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What is Human Rights Education?

Photo by Richard Schmitt: Palisades Charter HS teacher and STF teacher advisor Angelica Pereyra,
integrates human rights into her work with her arts class.

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations,” and that every individual and every organ of society “shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms…” This goal – to promote respect for human rights through education and teaching –  is the basis of human rights education (HRE). Many definitions of HRE exist today. To understand the nuances of HRE, take a look at several leading HRE definitions below:

As defined by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training:

Human rights education and training encompasses:

(a) Education about human rights, which includes providing knowledge and understanding of human rights norms and principles, the values that underpin them and the mechanisms for their protection;

(b) Education through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners;

(c) Education for human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others.

As defined by Human Rights Watch Student Task Force:

Human rights education provides knowledge about the historical and contemporary significance of human rights and the mechanisms that protect them, and reinforces skills and values to uphold human rights.

As defined by the HRE USA Network:

Human rights education is a lifelong process of teaching and learning that helps individuals develop the knowledge, skills, and values to fully exercise and protect the human rights of themselves and others; to fulfill their responsibilities in the context of internationally agreed upon human rights principles; and to achieve justice and peace in our world.

To read more HRE definitions, visit the following links:

United Nations: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Eduaction (pdf)

International Justice Resource Center: What are Human Rights?

Why does Human rights education matter? Visit Why HRE?

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