6. Principles of the Vienna International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights (1978)
(Adopted by the International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights, Vienna, Austria, 12- 16 September 1978)

The International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights, convened by the Director-General of Unesco and meeting in Vienna  from 12 to 16 September 1978 following a suggestion put forward by the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria at the 19th session of the General Conference of Unesco.

Taking into account Resolution 3 (XXXIII) adopted by the Commission on Human Rights and Resolution 32/123 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, as well as Decision 103 EX/6.2 by which the Executive Board of UNESCO invited the Director-General to convene this Congress,

Expresses its gratitude to the Federal Government and to the people of the Republic of Austria for their hospitality and their important contribution to the success of the deliberations,

Recalling that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights «as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms ...”,

Considering that human rights teaching and education should be developed at all levels in the context of both school and out-of-school education, in order that they may become accessible as part of a true system of life-long education to all men and women in all countries, whatever their legal, social and political status,

Considering that such teaching and education can make an essential contribution to the maintenance and promotion of peace, as well as to economic development and social progress throughout the world,

Considering that the teaching of human rights should also be concerned with securing the observance of human rights in cases of armed conflict, and should include the teaching of international humanitarian law,


The International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights,

Recalling the Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

Believes that the teaching of human rights should be guided by the following principles and considerations:

1. Human rights education and teaching should be based on the principles which underlie the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights, and other international human rights instruments. Consequently, equal emphasis should be placed on economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as well as individual and collective rights. The indivisibility of all human rights should be recognized.

2. The concept of human rights should not be formulated in traditional or classical terms but should include the historical experience and contributions of all peoples particularly in relation to the major contemporary problems such as self-determination and all forms of discrimination and exploitation.

3. Human rights education and teaching must aim at:

(i) Fostering the attitudes of tolerance, respect and solidarity inherent in human rights;

(ii) Providing knowledge about human rights, in both their national and international dimensions, and the institutions established for their implementation;

(iii) Developing the individual's awareness of the ways and means by which human rights can be translated into social and political reality at both the national and the international levels.

4. While education should make the individual aware of his or her own rights, it should at the same time instil respect for the rights of others.

5. Care should be constantly taken to create awareness about the close relationship between human rights, on the one hand, and development and peace, including inter alia disarmament, on the other hand. Unesco should make it a priority task to promote the analysis and understanding of this relationship.

6. Human rights must be seen as an aspect of professional, ethical and social responsibility in all fields of research, study, teaching and work.

7. Human rights education and teaching should stress 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 in all countries.

8. Human rights must be taught at all levels of the educational system, as well as in out-of-school settings, including the family, and in continuing education programmes, including literacy and post-literacy programmes. States shall strive to improve and broaden human rights education and teaching and co-operate to this end.

9. It is not enough to dispense teaching and education in the spirit of a respect for human rights; human rights should also be taught as a subject integrated in the appropriate disciplines and in particular fields such as philosophy, political science, law and theology, they should be taught as an independent course.

10. In order for the teacher of human rights to be able to carry out his or her task properly, it is particularly important that his or her personal integrity and freedom of expression be guaranteed.


The Vienna International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights,

Considering that in this year of the 30th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a fresh impetus should be given to the development of human rights teaching and education through the preparation of a Six-Year Plan to be drawn up by a committee of experts set up for that purpose on the basis, in particular, of recommendations proposed at this International Congress in Vienna and annexed to this final document;

Requests the Director-General to include the question of the teaching of human rights in the agenda for the 20th session of the General Conference with a view to conducting a preliminary study of the question of the desirability of preparing a Unesco Convention on human rights teaching and education, in order to give effect to the principle set out in Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

Requests the Director-General to ask the Member States to consider the possibility of establishing, within the framework of Unesco’s programme and with the support of the United Nations General Assembly, a Voluntary Fund for the development of knowledge of human rights through education and information, the primary aim of which would be to contribute to the financing of activities conducted under the Six-Year Plan and of other activities conducted by Member States and their competent institutions.