Page 1


Bowl of


Bowl of


Bowl of Rights First edition CISV Norway / CISV Colombia Oslo, July 2013 ISBN 978-82-998989-2-8

Editors: Adelaida Barrera Daza, Andrea R. Stangeland, Diana A. Camacho, Jonas L. Skaalerud (Con Lupa project members). Reviewers: Adelaida Barrera Daza, Rupert Friederichsen, Jonas L. Skaalerud, Justin Sitron, Andrea R. Stangeland, Cecilia van Peski, Mark Porter Webb, Tamara Thorpe, Charles Walther, Jennifer Watson. Articles by: Alejandro Abadía, Adelaida Barrera Daza, Juliana Buriticá Alzate, Diana A. Camacho, Edwin Cubillos Rodrígez, Rupert Friederichsen, Joaquín Garzón Vargas, Idunn Helle, Diana Catalina Hernández, Abraham Hidalgo Mendoza, Ingvild Vetrhus, Mark Porter Webb, Mizanur Rahman, Camilla Silva Fløistrup, Jonas L. Skaalerud, Andrea R. Stangeland, Charles Walther, Jennifer Watson. Design & Layout: Camila Barrera Daza & Diana A. Camacho. Illustration: Camila Barrera Daza (cover, profile portraits on p. 28, 50, 62, 82, 96, 112, 132, 154, 164 and p. 16, 3435, 43, 88-89, 104, 138, 148-149), José R. Moreno (p. 39), Laura Anzola (p. 67), Alejandra Algorta (p. 77), Laura Mickan (p. 92), Luis Carlos Barragán (p. 109), Laura Vargas (p. 111, 168) Yaco Roca (p. 116), Julián Mayorga (p. 159).

(p. 12), Jonas L. Skaalerud (p. 20, 64, 146, 163), Ana Maria Ferreira (p. 46-47, 61), Idunn Helle (p. 57), Hernan Jaramillo “La Virgencita Comuna 13” (p. 71), UN Photo/ Olivier Chassot “UNAMID Peacekeepers Patrol in North Darfur” (p. 78), Rowan El Shimi “Egyptians appreciate Social Media” (p. 86), U.S. National Archives - Flip Schulke “Union Hospital in New Ulm, Minnesota, Has Five Up-ToDate Intensive Care Units Such as the One Shown…” (p. 98), Álvaro Ramírez (p. 118-119), Colectivo Festival Ojo al Sancocho (p. 126, 130), Raphaël Ferrand (p. 143, 156). Other colaborators: Gloria Bermúdez, Kjell Magne Bondevik, Simon Ellehammer, Anna Forrest & Danish Human Rights Educators, Knut Andreas O. Lid, Óscar Mejía, Solveig Moldrheim, Juan Manuel Oviedo, Linda Persson, Álvaro Ramírez, Camilo Andrés Rojas, Camilla Silva Fløistrup, Karin Swagemakers, Ramy J. Tadros, Rune Robert Friis.

Thanks to: Amnesty International Denmark, CISV Colombia, CISV Norway, Eirik Minde, Fundación Conconcreto, Juan Manuel Oviedo, Rafto Foundarion, Rupert Friederichsen, Anjo Peez-Zvetina, The Danish Institute for Human Rights. Special thanks to Informasjonstøtta in The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU) for providing funding and the opportunity to develop this idea. Typefaces: Baskerville and Interstate.

Photography: Odin Hole Standal (p. 6), Laura Camacho (p. 8), Un Photo “Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States Holding a Declaration of Human Rights Poster in English”


This publication was funded by The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU).

Timeline. Through out this book you will find a timeline at the top of the page. We have put it there to give you a frame of what has happened with human rights through history.


Table of Contents 7 8

This Is a Bowl, a Bowl of Rights Con Lupa: A Colombian-Norwegian Working Group on Human Rights Education

10 12 20 28 30 40 50

A First Glance at the Matter Why Are Human Rights Important? By Camilla Silva Fløistrup Protecting Human Rights. By Jonas L. Skaalerud Profile: Solveig Moldrheim Thinking Critically About Human Rights. By Juliana Buriticá Alzate Why Do We Talk About Human Rights, Anyways? By Adelaida Barrera Daza Profile: Óscar Mejía

52 54 62 64 72 81 82

Zooming In Human Rights, Is There Anything Wrong with Them? By Idunn Helle Profile: Camilla Silva Fløistrup The Importance of Human Rights in Achieving Human Development. By Alejandro Abadía Do We Have a Responsibility to Protect? By Ingvild Vetrhus CISV Experiences: Being a Citizen of the World Profile: Kjell Magne Bondevik

84 86 95 96 98 102 112 114 123

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones? Internet: A Human Right? By Mizanur Rahman CISV Experiences: Sexual Healing Project Profile: Álvaro Ramírez The Right to Die. By Charles Walther Human Rights for Trans Men in Colombia. By Diana Catalina Hernández & Colectivo Entre-tránsitos Profile: Camilo Andrés Rojas Silver Spoons and Wooden Forks. By Andrea R. Stangeland CISV Experiences: Strong Unheard Voices


124 126 132 134

Culture, Arts and Rights Arts and Culture in Ciudad Bolívar. By Abraham Hidalgo Mendoza & Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez Profile: Gloria Bermúdez Looking at Society Through Art. By Diana A. Camacho

144 146 153 154 156 164

Educating for a More Just and Peaceful World How Can a Non-Political Organization Educate on Human Rights? By Rupert Friederichsen & Jennifer Watson CISV Experiences: From Inspiration to Action Profile: Rune Robert Friis Rethinking CISV. By Mark Porter Webb & Joaquín Garzón Vargas Profile: Knut Andreas O. Lid

166 168 173 175 178 180 182 184 187

Experiential Education Activities Human Rights Education in CISV. By Adelaida Barrera Daza & Rupert Friederichsen Goals for Educating on Human Rights. Activity 1 – Four Corners Activity 2 – Human Rights training Session by Con Lupa Activity 3 – Human Rights in the News Activity 4 – My Dream Country Activity 5 – Impossible Immigration The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

192 194

Our Partners References



This Is a Bowl, a Bowl of Rights There is no doubt that ‘human rights’ is a widely used and highly valued concept in our world. It has become more and more common in ordinary language, and it would be hard to find someone that is openly against it. In a way, we always ‘know’ what we mean when we appeal to human rights. We can often feel that someone’s rights are not being respected; we can sense injustice when we see it. But this obvious and simple idea becomes quite complex and difficult when we consider how to make these values a reality in our complex world. As volunteers in a Peace Education organization, we believe it is our responsibility to dig deep into the concept and history of our rights, as well as into specific questions and problems that arise in the efforts to protect those rights. It is our duty to produce and feed ourselves with content that enables us to execute well-informed and responsible education. This is what motivates the creation of this book. Bowl of Rights is the product of cooking diverse ingredients sent by volunteers from all around the world who responded to an open call for articles.

It is not a complete handbook, and we do not exhaustively explore human rights debates, but we do hope that the ideas cooked in the book will trigger curiosity and desire to know more about the field of human rights. It is not a bill of rights, nor a bowl of rice: it is a bowl of rights and we hope you enjoy it grain by grain! This is a diverse book, and hopefully there is something for everyone to enjoy. Some of the articles are like wild rice, a little bit heavy to digest but very nutritious. Others are more similar to plain rice, easier to read and explanatory: a good basis for anything you want to add. To make the meal more pleasant, we present you inspiring people working with human rights who we were lucky to meet through our ten-month journey. Finally, we threw in some thoughts and activities that can be used to apply the knowledge on human rights in specific educational environments. You can open this book and take a spoonful whenever you want, but we grouped pieces that relate to each other and there is a lot to gain by reading them together.



Previous page (left to right): Diana A. Camacho, Andrea R. Stangeland, Adelaida Barrera Daza and Jonas L. Skaalerud

This book was created by the Con Lupa team, a group of young CISVers working on the organization’s content area for 2013; human rights. Con Lupa was the second version of a long-term cooperation plan between CISV Colombia and CISV Norway, in a joint effort to strengthen both organizations through an exchange of knowledge and best practices. It was a ten-month exchange program executed by two Colombians (Diana A. Camacho and Adelaida Barrera Daza) and two Norwegians (Jonas L. Skaalerud and Andrea R. Stangeland), who lived and worked together in Bergen, Norway, and Medellín, Colombia. The project’s aim was to contribute to the knowledge about human rights and to the quality of CISVs Peace Education. This was done by holding workshops, running human rights activities at CISV meetings, building a webpage (, and by writing and editing this book: Bowl of Rights. We chose the name Con Lupa (med lupe/with a magnifying glass) because, like a magnifying glass, we aimed at taking a closer and more detailed look both into human rights and its role in Peace Education, and into the local chapters with which we worked. Just like a magnifying glass we are a tool and, therefore, we are worthless unless other people use us. That is why we invite you to explore our book and pass it on to whoever might find it useful! If you want to know more about the project or read the online version of this book, go to: For information about the first exchange program between CISV Norway and CISV Colombia go to:


A First Glance at the Matter 10

A First Glance at the Matter


This chapter gathers four texts that introduce us to the wide topic of human rights. The articles by Camilla Silva Fløistrup and Jonas L. Skaalerud provide basic knowledge about the history of human rights, and about the documents and institutions that are often referred to when talking about this topic. Although this technical terminology might seem unnecessary, having basic knowledge on how our world works at an international level is useful when engaging in more serious discussions or when putting forward collective actions. This general view is complemented by Juliana Buriticå Alzate and Adelaida Barrera Daza, whose texts offer a more critical view, reminding us about certain questions we should bear in mind when first approaching human rights. A First Glance at the Matter


Why Are Human Rights Important? By Camilla Silva Fløistrup 12

A First Glance at the Matter

13.7 billion years ago The universe was born.

4.5 billion years ago Our planet comes into existence. There are no animals or plants, not even oxygen; only chaotic clouds of fire and dust.

4 billion years ago The first forms of life appear in the bottom of the ocean. Tiny self-replicating molecules start a chain of transformations that eventually lead to the existence of plants and animals.

Camilla Silva Fløistrup presents the history of human rights law and shows how reaching international agreements has had an impact in people’s lives. Although admitting there is still a long way to go to make the treaties truly efficient, the article stresses the importance of the documents that force States to implement national laws, which are ultimately crucial in the protection of the rights of individuals.

Why are human rights important? This seems like a question with obvious answers: because we are all human beings, and therefore, we all have rights. Because, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts it, we all have an inherent dignity and inalienable rights. Maybe it is because all human beings have something in common: “they are all recognized as persons whose dignity must be respected.”1 But are these answers enough? Do they really explain why human rights are important and relevant for us today? In order to answer these questions it is important to look into the history of human rights and what they represent. The history of the creation of human rights law illustrates the plight of the marginalized. It points to struggles for recognition of rights all over the globe. In this history some issues have received more attention than others, nonetheless, they point to the acknowledgement

of obligations of states and rights of persons. A successful example of this fight is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), which has influenced law making in many countries. Due to the Convention and the Committee that monitors its implementation, the government of Brazil, for instance, is looking into national legislation to change the law that makes the work of domestic workers different than the work of other workers. The CEDAW Committee found that the Brazilian legislation was discriminating against women when it provided domestic workers with a different status than that of other workers. It is important to mention that more than 80% of domestic workers in Brazil are women.2 The Brazilian Congress will probably soon approve legislation providing domestic workers with all labor rights present in the Brazilian Constitution.

A First Glance at the Matter


200,000 years ago First human beings as we know them live in Africa.

10.000 BC Agricultural revolution. Human beings learn how to cultivate and domesticate animals, which allows them to drastically increase their population.

Arguably, the history of rights goes back to the 17th century with the English Bill of Rights, nonetheless, human rights, as we understand them today, are quite new. Modern human rights, as rights that all human beings have, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status, are an answer of the world community to the atrocities committed during the two big European wars of the 20th century. After the wars, it became clear that each person needed more than the protection of his/her own state to live a life in all its dignity. The wars showed the world that the state, created to protect each and every one of the individuals within it, could become an individual’s worst enemy. The concentration camps created by the Nazi Germany where millions of Jews, African descendants and homosexuals were deprived of life are just part of the atrocities that happened during the war. At the end of World War II, the victorious nations got together and decided to create an organization that could protect all persons against their states in case of abuse, as had happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany. The idea was to prevent the atrocities of the war from happening again. In 1945, the United Nations (UN) was created having as a goal, among others, “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”3


A First Glance at the Matter

7500 BC Rice is already domesticated in China.

Even though one of the goals of the UN was to reaffirm human rights, the UN Charter (the ‘constitution’ of the UN) did not explain the concrete content of these rights —the Charter did not contain a clarification of what human rights are or of their importance. Therefore another document was needed. In 1946 a Commission on Human Rights was established within the UN to clarify the content of these rights. Contrary to some of the criticism against human rights and human rights discourse, the Commission on Human Rights included representatives of various countries like Lebanon, France and the United States —maybe not a huge range of countries, but still diverse. In 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first international document to present human rights as legal claims of all individuals of the world. The Declaration expressed the “hopes and idealism of a world released from the grips of World War II.”4 This is the document that initiated the human rights movement that we know today. The weakness of the Declaration lies in the fact that it is not a legally binding instrument. As a Declaration, it is merely a recommendation to states, and imposes no legal obligations. Its strength, on the other hand, is the fact that it contains civil and political rights, and also economic, social and cultural rights.* *  For an explanation these categories of rights, see Alejandro Abadía’s «The Importance of Human Rights in Achieving human Development» in this publication. (Editors’ note).

Ancient civilizations like Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persia write codes of conduct that establish the way society should be run. Hammurabi, Moses, Draco, Solon and Manu outline standards of conduct for fairly homogenous groups.

3100–2850 BC Menes, pharaoh of Egypt, established codes of conduct for the Egyptian civilization.

Precisely because it contains both sets of rights, the Universal Declaration is an important instrument to support human beings in their struggle for their rights. As mentioned below, after the adoption of the Declaration other human rights instruments were created. Due to several political issues, the Cold War being one of most important ones, civil and political rights were separated from economic, social and cultural rights. Hence the importance of the combination of the two sets in the UDHR. As can be read in Article 1, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood.” This article sets the guidelines not only for the rest of the Declaration, but also for the human rights movement as a whole. During that time (late 1940s and early 1950s) it was decided that the UDHR needed to become a legally binding document, an international treaty that would make the rights contained in it into obligations to states that accepted it. Nevertheless, these were also the years during which the “Cold War took harsher and more rigid form.”6 The human rights movement was then filled by the same ideological conflicts that burdened the rest of the world. For that reason in 1952 it was decided that, instead of one convention, the rules based on the UDHR would be found in two different documents: one containing civil and political rights and one containing economic, social and cultural rights. It took the international community 14

3000 BC Sumerians develop Cuneiform writing (wedge shaped). The words ‘life’ and ‘arrow’ are written with the same symbol.

years to finish the negotiation of these treaties. It was only in 1966 that the two legally binding documents, namely, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), became a reality. In the period between the UDHR and the two Covenants several countries —not the ones that we would talk about today as being key players to the human rights discourse— played an important role in making human rights what they are today. Jamaica, for example, proposed a human rights year to take place in 1968. Ghana and the Philippines were the drafters of important human rights provisions in the Convention on Race. Some other countries, which are seen today as the bigger defenders of civil rights, were against some of the key provisions of the ICCPR. For instance, the UK was against the provisions of freedom of movement, as they were contrary to British practice in the colonies. Many European countries still had colonies at the time and defending the human rights agenda would not reflect their policies in the colonies. As can be seen, the history of human rights is not as simple as it first seems and it has many more actors than we had previously noted. Departing from this historic perspective, the 1960s was a decade that can be used to illustrate some of the reasons why human rights are still important today because many of the political debates that happened then are still happening today. 1960 was the Year of Africa,

A First Glance at the Matter


2698 BC The Battle of Banquan, the first battle in Chinese history and the Battle of Zhuolu, the second battle in Chinese history, are fought by the Yellow Emperor.


A First Glance at the Matter

2630 BC The first pyramid is constructed in Egypt; Imhotep is its first known architect.

2575–2134 BC Old Kingdom of Egypt. Many pyramids are built as pharaonic burial places.

2350 BC Urukagina creates a code against corruption seeking freedom and equality in Lagash, Mesopotamia. It is the first example of a legal code in recorded history.

2200 BC The legendary Xia Dynasty rules in China.

a year that presented 17 new states to the world. The decolonization process broadened the human rights discussions to include these new states, showing that human rights were not just a ‘Western’ issue, but they were also important to the former colonies and to their people. The first legally binding human rights document of the world was the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) adopted in 1965. Having CERD as the first human rights convention points to the importance of human rights issues to both Western nations (the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Johnson in the United States and banned discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin”) and Southern nations (South Africa was going through apartheid) alike. After these three conventions were adopted (CERD, ICCPR and ICESCR) other human rights conventions were also approved. One of these is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), mentioned above. Even though the UDHR and the Covenants prohibit discrimination based on sex, among others, discrimination against women was not really treated or enforced by any of the treaties that existed at that time, and discrimination against women in all spheres of life was extremely common. In order to fight this repressing order, women got together, organized themselves and started demanding their rights. It was also in the 1960s that the world saw the emergence of “a new consciousness of the patterns

1792–1750 BC the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi is the first written law code: 282 laws that follow the “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” principle.

of discrimination against women and a rise in the number of organizations committed to combating the effect of such discrimination.”7 It was noted that the rights of women as a group were not being respected. Women did not have the same rights as men to health, education, political participation and freedom of movement. Women from all over the world were fighting for having their rights as human beings, and to be respected as well. During the 1950s and 1960s, several conventions were adopted to guarantee the rights of women, for example the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages of 1962. However, it was only in 1979, that a comprehensive, legally binding, document was adopted. The international community acknowledged the struggle of women for recognition and respect. Ten years later, in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the United Nations. This was the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights —civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. It was decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. It was also recognized that children have human rights too. The CRC is the most widely ratified treaty in the world, there are only two countries that have not ratified it: the USA and Somalia, which shows that human rights are a common concern, not a ‘Western’ campaign.

A First Glance at the Matter


Around 18th–15th Century BC Moses writes The Five Books, the first part of the Hebrew Bible. He proclaims the Ten Commandments -a code of conduct toward others.

1792–1750 B.C. Collapse of Shamshi-Adad’s kingdom after his death. Hammurabi incorporates all of southern Mesopotamia into the kingdom of Babylon.

More recently, in 2006, the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It represents a paradigm shift and it takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as ‘objects’ of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as ‘subjects’ with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.8 All this long history* is to illustrate how obtaining human rights represents a struggle of all persons to improve their lives. Women, children, persons with disabilities… The case of the CRPD is paramount to understand how the struggle of several individuals can contribute to change. NGOs that worked for the rights of persons with disabilities were the key drivers for change. In the year 2000, in an NGO summit held in Beijing, China, the first steps for the creation of a convention were taken. In 2001, a UN Working Group was created and in 2006 the convention was adopted. Persons with disabilities organized in *  Which still left behind other important human rights conventions, such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.


A First Glance at the Matter

1500 BC–630 AD Today’s largest religions in the world were created and their sacred books were written. Many are precursors of human rights.

the form of Non-Governmental Organizations put pressure on their government and on the governments of the world present at the UN for the creation of the treaty. The CRPD is the fastest human rights treaty negotiated in history. These groups of persons did not see their lives change in the blink of an eye. In many cases, not much has changed —take a look at your city, can people with disabilities access all public buildings? It would not take anyone more than five minutes to find examples of violations of the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities in the media, in the streets and sometimes even at home. But the violations do not mean that there are no rights and the conventions give these persons —each one of them— a possibility to demand action from their states. For many, human rights might be only international guarantees full of meaning within the international sphere and in the rooms of international negotiators, without real implementation on the ground. It is undeniable that not all human beings have all the rights that the conventions guarantee. The equality of all human beings is constantly being challenged. Nonetheless, human rights represent a wish, an aspiration, and an idea to seek. Much has been achieved through human rights —formal prohibition of child labor, guarantee of free primary education for all and access to anti-retroviral drugs (drugs used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS) to the poor in developing countries. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. In the world in which we live

1500 BC Judaism is born. It is based on the belief that God chose the Jewish people to set an example of holiness and ethical behavior to the world.

750 BC Babylonian astronomers discover the cycles of the Sun, the Moon and the planets, and they create the first almanacs.

605 BC Nebuchadnezzar II rules in Babylon. He undertakes some monumental building projects that included the famous Hanging Gardens.

today, human rights are completely dependent on states in order to be implemented —as they are rights that require state policies and laws to be in place. But this does not empty them of meaning. Each one of us has a responsibility in promoting and protecting human rights. The way we treat each other, the claims we make to our governments, our involvement in the law making of our countries, all of these issues also influence in human rights. History, culture, economic capabilities… All these will influence how human rights are implemented by states and seen by individuals. Nonetheless, the truth is human rights represent our struggle. They are our struggle for respect, for equality, for justice, and for equity. This struggle, this need to achieve more, is what might make us equal. We all stand on the same legal framework —we all have the rights guaranteed in the conventions— but we all need to fight for their respect and implementation. Our human rights will only be fully ours if we fight for them! So, in order to come back to the question of the title, why are human rights important for us today? They are important because they give us, each one of us, the material and the content to fight, to struggle for better and more just lives. Human rights put us, even if only in a theoretical way, on the same level —they make us equal some how.

Camilla Silva Fløistrup was born in Brazil where she graduated from Law School. She now lives in Denmark and works for the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Camilla is also very interested in introducing human rights topics and discussions in her volunteer work. Her favorite rice is plain white rice with beans and salad.

A First Glance at the Matter


Protecting Human Rights A Mini-Guide to the International Human Rights Framework By Jonas L. Skaalerud 20

A First Glance at the Matter

560–480 BC Gautama Buddha sets the basis for Buddhism in India. He was concerned for human beings’ liberation from suffering and our quest for the good life.

551–479 BC The Chinese philosopher Confucius teaches basic values that focus on the human being, the family and the world. His teachings emphasize on altruism and the intention to do good to others.

200 BC Taoism begins in China. This philosophical and religious doctrine emphasize on compassion, humility, moderation, and harmony with natural forces.

Although protecting human rights is a task that goes beyond the scope of laws and states, it is still important to be informed on how human rights work internationally at a legal and institutional level. The following article provides an introductory overview of the international legal framework of human rights, making it easier for us to approach this world of complex terms and abbreviations.

If you have read anything about human rights you have most likely encountered terms like ‘conventions,’ ‘covenants,’ ‘declarations’ and ‘ratifications.’ But what do these words actually signify? What does it mean to sign a document? And how is this different from the process of ratification? The language of international law can at times seem unnecessarily complicated and confusing. The aim of this text is to clarify some of the most central concepts within the framework of international human rights, as well as explaining how rights are being created and protected internationally.1 In your country you are most likely bound to follow certain laws. These laws, in democratic countries at least, are made by elected members of parliament or similar institutions. If you violate a law and this is discovered, for example, by the police, there are consequences. If the violation is serious, these potential consequences are normally to be decided upon by a judge and jury in a court. If you are found guilty of a serious crime you would probably face

a jail sentence. Now, this is a very rough sketch of the procedures of national law enforcement. This article, however, is about international law which works in a very different way. Today, the vast majority of the world’s population live in a nation-state. What characterizes these states is that they are considered ‘sovereign.’ Being a sovereign state implies that there is supreme control, power and authority over the territory. The idea is that no state can interfere in the internal affairs of another state. If state A does not like what state B does, it has no right to intervene. Furthermore, in the international society of nation-states there is no legitimate world police, there is no world government, and no world court. Because of this, one might say that the international system is anarchical, meaning that it lacks order and authority. Hence, the environment for decision-making and law-making differs greatly from that within a state. When there is no government, court or police, how do you enforce and protect law in a society of

A First Glance at the Matter


800–500 BC Ancient prose Upanishads are written: the fundamental texts of the Hindu religion.

539 BC Cyrus (ruler of the Persian Empire) establishes reforms that are written in the Cyrus Cylinder, considered a precursor of the human rights declaration.

around two hundred sovereign nation-states? That is the million dollar question. International Organization The answer so far seems to be ‘international cooperation.’ Because of the independence and sovereignty of each state, the potential success of international agreements depends largely, if not only, on the individual state’s incentives to give up some of this sovereignty and enter into binding international agreements with other states. It is within this context that the development of international law, and thus the establishment of an international human rights regime has taken place. It goes without saying, making all the states of the world agree on a given issue is a difficult task. In general, international law regulates the relations between states, so-called inter-national relations. The international human rights law differs in this regard as it deals with the relationship between individuals on the one hand, and the state on the other. More precisely, a state entering a legally binding human rights agreement commits to giving individuals certain rights, and to treat or protect them in a certain way. It is each government’s task to implement, nationally, the human rights standards set forth in the agreement, and to respect, protect and fulfil the requirements. States normally become legally bound by international human rights agreements only when they have ratified them. Signing a document signals the


A First Glance at the Matter

543 BC Guided by the aristocratic statesman Zi Chan, the Zheng state creates a formal code of law in China.

recognition of and positivity towards the agreement, but is not legally binding. Ratifying means more than signing and in most cases it implies that the agreement has to be approved on the state-level by a national parliament or a similar democratically-elected institution. The process of ratification also includes checking out how the regulations can be incorporated into national law and taking the necessary measures so that it complies with the international agreement. In addition to the process of ratification, states can also become legally bound by agreements when they are regarded as customary international law, meaning law derived from a long-standing practice or habit, and not through a written agreement. United Nations and Human Rights To a great extent, the evolution of an international human rights system has taken place within the United Nations. In this book, Camilla Silva Fløistrup outlines the history of human rights at the UN in her article «Why are human rights important?» Therefore, here we will only give you a brief overview of the various human rights documents and means for enforcement. The model on the next page shows the big picture when it comes to the international human rights agreements within the United Nations. As the model shows, the declaration and the two covenants make up what is often called ‘The International Bill of Human Rights.’ The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) from 1948

509–27 BC The Roman Republic. The regime defends the rule of law, division of power and shared decision making.

479–431 BC Athens experimented with Democracy having direct participation of free Athenian male citizens in the making of laws on the basis of majority rule.

469–391 BC Chinese philosopher Mo-Zi expands on Confucian principles and advances the philosophy of “universal love” as a guiding principle of life.

Not legally binding

Very general

1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1967 Covenant Economic Social Cultural

1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Legally binding

1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

1967 Covenant Civil Political

1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child

A bit less general


1990 Covention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families 2006 Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

A First Glance at the Matter


451–449 BC The centerpiece of the constitution of the Roman Republic is written: The Twelve Tables are created to prevent public officials from adjudicating the law based on their own preferences.

500–400 BC The Four Vedas: The oldest scriptures of Hinduism are written. They establish a spiritual precedent found in later religions.

is not legally binding, but it defines the concept of human rights and provides a foundation for other, legally binding agreements. It is a very general document, something for which it is both criticized and praised for. The two covenants, however, aim at specifying the content in the UDHR and are both legally binding documents. Together with the two covenants, the seven human rights conventions make up the core of the UN instruments for the protection of human rights. As legal documents, the conventions are equal to the covenants; a state becomes legally bound by a convention after ratification. But while the covenants, although more specific than the declaration, are still rather general, the conventions protect specific fields of human rights. As you may have noticed, the evolution of human rights within the UN as described above, is very much an evolution from the general to the specific, from the notion of international human rights in the charter and declaration to the legally binding covenants and conventions. Yet, documents alone do not make for effective enforcement of human rights. To strenghten the position and influence of these documents there are several officials and committees within the UN working only on human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (the OHCHR) is the human rights official of the United Nations. It is located in Geneva and it is part of the UN Secretariat. The high commissioner is ranked as a form for ‘Under Secretary-General’ of the UN


A First Glance at the Matter

388 BC Plato founds the Academy in Athens.

and the office’s mandate includes councelling and monitoring on human rights issues, as well as filling the role of an international ombudsman* and leader of work on human rights in the UN. The other main UN methods for implementation of the human rights agreements can be divided into two categories. First we have what is called the charterbased instruments. Most important is the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is […] an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.2 (Emphasis added). Second, there are convention-based instruments. In addition to the protection of rights, the UN conventions create mechanisms for their implementation and enforcement. This is mainly done through various committees which, based on the conventions, work to make sure that states follow up on their commitments. An example of such a committee is the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The committee has 18 *  In democratic countries it is the person in charge of representing the citizens by investigating and presenting complaints of violations of rights or of poor administration by the government.

335 BC Inspired by Plato, Aristotle opens his own school, Lyceum, in Athens.

institutions / organizations in the different levels

323 BC Alexander the Great dies in Babylon and his empire is divided among his successors.

main documents

300 BC The Maya (a pre-Columbian civilization established in Central America) adopt the idea of a hierarchical society ruled by nobles and kings.

instruments for enforcement


Global level

Universal Declaration

The United Nations

Covenants Conventions

Regional level Council of Europe

Organization of the American States

The European Convention on Human Rights American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man American Convention on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and The Inter-American Human Rights Court

African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

National level

National Human Rights Institutions

Charter- and treatybased instruments

The European Commission on Human Rights and The European Human Rights Court

The African Union

National parliament, national courts

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

National law and norms for legislation

Ratification of international conventions and the incorporation to national law Research, observation, monitoring, influencing national legislation

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269–231 BC Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty (ancient India) proclaims a series of edicts throughout his empire, protecting the rights of the poor and vulnerable.

220 BC The construction of the Great Wall of China begins.

members, called independent experts, selected by the states bound by the convention. The committee bases its work on three mechanisms: state-reports, inter-state complaints and individual complaints. All state parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Convention and then every two years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.3 Other convention-based committees, such as the Committee on Migrant Workers or the Committee against Torture, have similar structures and tasks. Although the UN is important in the protection of human rights, it is not alone. There are regional instruments created by states, with the European, American and African so far being the most successful. Starting with the European Convention on Human Rights in the 1950, the American Convention in 1967 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1981, several other regional human rights treaties have been developed in order to more effectively and efficiently protect human rights. In addition to the international and regional efforts, many countries host National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) such as the ‘Norwegian Centre for Human Rights,’ the ‘National Commission for Human Rights of Togo’ and the ‘National Centre


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2nd century BC–1st century AD Code of Manu is written, an ancient Hindu collection of rules of conduct according to the system of views and the religious dogmas of Brahmanism.

for Human Rights’ in Jordan. The NHRIs are state bodies with a constitutional and/or legislative mandate to protect and promote human rights. They are part of the state apparatus and are funded by the state.4 Their role is to promote and protect human rights and ease the incorporation of international agreements into national law. The table on the previous page tries to map out the institutions and mechanisms explained above. Shaping Incentives – The Role of NGOs and Active Global Citizens So far we have explored the workings of international relations and cooperation. We have looked into the human rights regime within the United Nations and its mechanisms for enforcement, and introduced the regional human rights agreements and the National Human Rights Institutions. At the beginning of the article we brought attention to the concept of sovereignty and state independency and how these features influence international law. Furthermore, we highlighted how state incentives are key to understanding whether or not a state decides to enter and comply with international agreements. These conditions severely limit the space of which a state or group of states can intervene when violations are discovered. Too many times, this has led to states not being held accountable for their actions. Within the UN a principle known as ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (often referred to as R2P) has been developed which tries to bypass the

55 BC Julius Caesar’s Roman invasion of Britain.

18 BC «Biographies of Exemplary Women», a book about exemplary women in Chinese history, is compiled by Liu Xiang.

45 44 BC Cicero writes his philosophical works on humanitas, which served as inspiration for the thinkers of the American and French Revolution.

structural limitations of international relations and avoid us having to helplessly watch atrocities unfold from the sideline. However, there are many challenges and considerations to be made (some of which you can read more about in Ingvild Vetrhus’ article «Do we have a responsibility to protect?» in this book). Our focus has been on states and international organizations, but just as important in the work for the protection of human rights is the role of NGOs and active global citizens. In our globalized era information travels across continents with a click. Very few people enjoy being humiliated or put in a bad light. The same goes for states and governments. Identity and image matter. We are not restrained by the principles of sovereignty and non-interference. We can interfere! We can shed light on violations! We can speak up for those who cannot! By doing this we can shape states’ incentives and make a contribution to the protection of human rights.

Jonas L. Skaalerud is a long-time CISVer and the male component of Con Lupa. He wrote his bachelor thesis in Political Science about multilateralism and international cooperation and is currently taking a Masters degree in Political Science at Leiden University, in the Netherlands. His favorite rice is Seafood Paella.

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Solveig Moldrheim Head of Education in the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? Human rights are on one side tools for us all to fight for a dignified life, for equal dignity for all. On the other side, they are standards for governments and ought to be so for business as well.

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? You have to reach both heart and head, and of the two —the heart is most important if you want change and commitment. That’s the first step. Next step is to make people believe that they can contribute to change, and to be able to believe that, a person needs to see themselves as someone who cares.

How are human rights relevant in ‘Global North’ countries like Norway? Human rights and democracy are not stuff that you have or don’t have. I like to see these as processes that need to be continuously maintained, secured and evolved. Human rights are a universal issue that should not be stopped by borders; there are people all over the world that need our support, recognition and solidarity. We should see ourselves as one humanity, not like ‘us’ and ‘them.’


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How would you describe your organization in less than thirty words? The Rafto Foundation awards a yearly human rights award to human rights defenders. We also support the Rafto laureates in their work, and we do human rights education.

What do you like the most about working in the Rafto Foundation? The Rafto Foundation promotes brave human rights defenders that work in the field. Many of them have been to prison; they have been tortured and threatened. As an educator this is a unique starting point for education that brings closeness and relevance to the students. I get to be both academic, creative and extroverted. What a combination!

What is the purpose of giving a ‘Rafto prize’? What consequences can it have? First of all it is recognition of the work and efforts of the laureate, but it also gives publicity and security to the person as they become visible on an international arena. However, we always have to considerate if the prize can hurt them —it depends on the situation.

In what way do you think the Rafto Foundation’s workshops for young adults are different than having a lecture in their school? The students are active in our workshops and they get to meet people they wouldn’t meet in school — never underestimate the value of a physical meeting. We ask questions that have no right answers and we listen to the wise answers the students give us! We bring closeness to subjects many youngsters in Norway think are far away.

Which cartoon/ superhero did you identify with as a child? I think I would have to say Anne of Green Gables, not a typically super hero, but she made me dream big, to reach for the stars, but also about being true to yourself, she is a “yes, you can”-idol. When I grew older Nelson Mandela took over, but I still have a strong heart for both of them! Now I am surrounded by super heroes in my daily work!

What was the last thing you ate? Porridge made of oatmels —and right now, a cup of coffee. I love coffee!

What is the strongest motivation for your work? I still want to change the world! I want young people to wonder, think and act —I want to see them get involved in causes that mean something for them.

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Thinking Critically About Human Rights By Juliana Buriticรก Alzate 30

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27 BC–476 The Roman Empire develops natural law; rights of citizens.

0–33 Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of the Christian faith, preaches virtues of “love thy neighbor as thyself ” and for those without sin to “cast the first stone.”

1st Century The Tripitaka (sacred texts of Buddhism) are transferred from oral to written tradition.

In contrast with the previous texts that present widely accepted ideas of what are human rights and why are they important, this article urges us to think critically about human rights. The author challenges the universality of human rights from a conceptual point of view, but also illustrates the meaning of her concern with examples from concrete political contexts.

When one is part of an organization, shares common values within an international community and engages in advocacy on human rights, one is at risk of accepting several assumptions without questioning them. In this scenario, it is even rare to ask —do I agree with human rights? Why do I support human rights? In fact, do I know enough about human rights in order to teach and protect them? There are no obvious answers and they can always surprise us when we question our own actions and beliefs, when we question if our energy and time are invested in a worthy way. This article examines human rights within the scope of critical thinking. Critical thinking can be traced all the way to the origins of philosophy and it has been used by several disciplines throughout history. Since it can be defined in a number of different ways consistent with each other, there is not a one and only definition. For the purpose of this paper, critical thinking can be understood as the exercise of reasoning about ideas, beliefs, actions,

practices, paradigms. It does not necessarily contain negative or disapproving judgments. Critical thinking involves assuming a skeptic and curious perspective that enables questioning, which in turn leads to careful and analytical evaluations. Having this in mind, this article joins an ambitious task: to think critically about human rights and by doing so, challenge the pretended universality of human rights while also taking a stand. Aiming to grasp the meaning of ‘human rights’ serves as a good starting point. It is a compound word involving the word ‘human’ and the word ‘rights.’ As apparent as it may be, the word human cited by the Oxford English Dictionary can work as an adjective (“relating to or characteristic of humankind”) or as a noun (“a human being”). The origin of the word dates from late Middle English humaine, from Old French humain(e), from Latin humanus, from homo (man, human being). Despite how the word man stands out in the word human and its possible connotations, it is enough to say that, in this

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161 The Institutes of Gaius is writeen as an introductory textbook of legal institutions. It becomes the basis of legal education and jurisprudence for much of the Roman Empire’s history.

276 The writings of the prophet Mani led to Manichaeism, one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originated in Sassanid Persia.

case, the word human functions as a limit —that excludes and includes— for rights, and this is the word that deserves most of our attention. It is quite noticeable that rights come from right, and its origin lays in Old English of Germanic origin; related to Latin rectus, ‘ruled,’ from an IndoEuropean root denoting movement in a straight line. It is not surprising then, that in Spanish, for example, the word rights —translated as derechos— come from derecho, which also denotes movement in a straight line. Its origin conveys the meanings of correct, fair, good, rule and norm. Moving towards the current meaning of the word right, its nominative sense as cited by the Oxford English Dictionary is a “justifiable claim, on legal or moral grounds, to have or obtain something, or to act in a certain way.” Gayatri Spivak reminds us that there is no parallel use of its opposite word, wrongs. As humans, we can have and posses rights; we can say my rights, her rights, their rights, but we cannot say my wrongs, her wrongs, their wrongs. Therefore, there is an additional connotation to that of having rights. In her own words, human rights is not only about having or claiming a set of rights; it is also about righting wrongs, about being the dispenser of these rights. The idea of human rights [carries within itself the idea that] the fittest must shoulder the burden of righting the wrongs of the unfit.1 Let us stop for a moment and think about the relationship between rights and wrongs when talking about human rights: human rights are also about


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400 The Hindu cosmological time cycles states the average length of the year as 365.2563627 days, which is only 1.4 seconds longer than the modern one.

righting wrongs. To right a wrong means to put something or someone back on track, back on the right position, back into the expected state or situation. Basically, putting wrong things in the right place, or in other words, making reparations, amendments, rectifications. It is important to highlight the links between human rights, justice and morals. But who produces and administrates these rights? Who decides what fits and what does not? How to deal with the outsiders of the system —those who do not fit in the system (the unfit)? In other words, the production of human rights necessarily requires a clear division between what is legitimate and illegitimate. And this means that a system of exclusion and inclusion operates at the very core of human rights, defining what shall be considered a right to which all humans are entitled, and what should not. Having arrived to this point, I would like to think about the tensions surrounding the pretended universality of human rights. The first thing that comes to mind, is that if all humans are entitled to all the human rights, the emphasis is being made on the universality of human rights. However, human rights have a particular history and background, and the raised questions about the euro-centrism and the Western ideology behind human rights should not be ignored. Also, human rights require and affirm a universal and singular human identity in a fragmented political and multicultural world.

476–1453 Medieval theology holds that infidels and barbarians are not entitled to humanistic considerations.

6th–7th Century The teachings of Muhammad (the last prophet sent for mankind in Muslim beliefs) are outlined in the Qur’an.

Certain conceptions of human rights claim that since human rights originated historically in Western Europe and North America, they are connected and confined to the culture and philosophy of those regions, the Occidental tradition.2 This challenges the supposed universality of human rights; within the conception of euro-centrism, human rights are considered a Western construction with limited applicability. This means that human rights are valid in certain parts of the world but in others —the nonwestern, peripheral world— they face tremendous challenges, restrictions and obstacles colliding with the local culture and their particular visions of the world. From a critical perspective, one must recognize the relationships between euro-centrism, colonialism and imperialism. Nowadays, in a context characterized by new nations and the emergence of an international community, it is still valid to worry about the use of human rights as an alibi, as an excuse, to all sorts of interventions. Media offer several examples that illustrate this concern, for a concrete example, take a look at the article titled «The Tyranny of Human Rights Organizations» published in the Uganda News Site, The Independent3, that expresses the concern of a neocolonial endeavor masked by the human rights discourse. It is also necessary to think about the global application of universal standards of human rights protection in our increasingly multicultural societies. On one hand, we must consider if the maneuver of internationalizing human rights benefits the

622 The Charter of Medina was an agreement between Muhammad and significant families from this city, including Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagans.

dominant states, transnational agencies and non-governmental organizations. It does make a difference to be located in Europe and in the United States or Canada. For example, even in the United Nations itself “the main human rights monitoring function has been allocated to the OSCE, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”4 On the other hand, we should also think about the fact that the internationalization of human rights comes along with a strong diaspora and multicultural communities that in today’s metropolis stands for ‘diversity’ in opposition to euro-centrism or imperialism. The tension between universality and singularity appears to be closely related to the tension between global and local. “Cultural borders are easily crossed from the superficial cultural relativism of metropolitan countries whereas peripheral countries encounter bureaucratic frontiers and policed frontiers.”5 Spivak highlights the differences between metropolitan societies (mainstream and powerful) and peripheral societies (isolated and/ or developing). In a metropolis or a multicultural environment crossing cultural borders is possible. However, peripheral societies encounter, in addition to cultural borders, bureaucratic and political barriers, frontiers hard to cross. It is thus important to be aware of the political manipulation of a civil society forged on globally defined rights, and this is not simply done by appealing to cultural relativism. Taking this into consideration, rights are also contingent not only upon cultural differences but also

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1096–1204 Pope Urban II launches the First Crusade: a military quest of Roman Catholic Europe to invade the ‘Holy Lands’ inhabited by the Muslims.

1100 The Charter of Liberties. A proclamation by King Henry I of England that works as a guarantee of royal good behavior.

upon political domination. In addition, one must understand that rigid, universal categorization of groups of people, while important for political purposes, can conflict with the struggle to protect diverse practices. Aiming to bring down to earth these theoretical problems that surround human rights issues, I would like to give some concrete examples to help clarify all those big words. The following cases challenge the universality of human rights and will enlighten the critical perspective on human rights. One of the most controversial aspects of human rights is the impact it has on sexual and reproductive dimensions. Human rights challenge cultural justifications and local authority in patriarchal societies. The conceptions of sexuality are so diverse that they challenge the universality of human rights. However, sexual rights claim their universality by relating to an element common to all humans: sexuality. Sexual rights are not only valid for women or sexual minorities, sexual rights must be always recognized as human rights. Against human rights we find cultural and national sovereignty and discourses about traditional values, which are often used to evade internationally recognized obligations. Even if UN consensus documents have stressed that national, regional cultural and religious values cannot overtake fundamental human rights, in practice states are afforded a wide margin of discretion regarding matters of sexuality and gender.6 From the very start, the Islam challenged the intended universality of human rights. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted (1947), the delegation from Saudi Arabia raised an objection concerning the question of free marriage choice and freedom of religion. In response to the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion in relation to marriage, Baroody, the Saudi Arabian delegate said: “the authors of the draft


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Around 1200 Manco Capac, the first Sapa Inca founds Cuzco and starts the Incan Empire (Perú).

1215 Britain’s King John is forced to sign the Magna Carta acknowledging that free men are entitled to judgment by their peers and that no one is above the law.

1225 Thomas of Aquin is born; an Italian Dominican priest, and an a influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism.

1296 First War of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England.

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1337 The Hundred Years War is fought between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France for control of the French throne.

14th–17th centuries The cultural movement known as The Renaissance begins in Italy and soon spreads all over Europe.

declaration had, for the most part, taken into consideration only the standards recognized by Western civilization and had ignored more ancient civilizations which were past the experimental stage, and the institutions of which, for example, marriage, had proved their wisdom through centuries. It was not for the Committee to proclaim the superiority of one civilization over all others or to establish uniform standards for all the countries of the world.”7 Despite the amount of truth enclosed in the Saudi Arabian critique, we cannot fail to recognize that even if not equally, when drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many traditions, not just Western ones, were represented. There is a need to articulate the international discourse on human rights with the cultural system of beliefs in the local context in which human rights are supposed to be applied and diffused. Human rights cannot be an imposition from above, people must understand them, and once there is commitment and empowerment in relation to human rights, change can be triggered. For example, women in Kabul who come to Western human rights agencies seeking their protection from the Taliban militias do not want to cease being Muslim wives and mothers; they want to combine respect for their traditions with an education and professional health care provided by a woman. They hope the agencies will defend them against being beaten and persecuted for claiming such rights.


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1450–1500 Five indigenous nations in North America agree on what is known as the Iroquois Constitution, which establishes a democratic government with rights and responsibilities.

The legitimacy for these claims is reinforced by the fact that people who are making them are not foreign human rights activists but the victims themselves.8 However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights appears not to be enough, and its universal application seems distant and hardly possible. Recognizing its limitations and the urgency of guaranteeing women’s rights, in 1993, the General Assembly of the UN, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. This declaration includes a promise to eradicate all physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering to women in the public or private life. This includes threats of such acts, coercion, deprivation of liberty, battering, sexual abuse of children and women, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation. Also, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, traffic in women and forced prostitution. Twenty years later, there has been a wave of protests held in India —from December 2012 to January 2013— in response to the assault on a 23 year old, who was gang raped by six men, tortured with an iron bar on a bus, and then left bleeding on a highway. This case is one among millions around the globe; brutal murders, sex-selective abortion, feeding boys over girls, and all kinds of sexual abuse and harassment. A lot has been written against

1454–1466 The 30 Years’ War between the Prussian Confederation, allied with the Kingdom of Poland, and the State of the Teutonic Order.

1473 Nicolas Copernico is born, he would later formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which places the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center of the universe.

these acts of brutality and cruelty, declarations and legislation has been approved, but there is a tremendous need to turn words into actions, to claim rights in real life, to right these wrongs. Human rights must be seen as a route for our agency, as an item that actually has an effect on people’s lives. The debate is not only theoretical but must be illustrated in tangible ways. I will list a few more topics related to human rights and the difficulty to cope with its intended universality: the use of headscarves in some European countries, sexual orientation, reproductive health, genital mutilation, abortion, euthanasia debates, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, access to water, new dilemmas of sharing and protecting information in an Internet based world, among others. It is appropriate to distinguish between universal possession of human rights and universal enforcement. Human rights: the rights that we have as human beings. But the question that follows is: does everyone or even anyone enjoy these rights? Many countries not only refuse to implement them but systematically violate them. This brings us back to the tension between global and local, since the global human rights regime relies on national implementation. The few and limited exceptions —genocide, crimes against humanity, certain war crimes, torture and arbitrary execution— only underscore the almost complete sovereign authority of states to implement human rights in their territories as they fit.

1492–1550 Spanish conquerors embark on expeditions to Central and South America, which lead to the conquest and end of the Aztec, Mayan and Inca civilizations, as well as other smaller indigenous people.

These exceptions are the result of a long process of recognizing the need for a world court to prosecute those who commit crimes of international concern. These are included in a document known as the International Humanitarian Law (1951). Despite the international law and organisms that are meant to reinforce and protect human rights, cases such as the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are widely regarded as failures of the international community to intervene in time to prevent a systematic violation of human rights. These are just two examples among many other conflict areas where massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law happen incessantly, for which nobody has been held accountable.9 In any case, there has always been a serious gap between theory and practice, between theoretically possessing human rights and practically enjoying them, and bridging that gap requires time and effort of many actors of both the global society and local communities. The best way to face the cultural challenges to human rights coming from post-modernism and non-western or peripheral latitudes, such as Asia and the Islamic world, is to admit their truth: human rights discourse is highly individual and claims universality. Nevertheless, it is also true that human rights have proven to be one of the few effective responses against tyranny, have been supported by people from very different cultures and backgrounds and have been appealing to political minorities.

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1500 Portuguese navigator Pedro Ă lvares Cabral officially discovers Brazil and claims the land for Portugal. He has 13 vessels with him

1502 The first slaves are taken from Africa to America by the Spanish colonizers.

1517 The Protestant Reformation begins when Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses in Germany.

In conclusion, human rights have been and will be subject of criticism and the universality that we once took for granted is definitely debatable. Then why keep on using the human rights language and moreover, advocate, teach and protect them? Following Ignatieff, in a future shared among equals, rights are not the universal credo of a global society, not a secular religion, but something limited and yet just as valuable: the shared vocabulary from which our arguments can begin, and the bare human minimum from which differing ideas of human flourishing can take root.10 And before enjoying the privileges of an equal society, human rights are agreed to be at the top of our coexistence agreement even when, in a democracy or in a dictatorship, for example, the demands of the ones in power clash with this set of rights. A correct understanding of political power is not the government of the majorities, or the government of the most powerful; it is about a government that respects the rights of political minorities. The concept of human rights emerged in a context that needed the minorities to be respected, it is thus a concept that essentially counterweights to the majority, it rights wrongs. In this sense, it is the minimum of individual rights and they are at the center of what has been called a cross-cultural overlapping consensus (intercultural agreement) on basic standards in our diverse and multicultural world.

Juliana BuriticĂĄ Alzate is a Colombian PhD student at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. She is interested in Comparative Culture, Literature, Gender and Sexuality Studies and has been a member of CISV since 1998. Her favorite rice is white rice with egg, butter and melted cheese.


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Why Do We Talk About Human Rights, Anyways? By Adelaida Barrera Daza 40

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1520–1566 The reign of Suleiman the Magnificent marks the peak of the Ottoman Empire.

1519–1521 Hernán Cortés leads the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

1521 Jiajing Emperor ascends to the throne of Ming Dynasty in China.

Continuing the critical remarks made by Juliana Buriticá Alzate in the previous article, the following text reflects upon the discourse we are accustomed to use when talking about human rights. The author invites us to consider both the ideas we support when we say we are in favor of human rights, and the practical consequences of talking about our rights in one way or another.

Since the 1950’s the idea of human rights has rapidly spread throughout the world, to the point that it would be difficult to find someone that explicitly rejects human rights today. We are so used to hearing people appeal to human rights —in the news, in political debates, on the street, in daily conversations­— that it is not usual to stop for a second and think about what we mean when we invoke and defend human rights. In this article I intend to show some questions regarding the implications of saying we are in favor of human rights, with the hope of encouraging us to reflect and be more aware of what we are committing to. This will be a brief overview of just some of the points in vast debates that intellectuals and activists have led over the last decades; my intention, more than digging deep into this discussion, is to show how this topic can be understood in different ways, and that the way we interpret them is indeed important for the actions we take in the name of human rights.

We Are All Born Free and Equal. But, Are We? Perhaps the most common idea that comes to mind when we say human rights is that all human beings are naturally born with the same set of rights. That is, that we all own those rights because we are human. Human beings have inherent* and inalienable** rights, we often hear. The whole idea of human rights in the 20th century was largely boosted by this way of thinking, and the most important human rights documents of our time are based on this way of understanding our rights. The treaty that gave birth to the United Nations, the UN Charter, claims that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”1 Meanwhile, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human *  This means they are permanent and essential, not created by humans or developed in history. **  That means they cannot be taken by others or given away.

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1523 The Cocoa bean is introduced to Spain by Hernán Cortés. Chocolate arrives to Europe.

1531 The Church of England is separated from the Roman Catholic Church and recognizes King Henry VIII as the head of the new Church.

Rights reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”2 These documents justify the idea of universal rights based on what they take for the nature of human beings. This explanation implies that the existence of human rights does not depend on the existence of any law or institution to enforce them. At first glance this view avoids many possible critiques to human rights, because it places the ground for defending them beyond humans themselves. Saying human rights are ‘natural rights,’ is saying that we did not ‘invent’ our rights and, therefore, they are not exposed to questioning or criticism. Although it seems to be a convincing and powerful view —and it sounds really nice— it still has several problems. Finding a philosophical ground for the claim of universal inalienable rights is a task still unfulfilled. While in politics and activism human rights are eagerly defended, skepticism impregnates the intellectual debate. There are endless discussions questioning the soundness of the ‘natural rights’ argument. We do not need to be experts to see that it is not that obvious and easy to justify, we can easily ask ourselves questions like: How can we prove that we naturally have those rights? Who gave them to us? God? Which one? Nature? What does that mean? Why do we have them and not other animals? In the end it is so difficult to rationally conclude that we are born with those rights, that, ultimately, only


A First Glance at the Matter

1532 Francisco Pizarro leads the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire (Perú).

those who believe or share the assumptions about our nature are fully convinced by this view. A more pragmatic and less theoretical problem of this view is that, some say, emphasizing the inherency of our rights can even be counterproductive in practice because we end up not stressing enough the urgency to make the respect of our rights a reality. It is not clear what having ‘natural rights’ means in our practical, ‘real’ life. Not long ago I heard someone argue that there is no point in saying that every human being has certain basic universal rights if millions of people are deprived of their most basic freedoms and are far from enjoying an adequate standard of living. Furthermore, he asked how could we even say that all human beings have the same rights, when a significant number of people do not even have the possibility to appeal to anyone for the protection of their rights? His claim was that we should not talk about human rights unless we are referring to a context in which there is an effective protection of people’s rights, more specifically, to the context of a state that is able to guarantee their protection. This shows that the way we talk about human rights raises a misunderstanding, which Jack Donnelly calls “the possession paradox.”3 We say we have a right both when (i) we mean that we deserve to have something or that we should be free to do something, and (ii) when we mean that we have the capacity to actually enforce our right or hold someone accountable for such enforcement.

1534 The Ottomans capture Baghdad (Iraq).

1538 The Spanish Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada ‘founds’ Bogotá, today’s capital of Colombia.

1550 The Mongols led by Altan Khan invade China and seek to conquer Beijing.

A First Glance at the Matter


1572 Spanish conquistadores apprehend the last Inca leader Tupak Amaru at Vilcabamba, Perú, and execute him in Cuzco.

1583–1645 Hugo Grotius (Dutch jurist, philosopher and theologian) lays the foundations for international law based on natural law.

These two cases often do not coincide, and the point of the claim I heard was that we should only talk about having rights when there is, not only a general ‘someone’ to whom we can claim those rights, but specifically a national authority that is accountable for them. Answering to this problem may appear as a simple disagreement about a way of expressing ourselves, without relevant repercussions. We could ‘simply’ agree on only saying that we have human rights when there are effective mechanisms to hold someone accountable if they are not fulfilled. But agreeing on this, I believe, does have repercussions, and the way we talk is never just a way of talking. Before explaining how there can indeed be a point in saying we have human rights even when they are unprotected, I would like to show that this claim does point out a relevant problem in the way we understand human rights. The More We Are Just Humans, the Less Human Rights We Effectively Have* One of the biggest questions that arise after people agree that we all have the same basic rights, is who will be accountable for the protection of such rights, and how will we regulate such accountability. In deciding on this matter there has always been a decisive factor: we live in a world divided in states. * The problem I’ll expose now was pointed out by Hannah Arendt in the 1950’s but it is still relevant today. I’ll try to explain her concern. 


A First Glance at the Matter

1601–1603 A famine kills around 33% of Russia’s population.

Most human beings —not all, and that is the point here— belong to and inhabit a territory administered by certain recognized entities that legislate and regulate what happens to the people that belong to that territory. We must follow our national laws and, therefore, our freedoms and duties depend on the country where we belong. From the point of view of international law, the responsibility to protect human rights relies firstly on states; our state adopts human rights within national law and that defines which rights we can claim in our countries and how can we do so.** In turn, a country’s wealth and political system determines up to what point our economic and social rights (the right to food, education, social security, etc.) are fulfilled. You can read Jonas L. Skaalerud’s text in this book to better understand why this is so. If we leave our country we are more exposed to violations of our rights because the hosting state does not have a direct responsibility for foreigners as it has for its citizens. The people that really suffer from this situation are those for whom no state takes responsibility: refugees, asylum seekers or people that are never sheltered by any state at all.*** In principle, one would **  There are increasing efforts to strengthen international courts of human rights to which people can appeal after their country definitely fails to comply with human rights protections. But they are still not really effective or relevant for common people. *** There are more than 12 million stateless people, people who have lost the protection of a state, according to the UN refugee Agency —that is almost three times the Norwegian population.

1616 Confucian scholar Li Zhi commits suicide while in a Chinese prison; he believed that women were as smart as men and should receive equal education; he was condemned for spreading ‘dangerous ideas.’

1618 The Manchus start invading China. Their conquest eventually overthrows the Ming Dynasty.

think that when the laws of a state do not protect someone’s rights, that person should still rely on her human rights. The paradox, then, is that it is precisely when we become merely human —not ‘mexicans,’ ‘japanese,’ ‘egyptians’ that our human rights are more likely to be violated: the more we are just humans, the less we can claim our human rights. Because of such dependency on states to protect them, what we call human rights are in practice still primarily the rights of citizens, and not the rights of human beings as such. The situation of stateless people is perhaps the most evident way to show this paradox, but similar questions can be drawn if we consider people who do belong to a state, but whose citizenship is pretty much irrelevant, given that their state is incapable of providing protection and assistance. So the problem remains: what is the point of saying we all have the same rights? Human Rights Beyond the Law The main reason why I believe we should not say we don’t have rights just because we are not under the protection of national law is because human rights can, and in my view should, be understood beyond the realm of the law and the state. Agreeing to say that we have human rights only if there is legal protection is reducing human rights to a legal concept. That leads us to reducing the focus of our defense of human rights to making laws and striving for their implementation, which is not a negligible fight, but it is not enough.

1628 The British Parliament refuses to approve new taxes until King Charles I signs the British Petition of Right, which states specific liberties for the people that the king cannot violate.

Human rights can be understood first and foremost as an ethical view of the world. They do depend on human interactions, agreements and even social institutions, but they are not exclusively a legal concept. Amartya Sen**** has put forward this idea in his work: [Human rights] are not principally “legal,” “proto-legal” or “ideal-legal” commands4 […] the understanding that some rights are not fully realized, and may not even be fully realizable under present circumstances, does not, in itself, entail anything like the conclusion that these are, therefore, not rights at all. Rather, that understanding suggests the need to work towards changing the prevailing circumstances to make the unrealized rights realizable, and ultimately, realized.5 I do not mean to say law is simply unnecessary or ineffective, but I believe human rights should be also considered beyond the scope of the law. We might need the force of law to hold someone accountable for violations of human dignity, but that scope is certainly insufficient. It can be more powerful to change our ethical and social norms than to find mechanisms to put people in jail or impose sanctions; human rights will not be truly incorporated just by making laws and more laws. And this is not only because the legal approach is currently unable to do more, but because often what we seek is, by principle, inadequate for a legal treatment; the basic ****  An Indian economist and philosopher who won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

A First Glance at the Matter



A First Glance at the Matter

1632 The construction of the Taj Mahal begins in India.

1641 Foreigners are expelled from Japan and no one is allowed to enter or leave the country.

human rights moral point of view is something we cannot easily —or at all— instill through laws. Just like you cannot order someone to love, you cannot order someone to understand the value of each human being. That is why I believe it does make sense to sustain that we all have human rights, even when there is no effective enforcement.* So, what is there to do beyond the law? Sen suggests recognition —spreading commitment to the ethical claims of human rights— and agitation —monitoring, denouncing, manifesting— as two crucial aspects of the defense of human rights, which can be more powerful and long lasting than the force of law. An important part of the struggle for recognition is education, which includes education based on experience and focused on shaping our emotions.6 In this sense, we can say that human rights are not only the responsibility of states. Their implementation needs active citizens that are committed to fighting them, institutionally and socially. Citizens are the ultimate protectors of human rights, both because human rights protection “starts in places close to home” —like Eleanor Roosevelt would say—, and also because we are the ones watching over our institutions to respect and strive for human rights in particular situations, and we can influence the ethical convictions of those who will make decisions in the name of their nations. Human Rights as a Powerful —but Risky­— Vocabulary So, in this extra-legal context, talking about having human rights can be meaningful in our daily ‘real’ life and work. Although we can work for what we understand as human rights without explicitly talking about ‘human rights,’ there is something powerful in using these terms. *  It is important to consider here that to support that people have rights beyond the legal framework we do not have to go back to the ‘natural rights’ statements. We can also understand this claim as a decision, an agreement or a consensus reached both from exchanging arguments and from learning from our emotions.

A First Glance at the Matter


1648 The Treaty of Westphalia provides a basis for greater religious tolerance in the international sphere and establishes national sovereignty.

1667–1699 The Great Turkish War stops the Ottoman Empire’s expansion into Europe.

On one hand, human rights have an empowering effect over the rights bearer. Saying ‘it is wrong to kill’ is very different from saying I have the right to live’ or ‘you have the right to proper shelter and food.’ It has a different meaning and different emotional repercussions over the person who declares her or his rights. And not only does it impel people to demand others for the protection of those rights, but also, and perhaps most importantly, it boosts people to personally do something about it. This empowering potential has been recognized by grassroots organizations and by people working in development projects. There has been an important shift on the global approach to poverty, for instance, towards a human-rights-based approach that aims precisely at empowering people to act for overcoming adversity themselves.7 In addition to this empowering effect in practice, human rights can be seen as a common vocabulary that allows us to seek agreement and understand disagreements between different languages and cultures, both in ethical and political matters. This does not mean that it is a neutral language or that it redeems all conflicts. It means that, starting from a basic shared commitment to defending every person’s freedoms and respect, we can engage in the complicated discussions that attempt to translate this general commitment into concrete judgments and actions, in precise contexts and circumstances. Among others, Michael Ignatieff supports this idea: “[human rights] is the language that most consistently articulates the


A First Glance at the Matter

1673 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek sees microbes with a microscope for the first time. He calls them ‘animalcules.’

moral equality of all the individuals on the face of the earth. But to the degree that it does, it simultaneously increases the level of conflict over the meaning, application, and legitimacy of rights claims.”8 It is really important to notice that this vocabulary is not a solution in itself, and it can easily be misused or abused. Invoking human rights as something unquestionable and abstract that is brought up just to win an argument —a trump card, says Ignatieff— is certainly a misuse of human rights language. This problem often results in the manipulation of people’s opinions and in the justification of actions that we would otherwise consider wrong; actions that, for instance, legitimize violence and oppression. The most obvious example of this is the 2003 US intervention of Iraq —a war declared in the name of human rights. Another example of misusing the human rights language is explained by Chidi Odinkalu in his article «Why more Africans don’t use the human rights language.» He stresses the importance of really understanding the problems and the context of the people for whose human rights we —especially NGOs and humanitarian groups— are working: “the real life struggles for social justice are waged despite human rights groups —not by or because of them— by people who feel that their realities and aspirations are not adequately captured by human rights organizations or their language.”9 This is the risk of ‘emptying’ the human rights language of concrete contexted anchored in people’s real situations and problems.

1679 The Habeas Corpus Act passes in the Parliament of England. It gives anyone who is detained the right to a fair trial within a certain amount of time, examining the lawfulness of a prisoner’s detention.

1682 RenĂŠ-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle explores the Mississippi River and claims Louisiana for France.

1687 Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, one of the most important books in the history of science.

To conclude, saying that all human beings have fundamental rights that should be respected is in indeed a meaningful and powerful idea to defend. Even beyond the context of legal frameworks and institutions, talking about human rights at an ethical and political level promotes empowerment and provides us with a shared language to discuss and deliberate. It is important, nonetheless, to keep in mind the downsides and risks of using the human rights language as a trump card, without engaging in the specific contexts and tensions of each case in point.

Adelaida Barrera Daza is from BogotĂĄ, Colombia and a member of Con Lupa. She studied Languages and Social-Cultural Studies and is currently taking a Masters in Philosophy. Her research interest is in the politics of memory, testimony and the notion of political communities. Her favorite rice is seafood risotto.

A First Glance at the Matter


Ă“scar MejĂ­a Executive Director of Conconcreto Foundation

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? Human rights are the inherent and evident rights every human being has due to the fact that they exist, and they are so regardless of race, religion, gender, economic status, political ideals, and so on.

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? Through socializing and transmitting knowledge to youngsters, making sure that the issue does not stop at the explanations given, but by making these youngsters spread this knowledge on human rights further. The problem for the youth nowadays is that they constantly see adults violate human rights in all possible ways without receiving any form of consequence. Setting a good example is essential in order to make young adults interested in this topic.


A First Glance at the Matter

What responsibility does each one of us have regarding human rights?

How did you end up working in Conconcreto Foundation?

It’s simple: Respecting them!

I worked for 20 years at the Conconcreto Construction company after having been a professional football player for 12 years. I was then offered to manage the Foundation and in June I’ll celebrate my 10th anniversary working here!

If you could give one non-material thing to future generations, what would it be? Without a doubt the belief that the world would be a better place if every human being did their job well — in the home, in their workplace, in the arts, politics etc. This is the best contribution a person can leave behind in order to improve the world.

Describe Conconcreto Foundation in less than thirty words. We are a nonprofit organization that, through processes of social transformation based on quality, participation and responsibility, contribute to the construction of better citizens.

How important are parents in the education of their children? Very important. The workshops we do with the mothers complement and integrate the work we do with their children, giving identity to the formation and coherence to our goals. You cannot educate the children well without the active participation of their parents.

What is your strongest motivation in your work? Seeing the children and their families happy and committed to a project of life! Also giving them the opportunity to improve their housing; it integrates, generates community feeling, fosters a better quality of life and decreases, if only a little, the inequality present here.

Which cartoon/superhero did you identify with as a child? I always liked Superman because he combined the shyness and low profile of Clark Kent with the audacity and confidence of the hero. I also loved the light and simple humour of Condorito.

What was the last thing you ate? The last thing I have eaten is nearly always something sweet. An ice cream, a piece of cake, a fruit or most likely: a bar of chocolate!

A First Glance at the Matter


Zooming In


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In this chapter we have gathered articles that touch upon some of the conceptual and practical difficulties that arise when taking a closer look at human rights. Idunn Helle further explores an issue that was brought up by Juliana BuriticĂĄ Alzate in the previous chapter: the universality of human rights. Alejandro AbadĂ­a addresses the question of the relationship between human rights and development, showing how the protection of our rights goes hand in hand with economic growth. In the last text of the chapter Ingvild Vetrhus questions the responsibility we have to intervene when human rights are violated in cultures and states different from our own. She explores the political and legal processes that have derived from this question at the international level. Zooming In


Human Rights, Is There Anything Wrong with Them? By Idunn Helle 54

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1688–1689 The British Parliament offers the crown to Prince William of Orange who takes power in a bloodless revolution that represented the supremacy of the Parliament.

1689 William of Orange is allowed to take the throne only if he signs The British Bill of Rights guaranteeing rights like free speech in parliament, and due process rights.

1632–1704 John Locke was an important philosopher, whose ideas on natural Rights strongly influenced the US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

Idunn Helle looks at different established positions on the concept of human rights and illustrates these with examples from her own experiences in Perú.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 65 years old this year, and its content is taken for granted by many of us. The Declaration has, coupled with several other documents issued within the last century and a half, presented the world with a view of morality grounded in the principle of universality. This means that the underlying values, presented as rights, are what cosmopolitans would call principles that can be universally shared, and can form the basis for the protection and nurturing of each person’s equal significance in the “moral realm of all humanity.”1 However, not everyone agrees that there is only one set of ethics in the world that we all have in common, and others again criticize the fact that although human rights have been around for some time, they have not proved very efficient. There are still rights violations every day, all over the world. This article will discuss the cosmopolitan position defending the necessity of rights, the cultural relativist and communitarian position stating that a world of several moral communities is ideal, and the utilitarian position which puts the ‘good’ over ‘right.’ This will lead to a discussion of rights and

law. It will be argued that rights are not dependent on utilities or laws to matter or have an impact. Rights can be implemented in different ways in different societies, and can therefore be culturally sensitive, and will continue to have increasing importance in the future. Cosmopolitanism, which can be seen as the fertile soil human rights grew out from, is not new. The term was already in use in use ancient Greece, and means ‘citizen of the world.’2 Both the French and American revolutions ended in declarations with cosmopolitan undertones (‘all men are created equal’3, ‘liberté, egalité et fraternité’). The cosmopolitan point of view relies, according to Janna Thompson, upon […] the existence of a universal moral law, and on the idea that it is possible to create, or move towards, a world society where this moral law becomes the basis of international law and world political organization, and governs relations between all individuals.4 Lately, the emphasis on human rights in international society has become increasingly stronger, along with cosmopolitan values. Jack Donnelly notes that

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18th Century The Enlightenment spreads across Europe. It influenced the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

1694–1778 The French thinker Voltaire fights for civil rights. He is well known for defending freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the separation of church and state.

the six main international treaties on human rights have an average of 166 parties.5 This means that, at least in theory, a minimum of 85% of the world’s governments claim that they agree with cosmopolitan principles. It has actually become uncontroversial to state that “the universal nature of these [human] rights and freedoms is beyond question.”6 However, the attention given to human rights is not all praise. Many see the assertion of a set of universal ethical principles as a neoimperialist position, a Western moral doctrine imposed upon other states. Some critics claim that theories of rights are produced in Western, liberal states and exported abroad without fitting the context or the state where they are inserte.7 One problem is highlighted by cultural relativists; the world consists of different communities with different moral codes. It is difficult to say that one is more correct than others. The fact that international human rights are the result of a mainly Western process (ancient Greece, European philosophers and the American and French revolutions), makes them invalid when applied to other cultures. Whether correct or not, these are fair arguments, rooted in a “fear of (neo-)imperialism and the desire to demonstrate cultural respect.”8 Another critique comes from the communitarians, claiming, like the cultural relativists, that the world is made up of communities. They therefore disagree with moral codes being created on the basis of protecting individuals, and not a group of people.9 While cosmopolitans picture a united world made up of human beings, communitarians picture a world made up of communities. Nevertheless, they do not deny that it is possible to find common norms or values. Michael Walzer speaks of a thin universalism or moral minimalism, meaning that although the world consists of communities with differing sets of ethics, it is possible to find some things that they all have in common.10 He insists that “‘minimalism’ […] is morality close to the bone.”11 Still, he claims that people’s loyalty is to their community and not


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1710 The first copyright laws are made in England.

1738-1756 There is a terrible lack of food across the Sahel and half of the population of Timbuktu dies.

yet to all people, as would be the cosmopolitan ideal.12 Donnelly touches some of the same points as he states that an ‘overlapping consensus’ can be found in most cultures.13 The reason why human rights are accepted as a moral basis can vary from community to community, but they are the “only proven effective means to assure human dignity in societies dominated by markets and states.”14 If there really is an overlapping consensus, human rights become even more valid, seeing as they have multiple foundations. However, it could be a version of communitarianism that will lead us to the cosmopolitan endpoint, if that is where we are headed. Some have argued that cultural relativism can be excluded because human rights are not so much a Western invention (no society, Western or other, has been rights-based until very recently) as it is a result of modernity, which, if true, makes culture more or less insignificant.15 Human rights will be valid in any society which has gone through that process. Mary Midgley implies this when she explains rights-based thinking as, simply the immense enlargement of our moral scene ­—partly by the sheer increase in the number of humans, partly by the wide diffusion of information about them, and partly by the dramatic increase in our own technological power— a power which now enables us in the dominant nations to damage radically both the human and the non-human world that we live in, or to refrain from such damage.16


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1741 Pope Benedict XIV publishes Immensa Pastorum principis, where he opposes slavery.

If culture is no longer the problem, cultural relativism can no longer be an argument against human rights. It seems likely that it is possible to find some kind of minimum overlap in moral concepts across the world. The next question is just: how do we know that the moral overlap is one of human rights? Utilitarians would argue that right always has to give way for the good. The ultimate utilitarian goal is happiness, not justice, which human rights are concerned with (although they may overlap, as happiness could be achieved through justice).17 From this perspective, it would be all right to ignore rights if issues of, for example, welfare were more pressing. For example, every year the river rises and floods the slums of Belén in Iquitos, Perú. To get anywhere outside of your own house, it is necessary to have a canoe. During this season, many children are prevented from going to school (thus their right to education is violated), either because they do not own a boat, or because they cannot maneuver it alone. Swimming is not an option because of the distance, the currents, the quality of the water or the childrens’ skills. It unsafe to go to school, and the ‘good’ (staying alive) becomes more important than the ‘right’ (education). The relation between human rights and law is another ongoing discussion. The Universal Declaration is not an enforceable part of international law, meaning that states will have to write human rights into their own legal systems in order to be able to punish violations. Some say this is a major flaw,

1760 The Zand dynasty begins in Iran.

1769–1770 The British explorer James Cook draws the map of New Zealand and Australia.

making them inefficient and unimportant. With the exception of genocide and crimes against humanity, sovereignty (each government’s freedom to rule within their own borders without interference from other states) is the most important concern, not international human rights.18 For utilitarians this is not necessarily a problem, seeing as a happiness maximum would be easier to achieve within a single state than in the whole world. Amartya Sen argues that a human rights view concentrating in freedoms and not utilites makes people take an interest in the freedoms of others, not just their own.19 This illustrates the difference between the theories, but also why that of utility could be of less moral weight. Whereas for cosmopolitans rights are the basis for laws, for utilitarians, rights are ‘the child of law,’ and are real rights only if they are written down in a legal framework.20 Bentham called rights that had not been turned into law ‘imaginary rights.’21 Even when rights are written into a legal system, they do not necessarily come into effect. In Perú, nearly every layer of the state machine is corrupt, and people generally have very little confidence in the police or other institutions created to safeguard them as citizens. The distrust is not entirely invalid; often the police officers are uneducated, underpaid and unmotivated to do their job. This can lead to forms and reports going missing, or responses like ‘go and ask your husband to forgive you’ to victims of severe domestic violence. Although beating your wife is forbidden by Peruvian law, the right to live a

1776 The U.S. Declaration of Independence was proclaims the independence of the 13 American colonies and states “all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

life free of violence is not fulfilled, as it has not been integrated as a part of people’s internal set of norms or morals yet. In countries like Perú, it is necessary to work through education on different levels in order to make people aware of their own and others’ rights and why they are important. With a change of perspective comes change of actions. This cannot always be achieved through a new paragraph typed into a book of laws. Although an international legal system based on rights is the cosmopolitan vision, they see rights as something of primary importance. Human rights can influence decision-making and actions in international society, whether they can be sanctioned or not. Rights are reliant upon social recognition, public discussion and non-governmental organizations (NGO) promotion, as these factors put them into practice, giving them just as powerful an effect as legislation.22 Sen argues that human rights only function if they survive open public criticism.23 Sovereignty still does hold more power than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the latter has some influence in international society, seeing as states violating human rights increasingly are seen as lacking in legitimacy.24 The spread and growth of cosmopolitan thinking and its influence is not insignificant. With the notion of rights follows a notion of duty to other people. Communitarians would agree, but for them the duty would only concern other people within a given society.25 However, the shift towards a more cosmopolitan attitude is apparent in the relatively new doctrine of

Zooming In


1785 Immanuel Kant writes the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. His ideas are considered the moral justification of individual rights.

1789 The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is adopted, stating that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights.”

‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P), assuming that the international community has a duty to react if a state permits crimes against humanity within its borders. This is reason enough for the UN Security Council to authorize the use of force, also against the will of sovereign states.26 Nevertheless, although cosmopolitan in its aim (safeguarding individuals’ rights), the doctrine is not completely cosmopolitan in practice, seeing as this concerted action and decision-making will be performed by sovereign states, not an international government or force. The increased use of human rights-rhetoric has also resulted in an increase in ‘humanitarian interventions’ the last decades. Wheeler highlights the struggle between the legal power of sovereignty versus the moral one of rights, but concludes that what is most important is “to distinguish between power that is based on relations of domination and force, and power that is legitimate because it is predicated and shared norms.”27 So, is there anything wrong with human rights? If we look at the general tendencies in international society in the decades since the Universal Declaration

1789 On September 25, Congress of the United States propose 10 amendments of the Constitution that are known as the Bill of Rights.

was ratified, the answer seems to be ‘not really.’ It is possible that they are a Western conception, but most likely one of modernity, applicable wherever society has been influenced by free markets and globalisation. The fact that so many treaties concern human rights, and that they are ratified by, on average, 85% of the states in the world, suggests that the cultural relativist thesis does not hold water, although it will still be important to be culturally sensitive in the future. The debates in international society tend to, while still based in a communitarian sense of sovereignty, favor an increasing cosmopolitan outlook. Rights have been the basis for the recent but extensive use of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and doctrines like ‘R2P.’ They also influence international relations through NGO promotion, rights-language is used in public debates all over the world, and the protection of human rights seems to be linked to the perceived legitimacy of states, even when not written into law. Human rights are not available for everyone to claim yet, but if the breeze continues to blow in the same direction, they will be in the future.

Idunn Helle was born in Norway and holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations from Durham University, England. She spent 7 months in Lima, Perú working with Tierra de Niños, an organization that promotes children’s rights through circus activities with youth from low-income neighbourhoods. Her favorite rice is mushroom, leek and white wine Risotto.


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Camilla Silva Fløistrup Danish Institute for Human Rights

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? As the lawyer in me would say, the best way to define human rights is by using the internationally agreed conventions. I would say that human rights are the collection of internationally agreed laws that set the maximum aspirations for human beings.

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? It is not that difficult, especially if you talk about discrimination. All people, young and old, have felt discriminated against. Talking about it and developing activities surrounding discrimination is a great way to get young people involved.

What is the most urgent human rights topic in our days? I find it a very difficult question to answer as there are so many issues. If I was to name one, I would say maternal mortality. I think women’s right to life is constantly being violated with the lack of medical support for women giving birth occurring daily.


Zooming In

If you could give one thing (non-material) to future generations, what would it be?

What does the Danish institute for Human Rights do in Denmark?

Faith. We need to believe that we can. We need to believe that we are able to make this a better world.

We do research on human rights status in Denmark, teach human rights to young people, help victims of discrimination to find the correct way to go about their situation and we report to international bodies on the status of human rights in the country.

What responsibility does each one of us have regarding human rights? We have to know that we have them and we have to make sure that they are respected, no matter where we are. Speaking out for the weakest persons in a situation of abuse or demonstrating for your rights when you feel they are being violated are good ways to keep struggling for human rights.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your job? Challenging people’s stereotypes and challenging my own stereotypes. As much as we would like to think otherwise, we are all inserted in cultures that to a certain point influence the way we think and the way we see other people. Our beliefs are often built on prejudices, stereotypical ways of seeing others and understanding our world. Going beyond these stereotypes can be very difficult.

What are the National Institutes for Human Rights?

What are Denmark’s problems or challenges regarding the protection of human rights in the country? I would say discrimination is Denmark’s biggest challenge. There are still a lot of structural issues like access to education and health care, or redress from police abuse that are not addressed in the same way. Boy and girls, women and men, still have different opportunities based on their gender and people from ethnic minorities are behind in education and employment which can point to structural discrimination.

Which cartoon/ superhero did you identify with as a child? Storm from X-Men.

What was the last thing you ate? A piece of ‘danish’ (a kind of pastry).

They are independent institutions created by law that are mandate to protect and promote human rights in a country.

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The Importance of Human Rights in Achieving Human Development By Alejandro AbadĂ­a 64

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1814–1815 The Congress of Vienna is held by the states that defeated Napoleon. International concern for human rights is expressed for the first time in modern history.

1841 Russia, France, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain sign the Treaty of London abolishing slavery.

1848 Around 200 women draft a ‘bill of rights’ in New York outlining the social, civil, and religious rights of women.

This article explains how recent approaches to development and to human rights suggest that these two subjects are closely related. The human rights discourse can be a fundamental tool in the quest for human development, which not only means economic growth, but also the achievement of people’s effective freedoms and their desired living standards. Far from being separate and contradictory goals, human rights protection and development can and should be fought for simultaneously.

Until recently, development and human rights were considered as two separate subjects. The former regarded economic growth while the latter dealt with rights violations. Tomasevski put it well when she said: Development and human rights work constitute two distinct areas, where development is devoted to the promotion of economic growth and the satisfaction of basic needs, while human rights work exposes abuses of power.1 Even though they were thought to be different matters, both of them were affected by the Cold War’s ideological dualism. While the concept of development was defined in a specific manner depending on the political perspective, the human rights discourse was limited to the parts which each ideology thought served better for its political purposes.2 Thereby, while the United States and the Western

bloc emphasized the civil and political rights, the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc did the same with the social and economic ones. Both sorts of rights were supported by two international agreements adopted in 1966 and came into legal force in 1976.3 Tzhe civil and political rights treaty recognized the rights to: life; freedom from torture; degrading treatment or punishment; freedom from slavery; from arbitrary detention; freedom of movement; of thought religion and conscience; from arbitrary detention and equal protection of the law; equality before the tribunals; and freedom of association among others. The accord on economic, social and cultural rights, on the other hand, included, among others, the rights to: work; to social security including social insurance; to take part in cultural life; and to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.4

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1859 Henry Dunant from Switzerland commits to creating neutral organizations to provide medical aid in battlefields: The Red Cross is born.

1861 Tsar Alexander II issues the Edict of Emancipation, which frees the serfs (unfree peasant) in Russia.

Civil and political rights are considered the ‘first generation’ of rights, while the economic, cultural and social ones advocated by the U.S.S.R. were known as the ‘second generation’ rights. The first generation had a ‘negative’ nature as it took the form of immunity from interference by others. On the contrary, the second generation promoted ‘positive’ rights as they required the attention and assistance of others to provide those rights.5 The usage of this terminology gave the impression that there was a hierarchy between the different sorts of rights. However, contemporary human rights approaches deny such a thing by posing an indivisibility of rights. This is based on the fact that the diverse human rights (civil political, economic, social and cultural) are linked and therefore mutually reinforcing. The two ‘generations,’ consequently, need to be pursued simultaneously. A New Approach to Development Issues Despite having a more recent origin, development issues rapidly surpassed human rights in resources and attention. The development enterprise soon became a shared goal of 50 billion dollars a year while the human rights advocates fought for their purposes with less than one percent of that amount.6 As time went by, however, the concept of development changed insofar as experience showed that wealth was not automatically linked with progress in living standards. As Hollis Chenery suggested: “It is now clear that more than a


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1861–1865 The United States Civil War is fought between the Northern anti-slavery states, versus the Southern slave States. The war ends with the abolishment of slavery.

decade of rapid economic growth in underdeveloped countries has been of little or no benefit to perhaps a third of their populations.”7 These results have led to the questioning of the traditional concept of development. The Economy Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen largely contributed to this work as he defined it as “a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy.”8 The freedom that Sen refers to is defined in terms of the capabilities of choosing the kind of life a human being has reason to value. To achieve this, therefore, the individuals have to get rid of all the sources of ‘un-freedoms’ they may be surrounded by. Thus, poverty, repressive states and social deprivation among others, are considered as obstacles towards development. In this way, the notion of development evolved to the point where it is understood not in terms of economic growth but in terms of enhancing the freedoms; of being able to live as any individual would like to. In few words, it focuses on the opportunity to choose one’s fate.9 This is congruent with the concept of ‘human development’ proposed by the UN, which takes into account more factors than pure economical and considers development as a way to increase human’s choice. In this context, the contemporary human rights notion can enrich this current approach. More precisely, it can endow it with the required tools and concepts so it can be a more inclusive process from which all members of society can benefit.

1863 US President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which declares all slaves in the Southern states to be forever free.

1864 The Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Armies in the Field (First Geneva Convention) is signed on August 22nd by several European states.

1865 The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States, takes effect on December 18.

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1866 The Civil Rights Act of 1866 passes with one vote over President Andrew Johnson’s veto. The Act proclaims that all persons born in the United States are U.S. citizens without regard to race or color.

1882 The U.S. Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in U.S. history.

When human rights are guaranteed by law, it gives all members of society —including minorities and people with few economic resources— legal means to secure their freedoms since they are based on equality and freedom. This means that all human beings are entitled to human rights because they are universal. They make no distinction of race, color, sex, religion, origin, birth and beliefs, proposing a comprehensive sort of empowerment.10 The main purpose of human rights, therefore, is to expand the freedoms of all members of society. More precisely, individual rights entail a claim that one person has over others (individuals, groups, societies or states). As explained above, these claims may require negative or positive support depending on whether they demand immunity from interference by others (negative support) or of the assistance and attention of others to be able to accomplish certain activities (positive support).11 The first sort of claims guarantees people’s choices insofar as they limit the actions, not only of other individuals but also of the state that can hurt or jeopardize any individual’s freedom. The rights to life, along with the freedoms from slavery, from arbitrary detention, and of movement within the state’s territory, are just some examples. The second sort of claims, on the other hand, assures people’s liberty as they advocate for the state to reproduce the necessary means to exercise their freedoms. The right to an adequate standard of living, to education, to social security and to the enjoyment


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1882 British troops occupy Cairo and Egypt becomes a British protectorate.

of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, among others, illustrates this idea. In order for there to be a fulfillment of the rights, they have to impose specific duties to particular agents who will oversee the realization of those rights. This is what Immanuel Kant called ‘perfect duty,’ and what is echoed by the United Nations when it says: “A person’s right to something must, then, be inflexibly coupled with another’s person duty to provide the first person with that something.”12 This way, all members of a society, regardless of their origin, religion or beliefs are entitled to human rights, and the state is the most important agent responsible of the fulfillment of those rights. The treatment that public institutions have to give their citizens, therefore, is to be framed in such entitlements. This responsibility held by the state would not prohibit it from to exercising the Machiavellian ‘raison d’état.’13 Not even in the name of order and security can law enforcement agents torture or arbitrarily arrest a citizen, for it violates not only the right to liberty and fair trial, but also goes against the dignity of human beings. Thereby, human rights are considered as means to enhance people’s capabilities insofar as they impose upon the state the responsibility to guarantee and promote such freedoms to all citizens. In this sense, even the weakest members who have been traditionally marginalized will have legal and moral means to demand accountability from the public institutions. In short, human rights empower weak social members to claim for good

1881 The Tsar of Russian Empire Alexander II is murdered. His assassination triggered the suppression of many civil liberties.

1884–1885 The Berlin Conference eliminates all forms of autonomy and self-governance in Africa, while at the same time committing to end slave trade in the continent.

public services, for pro-poor public policies and for a transparent participatory process open to hearing their point of view;14 human rights provide the required institutional framework for an inclusive development process to occur.* Second Generation Rights as ‘Concrete’ Rights In following a human rights discourse, some people tend to think that the state ought to distribute food, housing and other social necessities since it is obliged to guarantee the second generation rights. This approach, however is not the one advocated by the United Nations and development scholars since it is not economically sustainable.16 On the contrary, what the United Nations promotes with these sorts of rights is “the entitlement to the social arrangements needed to facilitate access to them.”17 In other words, citizens are entitled to what Dworkin calls ‘concrete’ and not ‘abstract’ rights. In this case, the ‘concrete rights’ refer to the right to * The Colombian Political Constitution, for example, not only consecrates in its 13th article the human conditions of equality and liberty that all citizens are born with, but also the responsibility of the state to adopt the necessary measures to grant those conditions to the marginalized and discriminated groups (Article 13 of the Constitution). Moreover, Article 86 of the same Magna Carta introduces the figure of ‘tutela’ as a preferential procedure to claim the immediate protection of a citizen’s fundamental rights. This legal instrument can be used by all those individuals whose fundamental rights have been violated or are threatened by the actions or inactions of the state. This constitutional right exposes not only the responsibility held by the state to proliferate human rights, but also the accountability of the state if those rights go unfulfilled.

1888–1889 The Brussels Conference was a collection of anti-slavery measures signed in Brussels on the 2nd of July.

demand the appropriate public policies that can lead to the fulfillment of the social, economic and cultural rights. The ‘abstract’ rights, on the other hand, refer to food and housing among others, which in this case citizens are not entitled to.18 In this manner, the approach of human development with human rights proposed by the United Nations and the contemporary development scholars, does not advocate for some sort of ‘welfare state’ whose duties include the fulfillment of all the ‘abstract rights’ by providing its citizens with all sorts of basic goods, human beings require to live. On the contrary, this perspective acknowledges the difficulty to fulfill the second generation rights since they entail financial resources to carry them out effectively. A poor country therefore, would face difficult resource constraints in its attempt to accomplish the responsibility of securing its citizen’s positive rights. This situation however does not mean that a state can justify giving priority to economic rights over civil and political rights. As the United Nations states to this regard: “economic entitlements complement rather than outweigh the importance of civil and political rights.”19 As mentioned above, the first generation rights can reinforce the second generation rights, as they guarantee political participation. Through the legal means entitled by these sorts of rights, the nation can express its necessities and discontents. The second generation rights, on the other hand, also attribute legal means to the individuals for them to demand a high standard of

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1893 New Zealand becomes the first nation to grant women the right to vote.

1898 The Philippines win independence from Spain after 3 years of revolution. The Philippine-American war starts short after but the Philippines only gain full independence after World War II.

living. In this sense, the state is obliged not only to promote economic growth but also to allocate those financial profits to pro-poor, pro-human development and pro-human rights public policies. To this regard, the United Nations proposes six policy elements central to execute ‘mixed’ public policies aimed to reduce poverty and realizing human rights. These are: pursuing pro-poor economic growth; restructuring budgets; ensuring participation; protecting environmental resources and the social capital of poor communities; eliminating discrimination; and securing human rights in law.20 In short, public policies should benefit poor people while promoting at the same time non-discriminatory expenditure. Moreover, the poor and marginalized people’s political rights have to be augmented so that they can participate in the decision taking processes in which human development matters (among others) are discussed.

1901 The founder of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant and international pacifist, Frédéric Passy are awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize.

This is how human rights can make the development process a more inclusive one where all members of society can benefit. It attributes a legal aspect to the concept that endows human beings with the necessary tools to realize the principles of equality and freedom advocated by the human development. It also gives to the contemporary politics a ‘raison d’être’21 based on human dignity and liberty by distributing duties to the state. For the effective accomplishment of human development with human rights, however, education has to be a top priority in the government’s agenda in order for the nation to internalize its written rights and grant them with the legitimacy they require to make the values of equality and freedom part of its culture. Political will, therefore, is the motor of human development with human rights.

Alejandro Abadía is an internationalist and political scientist from Bogotá, Colombia. He is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in International Law, Human Rights and International Cooperation while working for the Colombian Government as a consultant in human rights and international humanitarian law issues. His favorite rice is Colombian chinese fried rice.


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Zooming In 71

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Do We Have a Responsibility to Protect? By Ingvild Vetrhus 72

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1902 The International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Legal Citizenship is founded at a meeting in Washington attended by women from eleven countries.

1903 The first silent movie with a story is produced by Thomas Edison.

1904 The Trans-Siberian Railway is completed.

Up to what point should we interfere in the protection of people’s rigths in other countries and cultures? Can external help do more harm than good? Ingvild Vetrhus delves into the problems that arise when nation-states fail to protect their citizens from human rights abuses; she addresses the question of whether other countries should intervene to protect the citizens, and how should this intervention be done.

There have been times in recent history when states have failed to protect their people from grave human rights abuse. In 1994, almost a million Tutsi and moderate Hutus1 were brutally massacred by Hutu rebels in less than 100 days within the borders of Rwanda in Eastern Africa. ‘Never again’ said the then United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Still bloody wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and the Darfur region of the Sudan followed. Corrupt and disabled governments failed yet again to protect their civilian population from violence, rape and genocide.2 So when a sovereign state is incapable of protecting its people, does this responsibility fall elsewhere?3 Firstly, it is important to understand what it means to be a sovereign state. This term comes from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia4, under which several European countries agreed to respect the principle of territorial integrity, meaning that each

independent country had the right to rule its own affairs without interference from other nations. In modern times, we say that with sovereignty comes state responsibility, and sovereignty is no longer a right, but a responsibility.5 Introducing the Responsibility to Protect As a response to the conflicts in DR Congo, Kosovo and Darfur, the Responsibility to Protect principle, also known as the R2P, was adapted by the United Nations at its 2005 World Summit. The norm was based on a report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) and the idea was that the principle of state sovereignty should no longer prevent outsiders in helping victims of genocide, ethnic cleansing and grave human rights abuse. Nevertheless, the R2P was highly criticized by a great number of scholars, states and institutions.

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1906 The Grand Principality of Finland is the first country to give the right to vote to everyone of age regardless of sex, wealth, race or social class.

1907 Ten Rules of War are established at the second Hague Peace Conference. The Hague Conventions still stand as symbols of the need for restrictions on war.

Many asked: when should someone on the outside interfere in a conflict? How should they interfere? Who should take on that responsibility? The ICISS report introduced scenarios that the panel considered “just causes” for both military and non-military intervention. It suggested that the just cause for military intervention was grounded on the incidents of “large scale loss of life, with genocidal intent or not.” Further, it included war crimes and crimes against humanity; nevertheless, military intervention would be a “last resort” and would only take place in “extreme cases.” The report emphasized that it is the responsibility of the sovereign state to protect its own people from harm. Ideally, if a state failed to protect its people against atrocities, the responsibility would fall into the hands of the international community. In this case, the ICISS presented three important elements that external actors should bear in mind when taking on such a responsibility: the responsibility to prevent, the responsibility to react and the responsibility to rebuild.6 The norm seemed to have the international recognition it needed in order to become implemented into international law. But this changed when many countries in Latin America, SubSaharan Africa and the Middle East rejected the R2P because they felt that the norm “was not accepted or approved as a principle by the General Assembly.”7 A Sri Lankan journalist argued that “the so-called responsibility to protect is nothing


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1911 The Chinese Revolution overthrows the Qing Dynasty (led by six year-old emperor Puyi) and establish the Republic of China.

but a license given by the white man to himself to intervene in affairs of dark sovereign countries, whenever the white man thinks it fit to do so.”8 They also addressed claims that the R2P applied only to “weak and friendless countries” and how extreme cases “always” meant the use of military force. Gareth Evans, who was a part of the ICISS initiative, stressed that the R2P is first of all a principle of prevention which means that its mission is to try to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing from happening rather than intervening when it has reached boiling point. On the other hand, he explained that an intervention in a powerful country could be dangerous as military action could only be justified “if it stands a reasonable chance of success.”9 The African Union Powerful nations and the international community have in the past refused to intervene in other countries’ domestic conflicts because of lack of political or economic interests in the state in question. In some cases, the complexity of the conflict is considered too deep, and the country might be so far away and culturally unfamiliar that it makes it easier to turn a blind eye. For instance, the US was criticized for not wanting to risk the lives of its troops in the violent conflict of Darfur.10 Still, many countries have previously intervened in distant conflicts and affairs, often by choosing to use their own methods without cooperating or consulting with internal organs. As a result of this, the African Union (AU) was

1913 Norway grants women the right to vote.

1914 World War I begins. New weapons make civilian populations become victims of the warfare. A new sense of international morality begins to emerge.

established in 2001 under the slogan African solutions for African problems. The idea behind the AU was to develop an organ to replace the Organization of African Unity11 as a more effective means of building a unified Africa. The AU would achieve this by promoting peace, providing security and supporting efforts of stabilization in the continent.12 Although the African Union can perhaps operate with a better understanding of the complexity of African conflicts, many scholars question its competence, efficiency, and integrity. The organization had great success deploying troops in war torn Mogadishu, Somalia, in 2007, and was arguably one of the most efficient outside actor operating in the Somali capital at that time. However, the AU’s overall success of promoting peace and security has been limited due to poor funding and lack of action. More recently, the AU, which used to be led by the former Libyan head of state, Muammad al Gaddafi, was also criticized for failing to intervene in Libya’s civil war and for delaying the recognition of the country’s new leaders. Journalist Joseph O’Connor argued: It is understandable that the AU would be reluctant to recognize the rebels who overthrew a man who did much to found the union, but it was also a failure to act decisively at a time when intervention of some form was needed.13 With regard to outside intervention in Africa, many experts argue that the international community lacks

1915 The Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of Armenian people takes place. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians die in the genocide.

the necessary knowledge and motives to intervene in complicated conflicts and civil wars. So, who exactly is the international community? The International Community and Examples Illustrating the R2P In the case of Darfur, a region in north-Sudan, genocidal acts were carried out against the non-Arab population by the Janjaweed14 militia between 2003 and 2009. According to the UN Convention on Genocide (1948), a country is obliged to intervene in a conflict if it defines the misconduct taking place as genocide. The US officially declared that genocide was taking place in the region and a world-wide media and celebrity campaign urging the US to use military action to stop the killings followed.15 Why the US? Some experts claimed that the US had a moral responsibility to protect the civilians in Darfur because the country had the military resources needed to end the killings. Others warned it could escalate the conflict because of the Western countries’ lack of knowledge about the region and urged for an African solution. There are many different views on how one should intervene in a conflict. Some politicians argue for military intervention, others for a more humanitarian intervention. Many think that any intervention at all undermines the important principle of sovereignty. Africa expert and author Alex de Waal claimed that non-military intervention was the only way to save lives and protect Darfuris.

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1918 The Spanish Flu pandemic takes the lives of an estimated 50 million to 100 million people.

1919 World War I peace settlement, known as the Treaty of Versailles, is signed.

He explained that humanitarian operations had decreased the number of deaths significantly and argued that the Sudanese government would shut down the aid programmes if the US and NATO used military force, something that could cause a higher loss of lives.16 Let us explore the international community further. As mentioned above, it has been argued that the strongest and most powerful nations or organizations are favored as interveners. We will use the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, a country that has for a long time been on an ‘artificial life-support system.’ The state has failed to deliver basic needs such as healthcare and education for a population that has been trapped in endless conflict for decades. DR Congo, which is two-thirds the size of Western Europe, was difficult for the Congolese government to control when regions such as Kivu became the battleground for Angola, Rwanda and Uganda, fighting over Congolese resources and against Hutu rebels that had escaped the Rwandan genocide. DR Congo then became the helpless host of ‘Africa’s first World War’ which broke out in 1998. Efforts were made to improve the situation, but the government handpicked an administration that, according to historian Gerard Prunier (2009), would only continue to uphold the principles of a failed state.17 He argued that the result was a government coalition of people who looted their own country, predatory rebels and corrupt civil servants. Meanwhile, peace talks were unsuccessful.18


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1919 The League of Nations Covenant is signed “to achieve international peace and security.” The concept of collective security is introduced on an international scale.

The Congolese government proved that it was incapable of controlling the fighting on its own and according to the R2P principle, the international community should therefore intervene. The United Nations can, if authorized by the Security Council, send peacekeeping troops19 to conflict zones in order to try to maintain peace and security.20 An international United Nations peacekeeping force, named MONUC,21 was set up to restore peace in DR Congo. Although the force paved the way for democratic elections and eased violence, experts warned that atrocities were still taking place in many sub-regions. Professor of political science at Columbia University, Severine Autesserre22 (2010), claimed that lack of knowledge may have prevented MONUC in dealing properly with violence on a local level. This is the reason why many people argue for intervention by actors that are geographically closer and culturally familiar with the conflict. We therefore return to the AU’s slogan African solutions for African problems. For instance, in the case of Sierra Leone’s 11 year-long civil war which left over 50,000 people dead, the Nigerian-led troops, ECOMOG, were deployed in the country to fight rebels who carried out atrocities against the local populations. Nigeria managed to restore former president Kabbah to power, who previously had to step down after a rebel military coup. Still, like in DR Congo, violence continued in local districts. It was argued that the

1919 The International Labor Organization is established to advocate human rights represented in labor law.

1920 Women in the United States of America are granted the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

1922 The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) is established. It is composed of fourteen national human rights organizations.

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force could have accomplished more if it did not lack proper equipment that could have been provided by outside parties. Arguably, international lack of interest in Sierra Leone prevented this.23 Concluding Thoughts Sceptics of the R2P stress that the principle is simply an excuse for Western powers to go to war, especially if the interveners have political or oil interests in the country. They also argue that interveners have failed to rebuild nations, leaving countries such as Libya and Iraq without the means of functioning as a sovereign state. Moreover, they claim that Western interveners have failed to restore peace at grass-root24 level stating that the R2P concept allows “old imperial powers to make the rules” by misusing the R2P.25 How can we improve outside intervention? Severine Autesserre argued that the reason why international peacekeepers and diplomats have failed to maintain peace and democracy in many conflict-ridden countries is largely due to failed peacekeeping at subnational level. In the case of DR Congo, with the few exceptions of some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that arranged for ‘bottom-up’ peace building in the most divided provinces, there were no attempts to resolve land disputes, reconstruct grass-root institutions for the peaceful resolution of conflict, or to promote reconciliation within divided villages or communities, even though international and Congolese actors together could easily have done so. “The Congo case is representative of a broader problem within international interventions. International peace-builders often neglect to address the local causes of violence.” According to Autesserre, “none of the UN peace keeping missions around the world have implemented any comprehensive grass-root conflict resolution programme.”26 Autesserre expresses that the international community must cooperate with local actors if they chose to use the R2P, so that they can respect the principle of state sovereignty. The AU, for instance,


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1923 Talking movies (films with sound) are invented.

1924 The far-right organization Ku Klux Klan gains power in the US, reaching 6million members. This nationalist hate group defended the supremacy of the ‘white race’ and carried out several violent acts.

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1926 The Geneva Conference passes a Slavery Convention, demonstrating international agreement to end all conditions of slavery worldwide.

1928 Fifteen countries sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The treaty renounces war as an instrument of national policy: “Nations should resolve their disputes by pacifist means.”

1929 October 29 the Wall Street Stock Market crashes, marking the beginning of the Great Depression.

established the Pan-African Parliament that is intended to provide an opportunity for African grass-root organizations to become more involved in discussions and decision-making on the challenges the continent is facing.27 Studies have shown that local populations have played key roles in negotiating with rebels and arranging community groups dealing with local issues caused by violent conflicts. Locals may know the different parties of the conflict better than outside interveners and by letting local partners make decisions, “international actors can support micro-level projects while still uphold non-interference and respect for state sovereignty.”28 Intervention can be successful. By using the R2P principle, the African Union managed to peacefully resolve the disputed 2007 elections in Kenya which had erupted into mass-violence between supporters of two political parties.29 Should we allow ourselves to stand by and watch while other people suffer? Many experts argue that applying the R2P principle allows powerful countries to pursue their national interest in resource rich regions or countries they deem politically threatening. Former British Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, asked: “[…] In a world where so many states remain wedded to the principle of non-interference and the primacy of sovereignty, how do we make the responsibility to protect a reality, not a slogan?”30

Ingvild Vetrhus is a Norwegian freelance journalist and researcher based in London, UK. She specialized in African affairs and graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism and Human Rights. She writes for specialist magazines and African politics publications. Her favorite rice is Singapore Fried Rice.


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CISV Experiences Being a Citizen of the World In CISV we want more than just experiential activities that reflect the world; we want to go out there to the field and feel what it is like to be a citizen of the world. IPP is one of the programs that encourages these kind of experiences. In 2008/9 I participated in an IPP in Sweden, working with families of prisoners. A year later I had the opportunity to direct a program in Colombia. We worked around the theme of Conflict Resolution, conducting activities with 4 different communities in a conflict area in Colombia: Arauca, one of the territories that has most strongly suffered the on-going Drug Conflict. Since the very beginning we encountered and experienced inequity without even looking for it: we, a group of 30 volunteers from 14 different countries, had a presidential escort that no one in the region ever had before. Over 90 people from the Military, Police, and Secret Service stayed around us at all times. The experience with the communities was amazing, as well as our personal growth throughout those couple of weeks. Today I am sure no one will forget what human rights mean in a conflicted country such as Colombia. I personally learned how to deal with constant inequality and, above all, I got to experience real life while also being in an experiential educational environment. Juan Manuel Oviedo, Colombia — International People’s Project (IPP)

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Kjell Magne Bondevik Former Prime Minister of Norway. President of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights.

How did you end up working for peace, democracy and promotion of human rights? I got increasingly interested in questions relating to human rights, democracy and peace at the end of my political career. Thus, I decided to work with and for the promotion of human rights and with questions relating to the advancement of stable democracies around the world. After retiring from politics I found it appropriate to establish the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights in order to work towards such goals.

What are the main objectives of the Oslo Center? The Oslo Center’s vision is a world consisting of stable democracies that respect equality and human rights. By being an independent, professional, politically relevant and non-partisan democracy assistance centre, the Oslo Center will assist fragile states and vulnerable democracies in strengthening their democratic political institutions and processes.

If you could give one thing (non-material) to future generations, what would it be? The Bible.


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What methods do you use in your work for peace and human rights? The Oslo Center uses dialogue as a means to achieve our goals. The Oslo Center has a long-term perspective on the work we do, appreciating that building integrity, trust and cooperation in democratic processes takes time. We are committed and value inclusion in political processes. This means that equality in political participation is of paramount importance in building stable democracies, as well as a sound respect for human rights, gender equality and the rights of vulnerable, marginalized and minority groups.

How does a ‘North’-institution, such as the Oslo Center, facilitate democracy and respect for human rights in the ‘South’ without undermining the autonomy of the ‘recipient’? As a small, Norwegian centre, it is very important for us to be aware of such dichotomies and potential difficulties. Our work is conducted in countries very different from Norway, and it is therefore necessary to be context-sensitive and have sound knowledge of the local situation. Most of the staff at the Oslo Center have broad international experience, and many have lived and worked in countries we are currently involved in. The Oslo Center also works in close partnership with local partners and upon invitation from official authorities in these countries. This gives credibility and respect to the work we do to improve the democratic situation.

Even though your focus is largely directed towards ‘fragile democracies,’ how would you characterize the human rights situation in Norway today? The current human rights situation in Norway is very good. Nonetheless, there is room for improvement. Some challenges still remain as has been highlighted by international organizations.

What are the biggest challenges or obstacles your organization faces now? Firstly, it is difficult being a small centre. We do not always have the capacity to engage in all matters or activities as we would like to. Secondly, it is challenging to raise enough funds to keep doing what we do.

In 2005 the UN established an initiative named ‘Responsibility to Protect’ which to a degree opens up for economic sanctions and military interventions under the flag of the UN. What is your position regarding the responsibility to protect? I agree with this principle. It is important to try to use peaceful means before a military intervention.

How can the youth of today best make a difference? By being engaged in NGOs working for the poor and oppressed.

What is your favorite superhero? The Phantom.

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Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones? 84

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Agreeing that human rights should be secured for all is one thing, deciding on which are those basic rights is quite another. This chapter presents four articles that examine and question specific rights, opening up for reflection and further discussion. Mizanur Rahman addresses the question of whether access to the Internet should be a human right; a contemporary debate that may have great political implications. The second article, by Charles Walther, is a strongly opinionated proposal of adding a human right he considers should be universal: the right to die with dignity. The chapter continues with Diana Catalina Hernåndez’ depiction of rights that are jeopardized when persons undergo a gender transition, exposing the case of trans-men in Colombia. Finally, Andrea R. Stangeland provides us with her personal comparison between Norway and Colombia and the flaws in these countries enforcement of human rights. Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Internet: A Human Right? An Overview of Digital Activism, Censorship and Surveillance By Mizanur Rahman 86

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1930 The International Labor Organization passes the Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor.

1930 Together with his followers, Mahatma Gandhi embarks on the 24-day long Salt March in a nonviolent protest against the British Rule.

1933 In a 100-day special session, the U.S. Congress passes President Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” guaranteeing social and economic measures for workers.

Having a computer with access to the Internet is without a doubt a recent luxury that only a low percentage of the world’s population can afford. So, how come has Internet been recently considered a human right? Mizanur Rahman looks at the pro’s and con’s of considering Internet a right for all human beings, and arrives at a personal conclusion that leaves room for our reflection.

The present era can be marked as the age of globalization, and innovation in information plays a very important role in our times.1 Globalization and information technology have significantly altered the way in which the world operates, and we now face the need to reshape the field of human rights to cope with newly changed phenomena. Of late, we have witnessed a considerable discussion over whether access to Internet should be a human right or not. People are raising their voice, both on the streets and online, to ensure digital freedom and Internet access. As Vinton Cerf —a famous computer scientist considered one of the ‘Fathers of the Internet’— wrote in The New York Times, from the streets of Tunis to Tahrir Square and beyond, protests around the world last year were built on the Internet and the many devices that interact with it. It is no surprise, then, that the protests have raised questions about whether Internet access is or should be a human right. The issue is particularly acute

in countries whose governments clamped down on Internet access in an attempt to quell the protesters.2 According to a survey done by the BBC, nearly 4 in 5 people around the world believe that access to Internet is a fundamental right.3 An important document for this right is the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet. This charter is based on the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society)4 Declaration of Principles of Geneva and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. Both documents recognize that Internet and similar technologies “present tremendous opportunities to enable individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.”5 The Charter aims at building a people-centered information society, it explains universal human rights standards in a new context —the Internet era—, and emphasizes that human rights should apply online as they do offline.

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1934 The Long March, a military retreat by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China is undertaken and marks Mao Zedong’s rise to power.


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1933 Adolph Hitler is appointed chancellor of Germany and the first Nazi concentration camp, is built.

1934 The US Congress passes the Indian Reorganization Act, restoring tribal ownership of lands and establishes a fund for land purchases by Native Americans.

1935 The Nuremberg Laws are passed in Germany. The laws refer to people of Jewish ancestry, it removes their German citizenship and with it, all of their rights.

1935–1953 The Great Terror begins in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. An estimated 20 million Russian citizens were killed or died in the Gulags (labor camps).

1937 Japan invades China and the Second World War in Asia begins.

In 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council Report addressed the question of whether Internet access should be a human right or not.6 The report stresses that disconnecting people from the Internet is a human rights violation and goes against international law. It differentiates two dimensions of Internet access: i) access to content and (ii) access to the physical and technical infrastructure required to access the Internet in the first place. It then emphasizes that “there should be as little restriction as possible to the flow of information via the Internet, except in few, exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law.”7 However, not everyone agrees with the Human Rights Council’s conclusion. Vint Cerf argued in a New York Times editorial that Internet access is not a human right. He claimed that “technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.” Human rights must be something we need as humans in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. Cerf says: It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things. For example, at one time if you did not have a horse it was hard to make a living. But the important right in that case was the right to make a living, not the right to a horse. Today, if I were granted a right to have a horse, I’m not sure where I would put it.8 Moreover, while technology is often a point of differentiation between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ that does not necessarily make any piece of technology a human right. I believe Cerf is correct in this regard. Human rights, often thought of as natural rights, are fundamental to our existence as human beings, like access to food and water. Access to the Internet, a light bulb and a wheel are not.9

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1938 November 9th and 10th: The Night of the broken glass (kristallnacht) —a series of coordinated attacks against Jewish-owned stores and buildings in Nazi Germany.

1939 Germany invades Poland starting the Second World War in Europe.

Nevertheless, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously agreed that access to the Internet is a basic human right, signing a resolution on July 5, 2012, stating that access to the Internet and online freedom of expression should be guaranteed.10 The resolution says that all people should be allowed to connect to and express themselves freely on the Internet. All 47 members of the Human Rights Council, including notoriously censorship-prone countries such as China and Cuba, signed the resolution.11 Internet access as a human right has since been backed up by several of the Internet’s most wellknown proponents, including Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web (www) for whom Internet is “an empowering thing for humanity to be connected at high speed and without borders.”12 The Internet and other communication technologies have triggered unprecedented opportunities to share information, and to open up paths for prodemocracy groups, activists, journalists and individuals around the world to hold their governments accountable. For example, pro-East Timor activists from around the world got united through the Internet in order to work collectively to expedite a regional independence movement and create worldwide public opinion. Internet gave the activists their own ‘mass medium.’ Recent ‘Shahbag protest’ in Bangladesh was started after online bloggers and activists call for mass demonstration through social networks


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1941 Roosevelt and Churchill adopt the Atlantic Charter, in which they state their hope “that all men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from want and fear.”

and blogs. The protest originally began to demand capital punishment of war criminals. Thousands of people, especially youth, joined the demonstration. These are just some examples of the power of communication and information technology. Internet Control, Surveillance and Human Rights: A Global Perspective The world of ‘digital resistance’ is essentially tied to the theme of human rights. Giovanni Ziccardi gave three reasons in support of this tie: Firstly, the actions of digital resistance occur in states that generally have little respect for human rights, many of them have been explicitly reported or denounced for human rights violations. Secondly, a smart use of technology can help the expansion and the manifestation of human rights, especially freedom of expression and the right to technology and culture. The third reason is that there are many non-governmental associations, groups (more or less organized) and individuals who fight daily for the protection of human rights by using the Internet as a means to operate better and to make their action more effective.13 But Internet and other technological tools are vulnerable to exploitation by governments aiming to crush dissent and deny human rights. All governments struggle to balance a need to deal with serious issues such as security, hate speech, and child safety for their citizens, but in repressive societies these concerns often serve as convenient excuse to engage in censorship or surveillance of

1941 Japanese attack the US at Pearl Harbor, destroying their pacific naval fleet, and starting the US involvement into the Second World War in Europe and in Asia.

1942 Following the bombing at Pearl Harbour, the US forcibly moves some 120,000 Japanese-Americans from the western United States to detention camps,

the Internet that violates the rights and privacy of users and threatens the free flow of information.14 The following discussion depicts a brief overview of Internet content regulation, filtering practice between and within different regions. The Open Net Initiative (ONI)15 has sought to provide regional overviews, based on eight macro regions and continents (like Asia, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, etc.) in order to create a comprehensive, worldwide assessment of the levels of censorship, surveillance and restrictions of digital liberties. According to the ONI Report,16 China, Burma and Vietnam are the three countries relying most significantly on pervasive Internet filtering practices, targeting political and cultural content that are available on Internet. The four most frequent targets are sites hosting articles in local languages; sites and articles relating to human rights coverage; independent news sources; and topics such as discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities and activists.17 Burma, however, was the site of one of the most severe and bloody crackdowns on the Internet so far. On September 29, 2007, the military government cut off the stream of footage and images of the violent response by the military to protests lead by monks and civil activists, shutting down the Internet and all web access across the entire country (with only intermittent periods of connectivity) for approximately two weeks. The government also halved user upload speeds in order to limit the transmission of information over the web.18

1943 Italy surrenders to, and then joins the Allied forces, just weeks after the arrest of Benito Mussolini.

On August 19, 2007, the leaders of the ‘88 Generation Students’ movement organized a protest against an increase in fuel prices in Rangoon, the capital of Burma. In the following months, the protest grew to include Buddhist monks, with a participation of over 150,000 people. A number of journalists, activists and computer experts began to feed the web with images, videos and reports that soon reached both Internet users and newspaper headlines around the world. This flow of critical information from the country was purposely posted to wellknown overseas sites, which then fed the same data back into the country via satellite television and radio.19 In May 2011, the government further imposed control over the country’s Internet cafés, prohibiting the use of CD-ROMs, USB memory sticks, floppy disks and all other external memory devices.20 Other Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Malaysia, have blocked some sites for short periods in different times.21 In Australia there is also an opt-in filtering system, in which users voluntarily accept filtering software that blocks offensive material hosted outside the country.22 According to the ONI reports on the region, not even Europe is immune to restrictive Internet policies and practices. The greatest attention is placed on child pornography, racism, hate crimes and terrorism, as well as cases of copyright violation and online gambling. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have been criticized for the widespread practice of notice-and-

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1939–1945 Hitler’s Nazi regime sends 6 million Jews and millions of others civilians to concentration camps, who are then systematically murdered.


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1945 Hitler commits suicide and Germany surrenders. The USA drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1945 The United Nations (UN) is established, which, unlike the League of Nations Covenant, has a Charter underscoring the principle of individual human rights.

1945–1949 The Nuremberg Trials: Nazi leaders are prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity —the first trial of its kind.

1946–1948 The Tokyo War Crime Trials: As in Nuremberg, Japanese military officials were tried for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

take-down, which arguably limits the freedom of speech in that country, but which Internet Service Providers have adopted without significant difficulties. In Europe, however, it is more common to have distinct episodes of specific Internet content censorship than systematic and diffused Internet censorship over a prolonged period of time.23 In Latin America, with the exception of Cuba, the situation is somewhat less worrisome. Constant attention is paid to the repression of child pornography and to restricting child access to inappropriate material, but there have been no reports of systematic filtering of the Internet yet. There is a body of laws with regard to the censorship of journalists, and they are fairly restrictive. Despite Cuba’s recent declaration of Internet as a fundamental right for the Cuban people, connections to the web require government authorization and are closely supervised by the Cuban Government.24 In North Africa and the Middle East there has been extensive investment in information technology and developing infrastructures. However, this region is still regarded as one of the most heavily censored in the world. Countless cyber-dissidents and bloggers have been arrested in many of the region’s nations.25 Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are the most repressive nations in terms of blogger rights. In these countries all possible techniques —from specific legislation, filters and blocks to threats and arrests— are used to monitor and control the flow of information. In many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where the

1946 Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the Status of Women is established by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

diffusion of Internet is still at very initial phases, there is a history of media abuse and of restrictions on freedom of the press. In Ethiopia, for example, there are reports of covert technical content filtering.26 A large portion of censorship activities in North Africa and the Middle East takes place under the wide umbrella of laws controlling the press, which, in many countries, are considered applicable to online sources as well. Pervasive monitoring of the Internet activities takes place in Internet cafés (in many cases state-controlled) where video surveillance cameras are routinely installed.27 Additionally, in a number of countries, users are required to present identification before using Internet café computers. Content filtering is directed principally at political and religious matters, and site blocking and filtering activities intensify considerably during election periods.28 In the United States of America and Canada, although active censorship activities may not be readily apparent (especially when compared to Asia or Africa), according to ONI there are often attempts to over-regulate the Internet, or special programs for institutions such as North American public libraries and universities, essentially mandating the use of content filtering programs. In the United States, the most well known cases involving legislative attempts at censorship have been motivated not only by the desire to protect

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1947 India gains independence after years of nonviolent protests led by Mahatma Gandhi.

1948 The ILO passes the Convention on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.

minors, but also by purported national security and copyright protection concerns, computer security and protection from information warfare and cyber-war attacks.29

Concluding Remarks It is now widely accepted that Internet is a human right. At the same time, it also enables other human rights like freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of information. Freedom of Information is essential for public participation and the widest and most transparent diffusion of information useful for progress. Internet access is necessary not only for expressing opinion through digital platform, but also it enables one to wider information and it will provide access to various modern utilities and services. E-governance, for example, is a popular concept of modern governance. Limited Internet access or Internet facility is one of the major hindrances to implement e-governance in many countries, particularly

1948 The UN adopts the Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

developing countries. Without proper access to Internet, one loses competitive advantages in this modern age. For instance, a business man cannot think of running international business without having proper Internet facilities or a student even cannot get information and apply to foreign universities since most universities use an online application system. The importance of Internet has now been acknowledged at the highest international levels. Yet, when these general principles are put into practice, the reality becomes another. This right is being widely violated in various countries in the world. Indeed, the Internet has some obvious adverse impacts like cyber-crime, personal information leakage and child pornography to mention a few. But, despite this, I believe Internet access should not be restricted. It would be like cutting one’s head off due to bad headache. Our duty therefore, becomes to try to create and use various social instruments to promote good values to avoid cyber-crime and other Internet related threats.

Mizanur Rahman is a Bangladeshi student currently pursuing his Masters in Public Administration at the University of Bergen, Norway. His favorite rice is Kacchi biryani (basmati rice with meat and spices).


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

CISV Experiences Sexual Healing Project It all started as a thought about why society is the way it is, and how I and everyone around me is part of it. I started thinking about norms that determine relationships, sex, sexuality and gender identity. And all this became a Mosaic project named Sexual Healing. Every second Thursday a group of juniors from the Båstad-Bjäre chapter in Sweden met up to discuss different topics. We started by discussing what a norm really is and how it influences our everyday life. After that, we ran an activity about the laws that are set in different countries and how they affect social norms. We read Carolina Gynning’s book Ego Girl (about her ambition to model at age 17), and other texts on the topic. There were so many thoughts and perspectives being raised in the group that the meetings were always longer than expected. By the end of spring the group started to think that they wanted to do something more, something that people outside of the group would notice and feel encouraged to participate. They wanted to spread the discussions to the community. They decided to set up an event in the city park in Ängelholm, an activity where people had to guess who was together with who and then read out parts of the book Ego Girl that they really liked. With so much passion and devotion for the project, the day in the city park was really special. They talked and discussed the topics with a lot of people that passed by and spread the idea of questioning our everyday thoughts and actions. It was an amazing spring and really an amazing project! CISV Båstad-Bjäre loves Mosaic! Linda Persson, Sweden — Mosaic

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Ă lvaro RamĂ­rez Founder and Executive Director of HiperBarrio

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? With Martin Luther King’s quote from his letter from a Birmingham Jail: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? By giving them access to the Internet and some basic digital skills and tools that allow them to think for themselves and express their ideas, tell their own stories and share them with others via social networks like Rising Voices.

What is the most urgent human rights topic in our days? Everyone should have the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

How would you describe your organization in less than thirty words?

How can social media empower young adults from marginalized areas?

Hiperbarrio promotes digital communities that by means of blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos, learn to publish their own stories in the Internet, while practicing and promoting new forms of self-representation and participation.

By giving them new forms of self-esteem and the power to re-present themselves. Also by connecting them to other groups around the world, in our own network called Rising Voices. This allows them to express their dissatisfaction with the unjust world we have inherited.

How did you end up starting your organization? I got tired of doing research and merely writing and discussing how to stop the digital gap between First and Third world people. I decided to do something about it and therefore created a space for young people in Colombia to breach that gap.

What do you like the most about your organization? The fact that a community that has access to the Internet through public libraries can give anyone the opportunity to share new knowledge and skills. We learn from each other and we do it for free.

How can the public libraries in MedellĂ­n help contribute to change in low income sectors of the city? By giving them the necessary skills to become citizen journalists.

What is the most memorable experience that had a great impact on you in your time working with Hiperbarrio? Winning in 2009 the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica Award in the category of Digital Communities.

What was the last thing you ate? A nice fresh green salad.

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


The Right to Die By Charles Walther 98

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1948–1994 The government of South Africa begins enacting more rigorous and authoritarian ‘race’ segregation laws that cement the ideology of apartheid into law.

1948 10th of December: the UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1949 The Australian Parliament passes the Social Services Consolidation Act, which provides a number of federal benefits to Aboriginal natives of Australia.

Human rights are meant to protect each person’s dignity. But what happens when physical limitations deprive us from what we considered a dignified way of living? Charles Walther presents us with his view on what he calls ‘the right to die,’ a right that he considers should be a universally applicable human right. He presents his very personal view on the matter, encouraging us to examine our own ideas on this topic.

Whenever we think of human rights, we often end up thinking of the rights outlined in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights —no-one shall be held in slavery, everyone is entitled to the right to life and so on. But for me, one of the most obvious omissions is that nowhere does the declaration explicitly state that people have the right to die. Only four countries have properly legalized assisted suicides or ‘euthanasia’ —namely Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. In the remaining countries, assisted suicide is either outright illegal, or is limited to a small number of special cases. It may sound absurd at first, but upon closer inspection, the idea behind ‘the right to die’ makes more than just a little sense. Although the medical community has developed hugely over the past hundred years, doctors and researchers still cannot cure every disease or condition successfully.

Some cannot be cured at all —the so-called terminal illnesses— and for those that suffer from these types of illnesses, the process of dying is often slow and degrading. The idea behind the right to die is for people to be able to choose to end their life without any pain, with their dignity intact and with the assistance of medical experts. There are also other situations worth considering, like people who have suffered strokes or been in accidents and end up in a vegetative state, either brain dead or unable to control their bodies any more. The problem arising from these incidents however, is that the people tend to be put into these situations very suddenly: one day they are normal, functioning members of society, and a car crash later, they can no longer breathe without assistance. Seeing as a lot of people do not plan on ending up in a vegetative state or almost completely paralysed, they often have not prepared a will of what is to be done with them

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1949 The ILO adopts the Right to Organize and to Collective Bargaining.

1949 The Geneva Convention sets standards for more humane treatment for prisoners of war, the wounded and civilians.

if they ended up in such a state. In many cases, even if they can communicate that they wish not to continue their lives as they are now, psychologists and lawyers often prevent assisted suicide by arguing that the sufferers are not mentally stable enough to make such decisions because they are so depressed by their ordeal, as with the Tony Nicklinson case which will be elaborated on further down. It seems strange this is the case, seeing as life with dignity is the central theme of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While I will not deny that ‘instant’ vegetation such as with a car crash or severe stroke, is not always a reason for euthanasia (there are some people who still wish to live even if they are completely paralyzed for example, and I full heartedly respect that decision), I cannot really understand why anyone would be willing to deny someone suffering from the late stages of a terminal illness, of a peaceful death. Nor can I understand denying a person in a vegetative state, but with a perfectly functioning brain who has expressed their desire to end their life, that right to do so. Why do the vast majority of legal systems think it is morally correct to force people to cling on to life until they become unable to move, breathe or communicate, as the terminal illness takes a hold? Why wait until they have to wear diapers because they cannot control their bowels, or until they must be given intravenous meals because they are unable to chew, or being unable to move because the pain you are experiencing is too great? All of this while your family


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1949 Women gain the right to vote in China.

and friends are watching as their memory of you as a healthy human being slowly erodes and is replaced with the image of you in your helpless, sick, state. It boggles my mind that we do not give the same right to humans that we give to other animals. When an animal’s life seems not worth living, when they are in too much pain, or when the veterinarian does not see the possibility of a recovery and a fruitful future life, then the advice given is more often than not: “I think it best to put it down, to put the animal out of its misery.” We have no qualms about passing judgement on an animal that cannot even properly articulate its feelings towards us, but for some reason, when a human being who is fully capable of expressing his or her desire to no longer live because the future life prospects are so dire, we more often than not do not give that person the right to end his life. An example of this is the very publicised campaign of Tony Nicklinson, who had a massive stroke in 2005, which left him with a complete loss of control over his body, but with a sound brain. He campaigned for seven years in the United Kingdom for the right to die peacefully without pain and in the end, he lost his bid. Instead, in desperation, he resorted to starving himself by refusing food —a far more painful way to go.1 So why would a man like Tony Nicklinson be denied the right to die? According to the transcripts, the presiding judges unanimously agreed “it would be wrong for the court to depart from the long-established legal position that

1950 The United Nations adopts the European Convention on Human Rights.

1950 CISV was founded by Doris Twitchell Allen. Since then, the organization has spread to 80 countries.

‘voluntary euthanasia is murder, however understandable the motives may be.’”2 The Nicklinson case is in stark contrast to the case of twin adults in Belgium who were able to end their lives before their illness became too debilitating. Already deaf, they were slowly losing their eyesight and control of their faculties. Because they lived in Belgium where euthanasia is legal, they were able to end their lives calmly and without pain, and with full control over their final moments.3 Now, there are many who will argue that you should never give up hope of a cure, that sometimes miracles can happen and terminal illness prognoses are reversed. Others have argued that we cannot judge the life quality of a person in a vegetative state: perhaps these people are living in a state of euphoria but we cannot detect it —ending that life would thus not be a kind thing to do, but rather a murderous act. Still others are repulsed by the idea of people wanting to end their lives. However these ‘miracles’ happen all too seldom and for the people and families involved, not being

1951 The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is established by the United Nations General Assembly.

allowed to die can be an incredibly cruel ordeal. While I have the greatest respect for those people who do not give up hope in the face of all the odds, everyone is different and not everyone has the will or desire to live through the pain in the hope that a miracle might occur and they would be saved. To those who are against suicide out of principle, I would argue that pushing your own personal values on somebody in a weakened state and judging their decisions according to your own beliefs is something inherently wrong. I am not advocating that we should apply the right to die to any given circumstance. What I am saying is that it should be permissible, under special circumstances for people to receive a lethal injection by medical professionals, if they so wish and if they are properly informed, and that the people administering the fatal dose will not be subsequently charged with murder and locked up in a prison. The right to die is something that I believe should be a right to every human being, and I do believe it is about time it became a universal human right.

Charles Walther is an Irish-Swiss-Hongkongese living in Norway. He holds a bachelor degree in comparative politics from the University of Bergen and is currently working as project coordinator for Fiskeriforum Vest. His favorite rice is Nasi goreng (fried rice with spices and vegetables).

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Human Rights for Trans Men in Colombia By Diana Catalina Hernรกndez & Colectivo Entre-trรกnsitos 102

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1951 Doris Allen realized her dream when delegates from eight countries gathered in Cincinnati, USA for the first Children’s International Summer Village, CISV was born.

1952 The UN adopts the Convention on Political Rights of Women (entered into force on 7 July 1954).

1953 The Council of Europe creates the European Commission on Human Rights.

The fight for equality of rights regardless of people’s gender does not end with the achievements of women’s rights movements. In itself, the way we categorize people between men and women entails several problems for the effective protection of the rights of different gender minorities, like trans men or trans women. In this article Diana Catalina Hernández presents us the case of trans men in Colombia, going through the specific human rights that are at risk for this often invisibilized population.

From Sex to Gender, the Situation of Trans Men

When did you decide to be a man? When did you decide to be a woman? These questions make no sense at all for most people, because most people never make such a decision. If we understand gender as a performative way of being, determined by culturally assigned roles, appearances, behaviors, and so forth, maybe we can give a little bit more meaning to the questions above. According to Judith Butler, gender is a way to interpret our physical differences; it is a condition not of what we are, but of what we do.1 In fact, the real questions are: What does it mean to be a man? Or what does it mean to be a woman? Does it have to do exclusively with the way our bodies look? Gender studies have led us to understand several issues regarding this topic.

First of all, we have learned that there is a difference between sex and gender. For several decades that difference was thought as a distinction between biology and culture. Sex was thought as the male/female division according to genitalia and reproductive functions. Gender was understood as the set of behaviors that corresponded to each sex. But the difference between biology and culture became more and more controversial when the concept of ‘the biological,’ understood as a description of pure ‘facts’ about nature, was very difficult to maintain. It turned out that a biological description was also a way to interpret reality and, therefore, it was influenced by historical, social, political and ideological issues. It could be useful to remember, for example, that in Ancient Greece there was only one sex for human beings: male.

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1954 The United States Supreme Court rules in “Brown v. Board of Education” that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

1954 Women in Colombia are granted the right to vote.

1955 The Daughters of Bilitis start an organization in San Francisco to work for the acceptance of lesbians as respectable citizens of society.

Women were considered males with inverted sex (a ‘one-sex model’ according to Thomas Laqueur).2 Nowadays both sex and gender are thought as social and cultural constructions. However, the difference between them (as much as the difference between sexual orientations and gender, for example) allows us to understand that to be a man does not equal having a penis, and to be a woman does not equal having a vagina. It turns out, then, that to be a man or a woman has to do with a series of behaviors, dress codes, roles in society, activities one is allowed to do or not, advantages or disadvantages regarding different kinds of power, etc. This means that there are a lot of ways to understand the concept of woman and man, depending on the context. Especially for the Western mentality, there is a set notion of what it entails to be of either gender. This often leads to discrimination against those who are not easily categorized as a conventional man or a conventional woman. They are limited, oppressed and segregated by other members or entities of society. Having taken into account what has been mentioned above, perhaps it is easier to understand more about the questions that were raised. In general, we assume our gender without much consideration, almost by instinct. But if we analyse gender the way


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1957 The United States Congress approves a civil rights bill to protect voting rights for African-Americans. It is the first civil rights bill since the Reconstruction period.

1958 The Convention Concerning Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (ILO) is adopted.

we have done, we can critically question how we name or refer to ourselves and to others. Transgender persons have a more conscious view about these questions, simply because they recognize themselves as belonging to a different gender than the one they were assigned to at birth (assignation given by their genitals) ­—and expect others to acknowledge their identity as well. A trans man is assigned the female gender at birth, but at some point of his life decides to become a man (although he might not want to arrive to the opposite pole either). Trans men develop a series of changes that vary according to their preferences and feelings: they change their names, dress according to the standards of masculinity and, sometimes, they take testosterone to modify and model their own bodies. They could also decide to have surgery in order to acquire genitals similar to those of biological men. However, in countries like Colombia, sex reassignment surgery (which is commonly associated with the people named ‘transsexual’) for trans men is not usual because it is excessively expensive, there are not enough competent doctors to perform it, and the results are often poor. In Bogotá, trans men are slightly visible and publicly recognized. Colectivo Entre-tránsitos was the first collective that brought together men with trans experiences in the city. 3 This group was formed in 2009 with the intention of fighting for the rights that were denied to trans men, work

1960 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is established as an advisory body to the Organization of American States.

for their visibility, and provide information about medical procedures and other important treatments. Another key task of the group is to think about and construct new masculine ways of being, trying to change violent conceptions of masculinity that are often related to patriarchal mentalities.* Human Rights for All Humans? According to the handbook «Derechos Humanos: Manual para parlamentarios»4 —published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights—, human rights have been considered one of the world’s main concerns since World War II. The document states that ‘human rights’ have to do with the most fundamental rights of everyone and it determines the relationship between individuals and larger power structures, specially the state. In the first article of the United Nation’s Charter it is expressed as one of the main objectives of the organization: “[…] promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”5 Among the human rights that must be protected without distinction, we can find the following in the Universal declaration of Human Rights:6 * This article comes from the knowledge I grasped (and keep grasping) thanks to the experience I had when I belonged to the group. Today I work side by side with those who now are my friends and allies. Thanks to them, I also examine my own gender identity to liberate myself from the labels of man and woman. 

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1960 The Convention Against Discrimination in Education is adopted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

1961 European Social Charter defines economic and social rights for member States of the Council of Europe.

• Civil and political rights: the right to life, to safety, to non discrimination based on religion, race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, the right to get married and to have a family. • Economic, social and cultural rights: the right to work, health, education, social security and an adequate standard of living. • Collective rights: the right to development and to free determination. According to «The Yogyakarta Principles: Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,» all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.7 If we read closely, this means that gender identity is in fact considered a human right. This document defines ‘gender identity’ as: each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.8


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1962 The National Farm Workers (later known as the United Farm Workers of America) is organized by César Chávez to protect migrant American farm workers, most of whom were Hispanic.

However, in spite of all the efforts to protect human rights universally, unfortunately they are still constantly violated. A report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published in 2010* places sexual orientation among the main causes of discrimination. The report declares that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a major concern related to human rights in different countries. For the case in point, we may say that, in general, all the rights mentioned before are not protected or guaranteed for trans men in Colombia. To begin with —even though it is not always the case, and there are examples of joyful and empowering experiences— the transit from one gender to another can be traumatizing to the individual, due to the negative reactions and rejection from friends, family and educational institutions. Obviously, it could also be traumatizing for the ones who surround the person in transit, but it is very hard to establish successful communication and understanding between the trans man and the people around him because the prototypes for men and women are * It is worth noting that sexual education in Colombian public schools only focuses on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy, rather than on issues about sexual orientations or gender identity. It is meaningful, for example, that the critiques to sexual education in Colombia refer to the fact that school teachers only speak about diseases and pregnancy, but not about moral values. See for example Bernardo Morales Osorno’s «Is Sexual Education in Adolescents Enough?» in Revista colombiana Salud Libre. Vol. 3, Nº 1, 2008: 112-122. He exposes a very conservative view for which freedom regarding gender identity is considered outrageous. 

1964 The Omnibus Civil Rights Bill, is adopted. It bans discrimination in voting, jobs, public accommodation, and other activities.

1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

deeply incorporated in the members of our society. This may cause the trans man to abandon his family and try to build a new one, sometimes exposing himself to illegal work, exploitation or drug abuse. Further difficulties may arise when an individual decides to go through this significant change. If the person is going to school, he could be the target of different forms of discrimination, mockery and other expressions of trans phobia, not only coming from the students, but from the teachers themselves. In the Colombian scenario this issue is particularly delicate because it is very common to have different school uniforms for men and women, sometimes even the classrooms are separated by gender (if the institution is for boys and girls, because sometimes schools are only for one gender).11 All of these factors could cause trans men to quit school. But schools are not the only place where trans men face trouble, they do so at their work place as well. Even though it is not legal to fire an employee based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, there are many ways of harassment, which could lead to desertion. We have so far touched upon four human rights that are at risk: development, non-discrimination, education and work. If a trans man has gone through his process or transit away from school and work, but at some point wants or needs to regain a productive role in society, he will encounter significant obstacles again. In order to change the gender indicated in the official identification documents, it is required

1964 Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa.

to undergo sex reassignment surgery. As it was mentioned earlier, it is nearly impossible to get these kind of surgery and, when granted, good results are not guaranteed. This is the reason why, when looking for a job, trans men are discriminated, because of the impact caused by that ‘f ’ (for female) letter on the document. In addition to this, all Colombian men need to present their military card (which proves they have done the mandatory military service), in order to get a diploma at any university and to be legally hired for any job. Trans men usually do not have a military card; actually, it could be dangerous for them to present military service because if they are ‘discovered’ as trans men, they are exposed to sexual, emotional and physical violence by biological men. Once again, basic human rights like education and work are at risk. The healthcare system is another important concern. Due to the lack of information and rejection to issues involving the trans population, it is not a comfortable experience for trans men to go to the doctor when it is needed. Approaching a hospital implies the risk of being exposed or questioned. It is also highly probable that the staff (secretaries, security personnel, etc.) mistreat the patient because the way he looks does not match the name and sex they see on his official identity document. But even if we forget these issues, most doctors barely have any information or disposition to hear and understand the situation of trans men. Usually, if a doctor has any knowledge about this process, the

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1965 A new Voting Rights Act authorizes the U.S. government to appoint examiners to register voters where local officials have made African-American registration difficult.

1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (UN) is adopted.

response tends to be quite radical and aggressive: if you are a woman who wants to be a man you have to take testosterone, remove your reproductive system, your breasts, and finally have the reassignment surgery. That is the way it should be. Or, if the doctor knows nothing about trans men (or does not want to know), he or she is not going to understand why, for example, a man is attending a gynecologist, and will simply treat a trans man as a woman. These problems can cause trans men to abandon the healthcare system and to self-medicate without the appropriate information and control. Another medical issue is psychological assistance. This is a complicated matter because the process of transitioning from one gender to another (or to nowhere) was considered an illness (gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria) until 2012, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV.9 It is also hard, then, to establish a patient-therapist communication suitable for a good process that recognizes the gray zones between man/woman, if the trans man will be treated as being mentally ill. Finally, about the right to get married and have a family, we can say that, according to the ‘f ’ letter on the document, the marriage between a trans man and a biological woman is considered a gay marriage. An approval for civil unions known as ‘de facto marriage’ was obtained in Colombia in January of 2009, but the legal as well as cultural view of ‘marriage’ relates to greater benefits and rights for the spouses.


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN) are adopted.

Possible Solutions One of the most important dreams for Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos is to build pleasant and joyful transits. The pursue of that goal has been possible through the accomplishment of various projects negotiated with USAID, CIVIS and Radio Diversia, a Colombian foundation that works for visibility, information and the protection of human rights for trans men. One of the products of these alliances is a brochure published in 2011 in which the most important rights for trans men are exposed through illustrated tales.10 Other strategies for achieving this goal have been organizing art interventions, performances, literary productions, and an interesting musical project called ‘Jeringa Mueca,’ in which the lyrics of a popular music called reggaeton are transformed out of the chauvinism and degradation of human beings. There is also a series of alliances between the collective and other social trans organizations in Colombia such as Fundación Procrear, Grupo de Apoyo Transgenerista GAT and Santamaría Fundación. These alliances aim at the construction of a common social agenda. Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos has participated and organized public manifestations, academic encounters and legal meetings in order to obtain military cards and name changes. In addition to what has been said about this topic, it is important to mention that military cards are delivered to trans men under huge costs and only if they present the

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1967 Convention on Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (UN) is adopted.

1968 First World Conference on Human Rights is held in Tehran to evaluate the failures and successes of human rights promotion since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1968 Rene Cassin, one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

dysphoria certificate. Thanks to the work done by Entre-Tránsitos, many trans men have been able to change their names and obtain military cards. This collective also supports the international campaign Stop Pathologization,14 which organizes different public events to protest and create awareness around the presence of gender transits in everyone’s lives. Pathologization makes reference to the constant intent to interpret trans population as mentally ill. Fortunately, the condition was depathologized at the end of 2012. Even though the trans men community has achieved all those improvements for their lives, there is still a long way to go. Colombia needs a gender identity law, similar to the one approved in Argentina, which allows trans citizens to change their officially recorded sex without pre-requisites, and guarantees access to hormone therapy and surgery if requested. It is also necessary to carry out more campaigns to raise awareness on the issue in schools, in public offices and medical institutions. It is especially imperative to offer better education at school that is not based on the idea that there are only two radical different ways of being: man or woman, a way of thinking that reproduces patriarchy, chauvinism and heteronormativity.

Diana Catalina Hernández is a writer and activist that also goes by the name Tak Combative. X considers xself a trans person, meaning x does not feel comfortable being labelled either as a man or a woman. Catalina is a pacifist looking for serenity and relief through yoga and good habits. Catalina’s favorite rice is Nasi goreng (fried rice with spices and vegetables).


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated.

1969 The American Convention on Human Rights (OAS) is adopted.

1972 The United States Senate approves a constitutional amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment, banning discrimination against women based on their sex.

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Camilo Andrés Rojas Founder and Co-coordinator of Colectivo Entre-tránsitos How do you engage young people in human rights topics? We do it through each youngsters dynamics and particular interests, be they musical, theatrical, visual arts or others.

What is the most urgent human rights topic in our days? The freedom of speech; to be able to construct oneself from one’s own parameters without being reprimanded.

If you could give one non-material thing to future generations, what would it be? A critical sense of reality.

How did you end up establishing Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos? Seeing that there were no groups working specifically with men with trans experiences in Colombia, I decided to create a collective 4 years ago that would unite persons with similar life experiences to mine in order to discuss, highlight and expose the theme of trans-masculinities based on the Colombian context. With a differential approach between youth and adults we work on supporting them in family processes of acceptance as well as empowerment of their life experience.


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

What do you like the most about working in Entre-Tránsitos? The critical view of gender binarity, hegemonic masculinity and the pathologization of trans identities. I like to demonstrate that peaceful, free and happy transits are possible by strengthening the qualities of each one of us that make up our Collective and allowing ourselves in this way to decide our own methodologies and ways of working based on the arts (literature, music, performance, intervention) thereby enjoying fully what we do.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered in your job? Entre-Tránsitos Collective has moved away considerably from the LGBT movement as many of the goals and ideals does not apply to men with trans experiences. Also, the LGBT movement’s goals do not break away from the standards and normalization of bodies and identities, something which we believe is necessary in order to change hegemonic mentalities and behaviors in regards to gender issues.

Do you think the management of gender issues is different in Colombia compared to other countries? From the Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos part, yes. Working on gender issues does not only have to do with issues concerning women. We believe that by working with trans masculinities we amplify the spectrum of the work on gender with a theoretical and experiential basis that has allowed us to create concepts and alternative ways of being men and trans persons.

What has been the most gratifying experience you have had while working in Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos? There are too many of them. Having the Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos and our work with families being part of the Convention of Diverse Families in Santiago de Chile in 2010, sharing the project experience of Transgressing Masculinities, being speakers at the forum on intersectionality and gender in 2011 in Gothenburg, Sweden as well as seeing many men with trans life experiences speaking together about their sexuality with has been taboo for a very long time. Also, seeing the results of the unified and committed project The Bakery (a creative writing lab), the happiness that the Jeringa Mueca (trans reggaeton group) brings to the streets, our webpage and all of the contributors to it as well as the result of Transvengers —our first short film!

How would you describe Entre-Tránsitos in less than 30 words? It is a collective of persons that, through the work with alternative masculinities, fight for social transformations that allow for the freedom to choose over the bodies and gender identities.

Which cartoon/superhero did you identify with as a child? With the power rangers.

What was the last thing you ate? Sesame crackers.

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Silver Spoons and Wooden Forks By Andrea R. Stangeland 114

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1973 International Convention on Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (UN) is adopted.

1975 South Australia becomes the first Australian state to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults.

1975 The Declaration on Rights of Disabled Persons (UN) is adopted.

Andrea R. Stangeland compares Norway and Colombia from her personal point of view. She delves into the issue of discrimination by state agencies and the priviliged/non-privileged dichotomy in order to make us think of how these seemingly opposite countries may in fact be compared when speaking about the enforcement of human rights.

I wake up to the sound of bird song and loud buses, street vendors selling avocados and the apartment smelling like freshly brewed coffee. I feel fortunate and safe, and find it hard to believe all the statistics and facts about the vast problems that are present in this country. I’m in Colombia, the largest cocaine producer in the world, the guerrilla nation with a never-ending armed conflict, the country with the most internally displaced people, third in terms of the greatest income inequality and with more than a third of the population living in poverty.1 A place where severe human rights violations occur continually, yet whose population often ranks highest in terms of the happiest people on the planet.2 Not long from now I might also wake up to bird song and fresh coffee, but with a cold grey sky and a persistent silence outdoors. Norway may be ranked the world’s best country to live in by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)3,

it is among the ones with the greatest income and gender equality and a ‘safe’ nation with very low crime rates. But it is also a country with high rates of suicide and depression.4 Perhaps it sounds ludicrous to attempt a comparison between Norway and Colombia on the topic of human rights, but I believe you can compare apples to oranges so long as you keep in mind that they are two different fruits that cannot and should not attempt at becoming the other and that neither fruit is superior. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and some like one fruit more than the other. Although I will generalize often and perhaps unfairly in this text, it is worth pointing out that I speak for no one but myself. I am fully aware of both what these generalizations ignore and what they entail, but it is my opinion that if this text is to come with any significant arguments it must suffer from my generalizations and strong subjectivity on the matter.

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1975 The Russian physicist and civil rights activist Andrei D. Sakharov wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights enter into force after sufficient ratification among UN member States.

1976 The United States vetoes a United Nations resolution that calls for an independent Palestinian state.

When the topic of human rights arises in conversations, I often hear opinions on how human rights exist to protect minorities and vulnerable communities. Human rights, it is argued, are about a minimum standard of living. About human dignity. However, when it comes to the protection of the less fortunate, I cannot help but ask myself: Why have I never observed this in the countries I’m from? Colombia and Norway are two very different countries with very different contexts, ideologies and management in terms of human rights issues, but there is one common denominator that has struck my mind and which I would go so far as to apply to all other countries I have been to. It has to do with the enforcement of human rights from the authorities’ side. Who has their rights secured? Who enjoys the freedoms set forth in their country’s constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)? As stated in the second article of the UDHR, these rights apply to everyone; state actors shall not discriminate regardless of who you are, where you come from or what you believe in.5 This however, is not the case in reality, not in Norway and not in Colombia. The way I see it, human rights are being guaranteed to those who are recognized by the state as important actors: in other words, to the privileged in society. In the case of Colombia, the privileged are those with wealth and power. The state and its officials concern themselves with the wellbeing of this


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1976 The military dictatorship of General Jorge Videla comes to power in Argentina.

1977 The United States sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

group and intervene whenever their welfare is put into question. This is not to say that wealthy and powerful Colombians are entirely sheltered from the ongoing conflict in the country, but rather to argue that when assaults, kidnappings and other grave abuses take place, the government will go out of its way to try and bring justice to the victims, something which is not the case for the rest of the population.6 Particularly indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians have been ignored and neglected as well as abused; continuously having their rights violated by the state.7 One of the big issues in Colombian politics regarding indigenous peoples has been related to disputes over territories. Influential actors such as sugar cane farmers and mining companies stand in the way for indigenous tribes to live on and off their lands. Although proof that land has been illegally seized from the indigenous tribes has often been presented and acknowledged by the courts, little or nothing is done to implement the decrees made when they favor the indigenous peoples.8 One such example is of the Nasa people from the Cauca region, southwest in Colombia. The Nasa have fought for decades to recover the lands that have been legally recognized as theirs, but that has been in the hands of either wealthy farmers or the guerrilla group called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).9 Since the armed conflict began in the late 1940’s, the Nasa have been stuck in the middle between the government and the guerrilla

1977 A human rights bureau is created within the United States Department of State. Its first reports on human rights are issued that year.

forces. When their appeals to be handed back the territories they considered theirs was heard in the early 1990’s, promises were made by the state to rectify some of the damages done to the tribe promises that were ultimately broken.10 Unfortunately, this is just one of the many examples of the problems and discriminations the Colombian government inflict on indigenous peoples.The state’s treatment of indigenous peoples on territorial disputes has caused deaths, injuries and poor living conditions.11 The way I see it, this has lead to resentment and a lack of trust towards the government, destabilized the political landscape in the towns and surrounding areas and raised the levels of insecurity. When it comes to the other population that is anything but privileged, Afro-Colombians have shown to suffer greatly from clear-cut discrimination from the state in all areas.12 Having a history of invisibility, exclusion, racism and social and economic disadvantages, Afro-Colombians are also the most numerous ethnic minority of the internally displaced in Colombia and nearly all internally displaced Afro-Colombians live in a state of poverty.13 Even if we are to look away from the much higher rates of infant mortality and famine and the precarious health and living conditions compared to the rest of the population, Afro-Colombians are still being discriminated against gravely when state agencies continue to not even add or collect information about their situation.14

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?



Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1977 Amnesty International wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

1979 The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (UN) is adopted.

Norway, on the other hand, is known for being one of the most egalitarian societies and one of the most generous welfare states in the world. It ranks number one on the United Nations Human Development Index15 and is therefore often referred to as one of the best countries in the world to live in. Hosts of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Oslo Freedom Forum as well as a number of active human rights organizations, Norway is highly recognized for its stringent enforcement and advocacy of human rights. Indeed I have not felt any difference in the rights guaranteed between rich and poor: we are all granted the same opportunities and protection by the state. However, from my personal experience I do not think it is all that simple. What I have felt is that the distinction lies in the treatment and opportunities granted to those who come from abroad. Immigrants, asylum-seekers and other Norwegians have a harder time getting jobs and decent housing16 than ethnic Norwegians do. Some immigrants are not only discriminated by the people, but also by the state as seen in the treatment given by the police, the child protection agency and the labor market.17 In relation to the latter, a very problematic issue in Norway is that in addition to it being nearly impossible to get a job without being able to speak Norwegian, even those who do, have a difficult time finding work if their name is foreign sounding.18 The most in-depth study on the matter concluded that the discrimination is highest against persons with African, Middle-Eastern or South-Asian names and that these


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

1981 The African Charter of Human and People’s Rights is adopted by the Organization for African Unity (OAU).

are 25% less likely to be asked to an interview despite being equally qualified for the job in question.19 Although those who experience great differential treatment in Norway are not limited to non-ethnically Norwegian (it also includes prison inmates, drug addicts, victims of domestic violence and so on), the next issue I wish to shed light on has to do with asylum-seekers under the age of 18. Minors who come to Norway as refugees without a parent or guardian are taken care of by the state while their case is being processed. Since 2009 there has been a change in the politics of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers that specifically differentiates between those over and those under 16 years of age. What this means in reality is that children from the age of 16 can be given a temporary residence permit in Norway until they turn 18, even though their application for asylum has been denied.20 Upon their 18th birthday and the subsequent expiry of their temporary residence permit, these youngsters are given a one way ticket back to their country of origin —the very place they were trying to escape from. Several organizations, institutions and persons have spoken out against this, stating that “the Norwegian authorities’ treatment of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers is a clear human rights violation.”21 The protection and follow-up of unaccompanied Norwegian minors is the responsibility of the Norwegian Child Protection Agency and does not discriminate based on the age limit of 16, but on the limit

1981 The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief is adopted after nearly 20 years of drafting (UN).

1982 The Principles of Medical Ethics (UN) is adopted.

of 18 years old as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.22 The convention, which Norway has ratified, states specifically that children are not to be discriminated against and that state parties shall always act in the best interest of the child.23 When the Norwegian Child Protection Agency assists and provides for the minors in the country, it is a violation of the convention when unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors are taken care of by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration instead. The children are thus not given the same protection and care and live in a state of fear, waiting for their 18th birthday.24 What I have tried to illustrate with these examples is that human rights violations also occur in countries like Norway and that discrimination is very much an issue although it may take different forms or be expressed in different areas to different persons. Nevertheless, to me there is a parallel to the Colombian case in the sense that the privileged in society are the ones who have their human rights secured by the state. The privileged in Norway are not the wealthy however, but in fact the Norwegians. Colombia is struggling to enforce human rights more extensively, but the authorities more often than not argue that it is not possible due to the country’s context. The vast inequality and the problems of the armed conflict make it too difficult to ensure that the rights of the individual are respected.25 Though these arguments might be convincing, it fails to explain why for example, when the government

1984 The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN) is adopted.

decides to do population polls and research, they deliberately omit facts and statistics related to the Afro-Colombian population.26 On the other side of the spectrum, Norway seems to be financially, technologically and socially advanced. Nevertheless, I have tried to demonstrate that when it comes to securing human rights within their borders, Norwegian authorities look for possibilities and loopholes to ignore and violate human rights. The principles used to defend the state’s discrimination strategies is about protecting those who are legally recognized as Norwegians. This claim is as convincing as the Colombian authorities blaming the context of their country for their lack of human rights enforcement. However, hiding under the umbrella of citizenship as the Norwegian government is doing, is just another excuse in my eyes. Suggesting that the state will only protect those who are Norwegian does not explain why immigrants, whose citizenship has been granted, continue to be discriminated against by state agencies. It also does not explain why (having ratified a document that says children have the right to special care and decisions to be made in their best interest regardless of their nationality) unaccompanied children are treated differently whether they are Norwegian or not. As the sun starts to set, so does my mind. The problem is nearly too vast to grasp, but the astronomical injustice has provoked me and it has made me speak up. I have argued that neither Norway nor Colombia is perfect when it comes to human

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


1984 The South African Desmund Tutu wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid, sexism, poverty and diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis.

1985 The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights established (UN).

1985 The International Convention against Apartheid in Sports (UN) is adopted.

rights issues; that both countries actively ignore and violate the rights of the individual. I have also argued that both countries discriminate between the privileged and the non-privileged, but that the understanding of who the privileged are, differs. Those already advantaged have their human rights enforced, secured and guaranteed by the authorities while the vulnerable, marginalized, discriminated and disadvantaged most certainly do not. If the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in the aftermath of the Second World War as a means to protect individuals and minorities from the tyranny of the state, it seems counterintuitive that what we see in reality is the opposite. My point is that we must try to strive to make it so that human rights apply to everyone everywhere 窶馬ot only the selected elite.

Andrea R. Stangeland is Norwegian-Colombian and the origami-making member of Con Lupa. Andrea has a degree in Social Anthropology and Development Studies from Norway and has also spent two semesters studying at different universities in Colombia. Her favorite rice is Sticky Rice with Mango (traditional thai dessert).


Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?

CISV Experiences Strong Unheard Voices

During my term as National Junior Representative in Egypt, we saw a video of a French artist called JR who had developed a new approach to story-telling using art portraits. A project was later born in International Junior Branch Committee (IJBC) to adopt JR’s approach of telling stories through art and tweak it a bit to fit within CISV’s educational context, with a special focus on unheard voices. We (Junior Branch Egypt) decided to organize a day for a number of orphans and introduce them to some CISV experiences, concepts and ideas, as well as give them the opportunity to express themselves and be heard. We ended up with a full day of activities where 15 Juniors and 30 kids taught each other different approaches to sustainable development and shared endless experiences and stories. An endless amount of pictures were taken of this memorable day where CISV managed to contribute to a world that is more just. They were later printed on 2 x 1.5 meters canvases and hung around our CISV office to remind us of this experience, and for their voices to be heard and stories to be told. Their pictures remind us of their right for a voice and keeps CISV Egypt motivated all year long. Ramy J. Tadros, JB Egypt — JB Activity

Human Rights? Yes! But, Which Ones?


Culture, Arts and Rights 124

Culture, Art and Rights


The protection of human rights goes beyond the legal and governmental spheres. One of the ways to promote the fulfillment of our rights is through arts and culture, a bottom-up strategy that has proved to be effective. In this section you will first find the article by Abraham Hidalgo Mendoza and Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez who expose the case of Ciudad Bolívar, a low-income area of Bogotá that has gone through a significant transformation through communitarian projects. The second article, by Diana A. Camacho, presents examples of the ways in which art can influence society, both in positive and negative ways. These are just some examples of the endless possibilities we have to participate in the promotion of human rights in our local communities. Culture, Art and Rights


Arts and Culture in Ciudad BolĂ­var From Social Exclusion to Local Development By Abraham Hidalgo Mendoza & Edwin Cubillos RodrĂ­guez 126

Culture, Art and Rights

1985 The Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (UN) is adopted.

1985 The guerrilla group M-19 takes over the Colombian Palace of Justice. The violent response of the government provokes the death of dozens. At least 11 people disappeared and their fate is still in question.

1986 The Declaration on the Right to Development (UN) is adopted.

The following text exposes how arts and culture can play a key role in the promotion of human rights. The authors present the successful experience of Ciudad Bolívar —a low-income neighbourhood in Bogotá— as an example of communitarian practices in culture and the arts, which have led to local development and, therefore, to an increase in human rights protection.

During the last decades Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, has expanded its borders in an outstanding way. It has reached the rural frontiers, progressively transforming them into suburban territories characterized by marginalization, extreme social segregation and the convergence of all kinds of violence. These phenomena, reinforced by the internal armed conflict in Colombia, have their roots in an unfair distribution of resources within different social sectors that leads to the creation of urban peripheries; this provokes vicious circles that prevent the effective guarantee of fundamental rights, and restrict the consolidation of active citizenship among the most vulnerable population. One of these peripheral territories is the 19th District of Bogota: Ciudad Bolívar. This territory has become an important point for the reception of internally displaced population, who represent the highest percentage of people under the poverty line Nevertheless, and in spite of the vast number of social problems in Ciudad Bolívar, the district

has become a national example due to the way this community has cooperated in the reconstruction of their district, while at the same time vindicating new active citizenship practices and social organization around arts and culture. Ciudad Bolívar is a multicultural scenario marked by an extensive heritage of human rights vindications*, in which artistic and cultural activities have played a fundamental role as means for effective communication. Few places in the capital city gather such an outstanding number of groups, collectives and initiatives of cultural self-management and selfconstruction, including children eco-organizations, artistic education centers, cultural festivals, urban interventions, concerts, audio-visual projections, *  In October 11th 1993 one of the most important civil strikes in the city took place in Ciudad Bolívar. This event marked this southern territory as a national reference of popular resistance. It mobilized more than 3000 people, claiming solutions and alternatives to precarious life standards, unaffordable taxes, and denouncing selective murders of young people, also known as ‘social cleansing.’

Culture, Art and Rights


1988 After 40 years of lobbying by non-governmental organizations, the United States ratifies the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).

1988 NASA scientist James Hansen testifies to the Senate that man-made global warming had begun. His testimony raises broad awareness on the topic all over the world.

among others. Throughout the years, these recurrent events have become an important piece of the local social landscape. Although there has been an increasing interest in researching the conditions for extreme poverty and social exclusion that characterize Ciudad Bolívar, it is worth noticing there is a lack of analysis of the rich and diverse cultural dynamics that abound in this area. It is urgent to recognize —not only in local scenarios but also nationally and internationally—, that arts and culture have a significant potential in facilitating diverse processes of social transformation and local development. Community Live Culture1: A Bet for Social Transformation and Cultural Rights Cultural practices (communitarian, traditional, urban and rural) in Ciudad Bolívar, have promoted the implementation of public policies that aim to progressively recognize culture as the 4th pillar of Human Development. This implies a shift in the traditional conception of culture, which take it for an extension of the state to promote art consumption. Instead, this new concept of culture mainly seeks to generate “practices of social power reconstruction that focus on language and the symbolic, attempting to provide new meanings to the dominant cultural interpretations in politics, and posing new challenges to those dominant political practices.”2 International community film and video festivals that are widely recognized in national and regional


Culture, Art and Rights

1989 In Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities massacre student demonstrators struggling for democracy.

scenarios; human rights organizations that have survived systematic violence for decades; local rock bands networks that arrange one of the most representative music festivals in the south side of the city; hip hop artists and schools that promote peaceful coexistence through urban arts; community cultural houses that gather an extensive artistic and social network; artistic interventions in which more than 250.000 children and youth have taken part; these and many other experiences that strive to articulate cultural practices with fundamental human rights have been gathering together around a Latin American movement known as Living Community Culture. This movement assembles more than 1000 organizations in more than 15 countries and cities of the Latin American continent. One of their main purposes is committing governments to assign 0,1% of the national budget for direct investment in cultural community projects, considering three main goals: autonomy of the community leading the project, attention and recognition given to project and communitarian social empowerment. Living Community Culture privileges processes over products. It understands that the former are based on historical heritage, and are fuelled by the permanent curiosity of youth. Culture is constantly renovated within the local communities through people’s input, because anyone can be part of it, anyone can do culture. By promoting this approach, different organizations in Ciudad Bolívar have managed to promote culture as a priority in the Local

1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN) and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (UN) are adopted.

1989 The Berlin Wall falls.

Development Plan.3 The cultural sector has become as a key component for social investment, bringing special attention to schools that focus on arts education, festivals that promote intercultural experiences, and outstanding local artistic initiatives. This scenario has allowed a different approach and is a key point for the analysis of the urban peripheries, which should focus on their potential and not on a presupposed lack of capabilities, in order to discover and build cultural experiences that grow from the community itself. In order to get a picture of how human rights and cultural processes take place in Ciudad Bolívar, we will describe the work of two organizations located there: Circo Valathar and Sueños Films Colombia, which are currently part of Living Community Culture in Latina America. These organizations have shifted their actions towards providing opportunities to youth living in extreme conditions, in order for them to understand and perform their realities through arts and culture. Circo Valathar4 Circo Valathar is one of the most visible and known experiences of community initiatives in Bogotá. Their work is focused on questioning groups of youth living in difficult social conditions about the different options the have in life and about the decisions a person can make. All of this is done through the practice of circus arts.

1989 Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Human rights, says Francy Paola Álvarez*, are a fundamental part in the life of people taking part of Valathar’s process, since they are key basis of discipline, respect towards each other and coexistence, values that are lived and expressed through their trainings and set ups. Through their engagement with Circo Valathar, a significant number of young people have started to understand art as a viable way of living, as well as an opportunity for them to capture personal experiences and social realities in Ciudad Bolívar and the country. Circo Valathar is actually leading Bogota’s circus arts platform and has reached an important recognition based on their community work. Sueños Films Colombia Sueños Films Colombia answers to a particular way of understanding violence in Ciudad Bolívar. The people that started this organization believe that one of the most recurrent causes of violent scenarios in the territory is the disintegration of basic social institutions such as family, says Daniel Bejarano**. In this sense, the production of audio-visual material, has emerged as a practical tool with two specific purposes: i) to provide youth from Ciudad Bolívar opportunities and mechanisms to express their ideas, dreams, unconformities and questions through stories portrayed in short films or documentaries shown to the same community where they come *  One of the founders and active member of Circo Valathar. ** Founder and active member of Sueños Films Colombia.

Culture, Art and Rights



Culture, Art and Rights

1990 The Americans With Disabilities Act is signed into law, establishing “a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.”

1990 Adoption by the World Summit for Children of the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and of the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration.

from; ii) to make communities aware of structural issues that affect the population in order to seek for possible solutions that do not involve violent means. With the purpose of creating a self-managed and independent space to project all the pieces developed by the community all year long, Sueños Films Colombia, in alliance with other local organizations, created the International Community Film and Alternative Video Festival Ojo al Sancocho5, which has taken place every year since 2008. This event has screened diverse realities of the people that take part in the process, while at the same time offering an alternative way of thinking about specific violent situations that take place in Ciudad Bolívar, like domestic violence and internal displacement.

1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (UN) is adopted.

Concluding Remarks The understanding and effective exercise of fundamental rights in Ciudad Bolívar has been traditionally framed in social processes that aim to facilitate a progressive construction of active citizenship, fuelled by constant particpation of cultural community organizations that seek the development of fundamental values of young inhabitants in traditionally violent environments.Circo Valathar and Sueños Films Colombia are two cases in which youth from Ciudad Bolívar have joined projects that provide them tools to develop a new way of reading their lives in their territory; tools to become active citizens within their communities and to find different living opportunities despite their violent environments.

Abraham Hidalgo Mendoza graduated in Government and International Affairs from the Externado University, Colombia. He is currently working as Programme Manager for Vulnerable Populations in Ciudad Bolívar, Bogotá. As the active CISV member he is, he is currently working for the International Step Up Committee. His favorite rice is Rice with Egg (made the night before). Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez has a Masters Degree in Cultural Studies and works as a researcher for the Institute of Political Studies and International Relations (IEPRI). He also works as Cultural Manager at the Culture, Recreation and Sports Secretariat in Bogotá, Colombia. His research and practical work focus on communitarian practices of arts and culture as a means for local development.

Culture, Art and Rights


Gloria BermĂşdez Director of the Laboratory of the Spirit Rural Corporation

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? By offering, with care and education, dignified living conditions and respect for individuality for everyone.

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? By recognizing them and making them recognize themselves as unique and transcendent individuals, and by empowering them through high quality education and artistic projects.

What is the most urgent human rights topic in our days? In my opinion it is the respect for difference.


Culture, Art and Rights

What is the your strongest motivation to work with Laboratory of the Spirit?

What is the importance of non-formal education from an early age?

My strongest motivation has to be the hugs and happiness that the children give every day.

The transformation of the child into an independent human being.

Describe Laboratory of the Spirit in less than thirty words.

Which changes do you think the library has brought about in El Retiro?

It is a living rural community that transforms and recognizes the value of the countryside and its people through creative reading and writing as well as through the arts. We form a community where we all support each other in sorrows and celebrate the joys.

I believe the library has helped the children recognize the importance of values, it has provided an alternative and improved education in literature, arts and crafts as well as emphasizing expressions of affection and solidarity.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered in your job? The biggest challenge is to acquire the necessary financial resources in order to maintain and improve the project and our work.

Which cartoon/superhero did you identify with as a child? Little Lulu.

What was the last thing you ate? A mango.

Culture, Art and Rights


Looking at Society Through Art By Diana A. Camacho 134

Culture, Art and Rights

1990 Nelson Mandela is released from prison, after 27 years behind bars.

1990 The World Health Organization removes homosexuality from its list of diseases. This marked the beginning of a slow change towards public acceptance of homosexuality.

1991 Aung San Suu Kyi wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Acting for the protection of human rights does not only mean demonstrating against oppressive regimes or pressing congressmen to pass certain laws. There are less obvious but equally important ways of transforming our society. Art can be one of them, even when having an impact on society is not the explicit purpose of the artist. Diana A. Camacho analyzes three different approaches to social art in order to highlight the influence artists may have on how problems in society are depicted and addressed.

Do you like to go to Museums? Do you enjoy seeing art? Which kind of art is your favorite? Who is your favorite artist? What art have you seen? We are used to drawing a line between Art and Society in order to separate the actual world from the world of arts. Nevertheless, in this text I aim to analyze some cases that not only break that line, but that productively establish a dialogue with society. In these three cases I want to talk about art as an instrument of change, since it acts like a mirror for society that depicts its own flaws. Also, it is important to think about the process of the creation of art: because it is a product of society. It can change dynamics that otherwise seem immovable. At the same time I will talk about the spectator’s gaze, about the need of being an active viewer that interprets art carefully and not only as the truthful reflection of society. Art is also ruled by the logic of the market and, as such, it could

reflect society in a certain way in order to increase its own value. I will explain three cases that show us different ways of creating art and approaching society. Case 1: Agarrando Pueblo, When Misery and Poverty are the Key to Produce Art Agarrando Pueblo* is a Colombian 28-minute film (1978) directed by Luis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo. In the film the directors address different questions about the treatment of poverty as a theme for documentary films. For example: How can you recreate reality? What is happening behind the scenes of a documentary? How can the documentary be a creation and not be the reproduction of reality itself ? These issues are connected with the director’s goal of showing reality in a certain way. *  You can fin the video in Spanish with English subtitles here:

Culture, Art and Rights


1992 The United States ratifies the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They have not ratified the one on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

1992 A Security Council resolution to deploy the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia is adopted.

Agarrando Pueblo is the result of the playful dialogue between two cameras; the final montage of the scenes makes the observer believe at first that Colombia is exactly what he/she is seeing, but immediately after, with an ironic touch, this ‘reality’ is put into question and it is showed as a fictional construction. With this film, Mayolo and Ospina showed a phenomenon that took place during the 70’s in the emerging documentary film business in Colombia. They exhibited how the concept of misery was important mostly for ‘first-world’ people that came to the ‘third-world’ looking for poverty and misery to produce movies and then return back to their countries to sell them. They also tried to show how the documentary business presented reality without censure and exaggerated it in order to show specific characters like prostitutes, kids in the streets begging for money, drug addicts, poor and unsafe neighborhoods, etc. The use of poverty to cause morbid curiosity was called Pornomiseria, which was the core of Mayolo and Ospina’s Manifest “What is Pornomiseria?” The manifest said: These deformations were driving the Colombian film industry through a dangerous path, since misery was being presented as yet another spectacle, one in which the viewer could wash his guilty conscience, feel thrilled and calm down. We did Agarrando Pueblo as a kind of antidote or Maiacovskiano bath to open


Culture, Art and Rights

1992 A Security Council resolution condemns “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UN) and demands the closure of all detention camps in the country.

people’s eyes to the exploitation behind miserabilist film, which turns human beings into objects, into instruments of a speech that results alien to their own conditions.1 Therefore, we have a fake documentary that uses images of real life, to tell us how you can manipulate reality according to the way you tell the story. We are seeing characters that appear not to be acting, but just living in the city, and the director is looking for them to recreate a film that draws the attention of a public that likes to see how other people are not living in the same conditions. As a result we wonder if it is the directors’ fault or the society’s fault. That is why this phenomenon was known as Pornomiseria, because it involves the idea of seeing people that are not usually recognized as a part of the society, the people that we refuse to look in the eye, but paradoxically we want to know more about them; how do they live? How do they earn money to survive? Sometimes the city can be a jungle where the one with the best social adaptation subsists. Agarrando Pueblo is a movie that shows us how we have to take care of what we want to show to others, how we decide the shots, and also how poverty sells, even if we do not want to admit it. Nevertheless, it is not only in documentary films that it is possible to see a “Pornomiseria approach” to society, it is also present in other types of art, like photographies, video clips, installations, projects with the comunity, etc. In the 1970’s it was used for documentaries because it was a way of showing a

1992 Rigoberta Menchu wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

1993 Criminal Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia is established to prosecute persons responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes since 1991.

reality that could be sold. That does not mean that Pornomiseria has not been present in other parts of the world and in different moments of history. I think that even now, in 2013, it is possible to find art works, newspapers, tv programs, advertising images, etc. characterised by a Pornomiseria approach. A great contribution of Agarrando Pueblo is that it leads us to understand the existing conception of the world through Pornomiseria and how it works. Also, Agarrando Pueblo made me think of how many times we have seen artworks that we like just because they are showing us something we are curious about, but maybe the artist is exaggerating a reality as the director does in a film. As viewers we have to be careful with the way we see images and wether consider them to be real or not. Even the most accurate version of reality is seen from someone else’s point of view, and it will likely be different from our own point of view. When we are seeing art we have to be cautious viewers. Also, when we have documentary photos we have to take special care because they project that whatever is there is real, being more difficult for the viewer to differentiate reality from fiction. Have you seen Pornomiseria images? Case 2: Wasteland, When an Art Project is Good for the Community Wasteland is a documentary film that follows the process of Vik Muniz (an internationally renowned artist) in creating an art project. Muniz was in his

1993 The Second World Conference on Human Rights convenes in Vienna, where Vienna Declaration and a Programme of Action is adopted.

studio in New York and had a great idea: he would travel to Brazil -the country were he was born- and work with ‘catadores’, or pickers of recyclable materials, in Jardim Gramacho; the largest garbage dump in the world. He chose some of the ‘catadores’ and had a photo shoot with them. With the photos he selected, he drew their portraits and then he projected the portrait of the selected catador from the ceiling down over the floor of a big storehouse. Then, having the image projected on the ground, the ‘catadores’ used the materials they collected to form the portrait filling and coloring the projection with glass, plastic bottles, toys, shoes, bags, etc. After having the image formed, Muniz took a large format photo of the new image made of recycled materials. When he had the photographs he decided to auction them in the art market and give the portrayed catador a percentage of the earnings. This process explains the idea that Muniz had in his mind, but while you see Wasteland you can notice that this idea changes in the process of creation. For example, the ‘catadores’ found a bathtub in the garbage and decided to use it for one of the photographs; the director of the documentary found the stories behind the lives of the ‘catadores’ interesting, which changed the flow of the documentary and enriched it: Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the ‘catadores’ with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves

Culture, Art and Rights


1994–2005 UN Decade for Human Rights Education is declared on December 23, 2005 (UN).


Culture, Art and Rights

1994 Emergency session of the Commission on Human Rights convenes to respond to genocide in Rwanda.

1994 The first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Laso, takes his post.

1994 United States ratifies the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention Against Torture.

1995 Beijing Declaration at the World Conference on Women declares “Women’s rights are human rights.”

out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the ‘catadores’ as they begin to reimagine their lives.2 Wasteland is a process, the process of creating art, but also the process of knowing more about the pickers of recyclable materials. Why do they pick material from the garbage? How do they end up working on that? What are their dreams? How do they work as an association? With Wasteland you have the opportunity to know how Vik Muniz and his project was really important in the life of seven of the ‘catadores’: Besides the money, Muniz has given ‘catadores’ a new self-image and, possibly, the courage to change their lives. Despite their proud words early in the film, once they get a taste of life away from the landfill, the pickers don’t want to go back3. Vik Muniz’s idea went very well, he went to a landfill to find people and create an artwork with garbage and he made it, because he found seven wonderful ‘catadores’ that helped him with the production of his idea and with great stories to tell in front of a camera. As a result he sold the photographs and with the earnings the ‘catadores’ were able to start a new life outside the landfill. Muniz’s project completely changed the lives of these seven ‘catadores’. One of the ‘catadores’ that Muniz chose for the photo shoot was the President of the Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho called Tiaõ. He convinced the ‘catadores’ that organizing an association was

1996 Jose Ramos Horta and Bishop Bello win the Nobel Peace Prize.

better for them, working as a group could bring better prices and quality of life to them. Thanks to the money earned with his picture he has bought things for his association in the search of a better life for the ‘catadores’ of Jardim Gramacho. Wasteland shows us two things: on one hand, a documentary that follows the process of creating an artwork in which we see interviews with the people involved in the process —an introduction— an interesting plot and a happy ending. On the other hand, we take part in the development of an artist’s idea: how the idea changes during the film and what the final artwork is. The film and the photographs enrich each other, knowing that the artworks are real and there is a possibility of seeing them some day in a Museum, or knowing the process behind the photography changes the conception we have of both things. Also, with Wasteland we can see a good example of an art project that ends with a happy ending. Sometimes with these kind of projects you can see how the person can take whatever he/she needs and then disappear, not giving anything back to the community, only using what he/she sees to his/her own benefit (as seen in Agarrando Pueblo). The ideal of the kind of project that Wasteland is, is that something stays in the community after the project ends. Case 3 MDE11, Where an Encounter Brings Culture to a City In 2011 I was in Medellín when it was the opening of the MDE11 the International Medellín Encounter

Culture, Art and Rights


1997 Mary Robinson, former President of the Republic of Ireland, becomes the second UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

1998 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks a cornerstone event in humanity’s struggle to recognize, promote, and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

(Encuentro Internacional de Medellín). The MDE11 was a cultural event created for the city of Medellín. Its aim was “to make Medellín a center with permanent presence on the international art scene by promoting the production, dissemination and appropriation of contemporary art practices.”4 So what was the difference between the MDE11 and other art exhibitions? The differences were mainly that the MDE11 worked with one particular theme: The city of Medellín and its cultural context. When I saw the exhibition at the Antioquia Museum I noticed that 80% of the artworks there were product of a work process between an artist and a specific community of the city. Some of the artists worked with people from low-income neighborhoods creating an art project together with them. The structure and development of MDE11 are the result of a specific mandate from the Museo de Antioquia to work within the context of the city of Medellín and its social and cultural agents. By keeping with its mission, the museum seeks to promote educational and cultural interaction by encouraging the participation on a large scale and prompting reflection through polyphonic and interdisciplinary dialogue. Working in line with these aims, the MDE11 curatorship has become involved with various collectives and agents ranging from academia to community-work contexts and the self-managed spaces that exist in Medellín.5


Culture, Art and Rights

2000 The goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration are set to combat hunger, poverty, illness, illiteracy and discrimination of girls and women before 2015.

MDE11 was mostly an international event because international artists came to Medellín to work with the city and its people. Creating places to teach and learn about art was the idea that the MDE11 followed from September until December, when international artists came to learn about the Colombian art context. At the same time they came to teach us and create a project with the citizens. A Brazilian collective called Bijari6 and people that live near the Santo Domingo Metrocable* station did one project that exemplifies what MDE11 was looking for. I first saw the project in The Antioquia Museum but I did not pay much attention to it. However, the day after I saw it, I took the Metrocable towards the Spanish Library. When I was in the Metrocable I saw huge fabrics of different colors on the top of the houses. The fabrics had phrases chosen to make the reader think while riding the Metrocable on their way home. For example, you could find: “Con las propias manos se contruyó” (Built with bare hands) “No me la quitarán” (They will not take it away from me) and “Las heridas expuestas al sol” (The wounds exposed to the sun). The fabrics were located on top of the houses that are part of a poor neighborhood in Medellín called Comuna 1. Bijari collective worked with people of this neighborhood and together they created the fabrics with phrases and placed them on the roofs os the houses. A histori*  Metro cable is a public transportation system that works with lifted gondolas, similar to the ones used for skiing.

2001 The Netherlands becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

2001 On September 11 the extreme Islamist group Al-Qaeda hijacks four airplanes and crashes them against NYC’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The United States declares a “War on Terror.”

cal fact that is important to know is that before the Metrocable was built, Comuna 1 had a lot of violence and a high percentage of the houses did not have roofs back then. When the Metrocable started to work in 2006 as a means of transportation people started building roofs —without them the Metrocable passengers could see what happened inside their homes- making the area close to the Metrocable much nicer. MDE11 was a huge event that tried to embrace a lot of things. At the end of the encounter, 140 events had taken place, 104 artists (international and national) worked with different spaces in the city and more than 70.000 people took part in the art project. A lot of art projects were conducted during the four months that the MDE11 lasted. Artists with different origins came to Medellín to work with people from the city to create art. More important than the quality of the art, was the community work that was generated with the art projects in different places of the city. Similarly to Wasteland, where Muniz empowered seven ‘catadores’ in Brazil, MDE11 made the creation of collective artwork possible, the creation of collective artwork, making the local people think about their neighborhood and their city. The project changed from artist to artist; some were more prolific for the people involved than others, some just created something that was not reflexive about the place for the people around, but some enable a change in the people that were part of the project

2001 In October NATO and the United States invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban government and persecute ‘terrorists.’

or got to show them a new way of seeing what was going on around them. Conclusion When I look at Agarrando Pueblo, Wasteland and MDE11, I see examples of how art can be used for different purposes. Creating art is part of a world of multiple possibilities where everything is traversed by the message that the artist wants to transmit, as well as by the wav y the viewer receives the message. Agarrando Pueblo shows us that art is also a product of the market, changing the reality in favor of one person with one specific purpose: making money. Meanwhile Wasteland and MDE11 show us that art can be a tool for change, but also that working with communities is challenging and that it is really important to avoid arriving as a savior, generating false hopes. The idea is more to listen to what they can teach and what they want to say and how they can help in the production of the artwork. Art works with society more than we think or know. In cities like Medellín with the MDE11 art was used to keep communities away from violence, and to think about the city and its needs. So far in this article I have not mention human rights in a direct way. I wanted to present the specific cases I have mentioned in order to show how art can bring better living conditions to citizens, in less recognized and more subtle ways ­—like making them happy or proud or reflect on the place they live in. Art has been recognized as an important

Culture, Art and Rights


2002 Switzerland joins the United Nations.

2002 The International Criminal Court is established to try individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious breaches of human rights.

2002 East Timor regains independence from Indonesia in 2002. Portugal granted independence to East Timor in 1975, but it was soon after invaded by Indonesia.

part of society by, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 27): 1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. 2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author. Nevertheless, the aim of this article has not been to analyze all the dynamics of participation and protection that link human rights to the art practices. What I have tried, through these three different cases of artistic approaches to society, is to demonstrate how art can be a tool or a hazard for the improvement of society, but also how art could improve people’s conditions as well as being respectful of human rights.

Diana A. Camacho is one of the four members of Con Lupa. She studied art in Bogotá and has worked as a producer and curator in art exhibitions, most of which have been with colombian artists. She has been part of different art related research projects in Colombia such as Café el Automático. Her favorite rice is coconut rice with raisins.


Culture, Art and Rights

Jonas L. Skaalerud

Culture, Art and Rights


Educating for a More Just and Peaceful World 144

Education for a more just and peaceful world


For any organization that educates on human rights it is important to address the question of how to deal with the political side of this topic. CISV declares itself non-political in its foundational documents, but what does this mean exactly and what are the implications of such a stance? The two articles in this chapter show different views on this matter. Rupert Friederichsen and Jennifer Watson show that maintaining a non-political status has been important for CISV throughout its history, and defend this status as a necessary condition to offer peace education with an emphasis on inclusion. On the other hand, Mark Porter Webb and Joaqu铆n Garz贸n Vargas insist that human rights and the political are inseparable, and argue that a peace education organization should take a stand on political matters in order to avoid a lack of coherency. These are just two contributions to an ongoing debate that is interesting and worth having. Education for a more just and peaceful world


How Can a Non-Political Organization Educate on Human Rights? By Rupert Friederichsen & Jennifer Watson 146

Education for a more just and peaceful world

2003 The United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families enteres into force.

2003 The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. 99% of the human genome was mapped with 99.99% of accuracy.

2003 A coalition led by the United States invades Iraq and overthrows president Saddam Hussein.

Addressing the polemical relation between human rights education and politics, Rupert and Jennifer explain why was CISV declared a non-political organization; they go through part of the organization’s history and argue that it is important for the organization to remain non-political in order to carry out its educational purposes.

There is a war! We need to do something against it! Demonstrating is the least we can do, and since in our group we are all CISVers, we might as well take our CISV banner to the demonstration. This type of scenario and train of thought will sound familiar to many CISVers. It relates to some really difficult questions about what it means that CISV is a non-political organization. Particularly in situations when the violation of human rights causes people extreme suffering or death, and consequently emotions run high.1 How can CISV be non-political and educate on peace and human rights? Like war, the struggle for human rights is bound up with political questions, so we should unpack and hopefully clarify the relationships between human rights education and the non-political character of CISV. This text argues that, whereas the struggle for human rights is political, CISV’s non-political nature can be understood historically and it continues to be a necessary organizational principle, which allows CISV to fulfill its educational purpose.

In What Context Was CISV ‘Born’ and What Is its Core Purpose? CISV developed in the 1950s against the background of the experience of the Second World War (WWII) and the Holocaust, and the determination to never let such atrocities and injustice be perpetrated again. CISV’s founder Doris T. Allen was impressed by the United Nations system which was developed after WWII, and which was built on the belief that humanity was united by values such as peace and social justice. The UN, as does CISV, tries to strengthen the bonds of friendship and respect between people and peoples, trusting that they can help overcome any divisions between them. Never mind whether dividing lines are drawn along national, religious, ethnic or politicalideological lines. During the Cold War, which pitted the communist Eastern bloc against the Capitalist West, CISV’s non-political stance allowed it to work across that global dividing line in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the Cold War, CISV was

Education for a more just and peaceful world


2004 A tsunami in South-East Asia kills tens of thousands of people.

2004 Iraq is formally handed back its sovereignty by the United States of America.

among the few international organizations that were able to organize youth exchanges involving participants from both the ‘West’ as well as youth active in the Pathfinder and Pioneer Organizations from communist countries. CISV delegations were placed in several Pathfinder/Pioneer camps while we welcomed delegations of their members to join in our Villages on a reciprocal basis during these years. CISV emerged from an international desire to prevent future war and was based on the belief that organizations not directly related to and dependent on governments could help solve international problems. CISV International’s constitutional rules


Education for a more just and peaceful world

2004 Afghanistan holds the first presidential election. Hamid Karzai is elected president.

state that “CISV International is an independent, non-profit, non-political, volunteer organization.”2 CISV’s educational purpose is to “educate and inspire for a more just and peaceful world,”3 human rights is one of four of CISV’s peace education content areas4. This gives rise to the question: How can CISV deliver human rights education and at the same time remain non-political? The Political Nature of the Struggle for Human Rights Human rights campaigners or activists often directly confront states and governments and criticize them

2005 A peace agreement is signed between the Sudanese government and Southern rebels, ending the 20year civil war, but massacres continue. It is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

2005 United Nations initiate the establishment of the principle ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P).

for failing to protect people’s human rights. This conflict between governments and human rights promoters is not a coincidence. The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms”5. So on paper, most governments clearly commit to protect and promote the human rights of their own citizens, as well as the citizens of other nations. However, one just needs to read one of the regular reports by human rights campaign organizations,

2005 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia, becoming the first woman in Africa elected head of state.

such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch to test that commitment. To confirm this, I encourage you to read the human rights campaigners’ reports on your own country, and you will soon realise that not a single government can claim to be fully successful in guaranteeing all human rights to all people in its territory. In addition, many governments are also accused of allowing their citizens to contribute to human rights violations in other countries through e.g. arms exports. Importantly, human rights are commonly used in international politics to exert pressure on governments, or in the most extreme of cases, to justify

Education for a more just and peaceful world


2006 The United Nations Human Rights Council is established by the General Assembly.

2006 A bill on same-sex marriage is passed in South Africa.

war. The concept of the ‘just war’ —in other words the reasons given for why a democratic government could potentially declare war on another country in a legal manner— relies on the idea that human rights violations can morally justify war. We do not need to go deeper into arguments about whether human rights should be used to threaten and justify war here. We do need to be aware that human rights are not only political but also politicised; meaning that governments and other political actors use the term human rights to achieve certain goals —at the international stage as well as domestically (see Joaquín Garzón Vargas’ and Mark Porter Webb’s chapter for more examples in support of this point). In short, the struggle for human rights is political in many ways; it is about making choices and establishing and enforcing basic rules for living together ­—locally as well as globally. Claiming human rights means defining minimum standards of a dignified life— standards that are valid for all human beings, anywhere, and at any time. Defending human rights means ending universally unacceptable living conditions and protecting vulnerable and minority groups from those in more powerful positions. Claiming and defending human rights is necessarily and directly political; human rights education, although related, is not. CISV’s Educational Purpose The educational purpose of CISV International is to “educate and inspire action for a more just and


Education for a more just and peaceful world

2006 The Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal convicts Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity, sentencing him to death by hanging.

peaceful world.” To help children, youth and adults become active global citizens, CISV’s peace education in 2013 focuses on human rights. To understand how CISV educates, we need to consider both the international as well as the local stage. CISV local Chapters exist in 70 countries and its programmes regularly bring together people from all continents. The unique learning environment that CISV’s international programmes can provide is a place where many forms of protecting human rights and caring for those denied them can be explored and examined. As educators in international programmes we have the opportunity to address geographically diverse cases of human rights claims and violations, and bring them emotionally ‘closer.’ Every programme will bring together participants from a variety of backgrounds, and a variety of perspectives on human rights. Many participants will come from developed or rich countries, in which a frequently debated human rights issue is about how refugees and asylum seekers should be treated. Some participants will bring experiences from developing countries or emerging economies, where abject poverty and malnourished children live side by side the super-rich. In some participants’ home countries, persecution and imprisonment on political grounds may still exist. In over 40 countries the death penalty is still in place in law as well as in practice. Due to their international character, CISV programmes can build on a variety of specific cases for studying human rights, and so cultivate a shared

2007 Ban Ki-moon becomes the new Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2008 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities enters into force.

sense of solidarity and care for those people whose human rights are being violated. If we let ourselves be touched by the reality of people around the world being denied human rights, this will evoke strong emotions and is likely to generate many questions regarding what each of us can do in our own environment, using our own means. In this context, it is important that educators create and protect an emotionally safe and inclusive environment, which is conducive to learning. Modelling the principle of being non-political as an educator in this context means we should refrain from taking sides for or against any one country, political party or government. As a human rights educator, you are likely to have a personal attitude and opinions on specific human rights issues, and rightly so. But in your role as a CISV educator you are responsible to balance learners’ needs, CISV’s principles, and your personal convictions. Looking at learners as a group, educators need to avoid dividing children and youth into some who can be associated with ‘perpetrator’ countries/parties/governments and others who are associated to ‘victims.’ Although CISV does not work in areas of current violent conflict, the international nature of our programmes does mean that conflict —armed or not and past, present or potential— between children’s countries, religions, or ethnic groups is the norm rather than the exception. Looking at learners individually, it can be argued that a non-partisan approach by the educator

2008 The biggest financial crisis hits the world since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

is the best way to awaken each learner’s own critical consciousness (see Meintjes6 for a detailed pedagogical discussion). “We lose a gigantic portion of our organization’s educational merit if we fail to drive home the lessons in peace education one might learn from being a volunteer”7 wrote James Schaffer in his reflection on What does it mean to be Non-Political in CISV’s Local Work Magazine of 2004. He reminds us that volunteering in CISV means not only educating others but also educating oneself. In this respect, human rights campaigners and also state-related human rights bodies have a lot to offer. For instance, a group of CISVers had the opportunity to attend a training by Amnesty International in Denmark as well as the Danish Centre for Human Rights in November 2012. They are now using their knowledge to strengthen CISV’s efforts in 2013 to deliver high quality human rights education. So as long as we maintain CISV’s independence and keep CISV’s educational purpose at the centre of our efforts, the work of human rights campaigners, and that of governments can be of great use for work in CISV chapters. Indeed, working with other organizations can help us understand more clearly that human rights education and human rights campaigning are complementary. From CISV International’s educational purpose it follows that CISV should help its members to better understand the human rights situation we are in now, and to inspire and empower them to strive effectively for a world in which human

Education for a more just and peaceful world


2008 Fidel Castro announces is resignation as President of Cuba after 50 years of ruling the country.

2009 US president Barack Obama is given the Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

rights are a reality for every person. So CISV’s purpose is not to confront governments but to educate people, thereby helping them to become aware of and make their own political choices. Because they have friends around the world, to CISVers it does not matter whether injustice and human rights violations occur near or far. What matters is that as individuals we acknowledge injustice and that we act on our feelings of solidarity. As global citizens, CISV encourages its members to act politically. But as an international peace education organization, CISV needs to be non-political. We can conclude that as active global citizens CISVers should of course act on their commitment to peace and human rights. Returning to the

2009 Omar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir, the president of Sudan, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region by the International Criminal Court.

scenario at the beginning of this chapter, CISV encourages you to go to that demo against the war, if that is what you believe is right and that it will help protect human rights —but you should leave the CISV banner at home. You should leave the banner at home because you engage in political action as an individual, not representing your CISV Chapter, National Association or CISV International. As human rights educators we need to embrace the challenge to clearly explain what we mean when asserting that CISV is a non-political organization; and why being independent from governments and nonpartisan in e.g. national elections or in international matters continues to be very important for CISV to fulfil its educational purpose.

Rupert Friederichsen is Education Officer at CISV International. He has previously lived in Germany, Vietnam, and Brazil. He has worked as a researcher on rural development and as a university lecturer in development geography and environmental management. Together with Con Lupa, Rupert has contributed in raising the profile of human rights as one of the four content areas in CISV. His favorite rice is Pho (Vietnamese rice noodle soup). Jennifer Watson first took part in CISV when she was 11 and has been deeply involved ever since. She has been National Secretary for CISV Great Britain for over ten years. Having retired from teaching children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) she registered as a student at the University of London in order to undertake a research project for CISV International to evaluate the use of new educational tools (Passport, Big Ed, etc.) in CISV. Her favorite rice is Mushroom risotto.


Education for a more just and peaceful world

CISV Experiences From Inspiration to Action

As leaders on a village we had been working hard to try to give the best educational experiences to the kids, yet it is hard to know what the 11-year-old kids will do with all these new ideas and thoughts in life. After organizing an activity on human rights we talked about the human rights situation in the countries present at our village. The Colombian delegation shared with us a little bit of their complicated situation. After the activity, one of my kids, Thom, came up to me and asked me for help to translate something for the Colombians. We got together and he told us he was so sad to hear about the situation in Colombia, so he wanted to raise money in his school to raise awareness and to help those kids who needed it most. After camp he managed to raise around ₏350 which was sent to an NGO in Colombia that helps children attend school and organizes educational activities for children. It was so nice to see what CISV can do and how indeed it inspires action! Karin Swagemakers, Netherlands — Village

Education for a more just and peaceful world


Rune Robert Friis Human Rights Educator at Amnesty International Denmark

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? Personally, I think human rights are best defined as a global consensus on common ethical values based on a shared understanding of what a human being is and should be.

What is the most urgent human rights topic in our day? Answers to these types of questions typically depend on what you are dealing with in the giving period of time. Today my answer is ‘interdependency.’ I feel that many violations occur as a result of prioritization of individual rights and that many violations could be avoided with a better understanding of their interdependency. But ask me again tomorrow and I will probably give you another answer. The bottom-line is that I believe there are a lot of urgent topics, unfortunately.

If you could give one non-material thing to future generations, what would it be? Time and patience for critical and constructive philosophical reflections.


Education for a more just and peaceful world

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? This can be done in numerous ways, but from my perspective, it is essential that each topic is perceived as relevant by each individual person. Therefore, I believe that a key part of engaging people in human rights education is to create a space for each individual’s reflection on each of the topic’s relevance to their personal experience of the world.

What responsibility does each one of us have regarding human rights? As a teacher, I believe that we have a responsibility to be critical of human rights.

How do you understand the link between the ‘activist’ work for which Amnesty is best known, and the educational work you do? Just like individual rights, in various ways, are interdependent; activism and education are very much interdependent as well, or linked as you say. In many ways I think of the human rights education as a part of Amnesty’s activism, so in this regard I consider the human rights education program to be a natural extension of Amnesty’s activism.

How would you describe Amnesty’s educational approach to human rights? Open-minded.

Describe your organization in less than thirty words Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters. Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the international human rights standards.

What do you like the most about working in Amnesty? It may sound as a bit of a cliché, but without a doubt my colleagues. The many passionate people’s different approaches to the fulfillment of the same goals are a great atmosphere to work in, and it still inspires me on a daily basis.

Which cartoon/superhero did you identify with as a child? Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes - if you can call him a superhero. Anyway, he often makes some super good points. For instance this quote that might be food for thought in relation to our line of work. “Calvin: There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.”

What was the last thing you ate? Potato soup with fried pork garnish.

Education for a more just and peaceful world


Rethinking CISV The Political Nature of Human Rights Education By Mark Porter Webb & Joaqu铆n Garz贸n Vargas 156

Education for a more just and peaceful world

2009 Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Uganda assume their seats on theUnited Nations Security Council.

2009 The third C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group meets in Seoul.

2009 The first trial at the International Criminal Court is held. Former Union of Congolese Patriots leader Thomas Lubanga is accused of training child soldiers to kill, pillage, and rape.

Joaquín and Mark’s article presents a critical view towards CISVs status as a non-political organization. Understanding the ‘political’ as the ‘values, ethics, and expectations’ human beings commit to, they argue that it is important for CISV to assume the political nature of human rights education.

Nearly five years ago, CISV made some important changes to its approach to peace education. Most notably, the ‘peace education circle’ that had guided our education work through the 1990s and into the 21st century was converted into peace education principles and content areas. In 2009, the comprehensive, and in the end overwhelmingly detailed, ‘peace education circle’ that mapped out eight topics each with countless subtopics, was replaced by four broad, overarching content areas: diversity, sustainable development, conflict and resolution, and human rights. While this shift has allowed us to simplify and streamline our peace education content, it has arguably made our peace education approach overly general and open to wide interpretations —interpretations that become potentially harmful when not anchored in a clear political values. Using the example of education around human rights, we argue that as long as CISV continues to claim its status as a ‘non-political’ organization1, our engagement with peace education will be at best unfocused, and, at worst,

in direct contradiction with our stated purpose of “educat[ing] and inspir[ing] action for a more just and peaceful world.”2 Before we proceed, it is important that we clarify what we mean by ‘political.’ First and foremost, in taking issue with CISV’s stated ‘non-political’ nature we are not saying that CISV should become a political party or help organize institutional political campaigns. On the contrary, the point here is that politics and the ‘political’ is by no means limited to the election of politicians and the actions of governments. The values, ethics, and expectations we promote and enact with regard to how we relate to one another and the natural environment, whether in our daily lives or within CISV activities, are arguably just as ‘political’ as what our governments do. While we agree with Rupert Friederichsen and Jennifer Watson* that CISV should not be involved in partisan, electoral politics, we believe that ‘politics’ goes far beyond parties and *  See Rupert and Jennifer’s article «How Can a Non-Political Organization Educate on Human Rights?» in this book.

Education for a more just and peaceful world


2009 The Constitutional Court of Colombia rules that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples in common-law marriages.

2010 The human rights activist Liu Xiaobo is granted the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.

governments. Contrary to their conclusions, we would argue that CISV has been a ‘political’ since the day it started with Doris Allen’s vision of bringing together children in the aftermath of WWII; the very act of bringing children together across cold war divisions was —rather than being outside of political-ideological debates— groundbreaking precisely because it directly challenged a major political-ideology of the time. That said, we can now return to our principal concern: without a clear ‘political’ anchor, CISV’s peace education approach can take on forms that are counter to our statement of purpose. The content area of human rights is particularly useful in illuminating this concern. In recent decades, the concept of human rights has been invoked to support and justify vastly different causes. Over the last fifteen years, indigenous communities in Bolivia have used a human rights framework to defend their right to free access to clean drinking water in response to the World Bank’s plan to promote economic growth in the region through privatization of public resources.3 Large institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) have used the human rights framework to condemn and mobilize resources to end female genital mutilation in various African countries4, while at the same time drawing strong critiques that argue placing all forms of female circumcision in one big category oversimplifies a complex issue and imposes Western values on other cultures.5 In 2002, then US president George


Education for a more just and peaceful world

2010 The Arab Spring begins in Tunisia: a series of manifestations and protests spread in several Arab countries against authoritarian regimes.

W. Bush used a report by the UN commission on human rights about rights violations in Iraq as support for his call for military intervention in the country.6 Despite widespread opposition from the international community, the US proceeded to invade Iraq in March of 2003. Over 111,000 civilians have been killed as a result.7 As these examples show, human rights issues are never black and white. In today’s global context, we are faced with complex human rights scenarios that are often framed in ways that confuse, divide, and demobilize us: do we support people’s right to water in Bolivia or the World Bank’s plan for economic growth in the region? Do we support the right for African women to live free of gender based violence or are we imposing one culture’s beliefs upon another? Do we support violent military intervention in Iraq because it might eventually lead to the end of human rights violations? To find answers to these questions —or better yet, to reframe them in ways that can lead to more creative, more ‘just and peaceful’ answers— demands that we first recognize that, because these issues are already political, a ‘non-political’ engagement with them is simply impossible. Questioning the ‘non-political’ nature of one popular CISV activity that —at first glance— has nothing to do with human rights, is a useful entry point towards understanding why a ‘non-political’ engagement with the human rights content area is a contradiction that we must resolve. Here we will

2010 The sculpture L’Homme qui marche I by Alberto Giacometti sells in London for £65 million (US$103.7 million), setting a new world record for a work of art sold at auction.

2010 The Deepwater Horizon oil platform explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers. The resulting Horizon oil spill is one of the largest in history.

2010 The first total lunar eclipse to occur on the day of the Northern winter solstice and Southern summer solstice since1638 takes place.

Education for a more just and peaceful world


2011 The President of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, resigns after severe protests against his regime.

2011 Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, resigns after 18 days of strong manifestations of the egyptian people against his authoritarian regime.

think a little bit about the common CISV Village, Step-Up, or Seminar Camp activity, Casino Night. In this more festive, casual activity usually run towards the end of a program, participants are typically divided into boy/girl couples with whom they spend the evening dining and playing ‘casino type’ games. Using a notion of the ‘political’ limited to institutional, party politics, Casino Night would appear to be ‘non-political;’ there are no explicit political positions that are promoted or discussed in this activity. Expanding our definition of the ‘political,’ however, challenges that assumption. Among other things, Casino night is an activity that implicitly promotes and replicates a particular type of sexuality where the coupling of a man and a woman is taken to be the natural basis of the human family. That notion of the human family in turn provides the foundations for certain economic and political systems that depend on specific, and often unequal and oppressive, roles that follow from these gender categories.8 The purpose of sharing this example is to emphasize that often what appears to be ‘politically neutral’ or ‘non-political’ is in fact quite the opposite. Here again, we differ with Rupert and Jennifer. While we recognize that facilitators of activities must prioritize the safety of their participants, we think that claiming political ‘neutrality’ when running human rights activities can often be more harmful than being transparent about your ‘political’ stance. Harm can occur because not taking a


Education for a more just and peaceful world

2011 Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi is murdered by the National Liberation Army of Libya.

stance on an issue often has the same affect as siding with the dominant viewpoint or action on that issue, even if it is not our conscious intention. Moreover, claiming to not take a stance can be harmful, and even coercive, when it hides the ways that a so-called ‘non-political’ or politically ‘neutral’ act does in fact implicitly support or promote that viewpoint or action. If a seemingly fun and innocent CISV activity like ‘Casino Night’ can have very real ‘political’ implications for how we act in the world, think now what that means for activities that explicitly engage with the human rights content area. Without clarifying from which ‘political’ perspective or towards which ‘political’ end we are engaging with human rights, we leave ourselves vulnerable to implicitly (or even explicitly!) supporting things like cultural imperialism and war —things that clearly go against our educational purpose of working towards a “more just and peaceful world.” Moreover, our ‘non-political’ stance limits our access to resources and potential partner organizations that could help us understand and work through the complexity of today’s global context. We may find that our new ‘political’ understanding of a situation leads us to clearly take a side and join with other like-minded organizations to support or oppose a given issue. We may also find that this ‘political’ understanding helps us see how the very framing of an issue can present it in ways that limit our thoughts and actions around it. For example, supporting people’s basic right to clean water

2011 President Kim Jong-il of North Korea dies after governing the country for 17 years. His death creates insecurity and fear for stability of the Asian region.

2011 An estimated two billion people watch the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London.

should go hand in hand with the economic development, rather than in direct conflict with it. Bringing a more ‘political’ perspective to CISV can help us open this debate to think about other forms development, forms not directed by the World Bank for the primary benefit of transnational corporations, but led by and for local community members in collaboration with international allies. Guided by more ‘political’ tools, our peace education work in CISV can begin to engage both more creatively and more critically with our globalized world to identify and transform the major problems inherent within our current, mainstream economic and political systems that limit the options we now have towards achieving human rights for all. The good news is that this movement has already begun within CISV. A recent publication of IJB Thinks tells numerous stories of CISVers who, increasingly confronted with the ‘political’ nature of the world they live in, are beginning to identify the need for, and even take, explicitly ‘political’ responses. From Tore Bang Heerup’s call to find alternatives to the NGO or State led model of addressing conflict that is often overly bureaucratic and not in line with the interests of the people it is trying to serve; to Rowan El Shimi’s account of the participation of Egyptian JBers march on Tahrir Square during the popular uprisings in January of 2010 that raises some difficult, but important questions about CISVs role in revolutionary struggle; to the sobering reality described by CISV Ivory

2011 The first project between CISV Norway and CISV Colombia starts. The focus is sustainable development and the project is I have a mango.

Coast president, Naon Katiohora, about the immense challenges of trying to develop a CISV national association in the midst of an ongoing war zone,9 the world in which we find ourselves today is very ‘political.’ Whether we are CISVers caught in the midst of growing economic crisis or political unrest, or we live in countries that face less immediate conflicts but are still implicitly connected or responsible for the conflicts of others —such as the political, economic, and military relationship between Libya and Italy that Dario Veggeti describes in the same issue IJB Thinks— rethinking the notion of the ‘non-political’ status of our organization has become more important than ever. To conclude, we would like to offer a few suggestions for how to engage with human rights in more explicitly ‘political’ ways. First and foremost, we should not hesitate to think ‘politically’ —that is, to think about the way that actions and inactions always promote a set of values, ethics, and expectations of how we relate to one another and the natural environment, both individually and collectively. Second, it is very important to use concrete and specific examples when working around human rights issues. Speaking broadly or vaguely about human rights is unhelpful and even potentially harmful because, as we have discussed here, human rights language can and is used to promote, defend, and justify many different kinds of perspectives and actions. Finally, we should be unafraid to put our ‘politics’ around human rights

Education for a more just and peaceful world


2011 U.S. President Barack Obama announces that Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of the militant group Al-Qaeda, has been killed during an American military operation in Pakistan.

2012 The 15 year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai survives an assassination attempt by the Taliban and refuses to stop her activism for the right to education.

2012 The second project between CISV Norway and CISV Colombia commences. The focus is human rights and the project is named Con Lupa.

into practice both within CISV and beyond. Such ‘political’ practice, like everything we do in CISV, can and should be a part of our ‘experiential learning.’ This means that the ‘doing’ of politics is always just one part of an ongoing learning cycle. As CISVers, we must also be open to continually reflecting upon those ‘political’ practices, to create generalizations about the lessons we have learned from them, and then apply this new learning in other ‘political’ situations.

Joaquín Garzón Vargas has been a member of CISV since 1997. He is an Attorney from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia and currently works as a researcher on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at the Toledo Centre for Peace in Colombia. His favorite rice is rice with chicken and peas. Mark Porter Webb is a long time member of CISV, having participated in numerous activities on the local, national, and international levels. He is currently working on a doctorate in Anthropology at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. His academic and political interests center on the role of education and leadership development within the building of social movements. His favorite rice is Rice cakes.


Education for a more just and peaceful world

Education for a more just and peaceful world


Knut Andreas O. Lid Advisor, Caritas Norway

In your opinion, what is the best way to define human rights? The universal right of every person to enjoy security, liberty and adequate living conditions.

How do you engage young people in human rights topics? By informing them of their rights and motivating them to take an interest in the rights of others.

What is the most urgent human rights topic in our day? Fundamental human rights are inalienable and indivisible. We have registered a shift from civil and political rights to social, economical and cultural rights. Which are most important depend on the context in any given state.


Education for a more just and peaceful world

If you could give one non-material thing to future generations, what would it be?

What do you like most about working in Caritas?

Education. Formal and informal education is key to overcoming the challenges facing the world today and a prerequisite for the prosperity of future generations.

To meet people from all parts of the world and from all sectors of society.

What responsibility does each one of us have regarding human rights?

Visiting the project in El Salado neighborhood in Ibague, Colombia. It was an amazing gathering of inspiring people.

Technically this is the responsibility of the state. We all have the responsibility to hold governments accountable.

Describe your organization in less than thirty words Caritas Norway is the social arm of the Catholic Church in Norway and is supporting developmental projects both domestically and abroad. Our focus areas are integration, education, food security, good governance and peace.

What was your favorite social experience from working in Caritas?

What does Caritas do in Norway? We work on integration. 80% of all Catholics in Norway have a non-Norwegian ethnic background. Related to this is to provide information services and assistance to immigrant workers.

What was the last thing you ate? Coffee.

Education for a more just and peaceful world


Experiential Education Activities 166

Experiential Education Activities


All the ideas that have been presented in this book can be directed towards educational purposes. In this final chapter we have included some ideas on what it means to do human rights education within CISV, followed by examples of activities that can be run in CISV programs or in any experiential education environment. You can find more activities in CISV’s website: Experiential Education Activities


Human Rights Education in CISV By Adelaida Barrera Daza & Rupert Friederichsen 168

Experiential Education Activities

2012 The I Have a Mango Project releases «The Lunchbox», a book about sustainable development.

2012 Negotiators from the Colombian government and left-wing FARC rebels have set the stage for their first direct talks in a decade.

Human rights education is at the heart of the entire concept and practice of human rights. Rather than an annex that complements the legal enforcement of rights, many see human rights education as the most powerful tool for turning abstract rights into reality. Education is central to the human rights movement; only if we internalise the values of human life and dignity, will we spontaneously respect the rights of others and work to maintain an adequate standard of living for everyone as a matter of course. In other words, human rights education aims to build a culture of human rights. A culture of human rights needs to be complemented by knowledge of how rights can be enforced legally. The ultimate aim of human rights education is to build a world in which a culture of human rights guarantees that fundamental rights are truly respected by all. This does not mean that laws, conventions and declarations are unnecessary. To the contrary, in the real world human rights are often not respected, and the growing body of international and national mechanisms to enforce human rights are a key achievement of the human rights movement. Striving for a culture of human rights should not be seen as an attempt to replace the rich variety of cultures for one single and simple culture. Rather, it means to promote a minimum set of principles and behaviours that allow the peaceful coexistence of all people and cultures, and that secure a dignified standard of living for every single human being.

2012 244 years after its first publication, the Encyclopædia Britannica discontinues its print edition.

CISV has a lot to offer to the field of human rights education and, as CISVers, we can learn a lot from it as well. In this text we introduce some key ideas from the field of human rights education, and what they mean in the context of CISV. To organize this text, we follow the view that human rights education is best understood by looking at it from three angles: educating about, for, and through human rights (see, for instance, Amnesty international1). After explaining what each of these mean, we suggest some things for you to do. Throughout, we draw on insights into human rights education from outside of CISV. Our intention, however, is to work out how CISVers can educate about, for, and through human rights. Educating About Human Rights “Only people who understand human rights will work to secure and defend them for themselves and others.”2 The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the central document underlying human rights law globally today. The importance the people who drafted it gave to education becomes clear straight away in the UDHR’s preamble, which states that: Every individual and every organ of society shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these [human] rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.3

Experiential Education Activities


2012 Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Sierra Leone Civil War.

2013 France and Brazil also legalize same-sex marriage. There are now 13 countries in the world that grant same-sex couples equal rights to that of opposite-sex couples.

Some even say that the Declaration as a whole —note that it is not legally enforceable— is primarily meant to promote education for human rights. Mary Ann Glendon (2008), an expert on the UDHR, believes that “education in particular is what the Universal Declaration is all about […] The idea was that through education they would somehow find a way to make these rights a reality.”4 Somehow —but how exactly? Logically, we need to first agree on what human rights mean in order to then discuss where human rights are being violated in our present world and throughout history. Only then can we find ways to address the problem. Second, it can be argued that only if people know about injustices and violations of human rights, can they be expected to be working for social change and the protection of human rights. For instance, it might spur us into action to learn that human rights violations occur in every single country in the world. We would love to be proven wrong on this one; have a look at the Amnesty International country reports5 and tell us if you find one country that is completely free of human rights violations today. Third, learning about human rights should include an engagement with the legal and institutional framework that exists to protect human rights in the world today. Having at least some understanding of the legal documents and the organizations that are meant to enforce them is relevant for several reasons. It enables us to understand how international standards and agreements


Experiential Education Activities

2013 Human rights is the content area of CISV. All camps, programs and activities incorporate the topic of human rights in different ways as part of its experiential peace education model.

affect our countries and us as individuals. As active global citizens, we should be keen to develop our self-awareness as actors within this legal framework. This helps us to understand how human rights affect us where we live and in our everyday life, and how we can contribute to their protection. Furthermore, knowing which rights have been acknowledged in our countries and in international agreements is important. Only if we can be specific and precise will others listen when we speak out for human rights. Last, but not least, if we want to engage in the human rights movement, we need to understand the legal mechanisms at work. Educating for Human Rights Human rights education is the process of understanding and assuming our responsibility to respect and protect people’s dignity. Human rights education aims to empower individuals to commit to the respect and defence of the minimum standards without which none of us can live in dignity. In this sense, human rights education is always education for human rights. And so, as Flowers points out, “the ‘test’ for this kind of learning is how we act.”6 What kind of learning process can shape our personal lives and behaviours to align them more closely with human rights and its values? How can it trigger our motivation to actively participate in the defence for human rights in a local or global setting? Certainly, human rights education cannot be limited to imparting or transferring information

2013 The President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez dies after 14 years of ruling the country.

2013 During the Boston Marathon on April 15 two pressure cooker bombs exploded.

from teacher to learner. We need a wider concept of education, which CISV offers. CISV’s approach to peace education focuses on experiential learning in order to develop attitudes, skills and knowledge that contribute to shaping a culture of human rights. As stated in the Big Ed, “Peace Education provides us with the attitudes, skills and knowledge we need to become agents of change, both locally and globally. In other words, to become active global citizens.”7 We trust that CISVers will find creative ways to educate and train for human rights. Just one small example may help, however, to bring out how this could work. Why not ask participants in your session, camp or JB activity to think of and write down a declaration of the basic rights that should be respected for everyone within the programme? That declaration would provide a concrete example of how we can use rights to live together in the way we want. It could be used throughout the session, camp or JB activity to check whether the group is living up to their own standards. It can also help question how rights can be enforced if we do not live up to the standards we set ourselves. In the debriefing you could use this exercise to point out links to the bigger picture of human rights; for instance, the value of getting together and defining rights and the problem of enforcing rights. Only if everybody contributes can we realistically dream of human rights as a lived experience for all rather than abstract words on paper.

2013 Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau said “I do” at a ceremony celebrating France’s first official gay marriage after months of sometimes violent protests.

Educating through Human Rights To educate for human rights we also need to work through human rights. This means that we should create a learning environment in which respect for each other’s dignity and rights is of the highest importance. As Nancy Flowers observes, “No teacher can teach equality and respect for all in a classroom that does not strive to practice these principles.”8 For this reason, facilitators of human rights activities should be especially cautious with the way they carry out an educational activity. It is not only the content or the theme of the activity that matters. Just as important is that all participants feel that the activity and those in a position of leadership model greatest respect for all participants. “Do as I say, not as I do,” as the saying goes, is not good enough. For a trainer or facilitator this can mean that they sharpen their attention to the quiet people in the group, to the shy ones, and maybe those least popular in the group. Is really everybody cared for, regardless of their language skills, and regardless of the way they look and think? On another level, long activities or programmes —like CISV camps— allow for a small community to develop their own culture amongst participants. Here it is important to realise that it is not only the activities within the camp that involve human rights. All the relations that are built when living together are a space for us to practice a culture of human rights. This does not only mean not to violate any legal rights of the participants, it also means being

Experiential Education Activities


2013 Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected the 266th pope, taking the name Francisco.

2013 An eight-story building housing several garment factories collapses near Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka. More than 1100 low-paid workers died.

aware of the wide spectrum of human dignity that goes beyond what is actually written in laws. If some have all the power and others no power at all, or if some are discriminated against based on ethnic or socioeconomic grounds, we should stop and act to ensure that human rights are indeed fully respected in our small communities. Peace Education about, for and through Human Rights If we in CISV live up to our principles and educational purpose, CISV can contribute to human rights education in all three senses of the word. As active global citizens, which we aspire to be and educate our participants to become, we will know about human rights. We will all want to strive for human rights, because we understand that a life in dignity is a precondition to a more peaceful world. Through being human rights educators who do what we say, we can inspire others to follow suit. A tall order? Yes, certainly. But why not start trying today? In CISV we have a community of people who care, co-operate, and who share the values underlying human rights. So, if we can strengthen CISV in delivering peace education, we can have more impact to create a culture of human rights than when we act alone. After each CISV programme, camp or weekend, we inevitably return home again. And there the learning and educating continues. Are human rights in our own communities and countries violated? Who is taking action already so we could join forces? Our CISV experiences of living, learning and collaborating with people from different cultural backgrounds will have prepared us to deal with different interpretations of human rights. So, at home and abroad, inside CISV and out, as active global citizens we will be better prepared to face the challenges of learning and educating about, for and through human rights in very diverse environments.


Experiential Education Activities

2013 Thousands of Brazilian citizens protest against excessive amount of money spent for the Football World Cup 2014. People demand better public services.

Goals for Educating on Human Rights. A= attitudes S = skills K = knowledge These four goals were written by Anna Forrest, Simon Ellehammer and Adelaida Barrera. They can be used as guidelines when planning JB activities, workshops, designing Mosaic projects, etc. The activities you will find in the following pages are based on these goals and are not thought for any specific CISV Program, therefore, if you want to use them in a camp, we encourage you to adapt them according to the specific goals of each Program. Goal 1 – To prepare participants to understand human rights. a. Understand human rights as basic standards without which human beings cannot live in dignity. (K) b. Understand the legal and institutional framework for human rights, i.e.: »» Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants and Conventions, »» global human rights procedural institutions, »» the history of citizen rights. (K) c. Be able to identify human rights’ violations. (S) d. Be willing to explore the history and field of human rights. (A)

Goal 2 – To prepare participants to implement human rights in their everyday-life. a. Be willing to understand everyday-life from a human rights perspective. (A) b. Be able to identify human right violations in their community and country. (S) c. Understand the way each of us is affected by the human rights situation in our own country. (K) d. Understand the mechanisms for the protection of human rights in their local setting. (K)

Experiential Education Activities


Goal 3 – To prepare participants to act for human rights. a. Be willing to seek opportunities for cooperation to work with human rights. (A) b. Be able to discuss and develop initiatives for human rights. (S) c. Be willing to actively contribute to the continuous promotion of human rights. (A) d. Understand how our own initiatives relate to the promotion of human rights. (K) Goal 4 – To prepare participant to act according to human rights in social contexts. a. Be willing to reflect on how our own actions affect other people’s dignity and rights. (A) b. Understand how power imbalances influence social relations. (K) c. Be able to identify and address injustice in social contexts. (S) d. Be able to act in non discriminatory ways. (S)

Things to Keep in Mind When Planning an Activity: • What is their age, occupation, the relationship between participants and so on. • How much time will you spend? • At what time of the day will you do the activity? • Where is the activity going to be? • How much space is required for the activity?


Experiential Education Activities

Debriefing Is Very Important, but What Is It? The purpose of debriefing is to gather feedback on the content and process of the activity that was carried out. It helps participants reflect on their recent experience and learning, it creates a space for sharing opinions, thoughts and emotions as well as reassure the facilitators that the participants gained knowledge and understanding from the activity they did. When you begin the debrief it is important to decide on how it will be facilitated. Will you divide the group into smaller groups, pairs, do it individually or not divide it at all? How can you create the best environment for the participants to open up and share with the others? What must you, as facilitator(s), keep in mind during the debriefing session? Remember that some activities may require sensitive facilitation by leaders due to the context or topic of the activity. The debriefing asks participants to think about what they have seen, thought, felt and done during the activity. Participants are encouraged to discover the aim of the activity as well as considering what the motivation behind their behaviour was and what they wanted to achieve by it. It is best to think of the debriefing as part of the activity and to plan the amount of time that will be spent on it (often it will be the same amount or even more than what the actual activity took).

Activity 1

Four Corners This activity is meant to make participants understand that human rights issues are complex and debatable, and to show how supporting certain rights often implies putting other rights at risk. The activity seeks to encourage participants to form their own opinions about controversial topics, and to visualize how people have different opinions and arguments that support them.

Educational Goals and Indicators Goal 1 – To prepare participants to understand human rights. • S – Be able to identify violations of human rights.

Theme: Controversies around human rights issues. Time: 60–90 minutes.

Goal 2 – To prepare participants to implement human rights in their everyday-life. • A – Be willing to understand everyday-life from a human rights perspective. • K – Understand the way each of us is affected by the human rights situation in our own country.

Age group: 16+ Materials: large pieces of paper, markers.

Experiential Education Activities


Prepare 1. Choose 3 or 4 topics related to human rights. They must be controversial topics that involve a conflict of rights. 2. For each topic write 4 sentences expressing support or rejection towards the topic chosen, and the reason behind such position. 3. Write each statement in a big piece of paper and organize them in groups: one statement of each topic per group. Make sure the topics are in the same order in all groups of papers. 4. Keep a sheet of paper with all the statements written down for yourself. 5. Ask four people to be your helpers (it can be other facilitators), take a group of papers and stand in each corner of the room.

Do Explain to the participants that you will read four statements and they have to walk towards the corner that corresponds to the idea they agree with. Read the four statements of a topic. The facilitators in each corner raise the paper with the statement for everyone to read. Give the participants time to move around the room and when everyone seems to have decided where to stand you can ask one or more persons of each corner if they want to explain the reasons why they support that statement. Depending on the time you have, allow more or less room for discussion. Tell participants they can move to a different corner if they change their mind. Do the same with the rest of the topics.


Experiential Education Activities

Debriefing 1. Reflect • How did you feel when you had to choose one of the corners? • What topic was the most difficult? Why? • Did you change your mind after hearing other perspectives? 2. Generalize • What can you say about the general opinions of this group? • What can we say about the relation between different rights after this activity? 3. Apply • Why is it important to ask ourselves these questions? • Do you know what happens in your country regarding these issues?

Examples of Statements The statements on the next page were used for this activity at a CISV leaders training in Colombia. You can take them as examples but we encourage you to choose topics and statements that are relevant and interesting for the group of people you are working with. The more you know your group, the better you can plan the activity. Consider factors like origin, age, occupations, religion.

Statements Topic: The right to have an abortion • Abortion should be legal because women have the right to decide over their own body. • Abortion should be allowed because unwanted children are harmful to society. • Abortion should not be allowed because it would be like telling women that their actions have no consequences. • Abortion should not be allowed because every child has a right to live. Topic: Euthanasia • Euthanasia should be allowed because a life in a vegetative state is not a life worth living. • Euthanasia should be allowed because everyone has the right to decide over their own life. • Euthanasia should not be legal because it is murder and murder is a sin. • Euthanasia should not be allowed because life is sacred. Topic: Sexual work • Prostitution should be legal because it reduces the amount of rapes/domestic violence in society. • Prostitution should be allowed because sexual workers deserve the same rights and protection as all other workers. • Prostitution should not be allowed because it is an undignified way of making a living. • Prostitution should be illegal because it poisons society with immoral behavior.

Experiential Education Activities


Activity 2

Human Rights training Session by Con Lupa Agreeing that basic rights should be respected to safeguard everyone’s dignity is often easy; deciding what that concretely means is much more complicated. This activity is intended for participants to experience the difficulties of discussing which are or should be basic human rights. At the end participants receive the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to contrast their own thoughts with what the international community declared in the most recognized document on human rights we have so far.

Theme: Fundamental and universal rights Time: 60–90 minutes.

Educational Goals and Indicators

Age group: 16+ Materials: Sets of 5 papers (1 for each group) with different words/rights on them.


Experiential Education Activities

Goal 1 – To prepare participants to understand human rights. • K – Understand human rights as basic standards without which human beings cannot live in dignity. • K – Understand the legal and institutional framework for human rights. • A – Be willing to explore the history and field of human rights.

Do Divided the participants in groups of 5. Each group will receive a set of papers with certain words written on them, fot example: freedom of expression, food, a name, private property, pension, leisure, public transportation, freedom of religion, democracy, an open trial, life, clean water, dreams, the right to die, education, freedom of movement within your country, abortion friends, higher education, paid vacations, plastic surgery, internet, freedom of movement within countries, no death penalty, love. Every group has a different set of papers. They have 20 minutes to decide (1) which of those are/should be human rights (2) Organize the ones they chose as human rights in order of priority. Gather everyone in a circle and designate a group of chairs or the group that is presenting their decision to sit. Each group has 3 - 5 minutes (you decide depending on the time you have for this activity) to present what they discussed. Allow other people to ask them questions. When one group is done, ask the next group to sit in the designated chairs and explain their decisions.

2. Generalize and Apply Lead the discussion towards the topics you as facilitators decide are more important to you, or towards the main topics of debate during the previous part of the activity. These are some examples: • What do you think about the relation between different rights after doing this activity? • Which would you say are the most basic human rights after this activity, and why? • What can you say about the line we draw between rights and privileges? • What do you think about the role of language(s) in the process of defining basic human rights?

Debriefing If you have a co-facilitator, divide the group in two. Otherwise stay in one big circle. 1. Reflect Ask the group questions that lead to reflecting on the process of discussing and choosing the basic human rights and their importance. • How was the process of deciding in your group? • Which were the main difficulties or discussions? • Were you surprised by the other groups’ choices?

Experiential Education Activities


Activity 3

Human Rights in the News In this activity, originally created by the University of Minnesota Human Rights Centre, participants are faced to the reality of how human rights are respected and violated in the world. By reading the news they will be able to identify human rights violations, and discuss what can be done about it in their own communities.

Theme: Human rights in everyday life Time : 30-45 minutes Age group: 14+

Educational Goals and Indicators

Materials: Newspapers, chart paper, tape or glue, scissors, markers and copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Goal 1 – To prepare participants to understand human rights. • S – Be able to identify violations of Human Rights.


Experiential Education Activities

Goal 2 – To prepare participants to implement human rights in their everyday-life • S – Be able to identify human right violations in their community and country.

Do Divide participants into small groups. Each group receives a newspaper or pages from a newspaper, scissors, tape or glue, and a sheet of chart paper. Each group will construct a poster using items from the newspaper grouped under these categories: a. Rights being practiced or enjoyed. b. Rights being denied. c. Rights being protected. d. Rights in conflict. Encourage participants to look not only for news stories but also for small features such as announcements and advertisements (e.g., the language of the paper itself illustrates the right to language and culture, advertisements can illustrate the right to private property, reports of social events may illustrate cultural rights, and personal columns can reflect many rights in practice). Once participants have found stories for each category, they should select one story from each category to analyze: a. What specific rights were involved in the story? List them next to the article. b. Find the article(s) of the UDHR that cover each right and write the article number(s) on the list. Ask a spokesperson from each group to summarize the group’s selections. Choose one or two stories from each group’s poster and ask the group to explain their analysis of the story in terms of the UDHR: • What specific rights were involved in several of the stories? • What articles of the UDHR were involved?

• Were more stories concerned with political and civil rights or social, economic, and cultural rights? • Why do you think one kind of right appeared more often?

Debriefing 1. Reflect • What categories of rights stories were easiest to find? Hardest? Why? • Did some articles of the UDHR come up more often than others? Did others not come up at all? How can you explain this? • How many articles explicitly mentioned human rights? How many concerned human rights issues but did not use those words? Why do you think human rights were not mentioned? 2. Generalize • Based on these news stories, what seems to be the state of human rights in the world today? • In your country? • In your community? 3. Apply • What are some positive initiatives and actions for the protection and fulfillment of human rights indicated by the stories? • Who is taking these actions? • What can you do about these situations in your community or country?

Experiential Education Activities


Activity 4

My Dream Country This is an activity to challenge the participants to define what they consider ideal and to reflect upon human rights as basic standards for humanity. They will have the chance to come up with what they believe an ideal society should have and then contrast their thoughts with what is written in the Universal Declaration of Humman Rights.

Theme: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Time: 2 hours Age group: 11+ Materials: Copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pens, markers and big pieces of paper.


Experiential Education Activities

Educational Goals and Indicators Goal 1 – To prepare participants to understand human rights. • K – Understand human rights as basic standards without which human beings cannot live in dignity. • K – Understand the legal and institutional framework for Human Rights, i.e.; »» Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants and Conventions, »» global human rights procedural institutions, »» the history of citizen rights. • A – Be willing to explore the history and field of Human Rights.

Do Before the activity, familiarize yourself with the Declaration of Human Rights on page 187–189. Print copies of the UDHR one per each participant or one per each group. The activity is divided into two parts: Part 1 Create a Country and part 2 Review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Part 1: Create a Country ( 1 hour) • Divide the group in smaller groups of 4 people and give them a big piece of paper. • The groups should stay the same during part 1 and part 2 af the activity. This can be changed around during the debriefing. 1. (10 min) Each group creates a Country. The should write the name of the country, and draw their country’s flag and national emblem. 2. (20 min) Once the basics of the countries have been established, the groups get a new task: to create a constitution. The constitution must be composed of 10 important principles. Ask the participants to choose what they prefer. You can encourage the participants with some questions: »» What is a Constitution? »» What are the important points a Constitution should have? »» Do we need to have rights and duties for your citizens in your constitution? 3. (30 min) Each group presents their country in a creative way and reads the constitution of their country to the other participants. (5 min per group).

Part 2: Review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). (15 min) 4. Give each group (or each participant) the printed version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 5. Ask the participants to read the UDHR. 6. When you have finished reading the UDHR, the idea is to compare it to the constitutions the groups created for their countries. Are there similarities or differences?

Debriefing 1. • • • • • • •

Reflect Did you know about the UDHR before? Did you learn something new about the UDHR? How did you pick the rights of your constitution? Did everyone equally agree on all the rights? Did you think it was easy? Why this (specific right)? Why not this one? (suggest a different right)

2. Generalize • Do you know your country’s constitution? • Is it similar to the one you created? 3. Apply • Which is your favorite human right and why? • Which human right do you find surprising? • Which principle was common to all or many constitutions?

Experiential Education Activities


Activity 5

Impossible Immigration This is a simulation activity that aims at giving the participants an insight into the experience of migrants as they come to an unknown place, not knowing what to do. The activity requires some physical space that can be divided into sections where each station will be. It is important to remember that facilitators must take the simulation seriously, but that the well being of the participants is what matters the most. If someone is negatively affected by the activity it is better to stop it than to continue at any cost.

Theme: Migration

Educational Goals and Indicators:

Time : 2 hours Goal 1 – To prepare participants to understand human rights. Age group: 14+

• S – Be able to identify violations of human rights.

Materials: Pens, snacks, whiteboard and markers, arts and crafts and a camera. You will also need to make an asylum seeking application form, and have one copy of it per partcipant.

Goal 2 – To prepare participants to implement human rights in their everyday-life. • K – Understand the way each of us is affected by the human rights situation in our own country.

Goal 4 – To prepare participants to act according to human rights in social contexts. • A – Be willing to reflect on how our own actions affect other people’s dignity and rights.


Experiential Education Activities

Prepare Make a “map” over where the different stations will be and make sure you have all the materials ready. Explain the activity, its purpose, each station, each role and the facilitators responsibilities to the leaders. Mark the sections of the room(s) clearly and make sure each station is manned by at least one facilitator. Before you begin, gather the participants and tell them that the next activity you will do is a simulation about migration. Make sure to say that if anyone feels uncomfortable with simulation activities then they are allowed to observe.

Do First stop: Seeking Asylum All of the participants line up at the entrance of the refugee camp (main room) and are given a form that they must fill out and hand to the person in charge. This person acts very authoritarian and speaks in a language that the participants don’t understand (or gibberish or not at all). Without giving any reasons, the facilitator marks most of the applications with an X and a few with a V. The participants with an X on their application are sent in to the refugee camp while the others are asked to wait outside. Those who go to the refugee camp are first sent to the “Cultural code” section. ‘Cultural Code’ The facilitator in this station speaks English and gets angry easily. She/he gives the participants a challenge. The participants must find out the pattern or code of the facilitator’s actions, and whisper it to the

facilitator when they have a guess. For example, the facilitator holds up a pen and asks “how many elephants do I have in my hand now?”. The correct answer is the amount of words he/she says (in this case 10). Then he/she moves the pen in a peculiar way and asks “how about now?” Now the correct answer is 3, and so on. The participants who figure out the code are given some food (either symbolic or a fruit or snack) and they are then sent to the next station. Language Class The participants now have to learn a new language, it can either be a different language or a made up one. The facilitator writes words and conjugations on the board and tests the participants to see if they understand it. After three correct answers, they are sent back to the asylum seeking station where they repeat the application process (they may or may not be granted asylum). Make sure the leader running this section never stops speaking the made-up language and frequently gets frustrated at everyone for not understanding. Detention Centre This is where participants are sent to at any moment during the activity, either for a reason or entirely random. The facilitator here acts as a very authoritarian figure. It is not allowed to move, speak, stand up or go against any of the facilitator’s commands. The objective is to make the participants bored, frustrated and feeling helpless. Outside the Refugee Camp The participants who have gotten their form

Experiential Education Activities


accepted are told that they have been granted residence permit in their new country and that they may choose between three jobs. They can either serve the nation by joining the army, they may work as clothing designers or get into the modelling business. Once they have chosen an occupation they are sent to that station. Army Recruits As the participants arrive to this post they are told they are in military training and that they will soon be sent abroad to die for the nation. The facilitator is a military officer who shouts and orders the participants to do physical exercise (pull-ups, push ups, running etc.), not letting them sit down or rest for the entire activity. Designers The facilitator immediately sets the participants to work when they arrive. Their task is to draw 10 different t-shirt designs, fast. The facilitator goes over them and rejects 8 of the drawings, ripping them up and telling them to make 8 new ones, faster. The participants in this station are not clothing designers, but workers in a sweatshop. Models At first, this post resembles a photo-shoot, the facilitator takes pictures of the participants and encourages them. After a while, they are told that they have done a great job, and they are given the opportunity to go abroad to model for a big fashion company. They are then sent to a small room with no light and the door is closed. The facilitator then slips a piece


Experiential Education Activities

of paper under the door saying “you have been sold off to become sexual worker in an unknown country.” The participants stay in the room until the activity is over.

Debriefing Begin by asking one participant from each station to explain what they did so that everyone understands what happened at the different posts. 1. Reflect • How was the atmosphere in the refugee camp? • How did you feel when you were spoken gibberish to? • What was it like to sit in the detention centre ? • What was it like to learn a new language? • Those who were granted residence: how did you feel at first? How did you feel later? • Did anything surprise you during the activity? • Was there something difficult or frustrating? 2. Generalize • What issues do immigrants and refugees encounter in real life? Did we see some of these represented in the simulation? • How was the power relation between the facilitators and the participants? • Which human rights were violated in the simulation? 3. Apply • What do you think we can do to improve the situation of people in this situations? • How can their vulnerability be decreased?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations, Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women

and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge, Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS 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 and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Experiential Education Activities


Article 1

Article 7

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 2 Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 8

Article 3

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6 Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.


Experiential Education Activities

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Article 11 (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13 (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14 (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15 (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16 (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17 (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20 (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21 (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

Experiential Education Activities


(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22 Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23 (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24 Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic


Experiential Education Activities

holidays with pay.

Article 25 (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26 (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27 (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the

cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28 Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29 (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30 Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Experiential Education Activities


Our Partners The Con Lupa project and this book are part of a long-term relationship between CISV Norway, CISV Colombia and LNU.

CISV International is a global organization dedicated to educating and inspiring for peace through building inter-cultural friendship, cooperation and understanding. Founded in 1950, today we are a federation of 60 Member Associations with over 200 Chapters or local groups. In over 60 years we have given countless children and young people the experience of their lives and the opportunity to build lasting friendships through our international educational programmes. Our innovative, fun, non-formal peace education ‘learning by doing’ programmes begin with our Village programme for 11-year-olds. We offer an exciting blend of seven international camp-based, family exchange and local community programmes. We aim to help our participants develop the skills


Our partners

they need to become informed, responsible and active global citizens that can make a difference in their communities and the world. The glue that underpins all of our programmes is friendship, in line with our founding belief that peace is possible through friendship and mutual understanding. CISV has a vision of a more just and peaceful world; we believe that we can all take responsibility for making this happen. This vision gives us a strong purpose, or mission, which is summed up clearly in our Statement of Purpose: CISV educates and inspires action for a more just and peaceful world. We work around four main content areas: sustainable development, diversity, conflict and resolution, and human rights, which is the area of focus for 2013. | |

The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU) LNU is the Norwegian Children and Youth Council, an umbrella organization for more than 90 Norwegian NGOs for children and youth. The member organizations work within a wide range of areas, from education and politics through culture and music to scouting and religious work. All member organizations are composed of volunteers and have a democratic structure. LNU represents the common interests of youth organizations towards authorities and powerful institutions in the country. It also provides the State with pertinent information to make effective policies on children and youth. At the same time, LNU empowers its members by administering eight different trusts for activities and projects. With funds from Fredskorpset, LNU coordinates one-year long exchange projects between one of their member organizations and a partner in the South. CISV Norway has partnered up with CISV Colombia to carry out two projects supported by LNU: Con Lupa (2012/13) and the Mango Project (2011/12).

Fredskorpset (FK) Fredskorpset —the peace corps— is a body of the Norwegian government, directly funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was founded on 1963 and re-established in 2000, when it began to focus on mutual exchange programs between members of Norwegian organizations, and members of similar organizations in the “global South” —mainly Asia, Africa and Latin America. The purpose of these exchanges is to promote reciprocal learning and to support the development of non-governmental organizations in local communities. FKs programs encourage participants to integrate their knowledge and experience into their own societies, help strengthen civil society in developing countries, enhance people’s ability to set and achieve their own development goals, and promote greater participation of developing countries in international cooperation. Since 2000 more than 6000 people between 18 and 35 have participated in FK exchange programs.

Our partners


References Why Are Human Rights Important? Camilla Silva Fløistrup

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Protecting Human Rights Jonas L. Skaalerud


1. In doing this I rely heavily on Njål

3. United Nations, Charter of



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Further Reading:

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lic Affairs 32 (2004): 318. 5. Amartya Sen, “Elements of a Theory of Human Rights,” 348.

6 (2001): 69-70. 9. United Nations Briefing Papers, “Hu-

6. This includes all types of ways of

man Rights Today: A United Nations

learning, from the non-formal educa-


tion that NGOs like CISV provide,

Thinking Critically About Human Rights By Juliana Buriticá Alzate

HRToday (accessed April 3, 2013).

to the kind of sentimental education

10. Ignatieff, “The Attack on Human

that we get by reading novels, as Rich-

1. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Righting

11. UN General Assembly, Declaration on

7. For example, a recent report on the

Wrongs,” The South Atlantic Quarterly 103

the Elimination of Violence against

work done for the reconstruction and

Number 2/3 (Spring/Summer 2004):

Women, December 20 1993, A/

development of Haiti argues: “With-



2. Heiner Bielefeldt, “‘Western’ versus ‘Islamic’ Human Rights Concep-

ard Rorty suggests.

Rights,” 116.

out an explicit reference to the human


rights framework, there is a danger

(accessed April 3, 2013).

[…] that programs be driven by the question ‘what do the poor people

tions? A Critique of Cultural Essentialism in the Discussion on Human Rights,” Political Theory Vol. 28, No. 1 (February 2000): 90-91.

Why Do We Talk About Human Rights, Anyways? By Adelaida Barrera Daza

need’ rather than the question ‘what can the poor people do?’.” And the report concludes: “The international the

community may consider a shift in

Human Rights Organizations,” The

United Nations, October 24 1945, 1

language from social protection to

Independent, March 27, 2013, http://


the language of rights and empower-


ment would help shift the paradigm.


(accessed April 16, 2013).

Adopting the human rights frame-

3. Andrew Mwenda, “The Tyranny of

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1. United Nations, Charter of

2. United Nations, Universal Declara-

work in search for sustainable so-

tion of Human Rights, December

lutions to poverty reduction can

10 1948, 217 A (III), http://www.

help keep attention on the ultimate



9. Donnelly, “The Relative Universality

goal of improving lives of people.”

2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philoso-

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Empowering Peo-

phy, “Cosmopolitanism,” November

ple: Human Rights Review of Haiti’s Pover-


10. Henry Benedict Tam, Communitarian-

ty Reduction and Growth Strategies, http://

entries/cosmopolitanism/ (accessed

ism: A New Agenda for Politics and Citi-

April 15, 2013).

zenship (Basingstoke: MacMillan Press


3. United States Declaration of Indepen-

of Human Rights,” 20.

Ltd, 1998), 26.



11. Michael Walzer, Thick and Thin: Moral

cessed April 15, 2013). You can also

laration/document/ (accessed April

Argument at Home and Abroad (Notre

read about this shift of perspective in

15, 2013).

Dame: University of Notre Dame


the United Nations Human Development

4. Motto of the French Revolution.

Report 2000, 1999, http://hdr.undp.

5. Janna

Press, 1994).


12. Michael Walzer, Thick and Thin, 6.


Identity and World Citizenship,” in

13. Michael Walzer, Thick and Thin, 7.

(accessed April 15, 2013).

Archibugi, Daniele, Held, David and

14. Donnelly, “The Relative Universality


8. Michael Ignatieff, “Human Rights as

Köhler, Martin (eds.), Re-Imagining Po-

Idolatry” (presented at The Tanner

litical Community: Studies in Cosmopolitan

Lectures on Human Values at Princ-

Democracy (Cambridge: Blackwell Pub-

eton University, 2000), 349.

lishers Ltd, 1998), 180.

of Human Rights,” 15-20. 15. Donnelly, “The Relative Universality of Human Rights,” 8. 16. Donnelly, “The Relative Universal-


6. Jack Donnelly, “The Relative Univer-

ity of Human Rights,” 6-7; Arwin

More Africans Don’t Use Human

sality of Human Rights,” in Human

Sharma, Are Human Rights Western: A

Rights Language,” Carnegie Coun-

Rights & Human Welfare: a forum for works

Contribution to the Dialogue of Civiliza-

cil for Ethics and International Af-

in progress, Working Paper no. 33, (Den-

tions (Oxford: Oxford University Press,


ver: University of Denver, 2006), 9.

9. Chidi




2006), 146-149.

7. Vienna Declaration and Programme

17. Mary Midgley, “Towards an Ethic of


of Action, Adopted by the World Con-

Global Responsibility,” in Tim Dunne

(accessed April 15, 2013).

ference on Human Rights in Vienna

& Nicholas J. Wheeler, Human Rights in

on 25 June 1993, http://www.ohchr.

Global Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge


University Press, 1999), 160-161.

Human Rights, Is There Anything Wrong With Them? By Idunn Helle

Vienna.aspx (accessed April 15, 2013). 8. For example, Chris Brown, “Univer-

18. Tam, Communitarianism, 16. 19. Donnelly, “The Relative Universality of Human Rights,” 10.

1. David Held, “Principles of Cosmopoli-

sal Human Rights: a Critique,” in

tan Order,” in Brock, Gillian and Brig-

Tim Dunne & Nicholas J. Wheeler

20. Amartya Sen, “Elements of a Theory

house, Harry (eds.), The Political Phi-

(eds.), Human Rights in Global Politics

of Human Rights,” Philosophy and Pub-

losophy of Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge:

(Cambridge, Cambridge University

Cambridge University Press, 2005), 12.

press, 1999), 111.



lic Affairs vol 32:4 (2004): 328. 21. Jeremy Bentham, “Anarchical Falla-

cies,” in Collected works, Vol. II, (Edin-

consisted of defending a market econ-

by Niccolò Machiavelli which autho-

burgh: William Tait, 1843), 523.

omy while the communist countries

rizes the State to transgress its laws in

22. Bentham, “Anarchical Fallacies.”

advocated for a state central planned

the name of national interest.

23. Sen, “Elements of a Theory of Hu-

economy. See Caroline Thomas, Global

14. United Nations, “Rights Empower-

Governance: Development and Human Secu-

ing People in the Fight Against Pov-

rity: The Challenge of Poverty and Inequality

erty,” in Human Development Report

(London: Pluto press, 2001).

2000 (Oxford: Oxford University

man Rights,” 343-356. 24. Sen, “Elements of a Theory of Human Rights,” 356.

25. Donnelly, “The Relative Universality

3. Urvin, “Introduction,” 5.

Press, 1999), 86.

4. Peter Urvin, “Chapter One: Back-

15. UN, “Rights Empowering People,” 77.

26. Tam, Communitariansim, 14.

round,” in Human Rights and Devel-

16. UN, “Rights Empowering People,” 77.

27. International Coaition for the Re-

opment (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian

17. UN, “Rights Empowering People,” 77.

Press, 2004), 7.

18. UN, “Human Rights and Human de-

of Human Rights,” 10.

sponsibility to Protect, “An Introduction to the Responsibility to Protect”,

5. United Nations, “Human Rights and


Human Development,” in Human De-

19. UN, “Rights Empowering People,” 78.

org/index.php/about-rtop (accessed

velopment Report 2000 (Oxford: Oxford

20. French phrase meaning “reason for

April 15, 2013).

University Press, 1999), 20.

velopment,” 24.


28. Nicholas J. Wheeler, Saving Strangers:

6. Urvin, “Chapter One: Backround,”7.

Humanitarian Intervention in International

7. Gerald Meier, “Thinking About De-

Society (Oxford: Oxford University

velopment,” in Biography of a Subject:

Press, 2000), 2.

An Evolution of Development Economics

Do We Have a Responsibility to Protect? By Ingvild Vetrhus

(New York: Oxford University Press,

1. Two ethnic groups in Central Africa.

2005), 5.

2. Intent to kill, in whole or in part, an

The Importance of Human Rights in Achieving Human Development Alejandro Abadía 1. Peter Uvin, “Introduction,” in Human Rights and Development (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, 2004), 1. 2. According to Caroline Thomas, both capitalist and communist notions of development meant to achieve industrialization through the application of

8. Amartya Sen, “Introduction: Devel-

ethnical, national or religious group.

opment as Freedom,” in Development

3. United Nations, “Kofi Annan em-

as Freedom (New York: Anchor Books,

phasizes commitment to enabling

2001), 1.

UN never again to fail in protecting

9. Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, 1.

civilian population from genocide or

10. Urvin, “Introduction,” 5.

mass slaughter,” September 1999,

11. United Nations, “Human Rights and

Human Development,” 20. 12. United Nations, “Human Rights and Human Development,” 24.

modern science and exploitation of

13. Literally meaning “reason of state.” It

nature. However, the capitalist strategy

refers to a political principle proposed

docs/1999/19991216.sgsm7263.doc. html (accessed April 15, 2013). 4. A peace treaty that initiated political sovereignty in central Europe and ended the Thirty Years’ War.



5. Donald W. Potter, “State Responsibility,

February 14, 2013, http://www.the-

Sovereignty, and Failed States” (paper

presented at the Australasian Political


Studies Association Conference, Uni-


versity of Adelaide, Adelaide, Septem-

(accessed April 15, 2013).

ber 29-October 1, 2004), https://www. Others/potter.pdf (accessed April 15, 2013). 6. International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Re-

14. Gunmen operating in North-Sudan comprised Sudanese Arab tribes. 15. “Powell Declares Genocide in Sudan,”

en/peacekeeping/about/ (accessed April 15, 2013). 21. The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 22. Severine Autesserre, The Trouble with the Congo: Local violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

BBC, September 9, 2004, http://

23. “Libya: Civilian Deaths from NATO

Airstrikes Must be Properly Investi-

(accessed April 15, 2013).

gated,” Amnesty International, March

sponsibility to Protect (Ottawa: Interna-

16. Alex de Waal, “Why Darfur Interven-

19, 2012,

tional Development Research Centre,

tion is a Mistake,” BBC, May 21, 2008,


2001), xi.


7411087.stm (accessed April 15,

gated-2012-03-19 (accessed April 15,

7. The main policymaking and representative part of the United Nations containing all 193 Members of the United


2013). 17. A failed state is a nation where the

24. People or a society at a local level.

government is unable to provide basic

25. “The Lessons of Libya,” The Economist,

8. Alex J. Bellamy, The Responsibil-

conditions of a sovereign state, such as

May 19, 2011, http://www.economist.

ity to Protect (Cambridge: Polity Press,

health care and infrastructure. It can

com/node/18709571 (accessed April

2001), 615.

also be linked to loss of territory and


9. Gareth Evans, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All (Washington DC: Brookings Institution, 2008), 61.

to failure to communicate with the international community.

the Congo, 9.

18. Gerard Prunier, From Genocide to Conti-

27. African Union Pan African Parliament,

nental War: The “Congolese” Conflict and

10. Bellamy, The Responsibility to Protect, 633.

the Crisis of Contemporary Africa (India:

11. OAU intended to promote solidarity

Hurst & Co, 2009).

within African states to act as a col-

15, 2013). 26. Severine Autesserre, The Trouble with

(accessed April 15, 2013). 28. Severine Autesserre, The Trouble with the

19. The United Nation’s peacekeeping

Congo, 265.

troops are comprised of civilian, po-

29. International Coalition for the Respon-

12. African Union, “About,” http://www.

lice and military personnel to create

sibility to Protect, “Crisis in Kenya,” (accessed April 15, 2013).

the foundation of lasting peace in war


torn countries.


lective voice for the continent.

13. Joseph




Union: The Challenges of a PanAfrican Project,” The Foreign Report,



20. United



“About us,”

(accessed April 15, 2013).

Further Readings: • Romeo Dallaire, Shake hands with

3. “Internet Access Is a Fundamental Right,” BBC News, March 8, 2010,

the Devil (Random House Canada:




• Desmond Tutu, “Taking the Re- (accessed

2013). 8. Cerf, “Internet Access Is Not a Human Right.” 9. Michael




sorship: Is the Internet a Human

April 15, 2013).

sponsibility to Protect,” The New York

4. WSIS (World Summit on the Informa-

Right?,” International Business Times,

Times, November 9, 2008, http://

tion Society) was initiated by the ITU

January 5, 2012, http://www.ibtimes.





Union: is the United Nations special-

human-right-212821 (accessed April

html?_r=1 (accessed April 15, 2013).

ized agency for information and com-

15, 2013).

munication technologies – ICTs) in re-

10. Tom Miller, “Internet Access a Hu-

Recommended Movies:

sponse to a UN General Assembly call

man Rights, says United Nations

• Hotel Rwanda. Directed by Terry

for a solution to the problem of the

Council,” Digital Spy, July 6, 2012,

digital divide, made specific mention

• Diplomacy: The Responsibility to Protect.

of human rights in the WSIS Decla-


Directed by Boris B. Bertram and

ration of Principles issued in Geneva


Rasmus Dinesen, 2008.

in 2003.


George, 2004.

(accessed April 15, 2013).

• The Devil Came on Horse back. Directed

5. Giovanni Ziccardi, Resistance, Liberation

by Ricky Stern and Anne Soundberg,

Technology and Human Rights in the Digital

11. Alex Fitzpatrick, “Internet Access a

Age (Netherlands: Springer, 2013), 144.

Human Rights, says United Nations,”

6. Adam Wagner, “Is Internet access a

Mashable, July 6, 2012, http://mash-

Internet: a Human Right? By Mizanur Rahman

human right?,” The Guardian, Janu-

ary 11, 2012,

man-right/# (accessed April 15, 2013).

1. Benjamin R. Lawlor, “The Age of

12. Fitzpatrick, “Internet Access a Hu-

Globalization: Impact of Informa-

access-a-human-right (accessed April

tion Technology on Global Business

15, 2013).


Strategies,” (PhD Dissertation, Bryant

man Rights.” 13. Ziccardi, Resistance, 126.

7. United Nations General Assembly

14. “Internet Freedom and Privacy,”

“Report of the Special Rapporteur

Human Rights First, http://www.

2. Vinton Cerf, “Internet Access Is not

on the promotion and protection of

a Human Right,” The New York Times,

the right to freedom of opinion and


January 4, 2012, http://www.nytimes.

expression,” (May 16, 2011): 19,

freedom-and-privacy/ (accessed April


access-is-not-a-human-right.html (ac-


15. The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) is a

cessed April 15, 2013).

hrc.17.27_en.pdf (accessed April 15,

collaborative partnership of three

University, 2007).

15, 2013).



institutions. It aims to investigate,

(accessed April 15, 2013).

5. United Nations, Charter of


United Nations, October 24 1945,

expose and analyze Internet filtering and surveillance practices in a credible

Recommended Resources


and non-partisan fashion.

• Mar adentro/ The Sea Inside. Directed


16. See the full text of the Report at

by Alejandro Amenábar, 2004. (The

real-life story of Spaniard Ramon

6. UN General Assembly, Universal

(accessed April 15, 2013).

Sampedro, who fought a 30 year

Declaration of Human Rights, De-

17. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 188.

campaign in favor of euthanasia and

cember 10, 1948, 217 A (III) http://

18. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 192.

his own right to die).

shtml (accessed April 16, 2013).

19. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 192.

• You Don’t Know Jack. Directed by Bar-

index.shtml (accessed April 15, 2013).

20. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 210.

ry Levinson, 2010. (A look at the life

7. International Commission of Jurists

21. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 189.

and work of doctor/assisted suicide

(ICJ), “Yogyakarta Principles - Prin-

22. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 193.

advocate Jack Kevorkian).

ciples on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation

23. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 185. 24. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 197. 25. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 198. 26. Ziccardi, “Resistance,” 199.

The Right to Die By Charles Walther 1. “Tony Nicklinson: The Trapped Man,” BBC, August 22, 2012, http://

Human Rights for Trans Men in Colombia By Diana Catalina Hernández & Colectivo Entre-tránsitos 1. Judith Butler, “Críticamente subver-

Human Rights, “OHCHR Report

Icaria editores, 2002), 55-80.

2010, Thematic Priorities, Discrimi-

2. Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex (Eng1992).

news/uk-20570785 (accessed April 15, 2013). 3. “Deaf

Belgian Twins End Lives






pdf, (accessed April 15, 2013). 10. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of

4. Office of the High Commissioner

Mental Disorders: DSM- IV. (Washing-

for Human Rights, Human Rights - A

ton, DC: American Psychiatric Asso-

Handbook for Parliamentarians, No. 8,

ciation, 1994), 576. (Also available at

as They Start Going Blind” BBC,



April 16, 2013).



3. Colectivo Entre-Tránsitos, http://

January 15, 2013,


(accessed April 16 2013). 8. ICJ, “Yogyakarta Principles.” 9. Office of the High Commissioner for


ber 1, 2012,

antología de estudios queer (Barcelona:

15, 2013). Right-to-Die Fight” BBC, Decem-

Identity,” March 2007, http://www.

siva,” in Sexualidades transgresoras. Una

wiltshire-19348267 (accessed April 2. “Tony Nicklinson’s Family Carry on

to Sexual Orientation and Gender (accessed

asset_upload_file155_30369.pdf, accessed April 15, 2013).

11. The brochure is available at: http:// Revista-Xtreme-Esta-Si-Es (accesed

such as race, colour, sex, language,

Directed by Zero Chou, 2008. • Tomboy. Directed by Céline Sciamma,

April 15, 2013). 12. See the campaign’s website at http://

2003. • Drifting Flowers (Piao lang qing chun).


religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or interna-


tional status of the country or territory

Suggested Readings

Silver Spoons and Wooden Forks By Andrea R. Stangeland

• Miguel Berguero, “¿Hacia la despa-

1. Isabelle Joumard and Juliana Lon-

erning or under any other limitation

tologización de la transexualidad?

doño Vélez, “Income Inequality and

Apuntes desde una lógica difusa,” Re-

Poverty in Colombia – Part 1. The

6. Yanitza Giralda Restrepo, “Violación

vista NORTE de Salud Mental vol. VIII,

Role of the Labour Market” in OECD

del Derecho Internacional Humani-

nº 38 (2010): 56-64.

Economics Department Working Papers No.

tario por parte del Estado Colombia-

1036 (2013).

no,” Anuario Mexicano de Derecho Interna-

April 15, 2013).

• Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (New York; Routledge, 1993). • Leslie Feinberg, Trans Gender Warriors (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).

2. WIN-Gallup International Association, Global Barometer of Hope and Hap-

to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-govof sovereignty.

cional, 8 (2008): 223-253. 7. Programa de Justicia Global y Derechos Humanos, Discriminación racial en Colom-

piness at Year End 2012, (2013). 3. “Norway, Country Profile: Human

bia: informe alterno ante el Comité para la


Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial de

Transsexual Identities: The Next

Nations Development Programme,

la ONU, ed. Cesár Rodríguez Garavito

Strange Fruit. Hate Crimes, Violence

and Genocide Against the Global


• Jeremy Kidd, “Transgender and

Trans-Communities,” Journal of Hate Studies vol.6 (June 2008): 31-63. • Miquel Missé, El Género Desordenado (Bracelona: Egales, 2010). Suggested Movies • Southern Comfort. Directed by Walter Hill, 2001. • Boys Don’t Cry. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, 1999. • Normal. Directed by Jane Anderson,



(Universidad de los Andes, 2009).


8. Justicia Global, Discriminación racial en

4. “World Suicide Rates Per Country,”

9. “Nuestra historia,” Asociación de Ca-

April 12, 2013).


Washington Post, http://www.washing-

bildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca


ate.html (accessed April 12, 2013).


5. The second article of the Universal




Declaration of Human Rights makes

April 12, 2013); and “Los Indígenas

this point explicitly. It says: Article 2.

Nasa plantan cara a las FARC y al Es-

Everyone is entitled to all the rights

tado Colombiano,” Periodismo Humano,

and freedoms set forth in this Declara-

tion, without distinction of any kind,




the Rights of the Child, 20 November,

Arts and Culture: the Case of Ciudad Bolívar By Abraham Hidalgo Mendoza & Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez

en Colombia – Derechos, Políticas y De-

1989, U.N.T.S vol. 1577 No. 27531.

1. Cultura Viva Comunitaria, http://

safíos (UNICEF Bogotá: Gente Nue-

23. Convention on the Rights of the


Council (LNU), Endelig 18 – Endelig

no.html (accessed April 12, 2013).

Avslag (Oslo: Grøset, 2013), 18-25.

10. Robatierra. Directed by Margarita Martinez and Miguel Salazar, 2010. 11. Esther Sánchez, Los Pueblos Indígenas

va, 2005). 12. Justicia Global, Discriminación racial en

21. LNU, Endelig 18–Endelig Avslag, 27. 22. UN General Assembly, Convention on

Child, Article 3: 1. In all actions con- (accessed April 15, 2013).

cerning children, whether undertaken

2. Sonia Álvarez, Evangelina Dangino

by public or private social welfare in-

and Arturo Escobar, “Introducción:

13. Cesár Rodríguez Garavito, Tatiana

stitutions, courts of law, administra-

lo cultural y lo político en los mov-

Alfonso Sierra and Isabel Cavelier

tive authorities or legislative bodies,

imientos sociales latinoamericanos,”

Adarve, Raza y Derechos Humanos en

the best interests of the child shall be a

in Política cultural y cultura política. Una

Colombia (Bogotá: Ediciones Uniandes,

primary consideration.

nueva mirada sobre los movimientos so-


2009), 41-68. 14. Rodríguez et al., Raza y Derechos Humanos, 14-15. 15. United Nations Development Programme, “Norway, Country Profile.” 16. Arnfinn H. Midtbøen and Jon Rogstad, Diskrimineringens Omfang og Årsaker (Oslo: Institute for Social Research, 2012). 17. Midtbøen and Rogstad, Diskriminerin-

24. De Andre. Directed by Margareth Olin, 2012.

ICANH, 2001).

25. “Human Rights in Colombia,” Justice




j u s t i c e f o rc o l o m b i a . o r g / a b o u t colombia/#human-rights

ent Name, Different Opportunities,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), http://www. 714199ee9f63b93b29ec0d61a1/discrimination-in-norway-different.html

20. The Norwegian Children and Youth



“Ciudad Bolívar: una oportunidad para construir con sentido humano.” 4. Circo Valathar, http://www.valathar.

26. Justicia Global, Discriminación racial en

5. Festival Ojo al Sancocho, http://


com (accessed April 15, 2013).


April 15, 2013). Suggested Movies • Robatierra. Directed by Margarita Martinez and Miguel Salazar, 2010. • De Andre. Directed by Margareth Olin, 2012. • Los Colores de la Montaña. Directed by Carlos Cesár Arbeláez, 2010.

Looking at Society trough Art Diana A. Camacho 1. Luis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo, “What is Pornomiseria?”, (Accessed April 20, 2013).

(accessed April 15, 2013). 19. UNHCR, “Discrimination in Norway”.

3. Local Development Plan 2013 – 2016


April 15, 2013).

gens Omfang og Årsaker. 18. “Discrimination in Norway: Differ-

ciales latinoamericanos (Bogotá: Taurus /

From Social Exclusion to Local Development through

2. “Synopsis”, Wasteland Movie, http://

html (Accessed April 30, 2013). 3. “‘Waste




All cited CISV International documents can be accessed through the CISV

art and self-imagem” San Francisco

website at, under the section


4. CISV International Office, T-02, Big Ed, 2009. 5. UN General Assembly, Universal

Resources, by doing a search for “Info

Declaration of Human Rights, De-


File” or “Local Work Magazine.”

cember 10, 1948, 217 A (III), http://


1. In 2003 and 2004, a controversy un-

php#ixzz2RP95kdNn (Accessed April

folded in CISV about the question

index.shtml (accessed April 15, 2013).

30, 2013).

of how CISV National Associations

6. Garth Meintjes, “Human Rights Ed-

4. “What it is Mde11?”, Mde11 Website,

should react to the Iraq war. In Janu-

ucation as Empowerment: Reflections

ary 2003 one CISV National Board

on Pedagogy,” in Human Rights Educa-

=en (Accessed April 15, 2013).

issued a formal statement condemn-

tion for the Twenty-First Century (Phila-

ing the role of the British govern-

delphia: University of Pennsylvania

5. “Introduction of Mde11”, Mde11 Website,

Press, 1997).

ment in the Iraq war. The CISV

_id=22&lang=en (Accessed April

International Executive Committee

7. James Schaffer, “What does it mean

15, 2013).

responded to this statement by re-

to be non-political?,” CISV Local Work

confirming the non-political nature

Magazine (February 2004).

Suggested Readings

of CISV; they recognized that in

• More about Bijari: “Bijari,” Mde11

general and especially in situations


of ‘world crisis,’ CISVers are encour-

id=865&lang=en (accessed April

aged as individuals to express their

15, 2013).

political, religious or other beliefs.

CISV: The Political Nature of Human Rights Education By Mark Porter Webb and Joaquín Garzón Vargas

• A video about Mde11: Mde11 is in the

But they should always respect the

1. CISV International Office, Info File

city. By Museo de Antioquia, http://

non-political nature of CISV as an

C-04, CISV International Ltd. Constitu-

organization, and therefore not make


April 15, 2013). • “Remains of Mde11”, Esferapública.

/?p=21477 (accessed April 15, 2013).

How Can a Non-Political Organization Educate on Human Rights? By Rupert Friederichsen and Jennifer Watson

such statements in the name of the organization CISV (see also CISV, Info File R-01, CISV International

tional Rules, 2005. 2. CISV International Office, T-03 , The Passport, 2009. 3. Maude Barlow, “Securing the Right

Board Statement on Peace. 1993).

To Water,” Blue Planet Project,

2. CISV International Office, Info File

C-04, CISV International Ltd. Constitu-

Movement/Bolivia_05.html (accessed

tional Rules, 2005.

April 15, 2013).

3. CISV International Office, Info File

4. World Health Organization, “An Up-

R-10, Statement of CISV Educational Pur-

date on WHOs work on Female Genital

pose, 2010.






1. Amnesty international, Facilitation Man-

eng.pdf 2011 (accessed April 15, 2013).

ual: A Guide to Using Participatory Methodol-

5. John Tierney, “Cultural Imperialism

ogies for Human Rights Education (London:

at the WHO?,” New York Times On-

Amnesty International, 2011). (Avail-



able online at:



ism-at-the-who/?hp (accessed April


15, 2013).


6. “George Bush’s Speech to the UN General ian,



accessed April 15, 2013). 2. Nancy Flowers, The Human Rights

Education Handbook. Topic Book


cessed April 15, 2013). 7. Number of deaths since the 2003 in-

(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2000), 15. 3. UN




salDeclaration of Human Rights, De-

the organization Iraq Body Count,

cember 10, 1948, 217 A (III) http:// (ac-

cessed April 15, 2013).

index.shtml (accessed April 15, 2013).

8. There is a long tradition of literature on

4. Mary Ann Glendon, Hope, Critique

this subject that stems from Frederick

and Possibility, an interview with Fac-

Engels’ 1884 work, “The Origins of the

ing History and Ourselves. Available

Family, Private Property, and the State.”

online at:

9. “Revolution: Conflict and Resolution,”

watch?v=YDLYuUB5XC4 (accessed


April 15, 2013). 5. Amnesty International, Annual Report




annual-report/2012 (accessed April

%5BMay%202011%5D.pdf (accessed April 15, 2013).

15, 2013). 6. Flowers, The Human Rights Education Handbook, 13.

Human Rights Education in CISV by Adelaida Barrera Daza and Rupert Friederichsen



7. CISV International Office, T-02, Big Ed, 2009. 8. Flowers, The Human Rights Education Handbook, 38.

line.htm • • • • •

vasion until April 2013, according to

IJB Thinks 17, 2011, ed. Tore Bang He-






students/essentials/timeline/index. html • • h t t p : / / w w w. h u m a n r i g h t s. d k / human+rights/history+and+ documents/time+line

Bowl of Rights is a book about human rights and education written by young volunteers from all around the world. It is a useful tool for both facilitators and participants of human rights education programs who want to gain more knowledge on this topic. This book offers interesting readings that introduce us to the general concept of human rights, as well as to more specific discussions that illustrate the complexity of protecting basic rights for all human beings. In order to put this knowledge into practice, the book includes educational activities that can be used in CISV programs or in any other experiential education programs. You will also find inspiring testimonies of people working for human rights, who show us different ways of taking action. ISBN 978-82-998989-2-8

Profile for Cisv Colombia

Bowl of Rights  

Created by Con Lupa, a Colombian-Norwegian CISV-project, with the help of a great number of volunteer contributors, ‘Bowl of Rights’ is a bo...

Bowl of Rights  

Created by Con Lupa, a Colombian-Norwegian CISV-project, with the help of a great number of volunteer contributors, ‘Bowl of Rights’ is a bo...


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