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Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Volume VII

The United Nations and Human Rights Education in the Asia-Pacific Region

JEFFERSON R. PLANTILLA

According to its 1945 Charter, the United Nations (UN) should promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and become a "center for harmonizing the actions of nations."

   Since 1945 the UN has set human rights standards in the form of various international agreements. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the best-known human rights document, started this process in 1948.[1] Some 25 international agreements on human rights were subsequently adopted. More are being discussed.
   Then came the creation of various UN treaty bodies to implement international human rights agreements. Regional human rights institutions were also created one after the other in Europe, North America, and Africa.[2] Only the Asia-Pacific region remains without one.
   The UN encourages all its member-states in this region to ratify the international agreements on human rights and to establish a regional human rights mechanism as in other regions of the world.


UN Talks

In 1982 the UN held in Colombo the Seminar on National, Local and Regional Arrangements for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asian Region,[3] where 16 Asia-Pacific member-states were represented. Also represented were the Council of Europe, League of Arab States, Organization of African Unity, Organization of American States, some UN specialized agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.
   The Colombo seminar recommends that a "programme for teaching, seminars, training and education in the field of human rights be developed for Asian and Pacific region and that the UN and United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) could play an important role in this. NGOs could also cooperate actively in this programme." Although the participants failed to agree on the idea of a human rights mechanism for the region, [4] human rights education was a major point of agreement.
   This, however, remained largely without follow-up until 1990, when the UN started a series of workshops on regional arrangements on human rights in the Asia-Pacific region.[5] The workshop, held in Manila, was followed in 1993 by a workshop in Jakarta. In the same year the World Conference on Human Rights was held in Vienna. The region's member-states met in Bangkok in March 1993 and came up with the Bangkok Declaration, which provides two major statements on human rights education. The member-states:
  • Recognize...that States have the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights through appropriate infrastructure and mechanisms, and also recognize that remedies must be sought and provided primarily through such mechanisms and procedures;
  • Reiterate further the need to explore ways to generate international cooperation and financial support for education and training in the field of human rights at the national level and for the establishment of national infrastructures to promote and protect human rights if requested by States.
   A notable characteristic of these statements is the "possessiveness" of member-states in claiming their primary responsibility to undertake human rights education activities based on their claim to the right to decide matters relating to their respective countries. Thus, the UN or the international community will provide assistance only upon the request of the member-states.
   The UN-organized workshops on regional arrangement on human rights for the Asia-Pacific region continued in Seoul (1994), Kathmandu (1996), Amman (1997), Teheran (1998), New Delhi (1999), Beijing (2000), Bangkok (2001), Beirut (2002), Islamabad (2003), and Doha (2004). Each reiterated the importance of human rights education but did not lead to an agreement on a regional human rights mechanism--only on the process of developing such an idea. They wanted a "stepby-step, building-block approach," which requires a host of steps:
  • Conduct of human rights education and development of national human rights education plan in support of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, and sharing of experiences at the regional level;
  • Ratification of international human rights instruments;
  • Development of national action plans on human rights whereby States identify steps by which they will improve the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level;
  • Strengthening/establishment of national human rights institutions in accordance with the national legislation and Paris Principles;
  • Sharing of national experiences and expertise at the regional level through bilateral and regional consultations, staff exchanges, regional conferences, joint projects and other appropriate programs.[6]
   In the 1998 regional workshop, the Asia-Pacific governments adopted the Tehran Framework, which defines the four main pillars of regional cooperation on human rights.[7] Human rights education is one. The UN has to follow this approach.
   The UN has also been supporting or relating to regional conferences on human rights education. The Conference-Workshop on Asia-Pacific Human Rights Education for Development held in Manila in 1995 and the Symposium on Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region (jointly sponsored by the Japanese government and UN University) held twice in Tokyo since 1996 are two examples. UNESCO also supported the Asia and Pacific Regional Conference on Education for Human Rights held in 1999 in Pune, India.[8]
   UNESCO likewise used its national commissions and partner individuals in forming a network in Asia-Pacific to "promote and develop international education and values education for peace, human rights, democracy and sustainable development, through intercountry cooperation among individuals and institutions working in these fields."[9] This network--Asia-Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education--has been focusing on the formal education system.
   Since its initial meeting in 1996 in Darwin, Australia, the UN-supported Asia-Pacific Forum on National Human Rights Institutions has consistently promoted human rights education among its member-national human rights institutions. The Forum's special relationship with the UN is expressed in the following statement:
   The Workshop requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to facilitate close co-operation between and periodic meetings of national institutions in the Asia Pacific region, including by ensuring that necessary funds are committed for those purposes. The Workshop reiterated their recommendation that the United Nations formally recognise the unique status and character of independent national institutions and take further steps to ensure that they are able to participate in their own right in the work of United Nations human rights bodies. (Concluding Statement of the New Delhi Workshop--10-12 September 1997)
   The Forum has become a major UN conduit to promote human rights in the region, acting as a third party to the usual government and NGO representations in UN human rights forums.
   The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, and other world conferences held in Rio de Janeiro (environment and development), Beijing (women), Cairo (population), Istanbul (housing), Rome (food security), and Copenhagen (social development) created a lot of space for human rights education.
   Endorsed in workshops and conferences sponsored by the UN, and by the nongovernmental sector, the international campaign on the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) made an impact in the region.
   The series of regional intergovernmental workshops and conferences organized by the UN since 1995 resulted in the adoption of the following action plans:
  • development of national human rights programs and plans of action in accordance with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (Manila 1995, Kathmandu 1996);
  • continuing dialogue and sharing of human rights education experiences in the region and creation of a working group of government, national institutions and NGOs (Manila 1995, Kathmandu 1996);
  • development of human rights education strategies in the region, or drafting a regional plan of action, pursuant to the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (Seoul and Manila 1995);
  • emphasizing human rights education in the schools and universities (Tokyo 1995);
  • further development of human rights education programs for judges, civil servants, police, security and defense forces, lawyers, prosecutors, prison officials, community leaders, parliamentarians, health professionals, artists, members of the media, the family and other social institutions or those in a position to promote human rights (Tokyo and Manila 1995);
  • coordination of national human rights education programs and strengthening linkages between grassroots communities and human rights agencies (Manila 1995);
  • linking human rights education to the realization of the right to development and working for the empowerment of citizens and governments to impress upon bilateral or intergovernmental agencies (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank) and private sector organizations (transnational corporations) the need to uphold human rights in all their policies and activities (Manila 1995);
  • coordination of human rights education programs with the UN Centre for Human Rights (now the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR]), UNESCO, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and local and international NGOs (Manila 1995); and
  • preparation of a compendium of existing national human rights education plans of action in the region (Tehran 1998).[10]
   These ideas were repeated in subsequent conferences in the region and annual regional workshops of the UN.[11] The Asia-Pacific governments, in a recent workshop, say that they
  1. Recognize that human rights education can play a crucial role in enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and can contribute to the promotion of human rights, the prevention of human rights violations and the achievement of a culture of peace;
  2. Recognize that human rights education should benefit from diverse social and cultural values and traditions that enforce the universality of human rights, having the aim of promoting a multicultural understanding of human rights;
  3. Recognize the desirability of including human rights education as a component of national human rights plans of action, development plans and other relevant national plans of action;
  4. Encourage Governments to promote the development of national plans and strategies for human rights education which are comprehensive, participatory, effective and sustainable, and to accelerate the pace of implementation of such plans and strategies within the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), so as to realize significant achievements by the end of the Decade;
  1. Note the implementation of, and substantive report and conclusions relating to the workshop on human rights and the administration of justice, held in Fiji in June 2002;
  2. Recognize the important role of national human rights institutions in human rights education and encourage a sharing of lessons learned and best practices among them in this regard;
  3. Recognize that human rights education in schools is a comprehensive process which concerns not only the inclusion of human rights elements in the curriculum, but also the further development of textbooks and teaching methodologies, the human rights training of teachers and school administrators as well as the fostering of learning environments which encourage the full development of the human personality;
  4. Note that priority should also be given to human rights education for all those involved in the administration of justice, including judges, lawyers, prosecutors, police, prison officials and relevant Government officials as well as among the marginalized, vulnerable and illiterate section of the population;
  5. Acknowledge the important role that non-governmental actors can play in furthering human rights education, and stress the need for governmental and non-governmental actors to enhance partnership to this end.[12]
   An enormous amount of money and energy has been used to formulate and develop ideas on how to implement programs on human rights education in the Asia-Pacific region. An equally enormous amount of money and energy will be needed to mainstream and institutionalize human rights education in the region.


UN Actions

The UN has been matching its continuing facilitation of dialogue among governments in the region on human rights promotion and protection with programs and activities.
   The UN Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, for example, established in 1987 by the UN Secretary General, is funded from voluntary contributions and provides technical support to countries upon their governments' request. Projects are implemented within the framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme, administered by the OHCHR. A board of trustees was created in 1993 to help raise funds and advise and support the Voluntary Fund. Members are appointed by the secretary-general for 3 years and are chosen for their independence and wide experience in human rights and technical cooperation.[13]
   The fund supported the US$157,000 project on human rights education in the Asia-Pacific region adopted during the Teheran workshop for the regional human rights arrangement in Asia-Pacific in 1998. The project aims "to develop, implement and evaluate national plans of action and other activities for human rights education." The activities include the following:[14]
  1. Preparation of a Compendium of existing national plans of action and specific programmes or activities for human rights education;
  2. Provision by OHCHR of technical cooperation and assistance at the request of Member States for the development of national capacities for human rights education, including the holding, as appropriate, of workshops to consider such activities;
  3. Holding a regional intergovernmental workshop with the participation of representatives of national institutions and NGOs active in this area, to share best practices concerning such national action plans and related activities.
   An intersessional workshop on sharing best practices in preparing national action plans for human rights, held in Bangkok in June 1999, formulated guidelines to prepare national action plans.[15] Another intersessional workshop was held for human rights education in 2000, and discussed the desirability for many countries in the region to adopt and implement national action plans for the UN Decade.
   Even before the funding offer was made, however, OHCHR had been implementing human rights projects in several countries in the region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and Vietnam).[16]
   OHCHR has also established field offices in several countries in the region--Cambodia, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste. OHCHR appointed regional representatives for West Asia (based in Beirut) and for the rest of the Asia-Pacific region (based in Bangkok). The field office in Phnom Penh is a direct result of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) operations. It opened in October 1993. The UN Commission on Human Rights outlined its human rights education-related mandate:
  1. To manage the implementation of educational and technical assistance and advisory service programs and ensure their continuation; and
  2. To continue to assist with training of persons responsible for the administration of justice.[17]
   The UN field office in Phnom Penh has been training personnel of various government offices (ministries of interior, defense, justice, information, and foreign affairs) at the Royal School of Administration. Police training on human rights has also been launched in cooperation with Cambodian NGOs. Training for prison officials and members of the judiciary are also part of the program. Cambodian NGO workers have been participating in the training. The Trust Fund for Human Rights Education has been a source of UN support for international and local NGO human rights education projects in Cambodia. In addition, this field office has either translated or developed teaching materials, which are distributed nationwide. These materials normally consist of UN human rights documents and training modules.[18]
   The mandate of the UN field office in Ulaan Baatar is almost similar to the Phnom Penh office.
   OHCHR has a technical cooperation program with the People's Republic of China on human rights education. The agency organized a national seminar on human rights education in Beijing on 8-9 November 2001, and a study tour to the Philippines for a Chinese delegation focusing on human rights education in schools on 16-24 September 2002.[19] The Assisting Communities Together (ACT) Project, launched in 1998 by OHCHR and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has provided small financial grants to several grassroots human rights education projects in the Asia-Pacific region. The projects also cover school-related human rights education activities.[20]
   UNICEF has actively promoted the Convention on the Rights of the Child and supported the production of related teaching materials in many countries in the region. UNICEF's country office in the Philippines helped produce a guide to assess child-friendly schools (using the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the standard),[21] and develop teaching exemplars on gender equality.
   UNESCO country offices have funded a variety of projects. In 1998 Jakarta office helped produce teacher guidebooks, student learning materials, and a reference manual of international declarations, conventions, and covenants on human rights. UNESCO reports the beginning of its human rights education projects as follows:
   Due to the major socio-political reform occurring in Indonesia since last May 1998, beginning from November 1998 a joint initiative has been taken by the Curriculum Development Centre together with the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights to introduce human rights education into primary and secondary schools as well as teacher training institutions in Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia.
   The project trains the head teachers and 1 teacher of each 8 primary schools, 4 junior secondary schools and 4 senior secondary schools to be human rights educators by their participation in teacher training workshops conducted by the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Socio-Political Sciences of the Institute of Teaching and Educational Sciences in Kupang. Teacher training workshops in Kupang in January 1999; in Bali in May 1999 organized by HURIGHTS OSAKA and the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights; and in Kupang in November 1999, also aim to produce teacher guidebooks and learning materials ready for use in schools in West Timor.[22]
   The Islamabad Office, on the other hand, was instrumental in developing Pakistan's National Plan of Action for Human Rights Education (under the aegis of the UN Decade). As the preface of the plan of action document states:
   UNESCO, Islamabad extended valuable support to the Ministry of Education in the development of a draft Plan of Action. The Ministry of Education acknowledging the efforts and support of UNESCO, evolved a participatory approach in involving different stakeholders and the provincial education departments for the development of the Plan. A background paper was developed by the Ministry of Education for consultation with the Provinces. In light of the feedback received from the Provinces, the draft Plan of Action was developed through collaborative efforts at the national level with support from UNESCO, Islamabad.[23]
   Also in Pakistan, the International Labour Organization's International Training Centre (based in Turin, Italy) and its Area Office launched in partnership with Pakistan's Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights (Human Rights Wing) the Promotion and Implementation of Human Rights--An Institutional Capacity Building Project. It aims to enable governmental and civil-society organizations to better protect and promote human rights. There were training workshops on international human rights standards and mechanisms, and issues on human rights education at various levels and education systems. One of the issues discussed was integrating human rights education into the school curriculum.[24]
   These projects illustrate the significant role played by UN country offices in supporting the development (and, one hopes, the full implementation) of human rights programs.
   UNESCO supports the Asia-Pacific Center for Education on International Understanding (APCEIU), established by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO, while the UNESCO program on Associated Schools Project (ASP) Network has been supporting human rights education program in schools.[25] APCEIU held a training for teachers in the Pacific in cooperation with the UNESCO Office for the Pacific, and the Fiji National Commission for UNESCO on 16-20 July 2002, in Suva, Fiji. Participating teachers came from Fiji, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and New Zealand. The workshop discussed human education in schools.[26] As a result of its 2003 General Conference, the office of UNESCO for the Asia-Pacific region now has explicit activities on human rights education in schools.
   The UNDP country offices, on the other hand, have been helping governments institutionalize their human rights programs, which include human rights education projects.
   The independent human-rights-related programs and activities of the different UN agencies may be coordinated at the national level if the countries adopt the idea proposed by the UN Secretary General to create a national human rights protection system. It will strengthen the UN country teams and make the different UN agencies adopt a rights-based approach in their programs. Human rights education can easily become a common ground among these agencies. UN agencies that directly and indirectly relate to human rights education can also coordinate regionally.[27]


Evaluating the UN Programs

The assistance programs implemented by the UN in the region are varied, substantive, and comprehensive. Unfortunately, no one has thoroughly documented all the programs, projects, and activities undertaken by the different UN specialized agencies during the last two decades. Without such documentation, the overall impact of these UN programs, projects, and activities cannot be evaluated.
   Human rights education gained much recognition since mid-1990s among governments partly due to the adoption of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004). Governments in the region declared in their statement to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights that there is a
... need to explore ways to generate international cooperation and financial support for education and training in the field of human rights at the national level and for the establishment of national infrastructures to promote and protect human rights if requested by States.
   This statement fits the plan of action of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), which was subsequently adopted in 1995.
   NGOs, being the main lobbyist for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), have been discussing it since late 1980s when it was first conceived by the People's Decade for Human Rights Education. They saw in this Decade (called the "world decade" in a 1993 NGO conference in the region)
a chance to bestow on their human rights education work the recognition it fully deserves. It is also a means of making governments cast away their excuse for labeling human rights education as a mere agitation tool against them. But more importantly, it was seen as a significant support for the greater development of human rights education through the participation of all sectors of society. NGOs therefore were at the forefront of the campaign for a UN-supported decade for human rights education.[28]
The 2001 Midterm Global Evaluation of the Decade reveals the weak response of governments in the region to the call to develop national human rights education programs. Many governments represented in the 2000 intersessional workshop still need to fulfill their declaration of support for human rights education, and their interest in subscribing to the UN guidelines to develop national human rights education action plans.[29]
   In the regional workshops and conferences on human rights education, the role of UN in this field has been identified:
  • Organize a regional forum for dialogue between governments, NGOs, and national human rights institutions.
  • Establish a voluntary or other fund for human rights education.
  • Increase funding for human rights education program within the UN.
  • Support NGOs and people's organizations.
  • Organize regional meetings to discuss Asia-Pacific priorities, needs, and experiences.
  • Create a program to sensitize UN personnel on human rights.
  • Develop closer relationship with the Asia-Pacific human rights community, including NGOs, and upgrade the system of providing information.
  • Request human rights treaty bodies to include human rights education in discussing country reports.
  • Maximize the role of special rapporteurs in promoting human rights education.
  • Support the development of national action plans on human rights education and their implementation by providing funds and technical support.
  • Maximize the role of UNESCO chairs and associated schools project members in promoting human rights.[30]
   This list of roles was not adopted by the UN but provides a guide to evaluate UN human rights education programs, projects, and activities in the region by considering the expectations of governments and nongovernmental institutions.


Importance of the UN

The Timor Leste experience is a good example of the UN's important role in this region. The UN was able to get the support of its memberstates in facilitating the holding of a referendum in Timor Leste to decide whether it would become an independent state or not. The UN helped realize a basic human right--the right to self-determination.
   The Cambodian and Korean cases present other types of UN intervention to make peace among peoples (even if division of one nation-- Korea--is the price of peace).
   Ordinary people still respect the UN as a prestigious organization. The UN and its specialized agencies are credited with their significant help in humanitarian activities such as provision of food, medicine, and clothing to people victimized by natural disasters, war, and political persecution. Research and implementation of programs on food production, labor welfare, environmental protection and preservation, cultural enhancement, disease prevention and cure, and literacy are easily appreciated for their direct and immediate impact on people. In providing services, the UN cultivates the idea that people help other people regardless of economic, social, racial, political, and cultural differences. People of various nationalities come together to implement projects under UN leadership.
   Despite the UN's long and extensive work in the region, however, people at the national level hardly know UN as an institution that responds to human rights abuses perpetuated with impunity by their own governments. Neither is the UN at the forefront of preventing human rights violations through human rights education. Somehow, the UN seems to find human rights too controversial to be taken up front.[31]
   Many UN world conferences in the 1990s came out with action plans, but how far these have been realized is still unknown. Clearly, however, the target results have not yet been achieved. Similarly, government ratification of international human rights treaties has not always led to domestic legislation, policies, or rules embodying the obligations assumed in the treaties.
   The UN thus has to diplomatically persuade governments to receive its experts who can help review domestic systems and recommend measures for improvement based on human rights standards.
   Governments diplomatically acknowledge the importance of the UN offer of assistance, but rarely accept such offers and do not put high priority on changing systems for the sake of human rights.
   Thus, the series of workshops on human rights arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region has become a medium through which governments are reminded that the UN can help them develop systems and structures that can promote, protect, and realize human rights. The workshops give the UN the opportunity to maintain human rights as a major item in the agenda of regional intergovernmental meetings.
   This can be one reason why the UN has no choice but to accept the idea of step-by-step or building-block approach to create a regional mechanism for human rights in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the first UN workshop in 1982 that discussed this issue, at least 15 years passed before the UN could begin discussing with governments in the region specific steps to implement the human rights action plans. Such steps are now incorporated in the plans of action agreed on at the regional workshops.
   The UN-sponsored Northeast Asia workshop held in Seoul in December 1999 on human rights education in schools is an example of such a concrete step. The UN saw the workshop as supporting its human rights education program. Participation in this kind of activity is one incentive for governments to understand experiences on human rights education in schools in various other countries in the region. This practical approach to promoting human rights education is a good departure from the usual conferences the UN organizes. This approach fits very well the provision by the OHCHR of "technical cooperation and assistance at the request of Member States for the development of national capacities for human rights education, including the holding, as appropriate, of workshops..."[32] It is heartening to note that a similar workshop was held for the Gulf region in 2004.[33]
   The 2000 intersessional UN workshop in the region on the Plan of Action of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) held in Tokyo is another step in support of having national plans of action for human rights education.
   The UN has to go beyond holding regular meetings and conferences. It has to devote its limited resources to practical activities such as capacity building or program development, which requires the participation of people who directly implement policies and programs at the national (if not local) level.
   The UN's human rights work has the potential to adopt the same level of program implementation as in social programs (such as health, economic, and community development) where the UN sends volunteers to work directly with communities.
   Before this level of implementation is reached, a great deal of work is needed. Governments will have to be more open and sincere about putting into action their numerous commitments to respect human rights at the community level. Some governments that still do not fully accept the idea of full participation of NGOs in UN meetings will have to review this stance. The NGOs' positive contribution to the discussions in UN meetings such as the annual regional workshops will be wasted without recognition from governments.
   NGOs play a significant role in human rights education. The UN has thus provided space where governments and NGOs can constructively work together for human rights.
   Since human rights education can only be fully implemented through various institutions (international, regional, national, and local), the UN's task is to help facilitate the interaction among these institutions at the level of program implementation.


Notes

   1. The UDHR has been translated into more than 300 languages at present, an important step to popularize the document. See www.unchr.ch for more information about the translated versions.
   2. The UN explains these regional mechanisms in the following manner:
   Regional arrangements have thus far been established within the three existing regional intergovernmental organizations. In the case of Africa, the relevant arrangement is located within the Organization of African Unity (OAU), its founding instrument being the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. The regional human rights mechanism for the Americas is located within the Organization of American States and is based on the American Convention on Human Rights. Lastly, the European human rights system forms part of the framework of the Council of Europe. Its founding instrument is the European Convention on Human Rights. Source: www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/regargm.htm
   3. This is the first UN-organized workshop on regional arrangement on human rights for Asia-Pacific. It took 8 years before the UN started to sponsor the yearly intergovernmental workshop on regional arrangement on human rights for the Asia-Pacific in 1990.
   4. In the mid-1980s, the Law Association of Asia and the Pacific (LAWASIA) drafted a Pacific Charter of Human Rights (with a provision for the creation of a Pacific Human Rights Commission) and tried to persuade governments to adopt it, but failed. Had the charter been adopted, the Pacific would have had a separate regional human rights mechanism from Asia.
   5. LAWASIA lobbied the governments to support its resolution to have a regional seminar in 1989 at the intergovernmental level to "examine the possibility of some kind of regional institutions and arrangements for the promotion and protection of Human Rights..." The UN Centre for Human Rights planned to have in the Philippines in December 1989 a regional workshop on human rights issues, including the question of regional and national institutions and arrangements to promote and protect human rights. LAWASIA, Draft Pacific Charter of Human Rights and Explanatory Memoranda, 1989. This regional workshop was eventually held in 1990 in Manila.
   6. See "UN Workshops on Regional Arrangement for Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific," FOCUS Asia-Pacific, March 1997, volume 7.
   7. The regional workshop has been renamed Asia-Pacific Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. It was previously named Workshop on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asian and Pacific Region.
   8. See "Pune Conference--UNESCO's Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting on Human Rights Education," FOCUS Asia-Pacific, March 1999, volume 15.
   9. See APNIEVE brochure.
   10. This is an updated version of Note 10, "Human Rights and Cultural Values--A Literature Review," in Human Rights in Asian Cultures-Continuity and Change, Jefferson R. Plantilla and Sebasti L. Raj, S.J., eds., Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center (Osaka: 1997). The UN has been sponsoring the workshops on regional arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region. The list of principles mentioned here is taken from these workshops. Additional principles are taken from the human rights symposiums held in Tokyo and organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the UN University.
   11. This is the list of regional activities (conferences and workshops) on human rights education held during 1995-2003:
  • Conference-Workshop on Asia-Pacific Human Rights Education for Development (Manila, Philippines, 15 December 1995)
  • Workshop on Asia-Pacific Human Rights Education --The Right to Human Rights Education (Sydney, Australia, 25 August 1996)
  • International Conference on Human Rights Education in the Asia-Pacific Region (Osaka, Japan, 25-27 November 1998)
  • "Education for Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific: Asia and Pacific Regional Conference on Education for Human Rights" (Pune, India, 3-6 February 1999)
  • Regional Response to the United Nations Decade of Human Rights Education with the Participation of Civil Society (Nepal, November 1999)
  • Intersessional Workshop on National Plans of Action for Human Rights Education in the Asia-Pacific Region (Tokyo, Japan, 17-19 January 2000)
  • Asian Human Rights Education Trainers' Colloquium (Chiangmai, Thailand, 1-6 April 2001).
  • Human Rights Education in Asia-Pacific: Defining Challenges and Strategies (Bangkok, Thailand, 10- 12 November 2003).
   12. Conclusions of the 11th Asia-Pacific Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights held in Islamabad on 24 February 2003.
   13. Status Report of on Technical Cooperation Programme and Project Activities (11th issue), United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, 30 April 1998.
   14. Annex II, Framework of Regional Technical Cooperation Programme in Asia and the Pacific, Further Promotion and Encouragement of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Including the Question of the Programme and Methods of Work of the Commission (E/CN.4/1998/50--12 March 1998).
   15. This document is available at the UNHCHR Web site.
   16. Status Report on Technical Cooperation Programme and Project Activities (11th issue), United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, op. cit.
   17. Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1993/6.
   18. UN Decade for Human Rights Education--Cambodia Survey 1993-1996 (draft), UNCHR Cambodia Office, Phnom Penh, January 1997, p. 5. The Trust Fund for Human Rights Education cited in this survey report might be the same as the UN Voluntary Fund mentioned in this article.
   19. See "Human Rights Education Study Tour: Delegation from China," FOCUS Asia-Pacific, volume 30, HURIGHTS OSAKA (September 2002), and the narrative report on the study tour in this volume on pages -- --. Technical cooperation between UNHCHR and the People's Republic of China also extends to programs for the judiciary and the police.
   20. See OHCHR website for information about Assisting Communities Together.
   21. Is Your School Child Friendly? A Self-Assessment Guide, Department of Education and UNICEF Manila (Pasig City, Philippines: undated).
   22. See S. Belen, "Human Rights Education in Indonesian Schools: An Update" in Human Rights Education in Asian Schools, volume 6 and the UNESCO Jakarta Office Web site: www.unesco.or.id/PROG/EDU/topics/education_peace_humanrights_indonesia.html.
   23. Haroona Jatoi, "Preface," National Plan of Action for Human Rights Education (Islamabad, Ministry of Education, 2002), page iii.
   24. For a report on one of the workshops held see Final Report--Human Rights Education--Promotion and Implementation of Human Rights: An Institutional Capacity Building Project (ILO International Training Centre: 2000).
   25. One example is the agreement between UNESCO and the Thai National Commission for UNESCO in 1997 to launch a human rights education program in Thai schools. The program involved preparation and testing of human rights lesson plans, and introduction of the human rights education program to teachers and education officials who work in schools that are not yet members of the ASPNet. See Final Report--Human Rights Education Programme (Thailand, December 1997). See also related articles in volume 5 of Human Rights Education in Asian Schools.
   26. See Marion Kim, "Holism, Dialogue and Critical Empowerment: A Pedagogy for Peace," Sam Saeng, autumn 2002, pages 22-31, and also in this volume, pages 145-152.
   27. See Introductory Remarks of Jefferson R. Plantilla, titled Human Rights Education in Asia-Pacific in the XIth Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region for a complete presentation on human rights education activities that have UN support.
   28. See Jefferson R. Plantilla, The Decade, unpublished paper (Osaka: 2001).
   29. Here are the most pertinent provisions of the concluding statement of the Tokyo workshop:
  1. The Workshop recognizes the desirability of developing and implementing national plans of action for human rights education in a pluralistic and participatory manner, involving government agencies, members of civil society and national human rights institutions.
  2. The Workshop recognized that human rights education for all those involved in the administration of justice may be regarded as one of the priorities for countries in the region.
  3. Priority should also be given to meeting the human rights education needs of vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups and sectors.
  4. The Workshop reaffirmed that national plans of action for human rights education be multifaceted and multidimensional and based upon needs assessment and country priorities, drawing on relevant networks, experiences and programmes;
  5. Such plans could include the integration of human rights education into all levels of formal education; training of professionals; public awareness campaigns; production and revision of material; research, policy and legislative reform.
  6. The Workshop recognizes that, in addition to formal pedagogies, use may be made of media, notably radio and television, and of other popular forms of communication for the purpose of human rights education.
  7. The Workshop also recognizes that adequate human, financial and other resources should be allocated for the elaboration and implementation of such national plans, bearing in mind the possibility of seeking assistance at regional as well as international levels, including under the United Nations Technical Cooperation Programme in the Field of Human Rights.
  8. The Workshop recognizes that the implementation of such plans should be effectively monitored and evaluated, in order to ensure adequate responses to the needs identified and relevant follow-up action.
   30. See Jefferson R. Plantilla, Asia-Pacific Regional Meetings on Human Rights Education (1995-2001), paper prepared for the Human Rights Education in Asia-Pacific: Defining Challenges and Strategies Workshop (Bangkok, Thailand, 10-12 November 2003).
   31. The UNESCO Asia-Pacific office, for example, has been weak in promoting human rights education at the regional level. Many of UNESCO's affiliated national commissions in the region are not showing interest in human rights education. UNESCO itself has been publishing excellent books on human rights and human rights education, yet they are hardly known at the national level. These materials are not easily accessible to many people (such as those who are not members of UNESCO clubs or affiliated organizations). This situation has been explained as due to lack of expertise in human rights education within the regional office or avoidance of negative reaction from governments. The human rights policy adopted in the 2003 general conference of UNESCO is likely to change this situation.
   32. See note 9.
   33. See conclusions of the 11th Asia-Pacific Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, op cit.


* This is a revised version of "UN, HRE, and the Asia-Pacific," published in Japanese in Human Rights Education Review 10. Osaka: Institute for Human Rights Education, 2000.

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