Final Document of the Conference-Workshop on Asia-Pacific Human Rights Education for Development
December 15, 1995
The Conference-Workshop on Asia-Pacific Human Rights Education for Development held in Manila on December 13-15, 1995, attended by participants from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand and the Philippines, the Special Adviser on National Institutions to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, and representatives of Government Organizations and Non-Government Organizations, exchanged views in the spirit of friendship on the importance of human rights education and the relationship between human rights education and development. At the end of the Conference-Workshop, the following principles were affirmed as central to the vision and practise of human rights education:
- Human rights education must embody the right to development, and programs and activities in development must uphold human rights in all its dimensions.
- Human rights education must affirm the inherent dignity of the individual, promote justice, uphold fundamental freedoms and foster understanding, tolerance, compassion and solidarity among nations, indigenous peoples, races, religions, and ethnic and linguistic groups.
- Human rights education must be rooted in the realities of the lives of people especially the most marginalized and vulnerable, and empower them to participate fully in the development process.
- The promotion of human rights education is the co-responsibility of government and all sectors of civil society.
- Human rights education in Asia-Pacific countries must draw on the rich cultural heritage and diversity in this region including appropriate recognition of family and community values.
- Human rights education must integrate the principles of ecological sustainability, gender sensitivity and respect for the well-being of indigenous peoples.
- Human rights education must affirm not only rights and freedoms but also responsibilities.
- Human rights education must promote the well-being of the human person as an individual and as a member of the community.
- Human rights education should promote the values and practices of healing, reconciliation and conflict resolution.
- Human rights education should cultivate participative values of governance, consensus-building and accountability.
- In the spirit of the Plan of Action for the UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995 - 2004), human rights education in the Asia-Pacific region shall be directed to creating the broadest possible awareness and understanding of all the principles, norms and concepts enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action and all other relevant international human rights instruments.
- Human rights education should sensitize all levels and sectors of society including government, local and international civil servants, the police, security and defense forces, the school system, the family, media and all other social institutions.
In recognition of these principles, the Conference-Workshop invites governments, national institutions and non-governmental organizations to consider the following recommendations:
- Pursue national plans of action for human rights including national plans for human rights education as their commitment to the UN Decade for Human Rights Education in consultation with all sectors of civil society taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable groups. Proceeding from this, the Asia-Pacific nations consider the possibility of drafting a regional plan of action for human rights education, building on the rich cultural heritage of the region in consultation with all concerned sectors.
- Evolve appropriate and effective human rights teaching strategies that build on the liberating elements of indigenous concepts, folk knowledge and cultural practices.
- Develop curricular programs that are responsive to the needs and concerns of vulnerable groups such as children, youth, women, elderly, indigenous peoples, refugees, migrant workers, persons in extreme poverty, rural and urban poor, persons with special needs, persons in custody, minority groups and others. Such curricular programs should promote the values and practices of healing, reconciliation and conflict resolution; and cultivate participative values of governance, consensus-building, accountability and solidarity.
- Conduct continuing education of key partners in human rights education such as teachers, local and international civil servants, police, security and defense forces, judges, lawyers, prosecutors, prison officials, community leaders, government officials, parliamentarians, health professionals, artists, the media and other groups which are in a particular position to effect the realization of human rights. Those who are mandated to protect the most vulnerable groups in society must be given priority in human rights education.
- Organize conferences and symposia at the local, national and regional levels that will serve as venues for continuing dialogue and exchange of experiences and lessons learned in the promotion of human rights education.
- Assure the provision of adequate resources for the development and dissemination of appropriate instructional materials for human rights education, training and institution-building by governments and international organizations.
- Guarantee full access of all sectors, especially key partners and vulnerable groups to funding, services, and appropriate human rights information and training materials that are linguistically accessible.
- Integrate human rights education into the curriculum in all levels of the formal educational system and in non-formal education.
- Coordinate human rights education programs with other initiatives, international and local, such as the UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme, the UNICEF Literacy Program, and educational programs of non-government organizations.
- Taking into account the principles of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions approved by the [United Nations] General Assembly, to consider the establishment or strengthening of institutions to coordinate national programs in human rights education and to put in place programs to strengthen linkages between grassroots communities and human rights agencies to ensure continuing awareness of the vitality of human rights principles.
- Promote the realization of fundamental human rights and freedoms especially the right to development through human rights education programs including the empowerment of citizens and governments to impress upon intergovernmental or bilateral agencies (e.g. IMF, ADB, World Bank) and private sector organizations (e.g. transnational corporations) the need to uphold human rights in all their policies and activities related to development.
- Examine the possibility of convening a working group of government, national institutions and non-governmental organizations to continue the dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region on the necessity of human rights education for development and to request financial support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights for this endeavor.