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  5. New Human Rights Centers for Asia-Pacific

 
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FOCUS March 1999 Volume 15

New Human Rights Centers for Asia-Pacific

Three new human rights centers are being separately planned to be established within the next few years. Each center focuses on three main areas of human rights work: education, research and advocacy. They all are geared toward having regional-focused programs. The centers are being planned to be established in the Pacific, south Korea and the Philippines respectively. Following are the plans for each of the centers.


Pacific Centre for Human Rights

This center would be inclusive of all peoples and territories with traditional, historical and cultural links to the Pacific. It is meant to be the regional focal point for the promotion, coordination and dissemination of human rights education, research, information and resources throughout the Pacific Region and to be flexible, mobile and responsive to the needs of stakeholders in the Pacific. It is meant to provide an opportunity for the stakeholders in human rights education work to meet and create a shared vision on the meaning of human rights in the Pacific. The stakeholders to be coordinated and supported include governments, national human rights institutions, regional human rights forums or networks, inter-governmental or international organizations, regional donors, non-governmental or civil society organizations, universities and research centers, churches and religious movements, indigenous people's organizations/nations. The center aims to support and complement the work of existing stakeholders as an effective way to facilitate inter-stakeholder collaboration and cooperation.

The basic program of the center has not yet been finalized. At present a proposal regarding its mission, principles, objectives, and membership is still under discussion.

Proposed mission statement

The center aims to promote, advocate and coordinate the development of a culture of good governance and respect for human rights (which includes individual, civil, cultural, economic, political, social, religious and communal/collective rights) so as to ensure the equal participation of women, men, children and vulnerable and marginalized groups of all age groups in the national, regional and international affairs of the Pacific Region. It will do this by transforming human rights from the expression of abstract norms into the reality of Pacific Peoples' social, religious, economic, cultural and political conditions whether they live in a rural or urban environment and through the development of appropriate human rights education program.

Proposed guiding principles

The center should be characterized as

  • independent;
  • autonomous;
  • accurate and thorough;
  • transnational;
  • cooperative;
  • accessible;
  • sustainable;
  • inclusive;
  • non-partisan;
  • oriented towards advocacy;
  • mobilizing.

Proposed Objectives and Activities

Objective 1

To facilitate, coordinate, promote and assist the activities of stakeholders involved in human rights education. This includes all stakeholders from countries with traditional, historical and cultural links with the Pacific (e.g. West Papua, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Palau etc.).

Activities:

  1. Identify and monitor any alleged human rights violations in the region and the urgent circulation of information to the human rights network.

  2. Implementation of projects consistent with the Vanuatu Action Plan 1996.

  3. Effective co-ordination and mobilizing of resources for stakeholders.

Objective 2

To facilitate capacity building and training for stakeholders.

Activities:

  1. Provide advice on a broad range of human rights issues.

  2. Support existing train-the-trainers programs for government and civil society; formal (such as schools, tertiary institutions etc.) and non-formal education (such as villages, workplaces etc.) on issues such as women's rights, children's rights, gender issues, disability issues, indigenous people's rights etc. and program development where called upon to do so.

  3. Promote and assist the establishment of national human rights institutions and the provision of training on their importance.

Objective 3

To develop a regional commitment to human rights and ancillary law reform.

Activities:

  1. Promote a Pacific Charter of Human Rights.

  2. Initiate, coordinate or support forums on the interface between custom and human rights facilitated by national and regional organizations.

  3. Facilitate, by dissemination of information to a broad range of Pacific stakeholders, their attendance at regional, national and international forums on human rights.

  4. Provide training in legislative drafting courses on the ratification of international and regional human rights instruments.

Objective 4

To become a world-class center for research and information on Pacific human rights issues and developments.

Activities:

  1. Print human rights education materials and/or publications.

  2. Facilitate conferences, seminars, workshops, forums, etc. on human rights.

  3. Develop information kits and alternative education programs for the informal sector.

  4. Promote international conventions and instruments on human rights by transforming human rights from the expression of abstract norms into the reality of Pacific People's social, religious, economic, cultural and political conditions whether they live in a rural or urban environment.

The center may be located in Suva, Fiji or any other suitable place in the Pacific. But Suva is favored due to its central location in the region. Other suggestions include Port Vila-Vanuatu or Apia-Samoa.

Regional Center of Education for International Understanding (RCEIU)

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Center for Education for International Understanding (RCEIU) will contribute to the growth and strengthening of education for international understanding in the Asia-Pacific region by recognizing existing and evolving regional initiatives in such field as education for culture of peace, human rights, values, intercultural harmony and sustainable development.

It will also help to strengthen educational and human resources which will empower governments and citizens to engage constructively and appropriately with the phenomenon of globalization. In this regard, RCEIU will promote educational programs and initiatives helpful to such national, sub-regional, regional, and global transformation.

Objectives

  • To promote and coordinate activities for international understanding in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • To strengthen national and regional capacities in planning and implementing a broad range of practices in Education for International Understanding (EIU).

  • To create opportunities for indigenous voices and vulnerable groups in the Asia-Pacific region to participate in EIU, including the sharing of success stories.

  • To serve as a clearing house for information and knowledge on EIU relevant to Asia-Pacific region.

  • To encourage and facilitate collaborative links between Asia-Pacific initiatives and exemplars in EIU and those of other regional, international efforts in EIU.

  • To promote EIU as one of the constructive strategies towards democratic and sustainable transformation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Proposed programs and activities of RCEIU

  • Professional in-service development of teachers, school administrators, teacher educators, and civil servants.

  • Curriculum development

  • Youth formation

  • Training of non-formal and community educators

  • Research and policy development

  • Clearing house for EIU information

The RCEIU will be established in Seoul, Korea preferably in the year 2000.

Suggested activities and recommendations

The Korean government has suggested a set of activities is support of the RCIEU, as follows:

1. Initiate comprehensive needs assessment at national, sub-regional, and regional level on human rights education.

To identify the needs of human rights education and devise ways and means of teaching human rights in the countries in the region, both public and private sectors should be mobilized to improve human right condition. The outcome will serve as a baseline data for drafting national or regional plans of action.

2. Strengthen regional/sub-regional programs and capacities for formulation of effective strategies for the furtherance of human rights education at all school levels.

  1. Revitalize human rights education in the context of EIU.

    More often than not, the concept of EIU has been used interchangeably with human rights education. There is a need to clarify these concepts and integrate human rights education in the umbrella of EIU.

  2. Mobilize human resources in human rights education.

    In an effort to empower human resources responsible for education of human rights, training of trainers should be reinforced by organizing a working group with representatives from the countries in the region.

  3. Mobilize cooperation with international organizations.

    1. To facilitate the implementation of human rights education programs in schools, a network of intergovernmental expert group should be mobilized. The UNESCO chair holders and focal points on Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights of the region may be enhanced in an effort to promote human rights education through UNESCO, UNICEF, and other UN systems.

    2. Advisory services and technical assistance may be sought at the regional and international levels within UN specialized agencies in the field of human rights education.

    3. Organization of regional/sub-regional workshops, seminars, and information exchanges may be designed to strengthen regional arrangement for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with international human rights instruments.*

  4. Regional/sub-regional human rights organizations will be requested to enhance their efforts in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights, and UNESCO.

  5. Coordinated development and dissemination of information/resource materials (regional or sub-regional specific resource materials) should be developed to share the values and attitudes pertinent to the region.

The Asian Human Rights and Peace Institute

The Institute shall be a learning and a resource center responsible for human rights and peace education and teaching, and shall serve as a focal center for human rights information exchange to cover clients in the Asia-Pacific region. It will likewise catalyze and foster development of collaborative education and research programs among universities, colleges, schools, government and non-governmental organizations, both local and overseas, to emphasize that a new international economic, social and cultural order is essential to enable all people to enjoy their human rights and to promote and facilitate education on human rights at all levels and in all countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific Region.

In line with this mandate, the Institute will offer legal, technical and scientific courses on human rights, multidisciplinary-oriented training services, special studies and researches on human rights, curricula for both formal and non-formal educational systems, multi-mediated teaching techniques, human rights programs monitoring and evaluation services, and publication of human rights materials and references.

The Institute shall have the following powers and functions:

a) To develop information, education, training, research, human rights programs monitoring and evaluation systems for its target clientele;

b) To undertake continuous research and development programs to upgrade human rights information, education and training systems, instructional and information materials technology, and conduct human rights special studies, monitoring and evaluation services.

c) To promote synergetic partnership and linkages with human rights and peace centers and institutions locally and internationally, from both government and non-governmental sectors;

d) To design and implement regular and advance courses on peace and human rights and special programs such as fellowships and focused studies, training programs and other multi-mediated information dissemination techniques;

To serve as a venue and a forum for peace and human rights seminars, trainings, conventions, conferences, public hearing, and others.

e) To conduct a continuing research on possible legislative reforms and/or innovations for human rights education, promotion and protection;

f) To undertake a continuing program of systematic collection and storage of information relevant to the protection and promotion of human rights and promote information exchange with various human rights institutions and academies;

g) To collect, receive by bequest, donation, device, gift, purchase, or lease, either absolutely or in trust, for any of its purposes, any property, real or personal, and funding assistance from both local and foreign sources without limitation as to amount or value and to maintain a Peace and Human Rights Education Fund for the promotion of its aims and purposes hereinafter set out; and

h) To collect fees and charges for services it renders to individuals and organizations.

The Institute will be housed at the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines and supported largely by government funds. The Institute will be under the direct supervision of a Board of Trustees headed by the chairperson of the Commission

A Council of Advisers will be appointed to provide the Institute with advisory services. It shall be composed of representatives from other government organizations, NGOs (local and international), peoples organizations, and sectoral representatives.


* Currently, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea (in collaboration with the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and HURIGHTS OSAKA) is drafting a project on Training of Teacher Trainers for Human Rights Education in Northeast Asian Region.


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