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October 24, 2014
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Current Concerns  >  2008  >  No 8, 2008  >  Expert meeting on the right to education on peace and human rights [printversion]

Expert meeting on the right to education on peace and human rights

Within the context of the World Campaign on the Human Right to Peace conducted by the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law (SSIHRL), the expert meeting was organised on 4 June 2008 at the Palais de Nations (Geneva) by SSIHRL and UNESCO Etxea, with the sponsorship of the Generalitat of Catalonia and the participation of UNESCO and UNICEF.
Mr Carlos Villán Durán, President of the SSIHRL, opened the expert meeting highlighting both the 2008 Annual report by Amnesty International, and the Manifest of world intellectuals released on 14 March 2008 (see The International Herald Tribune, page 7), on  commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the prevailing international context the human right to peace is violated as a consequence of more than 40 ongoing armed conflicts.
Mr Andres Guerrero, Office of Public Partnership of the regional Office of UNICEF in Geneva, indicated that educational systems everywhere in the world require educators who can help children and young people to acquire the knowledge and skills to understand global issues of development, peace and justice, as well as develop a sense of global solidarity towards those who are struggling with the effects of poverty and conflict. The UN Study on Violence against Children reminds us that in many schools and other educational settings, millions of children are exposed to physical, sexual and psychological violence, including corporal punishment, bullying and gender discrimination.
Mr. Kazunari Fujii, Chair, NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning/SGI, underlined that peace is not simply the absence of a war or an armed conflict, but peace is a society in which human rights are respected and the causes of human rights violations are constantly prevented. Human rights education, which deals with “root causes” of human rights violations, is a sustainable approach to creation and maintenance of peace. The UN World Programme for Human Rights Education is the tool with which NGOs can contribute in this approach. Rather than education to be servitude to society, we need to create a society which serves the essential needs of education.
Ms. Kerstin Holst, Representative of the regional Office of UNESCO in Geneva, stated that in 1997, the Member States of UNESCO in General Conference Resolution 29 C/Resolution 43, invited the Director-General to convene an international consultation of governmental experts on the human right to peace. This consultation was held in 1998 in connection with the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was very pleased by knowing that after 10 years, civil society continues the reflection on the concept of the human right to peace. She added that quality education is one of the most powerful tools for conquering the evils of ignorance and hate, and for promoting the values of tolerance, justice and equality.
Ms. Laura Thompson Chacon, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica before United Nations in Geneva, indicated that her country has always supported education on human rights. Education is fundamental not only to develop and implement human rights as a whole, but also to promote tolerance, solidarity, dialogue and social cohesion among people. The promotion of education on human rights is one of the objectives to be met by States according to the Millennium Development Goals. Over the past two years President Arias has conducted a comprehensive educational reform, whose purpose is to promote awareness and sensitivity for a full life and respect those who are different.
Mr. Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, stated that if we follow the footsteps of mankind will find a history of communication and evolution. Besides, if we want to give a name to this process would be the name of learning. When someone deprives human beings of learning occur death. He added that many of the education problems can not be solved from school, but only from strong political commitments. The fact that education is not recognized as a primary human right has clear implications, such as considering education as a pure service offered by public administrations and not a properly right.
Finally, Mr. Villán Durán addressed the right to education on peace and human rights, as codified in Article 2 of the Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, adopted in Spain on 30 October 2006. According to it, “every person has the right to receive peace and human right education, the basis of every educational system, which will help to generate social processes based on trust, solidarity and mutual respect, promote the peaceful settlement of conflicts and lead to a new way of approaching human relationships”.    •

David Fernandez Puyana, Representative of the SSIHRL in Geneva, Director of the World Campaign on the Human Right to Peace (www.aedidh.org)