[PDHRE logo]
People's Decade of Human Rights Education

Organization Overview
& Activities Report:1995-2000

Report From the Director

Activities Report 1998-1999

Major Programs

New Initiatives


Board & Staff

Activities Report 1998-1999

The Organization objectives:

The People's Decade of Human Rights Education (PDHRE) works as a comprehensive human rights "extension service" to stimulate, develop, and service a variety of grassroots human rights education programs and projects in diverse communities around the world. The demand-driven extension service is comprised predominantly of human rights experts, educators, lawyers, and activists. It responds to the self-defined needs and requests of groups, individuals, and communities for assistance and advice regarding formal and informal human rights education/learning and training, human rights monitoring, and other services. The resultant PDHRE-facilitated programs are designed by, for, and with communities to catalyze and support grassroots efforts to attain social and economic justice and citizens' equal and informed participation in decision making.

The PDHRE network is made up of its New York secretariat, its advisory board, its official affiliates, and an ever-growing network of educators, international consultants, lawyers, human rights advocates, journalists, and, most importantly, community workers and non-human rights-oriented groups and activists, such as social and economic justice groups (working on such issues as women, housing, labor, health care, education, development, trade and investment, and the environment)..

In its coalition building, PDHRE targets: 1) major social and economic justice community-based or grassroots organizations who have not yet connected their social justice efforts with human rights norms and standards or presented themselves as movements toward claiming and securing those rights; and 2) human rights NGOs, activist/alternative lawyers, and paralegals who have not integrated a holistic understanding and concern for violations of economic, social, and cultural rights into their more traditional civil and political rights work. PDHRE's strategy is to have as many diverse nongovernmental and community-based groups as possible integrate human rights into their work in ways that resonate in their own communities and among their own constituencies.

At times PDHRE is invited into a community or requested to advise and assist the work of an organization. At others, PDHRE seeks out partners that it feels have the potential to move human rights forward in their societies. No matter what the circumstances, PDHRE pools its own expertise and that of other diverse individuals and organizations to build up grassroots groups' capacity to impact people's lives through human rights education.

Training of trainers seminars took place in these communities where a fully comprehensive learning of human rights as relevant to people's daily lives took place. Participants are summoned to develop, from their own organizational narratives, strategies and methodologies to reach their constituencies to mobilize them to use the human rights framework in their advocacy and action.

Besides its work to catalyze human rights education projects in the field, PDHRE has continued energetically to create international public policy on human rights and human rights education. It is often, at many international meetings that took place during 1998, the primary organization working to follow-up on policy commitments to make sure that they are implemented. human rights education programs and policies at the local, national, and international levels, and to generate greater commitment throughout all sectors of society to human rights principles. Moreover, PDHRE lobbied intensively to see to it that the Plan of Action for the Decade emphasized the active engagement of NGOs and grassroots organizations and professional associations as critical in training of trainers and non-formal human rights education programs. In this context. PDHRE is often the only NGO working to make linkages between human rights and other major social and economic issue areas within the UN.

During 1998, PDHRE has prepared ''Human Rights Resource Packets'' and holding human rights education workshop at meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Sustainable Development, and "Rio + Five," International Youth Forum'', at the latter three events, PDHRE was the only human rights organization present. PDHRE also continuously engaged in lobbying the specialized UN programs -- like UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNESCO -- and governments to implement the Plan of Action for the Decade.

For example, in preparation for UNESCO's Fifth International Conference on Adult Education in Hamburg in June 1997, PDHRE provided training of human rights trainers for members of the International Council on Adult Education who then went on to build an understanding of all adult education as human rights education into the UNESCO conference.

At a UNDP-sponsored International Colloquium Mayors on Governance for Sustainable Growth and Equity, PDHRE's request that human rights education be integrated into development was met positively by UNDP director Gustave Speth, who had later requested PDHRE to introduce language about human rights education to the recently published UNDP Policy Paper '' Integrating Human Rights into Sustainable Human Development'' .

During 1998, PDHRE continued to develop, both alone and in collaboration with other groups and individuals, human rights education and learning materials, training of trainers manuals, handbooks, curricula, audiovisual tools, and to hold workshops on pedagogical techniques and training sessions for human rights and social justice activists in many countries. PDHRE has made its library of human rights education resources available on the World Wide Web : http://www.pdhre.org.

During 1998 many organization had started preparations for the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In that impetus PDHRE had intensified its mobilization of grassroots human rights education, training, local monitoring initiatives, which are essential to the claiming and realization of human rights. Human rights norms and standards as posting fully comprehensive commitment and obligations to securing of justice and equality must be recognized and realized in the many localized spheres that make up an individual's community -- the family, the workplace, the school, the market, the place of worship, the media, the justice system, the government, the police force -- before they can attain universal meaning and significance at the international level.

Projects continued and undertaken during 1998 were to fulfill this mission.


1. Developing ''Sustainable Human Rights Communities''

The first historic commitments to develop human rights communities have been undertaken during 1997-98, in the cities of Rosario Argentina Ties, Senegal, and Nagpur , India due to PDHRE's inspiration, promotion and guidance.

These three cities have been selected on the basis of the feasibility of projects that have been carried out in that country, which in turn is based on political will and interest among a wide range of civil society groups, and the diversity of issues and experiences that they would bring to the project.

This project is driven by, and seeks to promote, an exciting and expansive definition of human rights education (HRE) as a tool for social learning and social change. HRE must suggest the normative and positive power (and limits) of human rights as a tool in individual and collective efforts to address inequalities, injustices, and abuse at home, at work, in the streets, in the prisons, in the courts, and so forth. Even in "democracies," citizens and decision makers must learn and understand their human rights and the concomitant responsibilities and obligations -- and they must derive ways to monitor and enforce human rights -- so that democracy can be made an effective delivery system of human rights.

The Sustainable Human Rights Community project conceptualization and methodology reflect the learning that PDHRE has achieved over its eight years of community-based human rights education work. This experience has only served to strengthen PDHRE's resolve to address the following problems facing the international human rights regime and doing so, amongst other projects, through developing human rights communities:

  • A limited definition and vision of what human rights education is and of its potential to bring about meaningful change in people's lives;
  • A need to broaden the support base for and impact of human rights by reaching out to nongovernmental and community-based organizations working on issues related to social and economic justice, to the environment, to development, and to the demands of specific groups (indigenous people, workers, migrants, women, minorities, etc.), but who have not yet placed their work in a human rights framework.
  • Following this, the need to recognize that HRE provides a unique opportunity for linking isolated and potential human rights constituencies by placing their disparate and often competing issues and agendas in a holistic framework that supports improved cooperation for what can then be seen as common goals and common actions;
  • Related to the above, the continued treatment by governments, international organizations, and human rights NGOs of economic, social, and cultural rights as secondary to civil and political rights despite international consensus on the principle that all rights are interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible. As a result ESC rights are conceptually underdeveloped and few resources are put into their monitoring and realization. They must be brought up to par with civil and political rights:
  • A programmatic, development-oriented approach to ESC rights, rather than a human-centered approach, that has allowed individual and group rights to be ignored and trampled upon in states' drives to meet development goals. This problem has been exacerbated by the process of globalization which has in fact worsened social and economic tensions and conditions in many countries, leading to increased violations of economic, social, and cultural rights.
  • The seeming unwillingness of the vast majority of influential international organizations to apply a human rights framework to their work on poverty, development, and sustainable development. The result has been conceptually underdeveloped notions of what sustainable development and sustainable human settlements are and how they can be achieved.

PDHRE believes that these problems must be addressed not only in the academe and policy circles where human rights and HRE are discussed and argued over, but by women, men, youth and children in the communities where violations are taking place.

ROSARIO, ARGENTINA - population 1,200,000. It was initiated by a group of women and men, from the Gender, Law and Development Institute, which is working, since 1994 with PDHRE, In June 1997, over one hundred community based groups with the municipality of Rosario, Argentina, signed a Declaration manifesting their commitment to transform the city into a Human Rights Community. It included Organizations that work with Human Rights such as: Mothers and Grandmothers of the May Square, Women's Rights, People with disabilities, Children, Ecologists, Indigenous Peoples, and Human Rights Experts from the University. Participants were asked to make a commitment in order to transform the city to a Human Rights Community.

The plans include: 1. Developing a viable committed groups of citizens to implement and supervise the process. 2. Training the police, at their request, who want to become ''active members of the HR Community. 3. Spontaneous organizing of university students, dedicated to work with the Toba people- a local 100,000 pop. indigenous group- to have them fully included, legally and socially, in the efforts of Rosario becoming a human rights communities. 4. Defining modes of outreach to the owners and workers of the new car manufacturing facilities in Rosario, to look at the human rights realization and violation in these facilities

The initiating Institute transformed itself in a working group that promotes the organization of this community with the goal of transforming the city in a place where human rights are known, respected and enjoyed by all their inhabitants to be realized step by step.

The first steps include addressing not only the possible victims of human rights violations but also the potential violators. The Police, The Schools of Officers of the Provincial Police, and others members of the Security forces, participated in human rights seminars and workshops during 1997 and 1998. Another seminar, about Citizen Security will be held in November '99.

Various entry points are being tried to make citizens agreements regarding different problems and concerns. . One of them was the last year repression of travestis and people belonging to the gay and lesbian community, by the Police. After several meetings with all those involved, along with the Rainbow organization, drafted a document discussing the special situation people are facing due to their sexual orientation. This was shred with a wide number of persons and organizations.

Seminars planned addressed teachers from the primary and secondary school, in an effort to introduce human rights in the formal education curricula, and to find potential allies for ongoing HRE activities in the City. A call addressed to children and adolescents was issued for drawing a poster about human rights and gender equality. These activities are taking place to strengthen the Human Rights Community Steering Committee, with people who belong to the different constituencies to further design the goals and activities of the Human Rights City.

TIES, SENEGAL, Population 250,000. The Human Rights Community project, is being spearheaded by TOSTAN, a local organizations working in 300 hundreds villages on health issues related to women, that had moved to add a comprehensive human rights education program that includes women and men alike.

The City of Thies - -had started developing a ''Human Rights City'' based on the experience of HRE in the surrounding villages and includes Methodologies and HRE pedagogies devised thus far to include the governing structure of the city, its law enforcement agencies and the totality of civil society in the city. Trainers of trainers and volunteers attended human rights seminar with the city coordinator. Everyone of the activists belongs to a neighborhood associations and have been active in the past in community organization. They have visited Saam Njaay, a human rights village, to learn about the impact of HR training there. Radio coverage of were used to create awareness to Thies being developed as a Human Rights City.

A meeting took place with the Governor of Thies who has decided to hold a special CRD (Conseil Regional de Development - Regional Council for Development) on the program. The governor had officially announced the project and the activists were invited to attend the Council to explain and exchange and plan how all the agencies in Thies can become involved.

NAGPUR, INDIA, Population 1,000,000 . Preparation have begun during the latter part of 1998 to train street children as human rights educators (See report below on YUVA) The program had started with several pilot projects that include: intensive seminars with the local police, women groups and one neighborhood in the City. It is expected that the full City program will be developed and announced by December 10, 1999.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES TO FURTHER DEVELOP HR COMMUNITIES During the year as the concept of human rights communities was introduced meetings were held about its implementation in Chile, the Philippines, South Africa and Tanzania where people's movements for social justice are already quite strong and vibrant and open to undertake this initiative in the future.

Result of complex social structures, historical processes, economic systems, cultural customs, greater public pressure will be brought to bear on local and national government bodies and other influential non-state actors accountable for policies resulting in abuses and/or neglect that constitute human rights violations. Such new understanding could lead to what Nelson Mandela called a "political culture based on human rights," such that public policy and philosophy, as well as individual behavior, are inextricably linked to the fulfillment of human rights.

2. CEDAW Video Training program.

With funds received From The Austrian Government and in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the Elimination of All forms of discrimination against women -CEDAW- PDHRE produced:

  1. Women Hold Up The Sky - the dramatic video series . Eight short films -training videos - for women and men at all levels of society about CEDAW and its relevance to women's daily lives.

    The eight videos bring the Convention alive through engaging true stories rendered in short narrative dramas to capture and celebrate the complexity, strength and vibrant determination of women living in a globalized, patriarchal world. The series is the fruition of a first-ever solidarity effort by human rights educators and filmmakers in the US, Latin America and Africa. Four NGOs acted as producers for the individual videos: Instituto de Genero, Derecho y Desarrollo, Rosario, Argentina; NGO Resource Center, Zanzibar, Tanzania; TOSTAN of Senegal and PDHRE. The series is available with English, French, and Spanish subtitles. PDHRE is making available free copies for organization and communities in developing countries.

  2. Between their stories and our realities, A comprehensive manual which is an integral part of the series. The manual was prepared as a guideline for the training of trainers who are expected to adopt it to their national and local needs and to introduce CEDAW across their societies, with a special emphasis on the community level.


Funds were received From SIDA, to publish an action guide to claiming human rights for women. Underlying this effort is the idea that all the issues -''Strategic Concerns''- attended to in the Beijing Plan of Action, and , furthermore, all the violations facing women which the Plan hopes to eliminate are indeed human rights issues about which obligations and commitments were made by the international community. Regional focal points were selected to undertake research and the collection of field evidence of where and how women around world are using the Human Rights Norms and Standards to implement the Plan of Action. Other questions to be dealt with are: What are the obstacles, threats and action taken at the community and national level to address these issues in the courts, advocacy for developing new laws, policies and resources to promote the human rights of women. Panning meetings took place and an Editorial Board was created. An international call and a questionnaire were disseminated to women groups around the world to participate in this effort and share their narratives which will be included in the volume.


Twenty two resource packets were prepared by PDHRE research staff for the purpose of introducing the human rights framework, obligations and commitments to various groups and at various international meetings. These include:

children environment housing refugees
culture education human security religion
development food security peace women
differently-abled health poverty alleviation work and more.

The development of these Packets included several workshops and training at various venues discussing the use the human rights frame work in social justice advocacy. Furthermore, introduce discussions about the interconnectedness and interdependence of human rights to develop critical analysis about the connection between human rights violations and its realization.


PDHRE's on going human rights education campaign included an Internet Web site of human rights education and training resources designed to help groups integrate human rights into a range of social justice issues. The Web Site is proving to be a rich resource tool for many groups and has been servicing the Human Rights Communities project, a medium through which groups can share information and experiences, and to highlight the experiences of its activities.


Another facet of the international campaign is a drive, first phase completed during the year to have non-human rights organizations -who are currently working on economic and social justice issues at the community level- adopt a human rights framework in their advocacy efforts. Targeted organizations in each country, with the assistance of PDHRE, work to establish national coalitions of social justice and community-based groups. These seminars took place in the following countries:

6.1 Kenya: Salome Omanya from Nairobi, a development workers, organized the seminar for local groups working on women and children issues, sanitation, environment conservation, community based healthcare and groups working at improving agricultural practices.

6.2 Uganda. Seminar conducted by HURICO, Human Right Concern, for groups working on: Tree planting , nutrition, child healthcare, women workers, sanitation, environment (land degradation), HIV and AIDS,

6.3 Senegal, Tostan ,a women and children organization working in 300 villages on health issues of women, had moved to add a comprehensive human rights education program that include women and men alike, introducing the discussion on economic and social rights. This comprehensive, holistic human rights education process is resulting in the on going process towards the elimination of FGM in Senegal, now being supported by local religious and local community leaders.

6.4. Mali. PDHRE, at the request of the Minister of Basic Education and in collaboration with a wide range of representative of civil society and a full range of governmental agencies, had carried out five major workshops and assisted in developing a national program: ''For Mali in the year 2000, to become a Human Rights Nation!.''

6.5 Tanzania , Fatam Alloo, founder of TAMWA and Eda Sanga , head of Tanzania Radio, have developed and organized a series of weekly Radio programs to introduce a discourse on economic, social and cultural rights. Tanzanian human rights experts, social justice activists, women groups and ordinary citizens take a critical view about the human rights framework, opening a discourse for systemic analysis about human rights and national politics. This program includes several town meetings.

6.7. Chile, PDHRE with local women organization organized several intensive workshops for all major Chilean Trade Unions, introducing them to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as related to workers rights these workshops included several women workers groups and indigenous groups.

6.8 Argentina. In The city of Rosario, in the region of Santa Fe, several seminars were held to develop the infrastructure of a ''Human Rights Community''. These included outreach to and seminars with: local and regional police academies, The Toba People, a local community of 100.000 indigenous people, and youth groups learning and collaborating in the development of the first HR community.

6.9 Sudan. A group of doctors and nurses trained by PDHRE, have developed 35 committees in 15 communities across the country. They are working to create an awareness raising multiplier effect process through seminars about human rights and democracy. As related to the people's daily lives, with significant participation of women.

6.10 Philippines , A PDHRE intern, now working with PETA, a popular theater groups has developed specific theater presentations which are being introduced at the village level, to encourage a dialogue about human rights as a holistic paradigm.

6.11 Cambodia. The Human Right Task Force in Cambodia, organized a seminar on Economic, Social, and Cultural rights Specifically for non human rights organization. The seminar included 35 NGOs from Cambodian Alliance Cooperation (CNAC).

6.12 USA . To further support the learning process about human rights for groups PDHRE had helped create in the USA such as the Atlanta based Human Rights Education Center and social justice groups adopting human rights education in their activities, PDHRE, during 1997, organized and also participated in numerous workshops and developed specific materials for this purpose.

6.13 YUVA PDHRE has undertaken an extensive effort to develop human rights education projects with YUVA, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action, in Mumbai. These resulted in several human rights reports about youth and human rights issues. They are now looking at developing a ''human rights community'' as proscribed by PDHRE. These included:

  1. Training of trainers workshop for youth leaders as Human Right Educators. A) To expose them to universal declaration of Human rights as well as both conventions vis-à-vis Civil and Political Right Convention and Economic Social Rights Convention in the context of Indian constitution. B) To emphasize the significance need to Human Rights Education C) To provide skills and perspectives on training for Human Rights Education.
  2. Preparation of campaign material on universal declaration on Human Rights on the conventions and Rights enshrined in the Indian constitution. The material were published in 3 forms, small booklets, posters and used in training programmes.
  3. Training for Social Service Scheme. These included: Coordinators based at various universities as well as Nehru Youth Centre, Coordinators from within Maharashtra. Both the above programs, enabled Being outreach of youth to tens of thousands if these Coordinators. Similar lines of training of out emphasis on integrating some of these into university curricula.
  4. Human Rights Festivals on 10h December, 1999

These activities aimed at bringing together various groups and movements to present their work and struggle to the citizens and included: street theater awareness songs, audio-visual presentation, giving the message of Human Rights and ends with Human Rights concept.

6.14 Ecuador. A 10 day visit by PDHRE's Executive Director, Ms. Shulamith Koenig, to Qayakill, had yielded intensive interest in promoting human rights learning in Ecuador. The numerous seminars, workshops, and open discussions with participants from all sectors of society included academicians, activists, and students, the regional Chief of Police, major newspaper editors, and ''student of color'' at the University. As part of this effort a ''Doctors for human rights'' organization had been formed.

6.15 Mauritius, Palestine and Paraguay. PDHRE, working with major activists and organization in each of these countries had collaborated and coordinated the collection of human rights learning materials and narratives, (these has been also collected from all the above mentioned projects), to be used for the Web Site as learning materials, for future seminars and workshops and for inclusion in a ''HRE For Social Transformation ­Making the Connection'' a Human Rights Education World Report, and ''Women's Passport to Dignity, Linking all strategic issues I The Beijing Platform of Action to the human rights framework. These two separate volumes will be published by PDHRE.

6.17 International Youth groups, PDHRE conducted extensive Seminars at the Youth for Habitat conferences that took place in Turkey including several workshops with members of ELSA (European Law Student Association) Participants included youth from more than 50 countries. These program yielded the initiation of an exciting program of youth for human rights Education rights education with international youth leadership.


PDHRE had started two years of international research, compiling a world report on human rights education for social transformation ''Making the Connection''. Scholars activists, educators, and community groups from every continent have been called upon '' to make the case for human rights education for social transformation''. Narratives and case studies historic and current, are being collected to be compiled in this Report to empower people to integrate human rights education in their activities. The Report will also give a comprehensive view of groups and activities being taken in every region promoting formal, informal and non formal education in human rights.


A serious ripple effect is going on in each of the communities where seminars took place. This opened up a creative process for all people to know that they own human rights and that they can act upon this knowledge to claim them. The discussions and learning especially amongst those who work for social justice enables them to adopt the human rights framework as part of their daily work and further mobilize around human rights issues as a tool to overcome violations.

It is expected that these humble beginnings will bring about more extended projects designed and implemented by, for and with the people at the community level, who realize the powerful space for action, the knowledge about human rights provides to them in their daily lives.

Relatively small grant had been multiplied ten folds. To implement these various projects finds were received from the Development agencies of the Governments of Norway, Denmark, Austria, The Netherlands and Sweden, and from the Shaler Admas Foundation, The Ford Foundation and the Sheffa Foundation in the USA

A serious ripple effect is going on in each of the communities where seminars took place. This opened up a creative process for all people to know that they own human rights and that they can act upon this knowledge to claim them. The discussions and learning especially amongst those who work for social justice enables them to adopt the human rights framework as part of their daily work and further mobilize around human rights issues as a tool to overcome violations.

It is expected that these humble beginnings will bring about more extended projects designed and implemented by, for and with the people at the community level, who realize the powerful space for action, the knowledge about human rights provides to them in their daily lives.

Ongoing programs through which people learn about human rights will enable people understand that every injustice as understood by the international community is a human rights violation and that the attainment of social and economic justice is the fulfillment and protection of human rights.

Thus, guided by human rights norms and standards ordinary- people will be able to investigate and define solutions to current problems of poverty, unemployment violence against women, malnutrition, lack of clean water and heath-care, marginalization. and illiteracy, to mention only a few. As part of their responsibility community members will take action for the immediate prevention of human rights violations in their midst and call for the enforcement of all human rights.

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