Statements and news

  • International Conference on Human Rights Education “Bridging our Diversities” (Montreal, Canada, 30 November to 3 December 2017) - Opening remarks by Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights 
    In his remarks, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour stated that “As I travel around the world, I see that human rights is portrayed sometimes as a niche topic. We defend prisoners as we ought to do, but in countries where there is very little sympathy for prisoners that does not transcend the human rights movement into the general population. While in no way losing the focus on particular rules - whether it is LGBTI people, those with disabilities, prisoners, indigenous - human rights education does need to show to people who consider themselves “ordinary” people that actually human rights have a relevance for them as well. We as a movement, I think, have not yet handled that sufficiently and as a result, we are on the backfoot against the populists, the authoritarians, those who deliberately whip up prejudice against other people. That is why I think we have to really focus on human rights education and learning - it is one of the few tools we have. The backlash is real and let us use education as a major way of trying to resist and reverse it.”

  • OHCHR remarks at launch of exhibition on Transforming Lives: The Power of Human Rights Education
    “Human rights education, once viewed as the smallest and most marginal tool in the human rights toolkit, has now risen to essential – even existential – importance,” said Craig Mokhiber, chief of OHCHR’s Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch, at the launch of the exhibition at the HRC 34th session on Transforming Lives: The Power of Human Rights Education. “Because knowledge is power. And human rights knowledge is the power to live a free and dignified life… this exhibition illustrates the power of human rights education. The power to equip a victim of domestic violence in Turkey with the strength and confidence to start a new life as a human rights defender. Or the power to change the practices and perceptions of law enforcement agencies in Australia, so that their essential function of protecting all members of the community is both recognized and practiced… these are powerful images. They offer hope. And they offer a choice to the millions of people around the world demanding change. The choice of human rights.”  

  • High-level panel discussion on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training: good practices and challenges
    To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, OHCHR organized a panel discussion at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council on the theme of “implementation of the United NationsDeclaration on Human Rights Education and Training: good practices and challenges” on 14 September 2016. In her opening statement, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore stated that “human rights education fosters our common humanity beyond our individual diversities.”

  • Human suffering, moral blankness and the ties of sentiment, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to the Carnegie Council
    “In a world where we all encounter more people from other cultures, or who hold very different opinions, is it possible to create and uphold the bonds of empathy, so that we can live together in peace? The answer is yes, and it lies in education, but not in formal education – but an education starting in primary schools shaped heavily by a basic understanding of human rights.  Education in rights – the content, and the why, of human rights. The world’s little human being, must know they too have rights, they must practice those rights, they must be critical in their mental orientation and, above all, humane and kind.  Children, and adults, can learn to uphold the dignity of others; to detect scapegoating; and to analyse the instinct that may lead us to blame others when life feels insecure.  Schools the world over themselves must also practice the very rights they aspire to teach: the environment itself must enable it.”
  • Can Atrocities Be Prevented? Living in the Shadow of the Holocaust, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at the Holocaust Memorial Museum
    “I am increasingly supportive of the proposition that education of any kind, if it is devoid of a strong universal human rights component, can be next to worthless when it should matter most: in crisis, when our world begins to unravel… Every child should be able to grasp that the wonderful diversity of individuals and cultures is a source of tremendous enrichment. They should learn to recognise their own biases, and correct them. Children can learn to redirect their own aggressive impulses and use non-violent means to resolve disputes. They can learn to be inspired by the courage of the pacifiers and by those who assist, not those who destroy. They can be guided by human rights education to make informed choices in life, to approach situations with critical and independent thought, and to empathise with other points of view.”
  • 2015 marks the international community’s focus on human rights training of media professionals and journalists
    “UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein commented last month that the World Programme for Human Rights Education represents the belief of ‘all UN Member States … in the centrality of human rights education as a long-term strategy for the prevention of human rights violations and conflicts; for the promotion of equality and sustainable development; and to enhance people’s participation in decision-making processes.’ Still, Zeid added, ‘international programmes can only support – and not substitute for – committed, vigorous and concerted national action. I appeal to all Member States to continue, consolidate and strengthen their human rights education work, including in the context of the World Programme. Human rights education is an important investment in building just societies in which human rights are valued and respected.’