the cost of others' suffering, that all rights are connected and interdependent. The goal is a community where all citizens, all persons in positions of leadership will see the values of Human Rights as the ultimate reference point of any decision making.


The meeting with his Excellency, Mr. Adama Samassekou, representing the government of Mali, provided further inspiration to Ms. Koenig and her associates at PDHRE. Ms. Koenig and Mr. Samassekou agreed that the concept of a nationwide human rights education program, to be conducted over several years, would represent a valuable contribution to Mali's current work of building democracy and a culture of peace .

The military coup in 1968, which set up the military dictatorship led by Moussa Traore (1968-1974), followed by the autocratic one party system which lasted twenty three years have produced deep scars in the fabric of Malian society. The institutionalized brutality of the Traore regime and the economic damage wrought by two disastrous droughts (1973-74 and 1984-85), and socially insensitive structural adjustment programs left a volatile charged legacy to the democratically elected government of Alpha Konare, put into office in 1992. Armed conflict in the north erupted with the collapse of the Pacte National, in 1994, and jeopardized the future of the new democracy. However, peace was restored in 1995, and with it a promise of hope that the government and the NGO's are able to collaborate and bring together those elements necessary for a profound integration of democratic principles in the lives of the people and the nation. Given this profile, it is clear that using human rights as a framework to define all actions and relationships at all levels of society is an endeavor that would require coordination of effort at all levels and throughout all levels of society. A program led solely by the government would be superficial as would a project involving only NGO's be fragmented. The need for an intersocietal program remained evident.

On one hand, the difficulties encountered in finalizing the electoral process and the ongoing crisis of the school youth suggest the potential contribution of PDHRE's program, namely by providing the goal of a human rights culture that emphasizes the universality and interconnectedness of all human rights, i.e., a political and civil culture truly open to the needs and the potential contribution of all citizens, a goal that would open avenues to the youth, as well as continuing and reinforcing the peace process

On the other hand, the remarkable performance of Mali's civil society both in ending military rule and in building the peace in the North, opens promising vistas. There seemed to be, already in place, a favorable terrain on which to build such an integrated program of human rights education with active participation by all levels of society, and creative involvement by grassroots organizations.

During the period of foundation, most of the efforts were directed towards a creation of a good framework and organization through selection of active members, training of the executive committee, good communication between the committee, a good information system and extensive social activities which enhance the harmony of the work.


The problem was how to address the need for compelling and systemic human rights education throughout all sectors of Mali society, urban and rural, with learning activities to take place in formal and informal educational settings, integrated in all development and social change projects.

COOPERATING PARTNERS were hoped to be: the government of Mali, a wide range of NGO's community and religious leaders, educators and media workers, all persons in positions of political, cultural, economic and religious leadership.

TARGET GROUPS: women in development, as well as activists working on housing, food, health, education, development and peace issues, involving women, children and men. Youth group activists with the ability to mobilize young people throughout the country; including students as well as unemployed young people and those working in the selfemployed and agricultural sector. People involved in communication; the media and traditional communicators (griots and hunter societies , chasseurs). Educators in the formal and nonformal sectors. Union organizers and members. Members of the judiciary. Health workers, especially those involved in areas of women and children's health care.

CRITERIA FOR SELECTION of the target groups were to be:

  1. Their existing activity in all the domains of work for social change
  2. Their commitment to integrate human rights education in all their work
  3. Their demonstrated commitment, and their ability to train trainers. By the very definition of the project's initiation, the persons to be touched in this first stage were individuals who had already proven their will and their ability to act as social and cultural animators.
  4. Their ability to be representative of various social and economic sectors of society (including considerations of ethnicity, age and gender) and the ability to carry this representation across the regions
  5. Their ability to represent various political positions While they would be expected to have a record of effective action, they could not be expected to be familiar with the instruments of human rights, and therefore would require a preliminary formation themselves, in which they would examine the challenges of their ongoing work in the light of human rights.

Through the course of planned encounters, meetings and discussions , groups and individuals emerged that fulfilled the above criteria. PDHRE had the advantage of working with the people and organizations and was able to determine that each was willing to undertake the initial phase of the project which consists in sensitizing representatives of constituent groups within Malian society to the ways in which Human Right education can be the pivotal element in creating a democratic society. These groups and individuals have experience working with various groups in various regions of the country and are deemed credible. PDHRE used networking techniques to bring together these groups and individuals and did not rely on a government selected and sanctioned list. The following are the target groups that will work most closely with PDHRE, NCA and the Minister of Basic Education in carrying out the next phase of the project which includes; discussion workshops, material preparation, both in preparation for the National Consultation:

The Minister of Justice, His Honor, Amidou Diabate, Minister of Justice, expressed concern for the urgent need to integrate human rights into the justice system and through several venues. Human rights education will be integrated into all levels of the ministry. Current projects are being carried out in the formal sector with members of the law faculty and other partners. Non-formal education will include work with judges and jailers and civil servants within the ministry. The question of transposition of the role and meaning of law in traditional Malian society with that of the international legal system of human rights is a subject that will be taken up in collaboration with a larger research project which is among the recommendations approved at the closing of the Workshop.

Organizations will play an important part in the development and transcendence of a human rights language and spirit the Malian legal system. Among these organizations figure: The Malian Association of Human Rights (AMDH), The African League of Human Rights and the Association of Malian Jurists (AJM).

Professor Doulaye Konate is a key collaborator who will work on the question of traditional methods of conflict resolution and Malian sources of human rights. It has been proposed and accepted that his research will continue with an increased Malian team and that their findings will become an integral part of human rights education.

Several organizations stand out among others in having shown strength in their ability to create a human rights educational model and their success in bringing together a broad spectrum of people from diverse backgrounds and regions. The Committee for Action and Defense of the Rights of Children and Women (CADEF), under the astute leadership of Asa Soumare, has participated in all the project activities thus far and Mrs. Soumare is a leading member of the Steering Committee.

CCA-ONG is the umbrella organization for all local NGO's in Mali. Souleymane Bocoum, secretary general of the organization, is a member of the Steering Committee. He is well respected among the NGO's and is committed to the importance of having local NGO's as active, responsible partners in the human rights education project.

The youth organization of the Organization of African Unity, Jeunesse OUA, has a large and active membership which brings together young men and women from various districts of the country, although the center of most activity is in Bamako. Modibo Keita is their president . He organized forums with PDHRE and Malian youth on four different occasions. His enthusiasm and capacity to facilitate group activities impressed all who have worked with him and his organization.

Amidou Konate and Maria Ba Sou are the publisher and editor of the daily newspaper Jemena. Konate is the current president of the Association of West African journalists. He and Mrs. Ba Sou are active members of the Steering Committee and are sensitive to the needs of the multilingual Malian society. Both have close connections and work with the numerous radio stations that have sprung up in democratic Mali. Radio is of particular importance in a country where 11% of women and 23% of the men are literate.

The leader of the Association of Griots (traditional communicators) is a member of the Steering Committee. The head Griot has an essential role in assuring success to any project. As the traditional story holder and guardian of history, the Head Griot is the moral arbiter in case of conflict between the vested authority of the state and people. The Griot is the selected leader and spokesperson for the traditional lineage of oral communicators who play a vital social role throughout the country. Having obtained the support of the Head Griot for the human rights education project is extremely important.

The above list of key people and target groups is not exhaustive. However, they do represent the areas where PDHRE feels that a successful collaboration is underway. We can expect that they will play a major role in helping define the countrywide education project as well as designing pilot projects and educational materials once these tasks have been determined during the National Consultation.


  1. Create a dialogue, through a national consultation in which the concrete connections between human rights and Malian citizens daily lives would be shown.
  2. Develop and implement comprehensive human rights education materials, methodologies at the national levels
  3. To make available to social and cultural workers and professionals in the fields of social and economic development the content of human rights instruments, and to put them in context.
  4. To launch a thorough and exhaustive inventory local conditions, local initiatives, local actors, hopes and difficulties in human rights terms.
  5. Launch the first stages of the nationwide program, exploring a variety of techniques and approaches.
  6. Creation of a national commitment to human rights education, integrating human rights education into existing initiatives by civil society


The intention was to launch the project with a preparatory meeting including members of the Ministry of Basic Education and other Ministries, NGO's, local educators, representatives of the media and cultural organizations, to develop a blueprint for the national campaign.

The first stage was to be the creation of a local carrying group fully representative of all the actors in the project, whose responsibility would consist in the following:

  1. The identification of all existing groups, organizations, associations working for social change. Identification of existing forces in Malian history and society that already present the foundation for human rights culture.
  2. Preparation, by the Malian group, of cultural activities for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the proclamation of the commitment of the government of Mali towards a nationwide human rights education campaign to take place over the next three years.
  3. Immediate preparation of basic human rights materials by PDHRE together with local activists and educators . PDHRE translated into French and distributed documents to participants in information sessions and workshops.
      These materials include:
    • Guide to the Creation of Sustainable Human Rights Communities. (A basic diagram and accompanying text explaining the relevance of Human Rights in society. This is a pedagogical vehicle which facilitates discussion of how members of a community define their human rights).
    • Key to Human Rights. This is a compilation of basic human rights with an emphasis on social and cultural rights which is organized by subject, such as; education, health, housing, etc.
    • Translation of sections of the book by Dr. Betty Reardon, Human Rights Education.
    • Translation of the compilations of methods and means in educating for human rights by Richard Claude, Methodologies.
    • Translation, printing and distribution of one thousand copies of Le Tissage de la Liberte, edited by Richard Pierre Claude and Odile Ferroussier. The process and purpose of this book could serve as a model for a similar publication in Mali. It is the fruit of an international, interdisciplinary team that worked together in Ethiopia for several months to develop a guide for human rights education. The product of their efforts, Le Tissage de la Liberte or, in English, The Bells of Freedom, is an interactive method for assisting groups learning about human rights and translate and define them according to their own reality. Consideration for and sensitivity to race, class, and gender are present . The teaching guide is designed with both words and abundant images, exercises and sources so that it can be adapted to both literate and nonliterate groups. PDHRE has been given permission to translate the book into any language and use and adapt any part of the book. This book will be studied by the groups preparing materials for teaching human rights in Mali. It will be their decision whether they wish to adopt the same process as used in Ethiopia.
  4. An initial media campaign.


Later stages were to be:

The establishment of national and regional selfsustaining structure whose role would be:

  1. The development and support of human rights education, involving the preparation of pedagogical materials relevant to users from a variety of backgrounds, in a variety of media, including local languages, and intensive use of spoken media.
  2. Creation of a networking system at the national and international levels that would permit an exchange of experiences and linkages to educational and experiential resources.

The role of PDHRE was to serve in the development of human rights extension services, aimed at enhancing community capacity and community organizing. After examining priorities with the Steering Committee it became evident that innovative popular education required the special talents of PDHRE rather than the traditional areas of incorporation of international law, which is the preferred form of technical assistance provided by the UN. Through a range of activities involving the integration of human rights education creation of a civic spirit and culture centered around human rights.


In some respects it can be argued that the very close match between PDHRE and His Excellency Mr. Adama Samassekou, in terms of the shared vision, that this close match may have unexpectedly obscured the difficulties of such a project. In their enthusiasm the Minister and members of his cabinet were unable to respond to the initial time frame that had been established at the onset of the project. Unpredictable circumstances effecting the political scene, as mentioned above, coupled with the annual slowdown imposed by the holy month of Rammadhan and the generally slower, by Western standards, way in which communication and decision making occur were all factors which made it necessary to push forward to December 1998, the date of the National Consultation.

This said, the desire of PDHRE, in agreement with NCA, was that civil society be present at the very beginning of the process. Therefore, well before the first meeting in November,1997, local associations and NGO's were contacted to assure their participation in the meetings of first contacted. This was, as has been stated above, in keeping with the way in which PDHRE operates, i.e; as a facilitator in aiding the people of a country interpret and translate human rights within their own nation. This idea was, in principle, agreed upon by the His Excellency, the Minister of Basic Education, who was equally concerned that civil society remain at the fore of the project. The result of this shared concern was that during the first visit of PDHRE to Mali, a series of open forums was held in Bamako to which members of local NGO's, associations, unions, student groups, religious leaders, traditional communicators, the media, members of all government ministries and private citizens participated in discussions and foundations of essential queries relevant to establishing a common human rights language within Mali. A Steering Committee composed of representatives the organizations above (see Target Groups for specific information) was created to foster the project and formulate ideas common to the group that would eventually infiltrate to all regions and to all constituencies.

Tension was felt between the members of the Ministry of Basic Education, i.e; government, and the representatives of civil society from the very beginning. This tensions could be described as one in which each group would like to assume full control of the project. However, to describe the situation merely in terms of a power struggle between the government and the NGO's would be to ignore the complexity of the Malian context. It must be understood that as the country-wide project in human rights education captured the imagination of the people involved in the meetings and as it responded to a genuine need within the country, the scope of the actual plan became evident. To reduce the scope was not practical since the objectives could not be accomplished through the good intentions of the NGO's alone. Only the government has the means to mobilize all sectors of society and in all regions of the country. The enthusiasm of the NGO participants was also couple with impatience that the project begin immediately, yet, without dialogue and consensus achieved through the National Consultation could there be any hope of getting the maximum number of citizens on board. At this point it also became evident that two elements were at play:

  • Many people, even those who were in related professions did not have a clear idea of what Human Rights means and how human rights, as understood and interpreted by the people, must inform the very basis of democratic society
  • Taken as pragmatic positioning, Mali has been host to innumerable projects of all sorts, many of which intersect and overlap. There is an aura of "projectization" that invades the territory of any new endeavor coming from outside. With the project comes jobs, new languages, different paradigms, etc., yet, little promise of coherent integration between elements already a part of the national cultural fabric. The dilemma of "modernity" is thus manifest.

The first issue could be dealt with through the process of learning. Creating a structure that would allow people to "envision" human rights and acquire the essential knowledge that would allow them to create a human rights education program for Mali became an urgent concern that was enunciated in the recommendations that are listed at the end of this report and were prepared at the culminating Workshop of Harmonization and in the project for the House of Learning.

The second point is less difficult to solve and has been a major concern of the Ministry of Basic Education. Without sounding patronizing, one must assume that only the government has, at this time, the means to launch a national project that does not depend on the "good will" of donor organizations and one that will allow the creation of a human rights project within an entirely Malian context. We are well aware of the potential pitfalls that can accompany such an endeavor. However, given the current world context with the weakening of the power of local governments in favor of global investors, we can readily understand the position of the Malian government in wishing to maintain oversight of the project, not for reasons based uniquely on the maintenance of political power, but, rather, as a means of assuring the cultural integrity of the program. The fact that the members of the Steering Committee have thus far remained enthusiastic and ready to commit to a large scale project is some indication of their belief that the project is authentic. Never, during the three visits to Mali, nor in communication with members of NGO's did PDHRE hear cynical words in this respect. Especially heartening during these encounters was the support and enthusiasm shown by members of youth organizations, such as; Jeunesse OUA, Organisation de Jeunesse Sans Emploi, OHG et GIE de Jeunesse, Jeunese Panafricanistes and independent students and young workers. Meetings with women's organizations, although of a different tenor, was no-less clear in approval for the project. Members of the CADEF, an umbrella organization of women's groups, among others were particularly vocal concerning the need for women to know and reclaim their human rights. The fact that the women were supported by the head of the traditional communicators (chef des griots), while not without certain ambiguity, has left intact the claim that the time is ripe for a country-wide project in human rights education. Without the painstaking work of sensitizing the various constituencies as to the potential of such a project and without the close communication between PDHRE and the Minister of Basic Education, the involvement of civil society on such a large scale would not be made possible. As it stands, the NGO members of the Steering Committee are prepared to assume the lead in organizing the National Consultation and in coordinating efforts already underway in human rights education in Mali.

A second important point is one that speaks to the concern that any overlap in projects drains energy and resources from non-renewable sources. In order to avoid this kind of fragmentation of human and material resources, an inventory of the projects already underway or in the course of being implemented must figure in the planning strategy. Only the government has the means to coordinate this kind of study and bring the main players to the National Consultation.

Other problems were of logistics and communications. Communication between the various participants in the forums was more difficult than had been anticipated. Office machinery often broke down and the reproduction of pertinent materials was delayed. Individual organizations were often contacted in person because telephones were encumbered and electronic mail is scarcely available. Many of the key members of NGO's and religious and civic associations are leading players in other areas of civil society. Therefore, these personalities were often occupied with duties in their multiple roles necessitating the rescheduling of meetings to accommodate the greatest number of participants. The over extension of community leaders strengthened PDHRE's concern that training programs envisaged for the future embrace a broad spectrum of Malian society and take into account the availability of especially women and young people. The process of Decentralization has been a key element in the national plan articulated by President Konare. Decentralization responds to the need that democracy and development go hand in hand. Human rights education is the motor that will relay these elements and give meaning to the process. PDHRE realized representatives from all regions must participate in the various forums. Plans originally aimed at bringing together regional representatives were not possible for the reasons elaborated below (logistics, communications, cost, etc.), therefore, a strategy of setting up sessions of information, dialogue, reflection and preparation was projected as part of the project that would precede the National Consultation. While representation of regional representatives at the National Consultation has always been a part of the original plan, there is an urgency that local leaders be sensitized to the issues and be given a voice from the start of the process.

There is no doubt that Human Rights Education does indeed have the potential to reach to the core of the current challenges of Mali's political, economic and cultural life. There is no doubt either that the completion of the peace process, the completion of the electoral process and the ongoing problem of absorbing student energies and providing them with a constructive focus all require great amounts of time and energy, little of which is easily available on the part of the partners with which PDHRE was dealing. Arguably, the person selected early on in the process to coordinate the work of the Comite de Pilotage was himself too busy to be able to provide the necessary prodding. Furthermore, it became our impression that there were undercurrents among our Malian partners, whose working out affected the pace of the project, the distribution of roles. Unquestionably, there was a heavy burden on the project deriving from the continued electoral strife as well as continued youth agitation. Both of the latter circumstances confirmed our sense that a systemic approach to Human Rights and Human Rights education would be required to get to the bottom of these societal tensions.

The March workshop (Atelier d'Elaboration du Cadre d'Orientation Generale sur l'Education a la Culture de la Paix et aux Droits Humains, 25-28 March) was in itself remarkable in that it brought together representatives from government organizations, NGO's, both local and international, representatives from all government ministries in a dialogue around issues of human rights education and the creation of a sustainable democratic institutions in Mali.

Malian ownership of the Workshop and the country-wide project for human rights education was clearly evident. PDHRE sees in the groundwork laid down through the discussions and the final recommendations the promise that out of the National Consultation will emerge the design for a National Plan in Human Rights Education. However, the time between now and the proposed December date for the Consultation must not be wasted. A training program to prepare representatives for the task should be initiated as well as preparation of educational materials. And, if at all possible, greater communication with local leaders (traditional leaders, local NGO's and Associations) along the lines defined by the decentralized regions must begin.

This said, a look at the conclusions reached by the Reporting Committee at the Conclusion of the March workshop encourages us to think that PDHRE performed a valuable role as a catalyst. According to His Excellency Mr. Adama Samassekou, the presence of PDHRE in Mali made it possible for some initiatives to reawaken that had gone dormant over the past two years. This reawakening in itself slowed things down, since it now became necessary to integrate existing initiatives, the individuals that carried them and the processes they had started, with the incoming initiative, and the individuals and processes associated with it.


A commitment has been made to launch a nationwide human rights education program. A commitment has been made to undertake an inventory of available energies and forces.

The new initiative has been clearly connected with the Peace Culture process, the connection with holistic, interconnected human rights and the construction of peace has been clearly established.

The government of Mali has committed itself to expediting the formalization of the Comit de Pilotage and its activities, as representatives of the governmental intent.

The government has committed itself to training trainers for human rights and peace

The government has committed itself to consolidate and reorient the Interpellation democratique and the children's parliament in the optic of human rights

The principle of regional consultations, of a listening to all sectors of society prior to choosing realistic and feasible projects has been adopted.

The government has committed itself to instituting a 'social dialogue' at all levels and in all sectors in order to sensitize the population to issues of human rights and of peace.

There is a commitment to reinforce capacities of associations and local NGO's that contribute to the weaving of communal tissue

A commitment was made to produce human rights pedagogical materials for formal and informal education


The country-wide project in human rights education was developed by PDHRE at the invitation of the Minister of Basic Education, Adama Semasekou. The organization, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) was sympathetic to the project which coincided with its own objectives and mission in the country and thus became the financing institution. In the initial phase, PDHRE and the Ministry of Basic Education were to take on the main organizing role, while NCA was an active observer and field consultant until such time that current NCA projects in Mali would be completed .It was anticipated that NCA would increase their direct participation once the initial organizational project had set down a process for the next phase which was to lead up to the national consultation and the laying down of a plan for a national program in human rights education. Because NCA has a permanent staff in Mali, their representative was to consult with the Minister of Basic Education and his staff and work with NGO's. It was further planned that a certain number of important NGO's would nurture the first phase organizational proceedings, including; setting up open forums for communication and exchange. The media as represented by their own NGO's was to assume a major role in sensitizing the public to the project.

Current State Of PDHRE's Human Rights Education Initiative In Mali

At this point, PDHRE does not intend to request more funds until it is clear which projects the government of the republic of Mali is actually ready to take on and implement. The following ideas have been broached, and the first at least (house of learning) has been developed in some detail. All three have emerged directly out of the process that occurred from December 1997 to May 1998. It is to be expected that they would represent priorities within the larger framework.

(as proposed in May 1998 to the Comite de Pilotage and the Ministry of Basic Education for discussion and feedback.)

In the development of a sustainable political culture , Human Rights Education is a key linkage, one that is as yet hardly developed at all. Yet without Human Rights Education, Human Rights law is in danger of remaining a formalism, removed from a society's ongoing life.

Some democratic Constitutions start out with the introductory sentence: "Nul ne saurait ignorer la Loi", i.e., "No one should be ignorant of the Law", or put positively : "All are presumed to know the law".

To know the Law means the following:

  • All citizens know that the laws exist, what they say, how they apply to their lives and how they can be claimed
  • No one, no individual, no institution, no agency will be allowed to claim ignorance as a an excuse for violating the laws
  • All are expected to guide their day-to-day behavior in the light of the Law

Just as there can be no truly functioning democracy without this shared base of active knowledge, there can be no culture of Human Rights unless it is accepted that "no one should be ignorant of (Human Rights) Law", meaning

  • human rights law as encoded in international instruments,
  • as ratified by national governments, and
  • as integrated in all the workings of society.

A social system based on empowering all its citizens through this kind of knowledge must ensure:

  1. That all people in leadership positions, whether in government or in civil society, at the national level, the regional level and the local level, will
    • know human rights,
    • know how they apply in their sphere of action, and will
    • know their responsibilities in monitoring and enforcing their application.
  2. That there is easy access to information, regular updating and popularizing of technical materials, training at various levels and in various contexts, as well as documentation, information and advice through decentralized extension services.
  3. That the teaching of human rights integrate information and practical work in such a way that all citizens learn to be responsible for the enforcement of human rights.
  4. That Human Rights Education is considered part of the basic education, a basic social and ethical 'literacy'.

All cultures, all societies throughout history have had very similar notions of what it means to be really human: they have held the awareness that life in society rests on behaviors that nurture each personšs dignity, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of interconnectedness and mutuality. and they made sure to instill in their children, in preparation for their adult life, the necessary knowledge, virtues and life skills that would promote and enforce their humanity.

As we enter the 21st century, human societies have become linked as never before, new technologies have evolved in ways that have made increasingly clear that all human beings are interconnected and interdependent, that all inhabitants of the earth are fully human and must be treated as such, that no one's rights will be protected unless everyone else's are safeguarded too. The language of human rights has become the shared language of humanity, and we must learn the grammar and the vocabulary of that new language which will define and protect the future of humanity.

One particularly urgent task is to recreate pathways for the transmission of these values of humanity from person to person, from generation to generation, and in particular fight the effect of advanced technologies and a global consumer economy in dissolving the web of connection and mutuality among human beings.


It is in this spirit that the first Human Rights Institute will be launched in Mali

The first stage will be to provide an education for the "leaders" of society, but it must be clear from the very beginning that the ultimate goal is that every member of every community, from citizens to policy makers, become teacher, monitor and protector of human rights.

Various groups and agencies are already working together in Mali to achieve common goals such as peace, and to solve their specfic problems. The school should provide the critical understanding of interconnected and interdependent human rights as an energizing factor for the work already happening, and facilitate the development of an infrastructure for the crucial linkage of Human Rights Education

From the very start, we must aim at an ongoing dialogue between the international Human Rights instruments and the local concerns, the daily lives of all.

The school will provide the starting point and create the dynamics for a continuing process of human rights education throughout the country.

The Student Body of the first session should include representatives from every ministry and administration, traditional leaders religious leaders, heads of judicial and law enforcement agencies, local and international NGO's now active in Mali, representative from associations representing all sectors of society and branches of activity, teachers, religious leaders, media, in short a fully representative sampling of people in leadership positions in Mali now.

The Curriculum of the Institute will include

  • the legal texts that frame Human Rights
  • discussions of the relationship between these texts and all participants' ongoing activities and concerns
  • descriptions and assessments, from the point of view of human rights of all social processes now operating in Mali, with a clear focus on utilizing and enhancing the results of the enormous work done already in Malian civil society during the peace process. Human rights will be examined as the proper foundation of a culture of peace.
  • discussions of the specific way in which various areas of human rights support each other, aiming at creating an understanding that by protecting other people's rights, we actually protect our own; practical exercises helping articulate various areas of human rights. This will be done by ensuring that participants coming from different sectors of society, from different regions will be involved in understanding and defining the human rights of other sectors and other regions
  • creation of working teams to facilitate regional consultations then leading to a national consultation
  • preparation towards specific training seminars for teachers, economists, health personnel, judicial and penitentiary personnel, development agencies, urban neighborhood associations and rural associations, students and youth, etc.

Methods: Every day will include two parts:

  • morning sessions devoted to theoretical learning of the contents of the legal instruments
  • afternoon sessions will be devoted to 'travaux pratiques' bringing together in small groups using participatory methods students of different origins, with different agendas. They will be asked to share each other's concerns and devise concrete ways for translating the language of human rights into practical action applicable to their own and others' sphere of activity.

Several sessions will be devoted to ways for the media and various associations and learning organizations can reinforce each other and collaborate in popularizing in all national languages the language of human rights, and creating a deep understanding of its relevance to the lives of even the most remote communities.


The teaching teams will include local and international educators, trainers and other resource people, from a wide range of experiences and languages.

It is hoped that after the first experience of this institute, it will become institutionalized to move from region to region, in Mali, and ultimately from country to country.


The Ministry of the Economy has asked for PDHRE to organize an international conference on the subject of Globalization and its Human Rights Implications. This would bring together scholars, acting economists, development specialists and members of NGO's for 5 days of discussion about the current state of the global economy, its past and foreseeable trajectories, the way it has already affected Malian institutions and citizens, and the possible strategies that might be developed in response to it.


The Ministries of Education and Culture have expressed jointly an interest in hosting a conference which PDHRE is in the process of planning for, under the name of Legends of Human Rights, whose purpose will be to look at the range of local histories and cultural traditions regarding human rights, with a view to integrate them in the international culture of Human Rights.


Finally, a central part of the Kuru kan Fukan project had been a series of regional consultations with grassroots activists intended to translate and bring to life in the local realities the National Initiative of Human Rights Education.

All of these had met with a great deal of interest when they were first brought up. There is reason to think that they remain vital elements of the long-term planning for which his Excellency Mr. Adama Samassekou is the guiding hand.

In keeping with its principle of acting as a consultant in the service of programs initiated within the country in which they are to be implemented, and by the partners with whom it will be working, PDHRE stands ready to implement these. if and when a formal request is made for their enactment, and will at that point request funds, within the parameters and in the prolongation of the program of the nationwide program of Human Rights Education as reported above

For more information, please contact PDHRE:

The People's Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) / NY Office
Shulamith Koenig / Executive Director
526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025, USA
tel: +1 212.749-3156; fax: +1 212.666-6325
e-mail: pdhre@igc.org