The workshop entitled "Human Rights Education in Asia-Pacific: Defining Challenges and Strategies" held in Bangkok, Thailand on November 10-12, 2003 discussed the state of human rights education in the region.
The Workshop focused on a number of issues covered by human rights education programs in the region. There were presentations on programs for women, children, youth, indigenous peoples, refugees, ethnic minority groups, migrant workers, plantation workers, peasants and the urban poor.
One aim of human rights education that was highlighted is the need to adopt sustainable strategies that enlarge the community of human rights educators as well as the constituencies for human rights education. This has implication on the reach of current programs, as well as the capability of these programs to continue and expand.
The Workshop noted the importance of giving human rights educators the chance to reflect on, review and rethink their work, to further develop their skills and acquire more knowledge on human rights principles, to adopt holistic approach to human rights education (going beyond one's issue or sector), to increase their links with each other, and to reach out to more marginalized groups.
The Workshop suggested to engage the government in general, and to treat government people as strategic partners in human rights education. At the same time, the Workshop saw the need to have more human rights education programs for those in government, and to lobby the ministries of education for human rights-friendly school environment. The Workshops noted the important role of national human rights commissions and the need to strengthen their human rights education programs.
In relation to regional forums and meetings, the Workshop suggested the development of strategic partnerships with regional bodies, e.g., the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (AIPO), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and to use the avenues made available by them. It also emphasized the importance of regional resource centers in collecting and disseminating information and materials, and in mobilizing resource persons.
Finally, with regard to the United Nations, the Workshop called for the use of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) as a lobbying tool with governments, and for the adoption of a second Decade on human rights education.
The Workshop noted the need to utilize the resources and opportunities offered by the UN such as their rapporteurs and experts, their reporting mechanisms, and their programs for technical cooperation with governments. UN rapporteurs and experts from the region can be invited as resource persons in human rights education programs so that they can share information on their respective fields of competence. Human rights education should be used to lobby governments to ratify UN human rights instruments.
The three-day workshop was attended by 60 participants representing various institutions (non-governmental, UN specialized agencies and a national human rights commission). It was organized by the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), the Asia-Pacific Regional Resource Center for Human Rights Education (ARRC), and the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center (HURIGHTS OSAKA).
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