Responsibilities of NHRIs: Human rights education
To exercise their rights and respect the rights of others, people first need to know their rights.
The Paris Principles state that NHRIs have a responsibility to “assist in the formulation of programmes for the teaching of, and research into, human rights and to take part in their execution in schools, universities and professional circles”.
Human rights education seeks to prevent human rights violations and build a strong human rights culture within the community by:
- Building knowledge about human rights and how they are protected, as well as how and why human rights violations take place and how they can be prevented
- Changing values, beliefs attitudes and behaviours to promote a human rights culture across all sectors of society
- Promoting action so that people understand what practical steps they can take to promote and protect human rights within their community or sphere of influence.
Who is human rights education for?
While NHRIs have a responsibility to provide human rights education for all, it is vital thy focus their efforts towards those sectors of the community where they have the greatest impact to address current and potential violations.
NHRIs should develop and deliver human rights education programmes for:
Rights holders: those most vulnerable to human rights violations, such as women, children, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and people from minority groups
Duty bearers: those with the power to defend or violate the human rights of others, such as law enforcement officials, prison officers and civil servants
Influencers: those with the ability to shape or challenge other people’s opinions and actions, such as community, business or faith leaders.
Being relevant, accessible and inclusive
NHRIs must develop human rights education programmes that respond to the needs and circumstances of the different groups they seek to engage, especially those who may be vulnerable to human rights violations.
NHRIs should ensure the content, timing and location of their programmes are relevant, accessible and inclusive for all participants.
The resources that NHRIs develop must be accessible to all people, especially those with low literacy, people with disabilities and those who do not speak the primary language/s of the country.
- Human Rights Education: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions; Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (2013)
- Plan of Action for the Third Phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education (2017); Second Phase (2012); and First Phase (2006); Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO
- A Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Education Associates and Soka Gakkai International (2012, video)