Human Rights

Understanding Human Rights Education in your glocal context

In this website organized by the United Nations Regional Information Center for Western Europe, you will be able to explore the basis of Human Rights Education (HRE) by looking at the different approaches and principles of human rights education, as well as at the roles and responsibilities of a human rights educator. At the same time, you will be invited to improve your knowledge and awareness of human rights education in the context you work and live in through a different exercises. Human Rights represent an integral part of global education, as they stand at the very core of global concerns.

Human Rights education in theory and practice

Human rights education is one of the main instruments to learn about, raise awareness on and safeguard human rights, as it provides knowledge on human rights issues and develops attitudes and skills that lead to human rights protection and promotion of the principal values of equality and human dignity at micro and macro level. The international community increasingly supports that Human Rights Education contributes to the realization of Human Rights in terms of policy and practice. At the same time Human Rights Education is ever more included in educational curricula at the local, national and international levels.

Having gone through the introduction to global education, and the basic overview of human rights, the following sections of this course will specifically focus on the cross-linkages between these two fields, exploring human rights education as an instrument for learning and developing action towards a culture where human rights are understood, defended and respected locally and globally as a protected way of living and thinking.

Human Rights education in glocal dynamics

Human rights today are respected not only by the international law but also implemented in the national legislation. At the same time, it is an obligation for governments, international institutions, as well as nongovernmental organisations to deepen its knowledge and understanding on human rights through activities for all the population at formal, non formal and informal levels.

However, in the face of global challenges, organizations defending human rights face many obstacles. Human rights practitioners need to situate their actions in a political, social and economical context considering the different controversies and therefore develop existing and new networks and forge alliances with organizations engaged in achieving the same goal.

Human rights education happens in a context of local and global dynamics, that are often interrelated, which is sometimes referred to as glocalization – a combination of globalization and localization – expressed by the famous slogan: “Think locally, act globally”. These dynamics imply the interconnectedness between the local and global and the importance of the ways one impacts on the other in the context of family, school, work, community, as well as the national, regional and global levels. This involves new social patterns, alliances and partnerships. Considering this glocal framework, you will be able to understand better your role in the context of human rights education and action.

Human Rights Education in your glocal context

Human Rights work and education in practice change in accordance with the developments in the economic, cultural, political and technological spheres that influence global and local realities. The perceived ´reduction´ in distances between the people and of the time available has been accompanied by an increase of information flow, exchanges among people and groups.

The traditional role of human rights educators and activists has been concentrating on the roles and responsibilities of the nation-states. Today it became evident that other actors must be also considered in order to ensure changes in the human rights situations in the local communities, in the near environments and in urban and rural spaces. It is also clear that actions taken in this more “familiar” environments have the potential to ensure practical results and effectiveness – as actors know better the possible partners, places and resources for their activities and projects.

International non-governmental actors and new nongovernmental organizations, described often as “transnational advocacy networks” (TANs), or “transnational social movements” (TSMs) emerged in the past 15 years to influence within the existing international institutions and to create leverage to initiate changes in the different nation states. The TANs bring together a wide array of nongovernmental organizations, citizens associations, trade unions, communities and alternative media in forms of activism which target global level institutions and issues, while also attempting to use global level visibility to level changes at the national level.

The different groups of actors that work in the field of human rights and human rights education managed to make the use of the increased availability of the information and communication technology and bridged the global / local divides. Through the rapid distribution of the web-based news, action research, and visual representation they created a strong inter-connectivity between the individuals and organizations in the different parts of the world, as it was not experienced before.

The growing amount of educational exchanges and joint projects in between students, instructors, teachers, schools and diverse institutions in order to organize activities with similar goals and strategies contributed greatly to the development of common research, reflection and practices that enriched their work and created strong tights in the process of building human rights knowledge.

Technologies, such as the Internet and cell phones, next to the traditional and web-based radio and television broadcasting have the potential to inform on specific human rights issues in an immediate and wider coverage all over the world. Yet, the consequences of the usage of the new technology did not manage to prevent their users from harassment, attacks and of forms of suffering for publishing or broadcasting news and information in places where censorship and media control is a common practice. The analysis of these situations under the light of human rights presents a new chance for learning as the right of free flow of information and news based in truth and respect is another important issue in the creation of a human rights culture in society. People have to learn how to recognize such violations and HRE have to take care about this.

Understanding of the global context and its interconnections to your own, together with different tools available facilitating the information and communication flows represent the basis of your work as a human rights educator and as an activist.

Human Rights resources

Globally, the recognition of Human Rights´ importance is increasing, which positively impacts on the legal mechanisms guaranteeing their protection. This is a great achievement in terms of protecting vulnerable populations, in terms of human rights education and action, as well as the development of the ever improving human rights legal instruments and implementations procedures.

Considering the character of Human Rights instruments, three main categories may be observed:

  • The geographical scope: regional / universal;

  • Target group: specific category of persons or groups to whom protection is given;

  • Category of rights provided.

Overall there are more than a hundred human rights related legal documents, yet this section will present only the most relevant ones:




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