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People's Decade of Human Rights Education

Organization Overview
& Activities Reports:1995-2000

Report From the Director

Activities Report:

Major Programs

New Initiatives


Board & Staff


Projects Underway

International Campaign

In January 1997, PDHRE launched an international campaign, "Reclaiming and Securing Our Right to Be Human: Solidarity, Education, and Cultural Activities Toward and Beyond the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The campaign is designed to generate international awareness of the International Bill of Rights and the Plan of Action for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education at the grassroots level and to develop programs to implement it worldwide.

As part of the campaign, PDHRE is developing information packets for numerous marginalized or struggling groups - women, children, refugees, migrant workers, indigenous people- and a wide range of social issues - health, housing, food, development, labor, education, development, the environment - to name a few. These packets are to be used by grassroots communities in learning human rights concepts, as embodied in 50 years of international human rights law, so that they may understand social and economic injustices and concerns in a holistic human rights framework. These packets outline the challenges, threats, and obstacles to the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights today, how groups around the world are using human rights concepts and laws to affect social change, and how specific international laws and existing human rights norms and standards are relevant to local struggles. Materials will be translated into many languages and made available on PDHRE's World Wide Web site, on request by fax or E-mail, and are being distributed by PDHRE to NGOs and governments at UN meetings.

Through the campaign, PDHRE will assist in and push for the creation of national committees made up of NGOs, educators, and government officials, as called for by PDHRE in the resolutions it has prepared for the Decade.

The campaign is targeting two kinds of groups: 1) social justice groups who have not yet identified their issues in a human rights context; 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

''I think it would be most beneficial for our paralegals to get involved in this project as it will help them feel that they are part of the worldwide process. We find that some do underestimate their educational role and rather accord the more traditional legal work a preference as they think it gives them more status. We are struggling to change this perception."
-Mary E. Ndlovu. Curriculum Coordinator; Legal Resources Foundation, Zimbabwe

rights into their more traditional civil and political rights - focused work.

In this way, PDHRE seeks to enlarge the global network of grassroots communities and NGOs who understand the past 50 years of human rights enunciations and laws to be the protectors of human rights concepts fundamental to human dignity, and the basis for social action.

As with its other campaigns, PDHRE is asking groups who join this campaign to design and carry-out educational and cultural activities on human rights, or to incorporate human rights education into their existing work. PDHRE will then help to develop and service projects in partnership with these groups and communities around the world. Such servicing includes seeking funding, or assisting in fund raising, for them.

In as many countries as possible, the two-year campaign is also intended to culminate in meaningful and empowering cultural celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will be an integral component of some of the projects put forth.

New World Wide Website

In March 1997, PDHRE launched a World Wide Web site at: http://www.pdhre.org. The site serves as a vehicle for campaigns and programs initiated by PDHRE and its affiliates, as well as a source of educational materials geared for groups learning to identify their work in a human rights framework, manuals and guidance for trainers of trainers, and articles discussing the role of human rights education in varied contexts.

One of the primary goals of the site is to promote interactivity. PDHRE seeks to engage greater numbers of people in the discourse on human rights education at the grassroots level and learn about the work of other individuals and groups. It is hoped that materials posted on the site by PDHRE and its affiliates will not only be downloaded and disseminated, but will generate a cyberspace dialogue on such topics as globalization and human rights and the meaning, importance and effectiveness of human rights education and suggested pedagogies. It is also hoped that grassroots communities, individuals, and NGOs will share their learning experiences in using human rights education as a tool for social change, so that others may benefit from their successes and failures. Feeding into other projects, such narratives can then be incorporated into the information packets for PDHRE's international campaign, Reclaiming and Securing Our Right to Be Human," and the World Report on Human Rights Education.

Training of Trainers Video Drama

A partial grant has been provisionally awarded by the Austrian government to produce video-dramas and accompanying training of trainers materials aimed at various sectors of society about the sixteen articles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) will be produced by our affiliates and members of our grassroots network as a resource for training of trainers programs on women's human rights around the world. As a follow-up to this effort ( and after its evaluation), similar video projects will be planned around the articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Adult Education Initiative

At UNESCO's 5th International Conference on Adult Education in Hamburg in the summer of 1997, PDHRE, in collaboration with the International Council on Adult Education (ICAE), will hold a human rights caucus, human rights education workshops, and a tribunal to collect testimonies on violations of the human right to education and forms of education that perpetuate human rights violations. Future initiatives with the (ICAE) based on an understanding of all adult education as human rights education are also under development and to promote education as a human right.

Human Rights & The Environment Initiative

PDHRE is leading an effort to have human rights language and human rights education concerns introduced at the preparatory committees for and at the General Assembly meeting this June to evaluate progress made since the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) five years ago. PDHRE sees these meetings as a platform for introducing human rights education as an imperative to sustainable development into the agendas of development agencies and national implementing organizations. In addition, PDHRE plans to conduct "hearings and listenings" with grass roots organizations on human rights and sustainable development, the results of which will be incorporated into the World Report on Human Rights Education and materials prepared for the 50th Anniversary Campaign and Web site.

Worker's Rights Are Human Rights Initiative

PDHRE is forging partnerships with organizations dealing with issues related to labor, the work force, livelihoods, and subsistence. For example, the American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) recently announced their own economic education initiative, and PDHRE is reaching out to representatives of members unions to reconceptualize and enlarge "economic education" as human rights education. In a separate effort, PDHRE has joined forces with Yash Tandon of the International South Group Network based in Zimbabwe to launch a campaign on "Workers and Farmers Rights are Human Rights" at the group's meeting in South Africa in April, 1997.

Human Rights Jatha

To launch a Human Rights Jatha in India, PDHRE will work closely with Anil Sadgopal, professor of education at Delhi University and a co-organizer of the Science Jatha. whereby educators undertook mass education to teach rural Indian people the importance of science to their daily lives. After a review of a plan prepared by PDHRE and extensive consultations, the Board members of the Jatha movement agreed to launch a Human Rights Jatha in 1997. Some 50,000 educators are hoped to reach millions of villagers across lndia to engage them in a dialogue on how human rights relates to their daily struggles in the development of India. Our affiliate, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) and the "post-Beijing Coalition of Women" in lndia will work closely with PDHRE and the Jatha movement to carry this task forward.

Projects Under Development

Street Children As Human Rights Educators

With our affiliate, Youth for Voluntary Action (YUVA) in Bombay, PDHRE is developing a project .'Empowering Communities of Tomorrow. Children as Human Rights Educators Participating in Weaving Their Future." NGOs worldwide have been grappling with the phenomenon of street children. These children will be voters in the 21st century. What kind of political agenda will appeal to them as human beings who have been denied the most basic warmth and caring of a family and the development of their potential through education? These children can be taught in an open society that poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, and the other trials that plague their lives in the streets are human rights violations. The project proposes to facilitate youth and children in Bombay in each becoming human rights educators through specially designed training of trainers programs. These will be developed with, by, for, and about the daily lives of these children so that they may learn about the relevance of human rights to their lives and train them to transmit this knowledge. As the Bombay project progresses, activists from Brazil and the Philippines will travel to Bombay to take part in the process and then return home to become trainers in their own communities.

Human Rights Education For Development Funding Agencies

PDHRE plans to hold a five day seminar in 1997 to focus on strategies and methodologies to integrate human rights education into all development programs. At the current time, the Namibian government is interested in collaborating in this effort. This seminar would be the first in a series to address the issue of human rights education's importance in development programs.

Project On Human Rights Education& Conflict Resolution

Building on the success of the training of trainers program among women's organizations in post-conflict Cambodia in 1993, a workshop will be held in 1997 on the role human rights education can play in conflict resolution, a promising new area in peace and conflict studies. As a result of Cambodia 's tragic history, women comprise 63 percent of the population. PDHRE saw an important role that these women, as the majority of the population, could play in innovating conflict resolution not only between men and women in that society, but also in the society at large. The planned workshop is being organized in cooperation with the Peace Education Program of Columbia University's Teachers College. Activists from El Salvador and Cambodia attending the meeting will prepare a manual as a result of the workshop, which can then be shared with groups around the world engaged in the difficult process of national reconciliation and conflict resolution.

Charters For Human Rights Communities

This project will be managed by educators and human rights experts who will work with up to ten diverse communities, at least one in every region of the world. It will begin with a crash course in human rights in each community. After which a "human rights community" will be declared, and a committee established to lead the drafting of a charter or constitution. The goal is for each community, in the process of identifying and monitoring human rights issues affecting it, to work together to prepare a "charter" or "constitution for a human rights community," elaborating upon universal human rights and incorporating them into local regulations and an analysis of the social concerns facing the community. The process will be serviced by PDHRE, who will provide materials and bring the communities together to network with each other to enhance their work and the drafting of their charters. For the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1998, these communities will be highlighted as models of what human rights democracies could achieve. As completed, the charters will be made public as a challenge for more communities, especially marginalized ones, to join the effort. The goal is to ignite new political cultures based on human rights. Thus far the city of Rosario in Argentina, as of June 30, 1997, officially declared itself a "human rights city." Meanwhile Ein Had, an Arab Israeli community in the north of Israel, and two communities in Chile have begun work in this regard. PDHRE Board members will travel in coming months to work with them on developing their projects. Four other communities have been identified: Ramallah in the West Bank- Palestine; a street children community within the city of Bombay, India; a rural women's community near Manila, Philippines; a refugee community in Croatia; and a village in the north of Tanzania. Discussions are being held with human rights experts in every region to start assisting and guiding this process.

People's Report On The State Of Human Rights In The World

Members of the Independent Commission on Human Rights Education have joined with other interested parties in calling for and laying the foundation for a People's Report on the State of Human Rights in the World. The World - Report on Human Rights Education nearing completion will lay the pedagogical groundwork for this People's Report. The People's Report will evolve out of consultations or "listenings and hearings" to collect narratives of communities in struggle and interweave them with critique and analysis. The Report will examine a wide range of contemporary political and economic trends and their impact on the state of human rights as perceived and experienced by grassroots communities. Examples of the types of questions the Report seeks to address are: 1) How, in practice, do human rights legal texts perform in the field? 2) Given the changes of the last fifty years, what areas of life need more protection and what new areas have emerged that need to be brought under existing standards? or 3) How does the process of economic and cultural globalization positively and negatively impact communities in their efforts to articulate and protect their rights? Though written by activists, members of NGOs, and progressive educators, the true authors of the Report will be the grassroots communities and individuals working in them. The People's Report will use the catalytic effect of sharing narratives as a platform by which to incorporate, interpret, and reinforce human rights in the practices of civil society, and in national and international legislation.

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