Human right course for youth workers

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This training was created by a partnership of four European organizations with the financial help of the Council of Europe and the European Youth Foundation. The views expressed in this training course are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Council of Europe. Reproduction of material from this publication is authorised for non-commercial education purposes only and on condition that the source is properly quoted.

PARTNERS: RESPECT Refugees Europe Carrer Lleida 9, 3-1 08930 Sant Adria de Besòs, Barcelona Spain Phone: +34 933 140 800 Email: Website:

Global Youth Union Foundation 20 Armen Tigranyan, #3 0037 Yerevan, Armenia Phone: +37410 209816 Fax: +37410 209815 E-mail: Website:

InformaGiovani Via della Giraffa, 35 90125 Palermo, Italy Phone: +39 393 9629434 Fax: +39 091 3809987 Email: Website:

Student-Youth Council Gabriel Episkoposi str # 3 3500 Ozurgeti, Georgia Phone: +995 93 41 11 60 Fax: +995 396 7 38 75 Email: Website:

COLLABORATORS: FLARE Network Corso Trapani 91/B 10141 Turin, Italy Phone: +39 3841045 Fax: +39 0113841031 Email: Website:

Prof. Alicia Cabezudo Vice President - International Peace Bureau 41 Rue de Zurich 1201 Geneva, Switzerland Phone: + 41 22 731 6429 Fax: + 41 22 738 9419 Email:, Website:

Comics: MA Garcias

Cover design: ALE Comunicacion FotoGrafica



Table of contents: 1.

INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS....................................................................................... 7 What are human rights?............................................................................................................. 8 International human rights law .................................................................................................. 8 Treaties...................................................................................................................................... 9 Custom ...................................................................................................................................... 9 Declarations, resolutions, etc. adopted by United Nations organs ............................................ 10 Discussion – The right to know your rights............................................................................ 10


FUNDAMENTALS OF HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ............................................................... 11 The development of the human rights framework ................................................................... 12 European Convention on Human Rights ................................................................................... 14 Human rights instruments for the Americas, Africa and Asia .................................................... 14 Promoting human rights .......................................................................................................... 14


THE PRINCIPLES AND VALUES OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS .......... 15 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)........................................................................ 16 The principles and values of the UDHR..................................................................................... 16 The UDHR: contradictions and recent trends............................................................................ 17 Case studies – Conflicting human rights................................................................................ 18


UNIVERSALITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS ....................................................................................... 19 Human rights are universal ...................................................................................................... 20 Objections to the concept of universal human rights................................................................ 21 Culture and human rights......................................................................................................... 22 Reflection - French ban on the Muslim veil............................................................................ 24


DISCRIMINATION OR EQUALITY? .......................................................................................... 26 Stereotypes and prejudices...................................................................................................... 27 Equality – Are you more equal than me?.................................................................................. 27 Case study – Vesna’s story.................................................................................................... 29 Discrimination – minority group status..................................................................................... 29 Cultural identity/cultural diversity............................................................................................ 30 3


Discussion – Equality before the law..................................................................................... 30 Case study – Tolerance towards diversity.............................................................................. 31 6.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND ISLAM................................................................................................. 32 Exercise – Portrait of a Muslim ............................................................................................. 33 Sharia law ................................................................................................................................ 33 The problems of Muslims in Europe ......................................................................................... 34 Islamophobia ........................................................................................................................... 36


GENDER AND HUMAN RIGHTS ............................................................................................. 38 Some definitions ...................................................................................................................... 39 Discussion – What I like/What I do ....................................................................................... 40 Legal instruments..................................................................................................................... 40 Reflection –Women’s’ empowerment ................................................................................... 42 Gender roles and stereotypes .................................................................................................. 42 Exercise - Sex or gender? ...................................................................................................... 43 Gender, peace and conflict ...................................................................................................... 43


BEING ON THE RIGHT SIDE – LEGALITY, THE MAFIAS AND US ............................................... 45 In or out................................................................................................................................... 46 Rules and laws ......................................................................................................................... 46 Reflection – A conscience that bounces back ........................................................................ 47 Dilemmas................................................................................................................................. 47 Reflection – Legal or illegal................................................................................................... 47 Easy ways................................................................................................................................. 48 On the wrong side.................................................................................................................... 48 It can be done – React! ............................................................................................................ 50 Did you know? - Not alone.................................................................................................... 50 Did you know? - Two important steps................................................................................... 51


INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND THEIR RIGHTS ............................................................................. 52 Who are indigenous peoples? .................................................................................................. 53 Did you know? - The forerunners of indigenous peoples’ rights ............................................. 53 The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ............................................................... 54 Poverty and right to food of indigenous peoples ...................................................................... 54 Indigenous peoples’ link with land and environment – a cultural value .................................... 56 4



MIGRANTS AND THEIR RIGHTS ......................................................................................... 57

No Human Being is "illegal" ................................................................................................... 59 A human rights approach to migration ................................................................................. 59 Migrant rights – The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families ................................................................ 60 Human trafficking................................................................................................................... 63 11.

RIGHTS OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS ................................................................... 65

The right to seek a safe place to live ..................................................................................... 66 Discussion - Packing your suitcase ........................................................................................ 66 An overview of the various categories of persons of concern.............................................. 67 International protection........................................................................................................... 70 Overview of the international legal framework ........................................................................ 71 Case Studies ......................................................................................................................... 72 12.

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS.......................................................................................................... 74

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child...................................................................... 75 The right to education.............................................................................................................. 76 Reflection – What if you couldn’t read? ................................................................................ 77 Child labour ............................................................................................................................. 77 Case study - Marie................................................................................................................ 79 Child soldiers ........................................................................................................................... 80 Discussion – Young soldiers .................................................................................................. 81 13.

RIGHT TO INFORMATION.................................................................................................. 82

The right to freedom of speech or expression .......................................................................... 83 Information as a right around the world................................................................................... 84 Subjects taking part in the right to information ........................................................................ 84 The role of the Ombudsman .................................................................................................... 85 Case Study- Information and transparency ........................................................................... 86 14.

DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP............................................................................................... 87

Citizenship ............................................................................................................................... 88 Global citizenship..................................................................................................................... 88 Reflection – Who is a global citizen? ..................................................................................... 89 Diversity and pluralism – How can people live together peacefully?...................................... 89 5


Citizenship education in the school context.............................................................................. 90 Youth participation and citizenship .......................................................................................... 91 15.

PEACE EDUCATION ........................................................................................................... 93

What is peace?......................................................................................................................... 94 Reflection – What is peace?.................................................................................................. 94 A historical overview on the definition of peace....................................................................... 94 The purpose of Peace Education .............................................................................................. 96 The characteristics of Peace Education..................................................................................... 96 The aims of Peace Education.................................................................................................... 97 Proposing general contents...................................................................................................... 98 Exercise – Peace and violence in the media........................................................................... 98 Core values and skills for enhancing Peace Education............................................................... 98 Reflection – Disarmament and (human security) development ........................................... 100 16.


The importance of human rights ............................................................................................ 102 Transformative learning through global education ................................................................. 103 17.

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCES ................................................................................... 105


ADDITIONAL READINGS .................................................................................................. 108






What are human rights? Human rights are commonly understood as being those rights which are inherent to the human being; those basic standards without which people cannot live in dignity as human beings. The concept of human rights acknowledges that every single human being is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The value system of human rights is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. Their respect allows the individual and the community to fully develop. Human rights are legally guaranteed by human rights law, protecting individuals and groups against actions that interfere with fundamental freedoms and human dignity. They are expressed in treaties, customary international law, bodies of principles and other sources of laws. Human rights law places an obligation on States to act in a particular way and prohibits States from engaging in specified activities. However, the law does not establish human rights. Human rights are inherent entitlements which come to every person as a consequence of being human. Treaties and other sources of law generally serve to protect formally the rights of individuals and groups against actions or abandonment of actions by Governments which interfere with the enjoyment of their human rights. The following are some of the most important characteristics of human rights: • Human rights are funded on respect for the dignity and worth of each person • Human rights are universal, meaning that they are applied equally and without discrimination to all people • Human rights are inalienable, in that no one can have his or her human right taken away; they can be limited in specific situations (for example, the right to liberty can be restricted is a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law) • Human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, for the reason that it is insufficient to respect some human rights and not others. In practice, the violation of one right will often affect respect for several other rights. All human rights should therefore be seen as having equal importance and of being equally essential to respect for the dignity and worth of every person.

International human rights law The formal expression of inherent human rights is through international human rights law. A series of international human right treaties and other instruments have merged since 1945 conferring legal form on inherent human rights. The creation of the United Nations provided an ideal forum for the development and adoption of international human rights instruments. Other instruments have been adopted at a regional level reflecting the particular human rights concerns of the region. Most states have also adopted constitutions and other laws which formally protect basic human rights. Often the language used by the States is drawn directly from the international human rights instruments.



International human rights law consists mainly of treaties and custom as well as, inter alia, declarations, guidelines and principles.

Treaties A treaty is an agreement by States to be bound by particular rules. International treaties have different designations such as covenants, charters, protocols, conventions, accords and agreements. A treaty is legally binding on those States which have consented to be bound by the provisions on the treaty - in other words are party to the treaty. A State can become a party to a treaty by ratification, accession or succession. Ratification is a State’s formal expression of consent to be bound by a treaty. Only a State that has previously signed the treaty (during the period when the treaty was open for signature) can ratify it. Ratification consists of two procedural acts: on the domestic level, it requires approval by the appropriate constitutional organ (usually the head of State or parliament). On the international level, pursuant to the relevant provision of the treaty in questions, the instrument of ratification shall be formally transmitted to the depositary which may be a State or an international organization such as the United Nations. Accession entails consent to be bound by a State that has not previously signed the instrument. States ratify treaties both before and after the treaty has entered into force. The same applies to accession. A State may also become party to a treaty by succession, which takes place by virtue of a specific treaty provision or by declaration. Most treaties are not self-executing. In some States treaties are superior to domestic law, whereas in other States treaties are given constitutional status, and in yet others only certain provisions of a treaty are incorporated in domestic law. A State may, in ratifying a treaty, enter reservations to that treaty, indicating that, while it consents to be bound by most of the provisions, it does not agree to be bound by certain specific provisions. However, a reservation may not defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. Further, even if a State is not a party to a treaty or if it has entered reservations thereto, that State may still be bound by those treaty provisions which have become part of customary international law or constitute peremptory rules of international law, such as the prohibition against torture.

Custom Customary international law (or simply “custom�) is the term used to describe a general and consistent practice followed by States deriving from a sense of legal obligation. Thus, for example, while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not in itself a binding treaty, some of its provisions have the character of customary international law.



Declarations, resolutions, etc. adopted by United Nations organs General norms of international law – principles and practices that most States would agree on – are often stated in declarations, proclamations, standard rules, guidelines, recommendations and principles. While no biding legal effect on States ensues, they nevertheless represent a broad consensus on the part of the international community and, therefore, have a strong and undeniable moral force in terms of the practice of States in their conduct of international relations. The value of such instruments rests on their recognition and acceptance by a large number of States, and, even without biding legal effect, they may seem as declaratory of broadly accepted principles within the international community. Discussion – The right to know your rights The education about and for human rights is itself an internationally agreed human right. Discuss with your friends or colleagues the following: • What do people need to know about human rights? • Why is human rights education so important? Do some people need it more than others?






Human rights and fundamental freedoms allow us to develop fully and use out human qualities, our intelligence, out talents and our conscience and to satisfy our spiritual and other needs. They are based on humankind’s increasing demand for a life in which the inherent dignity and worth of each human being are accorded respect and protection. Their denial is not only an individual and personal tragedy but also creates conditions of social and political unrest, sowing the seeds of violence and conflict within and between societies and nations.

The development of the human rights framework The history of human rights has been shaped by all major world events and by the struggle for dignity, freedom and equality everywhere. Yet it was only with the establishment of the United Nations that human rights finally achieved formal, universal recognition. The turmoil and atrocities of the Second World War and the growing struggle of colonial nations for independence prompted the countries of the world to create a forum to deal with some of the war’s consequences and, in particular, to prevent the recurrence of such appalling events. This forum was the United Nations. When the United Nations was founded in 1945, it reaffirmed the faith in human rights of all the peoples taking part. Human rights were cited in the founding Charter as central to their concerns and remained so ever since. One of the first major achievements of the newly formed United Nations was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. This powerful instrument continues to exert an enormous impact on people’s lives all over the world. It was the first time in history that a document considered to have universal value was adopted by an international organization. It was also the first time that human rights and fundamental freedoms were set forth in such detail. There was broad-based international support for the Declaration when it was adopted. Although the fifty-eight Member States that constituted the United Nations at that time varied in terms of their ideology, political system, religious and cultural background, and patterns of socio-economic development, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a common statement of shared goals and aspirations – a vision of the world as the international community would like it to be. The Declaration recognizes that the “inherent dignity… of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” and is linked to the recognition of the fundamental rights to which every human being aspires, namely the right to life, liberty and security of person; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution; the right to own property; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to education; the right to freedom thought, conscience and religion; and the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment, among others. These are inherent rights to be enjoyed by all inhabitants of the global village (women, men, children and all groups in society, whether disadvantaged or not) and not “gifts” to be withdrawn, withheld or granted at someone’s whim or will. 12


The Declaration has inspired a large number of subsequent human rights instruments, which together constitute the international law of human rights. These instruments include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), treaties that are legally binding on the States that are parties to them. Both became international law in 1976. The Universal Declaration and the two Covenants constitute the International Bill of Human Rights. The rights contained in the Declaration and the two Covenants have been further elaborated in other treaties such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), which declares dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred as being punishable by law, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), prescribing measures to be taken to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, education, employment, health, marriage and the family. Of particular importance is the convention on the Rights of the Child, which lays down guarantees of the child’s human rights. Adopted by the general assembly in 1989, the Convention has been ratified by more countries than any other human rights treaty. In addition to guaranteeing children protection from harm and abuse and making special provision for their survival and welfare through, for example, health care, education and family life, it accords them the rights to participate in society and in decision-making that concern them. Two Protocols to the Convention have recently been adopted, the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2000). INTERNATIONAL BILL OF HUMAN RIGHTS Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966 Convention relating to the Status of refugees, 1951

International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of discrimination against Women, 1979

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984

Convention on the rights of the Child,1989

Table 1. Chart of the Principal United Nations Human Rights Instruments



European Convention on Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights served as the inspiration for the European Convention on Human Rights, one of the most significant agreements in the European Community. The Convention was adopted in 1953 by the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organization established in 1949 and composed of forty-seven European Community Member States. This body was formed to strengthen human rights and promote democracy and the rule of law. The Convention is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Any person claiming to be the victim of a violation in one of the forty-seven countries in the European Community which has signed and ratified the Convention, may seek relief with the European Court. One must first have exhausted all recourse in the courts of their home country and have filed an application for relief with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Human rights instruments for the Americas, Africa and Asia In North and South America, Africa and Asia, regional documents for the protection and promotion of human rights extend the International Bill of Human Rights. The American Convention on Human Rights pertains to the inter-American states—the Americas— and was entered into force in 1978. African states have created their own Charter of Human and People’s Rights (1981), and Muslim states have created the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1990). The Asian Human Rights Charter (1986) was created by the Asian Human Rights Commission, founded that year by a group of jurists and human rights activists in Hong Kong. The Charter is described as a “people’s charter,” because no governmental charter has been issued to date.

Promoting human rights Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights have become central to the work of the United Nations. Within this system, human rights are furthered by a myriad of different mechanisms and procedures: by working groups and committees; by reports, studies and statements; by conferences, plans and programmes; by decades for action; by research and training; by voluntary and trust funds; by assistance of many kinds at the global, regional and local levels; by specific measures taken; by investigations conducted; and by the many procedures devised to promote and protect human rights. Action to build a culture of human rights is also supported by United Nations specialized agencies, programmes and funds such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and by relevant departments of the United Nations Secretariat such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Other international, regional and national bodies, both governmental and non-governmental are also working to promote human rights. 14





Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) On October 24, 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations came into being as an intergovernmental organization, with the purpose of saving future generations from the devastation of international conflict. The Charter of the United Nations established six principal bodies, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and in relation to human rights, an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The UN Charter empowered ECOSOC to establish “commissions in economic and social fields and for the promotion of human rights….” One of these was the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which, under the chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt, saw to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was drafted by representatives of all regions of the world and encompassed all legal traditions. Formally adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, it is the most universal human rights document in existence, delineating the thirty fundamental rights that form the basis for a democratic society. In its preamble and in Article 1, the Declaration unequivocally proclaims the inherent rights of all human beings: “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....All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The Member States of the United Nations pledged to work together to promote the thirty Articles of human rights that, for the first time in history, had been assembled and codified into a single document. In consequence, many of these rights, in various forms, are today part of the constitutional laws of democratic nations. Following this historic act, the Assembly called upon all Member Countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.” Today, the Declaration is a living document that has been accepted as a contract between a government and its people throughout the world. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the most translated document in the world.

The principles and values of the UDHR The law codifies the values of UDHR: covenants, mechanisms and national legislation. Thus the human rights system encompasses both values and laws, and human rights education is related to both the promotion of the values as well as the assurance of justice through law.



The principles of the UDHR have been used in the fight against colonialism, African liberation movements, and in many national constitutions. They have become part of international customary law, unifying the world around certain concepts. Human rights education must connect to the values of the UDHR, as well as to the concrete laws that codify these values. It is important to connect the universal values to local ethical systems, traditions and customs. It is also important to educate about the mechanisms of protection and accountability. Karel Vasak, a French jurist, was influential in the development of the UDHR. He developed the idea of three generation of rights: • 1st Generation (civil and political) rights are represented by articles 2- 21 of the UDHR. These are the “freedom from” rights including the right to life, liberty and security, freedom from slavery, freedom of political participation, etc. These are typically associated with the Western liberal conception of human rights. • 2nd Generation (economic, social and cultural) rights are contained in articles 22-27. These “freedom to” rights require the involvement of the state and have their origins in the socialist tradition. Some examples include the right to work, food, shelter, etc. • 3rd Generation (environmental, cultural and developmental) rights are contained in article 28. This article concerns solidarity or collective rights, which recognize the interdependence of certain rights, such as the right to peace, a healthy environment, etc. Cultural, political and economic development is also associated with this article.

The UDHR: contradictions and recent trends The UDHR refers to all people (regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, etc.). Free countries and their citizens and colonized countries and their subjects were involved in its development. But this is contradictory: How can the rights of colonized people be guaranteed? During the 1960s, many Asian and African countries decolonised. Becoming a member of the UN and implementing the UDHR was a sign of prestige at the time. However, the cultural and political context of various countries had a significant impact on their treatment of the UDHR. While many new nations adopted the UDHR in principle, they opted out of the articles that were in conflict with their particular religious or philosophical beliefs. Pakistan did not implement certain articles, such as the article on freedom of choice in marriage, the right to work, freedom of religion, right to equal pay, etc. Thus we can see that after the initial period of excitement around the UDHR, many newly-independent countries began to regress from their human rights commitments. The United Nations realized that states would be the implementing bodies of human rights instruments, and therefore permitted states to implement their human rights commitments as their national resources allowed. This has provided a dangerous window of opportunity much abused by states to avoid their responsibilities, and not implement their commitments. This is particularly true in the case of economic, social, and cultural rights, which are poorly protected, especially in developing countries. These countries claim to not have the resources to implement these rights. We can also note a general decline in respect for human rights, as the United Nations is less respected than 50 years ago. The human rights system was intended to create an international 17


order, but many countries now feel the international order that has been created does not benefit their interests. The definition of human rights education should be the same as the definition of education itself, which is to enable people to develop and cooperate with each other. However, in many countries, the purpose of education does not parallel the values set out in the UDHR. It is important to relate human rights education directly to the context of people’s lives. All over the world, we see a decline in liberal education, and an increasing emphasis on education to fit the market-driven economy. Students are interested in finding a career, not in creating a better world for others. What is needed is a return to the fundamentals of humanist education, teaching the basic values of tolerance, cooperation and understanding. If one can learn to cooperate and be tolerant at the local and family level, then one will be cooperative at the international level. Case studies – Conflicting human rights Case 1 Max is an eight-year-old boy who was seriously wounded in an accident and urgently needs a blood transfusion at a hospital. However, his father forbids the hospital staff to carry it out for religious reasons. His mother and the doctors would like to save his life. Case 2 In a hospital, only a limited number of people work in the emergency department. It is a hectic evening and there is only room for one more person to have immediate emergency treatment. Since the lives of two people are still in danger, the doctors have to decide whether to treat a young child or a successful businessman. Case 3 Gus is a well-respected member of a religious political party, which strongly emphasises family values. A journalist who visits the party's headquarters discovers by chance a series of personal letters from X, from which he can conclude without doubt that Gus is having an extramarital relationship. The journalist publishes the story. Case 4 Youtchou lives in a Third World country. He is poor and is able to meet his basic needs, but nothing more. He would like to start studying, but cannot find the necessary means to do so. His country is not able to provide him with the resources needed, as the state of the economy is very bad and it has to use all the resources available to cover the basic needs of the population. Case 5 The local authorities are planning to build a new school on a piece of land which is one of the rare places where children can still play. Questions: • Which human rights are involved in the conflict? • What solution do you think it is the most appropriate for each case? Why?






Human rights are universal The universality of human rights has been clearly established and recognized in international law. Human rights are emphasized among the purposes of the United Nations as proclaimed in its Charter, which states that human rights are "for all without distinction". Human rights are the natural-born rights for every human being, universally. They are not privileges. The Charter further commits the United Nations and all Member States to action promoting "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms". As the cornerstone of the International Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms consensus on a universal standard of human rights. Universal human rights are further established by the two international covenants on human rights (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and the other international standard-setting instruments which address numerous concerns, including genocide, slavery, torture, racial discrimination, discrimination against women, rights of the child, minorities and religious tolerance. The universal nature of human rights is literally written into the title of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its Preamble proclaims the Declaration as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations". This statement is echoed most recently in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action1, which repeats the same language to reaffirm the status of the Universal Declaration as a "common standard" for everyone. Adopted in June 1993 by the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Austria, the Vienna Declaration continues to reinforce the universality of human rights, stating, "All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated". This means that political, civil, cultural, economic and social human rights are to be seen in their entirety. One cannot pick and choose which rights to promote and protect. They are all of equal value and apply to everyone. The Vienna Declaration states in its first paragraph that "the universal nature" of all human rights and fundamental freedoms is "beyond question". The unquestionable universality of human rights is presented in the context of the reaffirmation of the obligation of States to promote and protect human rights. The legal obligation is reaffirmed for all States to promote "universal respect for, and observance and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all". It is clearly stated that the obligation of States is to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights. Not selective, not relative, but universal respect, observance and protection. Everyone is entitled to human rights without discrimination of any kind. The non-discrimination principle is a fundamental rule of international law. This means that human rights are for all human beings, regardless of "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status". Non-discrimination protects individuals 1



and groups against the denial and violation of their human rights. To deny human rights on the grounds of cultural distinction is discriminatory. Human rights are intended for everyone, in every culture. Human rights are the birth right of every person. If a State dismisses universal human rights on the basis of cultural relativism, then rights would be denied to the persons living under that State's authority. The denial or abuse of human rights is wrong, regardless of the violator's culture. Universal human rights emerge with sufficient flexibility to respect and protect cultural diversity and integrity. The flexibility of human rights to be relevant to diverse cultures is facilitated by the establishment of minimum standards and the incorporation of cultural rights. The Vienna Declaration provides explicit consideration for culture in human rights promotion and protection, stating that "the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind". This is deliberately acknowledged in the context of the duty of States to promote and protect human rights regardless of their cultural systems. While its importance is recognized, cultural consideration in no way diminishes States' human rights obligations. Human rights which relate to cultural diversity and integrity encompass a wide range of protections, including: • the right to cultural participation; • the right to enjoy the arts; conservation, development and diffusion of culture; • protection of cultural heritage; • freedom for creative activity; • protection of persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; freedom of assembly and association; • the right to education; • freedom of thought, conscience or religion; • freedom of opinion and expression; • the principle of non-discrimination.

Objections to the concept of universal human rights The idea of human rights is related but not equivalent to justice, the good, and democracy. Strictly, the concept is that every individual has legitimate claims upon his or her society for defined freedoms and benefits. The rights of the Universal Declaration are politically and legally universal, having been accepted by virtually all states, incorporated into their own laws, and translated into international legal obligations. Assuring respect for rights in fact, however, will require the continued development of stable political societies and of the commitment to constitutionalism. Virtually all societies are also culturally receptive to those basic rights and human needs included in the Universal Declaration that reflect common contemporary moral intuitions. Other rights, however - notably, freedom of



expression, religious and ethnic equality, and the equality of women - continue to meet deep resistance2. The growing consensus in the West that human rights are universal has been fiercely opposed by critics in other parts of the world. A series of broad, culturally grounded objections to the concept of universal human rights exists. The first is philosophical. All rights and values are defined and limited by cultural perceptions. There is no universal culture; therefore there are no universal human rights. Some philosophers have objected that the concept is founded on an individualistic view of people, whose greatest need is to be free from interference by the state. Non-Western societies often have a communitarian ethic which sees society as more than the sum of its individual members and considers duties to be more important than rights. In Africa it is usually the community that protects and nurtures the individual: 'I am because we are, and because we are therefore I am.' In most African societies, group rights had precedence over individual rights and conflict resolution would not necessarily be based on the assertion and defence of legal rights. There is the also the usual North/South argument. The Universal Declaration was adopted at a time when most Third World countries were still under colonial rule. 'Human rights' are only a cover for Western intervention in the affairs of the developing world. Developing countries, some also argue, cannot afford human rights since the tasks of nation-building and economic development are still unfinished. Suspending or limiting human rights is thus the sacrifice of the few for the benefit of the many. The human rights concept is understood and upheld only by a small Westernized minority in developing countries; it does not extend to the lowest rungs of the ladder. Universality in these circumstances would be a universality of the privileged. Inseparable from the issues of tradition, is the issue of religion. For religious critics of the universalist definition of human rights, nothing can be universal that is not founded on transcendent values, symbolized by God, and sanctioned by the guardians of the various faiths. They point out that the cardinal document of the contemporary human rights movement, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can claim no such heritage3.

Culture and human rights Cultural rights Every human being has the right to culture, including the right to enjoy and develop cultural life and identity. The right to culture is limited at the point at which it infringes on another human right. No right can be used at the expense or destruction of another, in accordance with international law. This means that cultural rights cannot be invoked or interpreted in such a way as to justify any act leading to the denial or violation of other human rights and fundamental freedoms. As such, 2

Louis Henkin, The Universality of the Concept of Human Rights. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1989 3 Shashi Tharoor, Are Human Rights Universal? , New Internationalist magazine 2001 (accessed on 5 of May 2011)



claiming cultural relativism as an excuse to violate or deny human rights is an abuse of the right to culture. There are legitimate, substantive limitations on cultural practices, even on well-entrenched traditions. For example, no culture today can legitimately claim a right to practice slavery. Despite its practice in many cultures throughout history, slavery today cannot be considered legitimate, legal, or part of a cultural legacy entitled to protection in any way. To the contrary, all forms of slavery, including contemporary slavery-like practices, are a gross violation of human rights under international law. Similarly, cultural rights do not justify torture, murder, genocide, discrimination on grounds of sex, race, language or religion, or violation of any of the other universal human rights and fundamental freedoms established in international law. Any attempts to justify such violations on the basis of culture have no validity under international law. A cultural context The argument of cultural relativism frequently includes or leads to the assertion that traditional culture is sufficient to protect human dignity, and therefore universal human rights are unnecessary. Furthermore, the argument continues, universal human rights can be intrusive and disruptive to traditional protection of human life, liberty and security. When traditional culture does effectively provide such protection, then human rights by definition would be compatible, posing no threat to the traditional culture. As such, the traditional culture can absorb and apply human rights, and the governing State should be in a better position not only to ratify, but to effectively and fully implement, the international standards. Traditional culture is not a substitute for human rights; it is a cultural context in which human rights must be established, integrated, promoted and protected. Human rights must be approached in a way that is meaningful and relevant in diverse cultural contexts. Traditional cultures should be approached and recognized as partners to promote greater respect for and observance of human rights. Drawing on compatible practices and common values from traditional cultures would enhance and advance human rights promotion and protection. This approach not only encourages greater tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, but also fosters more effective international cooperation for human rights. Greater understanding of the ways in which traditional cultures protect the well-being of their people would illuminate the common foundation of human dignity on which human rights promotion and protection stand. This insight would enable human rights advocacy to assert the cultural relevance, as well as the legal obligation, of universal human rights in diverse cultural contexts. Recognition and appreciation of particular cultural contexts would serve to facilitate, rather than reduce, human rights respect and observance. Working in this way with particular cultures inherently recognizes cultural integrity and diversity, without compromising or diluting the unquestionably universal standard of human rights. Such an approach is essential to ensure that the future will be guided above all by human rights, nondiscrimination, tolerance and cultural pluralism.



Cultural variability4 State mandated religions, discrimination against homosexuals, approval of torture, dowry and defined gender roles are some of the norms and morally agreed upon cultural practices in some societies while female circumcisions, honour killings, infanticide and gender abuse are the norms but morally divided upon cultural practices in other societies. Perceptions of these practices vary from acceptance to condemnation from one culture to another. Culture as a result is a relative subject that has an indispensable reign over a person, family, community and country. In the field of human rights however, there has been a long standing dilemma when casing cultural variability or cultural relativism into the realm of universal human rights. For human rights to be a right and not a privilege universality is essential; however, proponents of cultural relativism argue that by applying a set of “westernized” norms to limit some cultural and religious practices are in itself a violation of a country’s sovereignty. This dilemma as a result has two main issues of contention, the first being scepticism over the application of universal human rights on diverse cultures and the second source of contention lies in the justification that since human rights are a by-product of western culture, they cannot be applied as a ‘one solution for all’5. Despite human rights being “westernized” or “colonized” in their language, they have themes like dignity and justice, development, environment, culture, gender and participation that are universal.6 If a nation’s rights were to be rested solely on culturally determined social and traditional rules, there simply could be no human rights.7 If cultural traditions that harm a group’s dignity were to govern a country, the abuse of human rights would not only be legitimized but would threaten the existence of the vulnerable and weak that are almost always exclusively affected in terms of their health, security, and psychosocial and sexual well being. By the same token, a country that has to adhere to human rights in face of harmful cultural traditions also has to respect the ones that are in essence harmless but only perceived in a certain way or seen as a symbol of a cause that is a violation. Reflection - French ban on the Muslim veil To most, the veil is seen as a symbol of oppression and fundamentalism and in some cases where women are not given a choice it can be, but by systematically banning a cultural/religious tradition on basis of mere representation would be just as much a violation of the rights of those women who wish to wear it as is the forcing of the veil on those women who do not wish to wear it. Individuals should have a right to practices that define who they want to be without the expense of denigrating another being.


Fahima Vakalia, Universality of Human Rights in the Face of Cultural Variability. World Poverty and Human Rights Online, 2010 (accessed on 5 of May 2011) 5 Human Rights and the Debate between Universalism and Cultural Relativism. San Francisco State University 6 Universal Declaration of Human Rights 7 Jack Donnelly. Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights. Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Nov., 1984), pp. 400-419



Do you agree with this statement?

Each culture has its own moral codes and social institution. Culture to some is a source of selfdefinition, identity or an alliance between their norms and their morals. Human rights sanctifies and applauds this notion as exemplified in the Economic, Social and Cultural rights but not at the cost of deliberate abuse of a group. The limitations of the cultural and social rights are also important when these rights infringe on other human rights. While cultural variability is a coherent argument, in cases where culture and human rights are pitted against each other, human rights norms ought to have moral authority. Human rights should take precedence not because they constitute the consensus of the world but because human rights treaties and covenants strive to change existing harmful norms and contend to create a minimum standard of quality - of- life for all simply on basis of being human.






Stereotypes and prejudices It is easy to say “I have no prejudices” or “I'm not racist, so it has nothing to do with me”, or “I didn't invite those refugees”. It is hard to say “I may not be to blame for what happened in the past but I want to take responsibility for making sure it doesn't continue into the future”. People are often defined as members of groups, depending on their culture, their religious beliefs, their origin or external features such as the colour of their skin, their size, hairstyle or clothing. Often this definition of groups goes together with assigning specific qualities to people, so that specific images are associated with certain groups. If these images are exaggerated to the extent that they hardly correspond to reality any longer, we call them stereotypes. Stereotypes can also be found in books (even school textbooks), comics, advertisements or movies. You almost certainly have come across such stereotypes yourself. If a person or a group is judged based only on stereotypes and not as an individual or group of individuals, we are dealing with a prejudice. An opinion has been formed about a person or a group without actually knowing them. Such views and ideas most often have nothing to do with reality and they are also often unfavourable or hostile. However, there are also positive stereotypes. For example if someone says that black people are fast runners, we can call this a positive stereotype. "Well, what's wrong with that?" you might think. But in this case people are also being wrongly lumped together. Just think: is it really true that all black people can run fast? Prejudices seem to make the world simpler and less complicated. If people meet others who seem to be strange it often gives them a feeling of uneasiness. In such situations, prejudices allow people to conceal their uneasiness - I can pretend that I know everything about the other/s and need not ask any questions. But as a result, from the very beginning, a meaningful encounter and a real understanding have become impossible. Prejudices are offensive. Primarily, they are used to treat someone unfairly. They are learned as part of our socialisation process and are very difficult to modify or eradicate. It is therefore important that we are aware of their existence. Prejudices deprive people of the opportunity to show who they are and what they are capable of achieving. For example, an employer may not give Turkish applicants a job because he has heard that "they" always come to work late. Some people will cling on to prejudices and populist ideas although they know no one who could confirm these negative views. Prejudices die hard and are therefore hard to deal with. But no one is born with prejudices; they have been learnt and can therefore be unlearnt. Before judging a person, ask him or her to explain why he or she has done whatever is under discussion. Remember that you surely would not like being judged without being listened to.

Equality – Are you more equal than me? Equality as a concept recognises that everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc., is entitled to the same rights. The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights starts with the words "recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world". 27


The concept of citizenship cannot be divorced from equality issues. The existence of inequalities within or between societies obstructs effective citizenship. The idea of equality must concern itself with the issue of equality and should empower individuals to act against all forms of discrimination. Diversity implies moving beyond the idea of tolerance to a genuine respect for and appreciation of difference. It is central to the idea of pluralism and multiculturalism. We must aim at ensuring that difference is celebrated and embraced within the local, national, regional and international communities. In many ways, solidarity can be seen as the capacity of individuals to move beyond their own space and to recognise and be willing to act in the defence and promotion of the rights of others. Acts of solidarity are closely related to the idea of action. However, solidarity is as much a mind-set as it is a set of behaviours. Discrimination may be practised in a direct or indirect way. Direct discrimination is characterised by the intent to discriminate against a person or a group, such as an employment office that rejects a Roma job applicant or a housing company that does not let flats to immigrants. Indirect discrimination focuses on the effect of a policy or measure. It occurs when an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice puts a person or a particular minority at a de facto disadvantage compared with others. Examples may range from a minimum height requirement for fire-fighters (which may exclude many more female than male applicants), to the department store which does not hire people with long skirts, or the government office or school regulation which prohibits entry or attendance by people wearing headscarves. These rules, apparently neutral with regard to ethnicity or religion, may disproportionately disadvantage members of certain minority or religious groups. The term "gender" refers to the socially constructed roles of men and women that are attributed to them on the basis of their sex. Gender roles therefore depend on a particular socio-economic, political and cultural context and are affected by other factors including race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation and age. Gender roles are learned, and vary widely within and between cultures. Unlike a person's biological sex, gender roles can change. Economic and social rights are mainly concerned with the conditions necessary for the full development of the individual and the provision of an adequate standard of living. Often termed the "second generation" of human rights, these rights are more difficult to enforce, as they are considered to be dependent on resources available. They include rights such as the right to work, the right to education, the right to leisure and the right to an adequate standard of living. These rights are internationally outlined in the Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations Assembly in 1966. Different people have different opinions and attitudes when it comes to how our society should deal with issues of social justice. These opinions and attitudes can be broadly divided into three categories: • Darwinists, who feel that individuals are entirely responsible for their own problems and should be left alone to deal with them. They believe that people need incentives so that they will try harder. Darwinists tend to stay out of the social policy arena.



Sympathisers, who feel sympathy for those suffering and want to do something to ease their pain. They view social and economic rights as desired policy objectives rather than human rights. This often results in a patronising approach towards people experiencing difficult social conditions. Justice seekers, who are concerned that people are being treated unfairly, largely as a result of government decisions. They believe that they must change the political and economic systems so that people are not forced to live in poverty.

Case study – Vesna’s story Vesna, a Roma woman, tells what happened to her: "I saw a job for a sales assistant advertised in the window of a clothes shop. They wanted someone between 18 and 23. I'm 19, so I went in and asked the manager about the job. She told me to come back in two days because not enough people had applied. I returned twice, and was always told the same thing. Nearly a week later I went back to the shop. The job advertisement was still in the window. The manager was too busy to see me, but I was told that the vacancy had been filled. After I left the shop, I was so upset that I asked a non-Roma friend if she would go in and ask about the job. When she came out she said that she had been asked to come for an interview on Monday." Questions: • How would you feel if what happened to Vesna had happened to you? How would you react if your friend told you that she was invited for an interview? • Why, do you think, did the shop manager behave in this way? Do you consider this a form of discrimination? Why (or why not)? • What could Vesna do about it? Do you think that she could change the situation? What could other people have done on her behalf? • Do you expect the law to do something about such a situation? What should the law say? • Could this also happen in your own country? If so, which groups would be affected?

Discrimination – minority group status The concept of a “minority group” is confused with the concepts of “ethnicity” and often “race”. The term is loose one, and has also been used to describe indigenous peoples, displaced peoples, migrant workers, refugees and even oppressed majorities. Often common to these groups is poverty. A minority group may cease to be a “minority group” if it becomes powerful enough. The members of minority groups are entitled to their individual human rights. But they usually claim certain rights as members of a group as well. Depending on the particular group, these might include claims for cultural and political self-determination, land, compensation for dispossession, control of natural resources or access to religious sites. The decision to recognise or define a group of people as a “minority” is a fundamental challenge and a danger. It is dangerous because it can lead to increased discrimination and segregation. On the other hand it can lead to an increase in the rights and responsibilities of a particular group.



No state in Europe has within its borders people who only speak one language, although there are some that choose to have only one official language. Language plays an enormous role in the culture of a people. Particularly in the last few decades, speakers of minority languages have been demanding official recognition, to receive schooling in their language, and to be provided with the opportunity to set up their own media (publications, radio, television programmes).

Cultural identity/cultural diversity Everyone has a cultural identity, of which they are often unconscious because it is so much a part of them. However, in countries with ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or minorities of indigenous origin, cultural identity often becomes a human rights issue, especially when a more powerful group seeks to impose its culture on less powerful groups. The Convention on the Rights of the Child pays particular attention to a child’s right to his/her cultural identity. Article 29 guarantees a child an education that develops respect for his or her culture, language and values. Article 30 especially recognizes the right of children of minority communities and indigenous populations to enjoy their own culture and practice their religion and language and article 31 recognizes a child’s right to participate fully in cultural and artistic life. UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity emphasizes the link between cultural identity and diversity: “Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature” (Article 1). Examine your own community. • Are there cultural minorities? • Is their culture respected? • Do they participate freely and publicly in their culture, or are they expected to do so only privately or not at all? Discuss with your colleagues: • Why is the right to cultural identity so important? Why is it important to preserve, develop and appreciate different cultures? • Why do dominant groups often seek to impose their culture on minority groups?

Discussion – Equality before the law Article 7 of the Universal Declaration begins: “All are equal before the law…”. However, this statement of principle is not always reflected in practice. Discuss with your friends or colleagues: • Are all equal before the law in your community, or are some people treated in different ways? • What factors might give some people an advantage over others? • Why is equality before the law essential for a human rights culture? 30


Case study – Tolerance towards diversity “Recently there have been news about bitter cases of discrimination in our country, such as the case of a Peruvian girl in Copiapò, and of an Equatorian girl who lives in Antofagasta. Both were harassed by their schoolmates, even attacked. Connected to these cases was that of two students in Valdivia, who were "accused" by the school principal of having a homosexual relationship. These situations, which could be considered as single /isolated circumstances without links among them, have at least three points in common. They involve young people, all girls, and the girls have been victims of social discrimination. In the first two cases, discrimination takes the form of racist attitudes. The case of the young girls in Valdivia, beyond whether the accusation might be proven, expresses a serious non-acceptance of homosexuality. In all these cases, discrimination against that which is different, takes us far away from a state of right that guarantees equality to all its citizens. A lot has been said about respect for children's rights, but it seems not to be enough. These situations see us faced with deeply rooted practices in our country, which are the result of a sometimes extremely intolerant culture; children can become real rights holders only if they are trained and taken care of by adults who actively participate in aculture that enhances mutual respect. The emotional media response provoked by these facts forces us to see how children who live in conditions of poverty have their right to development systematically denied. Attending the poorest school, getting a lower-quality education, looking at the world and at its possibilities only from one's neighbourhood, surviving among violence, being discriminated socially and having limited working rights, are part of the multiple and silent discriminations that are registered every day. For this reason it is vital to proceed with creating cultural changes that can overcome discriminatory practices, social exclusion, inequality, inequity and poverty, both in the above-mentioned cases and in all those hidden situations which open the way to fewer opportunities and more poverty. A national and educational culture based on tolerance, diversity-enhancement and multiculturalism is the only way to enable the integral development of children in our country. We can attain such a culture only if we have the engagement of schools together with all its actors, and with the participation of families and communities.” (Text taken from a Chilean newspaper) After reading the text, think of the following: • What kind of discrimination do you know? • How does equality among citizens of a country, and in the world manifest itself? • You, as a young person, have you ever felt being discriminated against by the rest of society? • What role do parents, trainers and teachers play in a culture based on mutual respect? • Write a list of groups of people who, according to your opinion, are more discriminated than others.






Islam, with more than a billion followers, is the most dynamically developing religion of the world. On one hand, just like other religions, Islam strives for the strengthening and preservation of its practices. On the other, as a culture, Islam shares with other cultures the tendency to evolution. The Muslim community, with its characteristic strong sense of bonds, develops thanks to its knowledge, culture and creativity. Exercise – Portrait of a Muslim Write down your associations with the word “Muslim” on a sheet of paper. You can compare these with the ones written by your colleagues. Are any of the associations the result of stereotypes?

While working on this exercise, maybe words like "terrorists", "bombs", "attacks" tend to appear. Nevertheless, we are usually aware that those opinions are based on stereotypes, and that not every Muslim is a terrorist. Also, the problem of women’s rights in the Muslim world may appear. It is generally thought that a Muslim woman has no rights, including the right to work, the right to move about freely and to participate in public life. The careers of many successful female lawyers, diplomats, doctors and women of other professions in the Islamic world disprove this thesis. There are countries, like Saudi Arabia under the government of the adherents of a radical Islamic fraction (the Wahhabis), where women have no suffrage and are not allowed to drive a car. In some countries they are circumcised. When speaking about the situation of women in the Muslim world one cannot generalise and should remember its diversity. Those are the countries of contrasts: unimaginable wealth and extreme poverty, in which human rights are not always observed. In many of those countries all citizens, whatever their sex, suffer from enslavement, backwardness and ignorance. There are widely conflicting views in the Islamic world on the issue of human rights, and in particular on women’s rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. Views range from the liberal to the most repressively conservative. Whilst many Islamic countries (Saudi Arabia in fact being the only exception) signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many of them have since modified their stance.

Sharia law Sharia law, the traditional Islamic law, is a far-reaching moral code that prescribes how Muslims should best conduct their lives. It was originally conceived to regulate all aspects of life in Muslim societies, from the behaviour and habits of individuals to the workings of the criminal justice system and financial institutions. Human rights advocates are charging that, in some countries, the Sharia law does not protect men and women or Muslims and non-Muslims equally and thus violates international human rights agreements. Long associated in the non-Muslim world with severe punishments such as stoning and amputations, the system of traditional Islamic law known as Sharia is often criticised but rarely understood. 33


It was originally designed to regulate all aspects of life in Muslim societies, from the behaviour and habits of individuals to the workings of the criminal justice system and financial institutions. It stipulates, for instance, that men and women must dress modestly, refrain from alcohol and pray five times per day. It also prohibits banks from collecting interest. The Sharia derives from the Koran, the Islamic holy book, and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad, known as the Sunna. The implementation of Sharia varies tremendously in the world's predominantly Muslim societies. In countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, and in the Taleban-era Afghanistan, which are governed by Islamists who view Islam as a political ideology as well as a personal faith, a strict interpretation of the Sharia serves as the supreme law of the land. In the majority of Muslim countries, however, the Sharia is applied selectively. Some countries adopt only a few aspects of Sharia law; others apply the entire code. While some aspects of traditional Sharia law are still present, the legal systems of these countries have also been deeply influenced by European-style common and civil law. Within Sharia law, there is a category of crimes known as the hudud (Koranic) offences, for which there are specific penalties for particular crimes. For example, fornication is punished by stoning, the consumption of alcohol by lashing, and theft by the amputation of limbs. The penalties for hudud offences have not been adopted in all Islamic countries. Many predominantly Muslim countries, such as Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, have not adopted the hudud penalties in their criminal justice systems. In some parts of the Muslim world, a stricter interpretation of Sharia law appears to be making a return. In recent years, some Muslim leaders have advocated 'pure' Sharia law, complete with a reinstatement of the traditional punishments for the hudud offences. Both non-Muslim and Muslim human rights activists have charged that the application of Sharia law in some countries has breached international human rights law as codified in numerous conventions and treaties. They have argued that in some places, the application of Sharia law does not offer equal protection for men and women. Critics say it favours men. Many Islamists claim that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an attempt to force western standards and ideals on to others who do not share them. There will always be arguments from two sides: one believing that everyone has the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness and the other justifying human rights abuses on basis of religion, culture or tradition.

The problems of Muslims in Europe We notice a great diversity of Muslim population living in Europe. If Islam was defined not on the basis of the religious foundations of faith, but of the approach towards religion and the resulting way of life, one could even speak about European varieties of Islam, differing depending on the former country of origin, social position, religiosity or the present place of residence.



Muslim immigrants in Europe are a greatly diversified group, and the state policy toward religious, ethnic and national minorities also varies from country to country. Some problems, however, concern most of the Muslims living in Europe. Official recognition of the religion: Some European countries officially recognise Islam as a religion of their country, which results in various benefits (donations for schools, religious holidays). In many countries Islam is not officially recognised as such (in Germany, Switzerland, Italy). In some (France, Great Britain) such possibility is not stipulated by the law. In others (Austria, Poland, Benelux) Islam is officially recognised as a distinct religion. Building mosques: Although Muslims can pray in houses of prayer, as their community in a given country grows, they endeavour to build a mosque. This requires not only financial supplies, but also approval from the authorities and winning the neighbours' acceptance. Mosques in Europe are usually more than a place of cult they are the base for the education of children, they organise the Muslim cultural life, they offer language and computer courses. Imam: Due to the lack of appropriate educational institutions, Muslims often face the problem of providing a clergyman, i.e. an imam, for the community. Such person needs to have undergone suitable religious education and have a perfect knowledge of the living conditions in the country where they are about to work. A suitable candidate is usually not easy to find. Education: There are many problems connected with the school education of Muslim children. If the parents are religious and the school does not offer the right kind of classes, they will look for a Koranic school for their children. This is not easy and, moreover, such education requires a considerable amount of time. Muslim children who come from conservative families but attend normal schools may encounter problems in the latter ones. This refers for example to Muslim girls participating in sports classes or meeting with their school friends after the lessons. Islamophobia: Islamophobia is ever more commonly described as a new phenomenon, manifesting itself in antipathy toward Muslims, rising from the sole fact that they are Muslim. There are many stereotypes about Islam, and the religion is associated in the popular imagination with terrorism. As a result, many Muslims who have nothing to do with it and who only want a normal life suffer. Discrimination problems appear in schools and when searching for a job. On the other hand, one mustn't forget about the "self-fulfilling prophecy": the Muslims themselves may have a defensive approach towards society, assuming they will meet with disfavour. Fundamentalism: a vital problem of all Muslims is the fundamentalism of some. This has a negative effect on the image of Islam and its followers in the world. This concerns mainly Europe, which guarantees the freedom of association and of speech. In comparison with their home countries, where they work illegally or half-legally, in Europe fundamentalists feel like in heaven. The problem of fundamentalism needs to be faced by Muslims themselves. This is primarily a task for religious authorities, who should promote the right understanding of the Koranic sources Social problems: Discussions about the presence of Muslims in the European Union tend to focus on religious matters, whereas most of the problems have a social basis of the high level of unemployment (in France or Sweden) and/or low level of education (in Italy and Germany) among the Muslim community in Europe.



Hijab: In some European countries, above all in France, the problem of hijab has emerged. Some treat it as a religious symbol: others - as an element of culture. Regulations concerning the possibility of wearing hijab are different in different countries (for instance, wearing visible religious symbols is forbidden in France, whereas in Great Britain citizens can dress according to their beliefs). Also Muslim circles are divided over this matter; some think that the ban on wearing hijab will force Muslim women to assimilate, others that it will imprison them in their homes. Tradition and modernity: Many of the problems faced by Muslims living in European countries concern the ability to find one's place in a modern society while keeping one's own tradition and religion. From the Western point of view, the problematic issues may seem trivial – for example: should a religious Muslim attend the wedding of his friend, knowing that alcohol will be served; should the daughter of a religious Muslim family attend mixed swimming classes; or whether one can ask one’s employer for leave on Friday afternoon in order to participate to the prayer, or it is better not to expose oneself and escape the risk of losing one’s job, etc. Many Muslims set the limits themselves; other use fatwa given by Muslims scholars. Nevertheless, secularization is proceeding.

Islamophobia Does Islamophobia exist? Is it useful to use this expression or the terms discrimination or intolerance would be more appropriate? Is there anything special about Islamophobia and the way it affects young people in Europe? There is the general consensus that racism and racial discrimination are unacceptable forms of human rights violation anywhere. The forms that take today are multiple, often apparently disconnected from “race” or racism. They are worrying by their persistence and consequences and recently have taken a particular religious and “civilisational” connotation. The debates about secularism and its implications in France and other countries and the application of Turkey to join the EU have revealed uneasiness about accepting and managing religious and cultural diversity in Europe. Islamophobia can be defines as the fear of or prejudice view-point towards Islam, Muslims and matters pertaining to them. Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon but we know that today many Muslim communities in Europe are experiencing an increasingly hostile environment towards them characterised by suspicion, deep-rooted prejudice, ignorance, and, in some cases, physical and verbal harassment. Whether it takes the shape of daily forms racism and discrimination or more violent forms, Islamophobia is a violation of human rights and a threat to social cohesion. Role and responsibility of the media – Even without intentional manipulation, insensitive reporting on seemingly trivial matters can promote racism, when multiplied across the media. There is a lot of stereotyped reporting on different groups and issues. Political and educational actions aimed at increasing understanding and respect for religious diversity should be explored. Diversity is not threat to cohesion, it is a prerequisite. This message is of major importance when understanding problems and possibilities inherent in contemporary social processes. “… cultural diversity can bring about a strengthening of peace, through knowledge, recognition and development of all cultures, whether they originate and still exist in 36


Europe or originate from geographical areas outside Europe.” (Declaration on intercultural dialogue and conflict prevention. DGIV/CULT/PREV(2004)1E). There is no clear-cut “us” against a crystal clear “them”. A Muslim is not necessarily an Arab. “The Islamic world” is not homogenous but comprised of peoples and countries from Asia and Africa as well as the Middle East and Maghreb. The majority of Muslims in the world are not Arabs, and that they do not live primarily in the Middle East. The world’s largest Muslim population is in fact in Indonesia. “Staying European” is a reasonable limitation of the scope but it does not exhaust the topic.






Across the globe, women confront violations of their human rights — when they cannot participate in the decisions that affect their lives or claim fair political representation, when they face discrimination in employment, when they are denied entitlement to land and property, or when they suffer violence within their own home. Other obstacles to rights arise when women and girls are prevented from going to school or attaining health care, or are subject to harmful traditional practices.

Some definitions8 Gender - refers to cultural expectations and assumptions about the behaviour, attitudes, personality traits, and physical and intellectual capacities of men and women, based solely on their identity as men or women9; Gender equality - Gender equality means an equal visibility, empowerment and participation of women and men in all spheres of public and private life. It is an integral part of human rights and it aims to promote the full participation of women and men in society; Equity - This generally refers to ensuring parity when it comes to representation and is often equated with “formal equality”. To many gender equality advocates, working towards “equity” is often seen as an attempt to set a lower standard for “equality”, in that it focuses on basic measures to improve representation of women. It is important to note that “equality” is a human rights concept, but “equity” has no status in international human rights law. It is therefore “equality” which states are obligated to achieve under international law, not “equity”. Sexual discrimination - Direct discrimination because of sex occurs when a difference in treatment relies directly and explicitly on distinction based exclusively on sex and characteristics of men and women, which cannot be justified objectively. Indirect discrimination occurs when a law, policy or programme does not appear to be discriminatory on its face, but has a discriminatory effect when implemented. This can occur, for example, when women are disadvantaged compared to men with respect to the enjoyment of a particular opportunity or benefit due to pre-existing inequalities. Discrimination against women (as defined by the CEDAW) – “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” Gender mainstreaming - Integration of gender equality perspective is a reorganisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes so that gender equality perspective


UNIFEM Regional Project “Women for Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building in the Southern Caucasus”, Advancing Gender Equality – Using CEDAW and UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Training module for gender equality advocates, 2006 9 The definition of term Gender is borrowed from United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, W/C.12/2005/3, General Comment N. 16 (2005), paragraph 14.



is incorporated in all policies and programmes at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy-making10. Discussion – What I like/What I do Write on a sheet of paper the answer to the following questions: • Three things that my sex is supposed to do that I like • Three things that my sex is supposed to do that I don’t like • Three things that I would like to do or be if I were of the other sex Discuss the results with your colleagues. How does this community respond to people who don’t conform to gender expectations? Do gender expectations limit people’s human rights?

Legal instruments Gender equality is a fundamental condition for the full enjoyment of human rights by women and men. International instruments now exist to promote and defend women’s rights, but gender inequalities are persistent in a wide range of areas. Violence against women, gendered poverty, women’s exclusion from decision-making in political and economic life, these are just examples of issues which must be resolved if gender equality is to be achieved. Overcoming these inequalities requires profound transformations in social structures and relations between men and women. The key international agreement on women’s human rights is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is also described as the international bill of women’s rights. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles and ratified by 185 UN Member States, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination and to achieve substantive equality. Under CEDAW, States are required to eliminate the many different forms of gender-based discrimination women confront, not only by making sure that there are no existing laws that directly discriminate women, but also by ensuring that all necessary arrangements are put in place that will allow women to actually experience equality in their lives. By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms and to ensure “equality of results”, including: • The incorporation of the principle of equality of men and women into the state legal system, the abolishment of all discriminatory laws and the adoption of appropriate laws prohibiting discrimination against women • The establishment of tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination • The elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.


The definition of term Gender Mainstreaming is borrowed from Council of Europe, Gender Mainstreaming, Conceptual Framework, Methodology and Presentation of Good Practices, Final Report of Activities of the Group of Specialists on Mainstreaming, Strasbourg, May 1998.



Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice and to move beyond “de jure” equality and to ensure an equality of results – equality which is felt by the average woman and man. They are also committed to submit national reports an initial report a year after ratifying the Convention and then regular reports every four years - on measures they have taken to comply with treaty obligations. On 31 October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (UNSC resolution 1325). UNSC resolution 1325 was the first resolution addressing gender issues to be passed by the Security Council. It emphasized the vital role of women in conflict resolution and mandated a review of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution, as well as reconstruction and rehabilitation processes. UNSC resolution 1325 and CEDAW - two normative, legally binding documents – are powerful tools when used together to move the gender equality agenda forward in the peace and security context.

Table 2. Legal instruments as base for actions and interventions11 11

UNFPA/Cultture/Promoting Human Rights through Culturally Sensitive Approaches (accessed on 3 May 2011)



The major treaties referenced in the table include12: • UDHR: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 • ICESCR: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 • ICCPR: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 • CEDAW: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979 • CRC: Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 Although each set of standards constitutes a critical tool in advocating for women’s rights, using them together strengthens the work of gender equality advocates, and works to ensure the realization of de facto gender equality in times of peace and within post-conflict environments. Reflection –Women’s’ empowerment13 Please answer the following questions and then discuss your answers with your colleagues or friends. What determines women’s empowerment as local and national leaders? What determines women’s empowerment in the area of income generation? What determines women’s empowerment in the rights over her body – gender-based violence and reproductive health?

Gender roles and stereotypes14 Gender is the socially constructed differences between men and women. This is different from sex, which is the biological difference between men and women. Gender roles are in a constant state of flux in response to changing social and economic conditions. For example, in a crisis situation women may take on traditional male roles, e.g. heads of families, industrial workers or soldiers. The gender roles we play change throughout the course of a day. For example, if a mother stays home from work to take care of her sick child, she is playing a traditionally “female gender role”. That same mother, once the child is healthy, may go outside of the home to work and act as the main wage earner for the family – in this, she is playing a traditionally “male gender role”. Because gender is constructed by society and not fixed, stereotypical notions of male and female roles can be challenged. In all societies, these roles have evolved and have changed throughout a culture’s history. The term “gender roles” and “gender stereotypes” are often used interchangeably. These are the roles that tradition has created - i.e. it may be that the culturally acceptable definition of a “good” woman is one who marries young, has many sons, works hard for her sons and husband, puts their needs above her own, is gentle and kind, does not argue, etc. These stereotypical traits of what is a “good” woman are the gender roles she may play in that culture. 12

For full text please visit the website of the project See [1] 14 See [1] 13



When we say that men and women are not the same, we refer not only to differences in biology (biological/sex differences) but also to the different roles that have been created by society (gender differences). Because of both biological/sex and gender differences, women and men have different needs and different levels of access to resources and power, which create gender inequalities. Policies and strategies that recognize gender inequality constraints seek to address them in ways that promote women’s full participation in community and political life. Exercise - Sex or gender?15 The following roles/stereotypes may be attributed to “sex” or to “gender”? Women give birth to babies (Answer - sex). Little girls are gentle and timid; boys are tough and adventuresome (Answer – gender role). In many countries, women earn 70 % of what men earn (Answer – gender role). In many countries men are conscripted to the army, but women are not (Answer – gender role, but many persons/governments would disagree and state the policy was because of “sex”). Peace agreements are mainly negotiated and signed by men (Answer – gender role). Women breastfeed babies (Answer – sex). According to UN statistics, women do 67% of the world’s work, yet their earnings amount to only 10 % of the world’s income (Answer – gender role). Mother Therese helped the poor (Answer – neither sex nor gender; personal characteristic). Men are decision makers (Answer – gender role). Women did not fight as soldiers in the conflict (Answer – gender role. Also, depending on the country, this general assumption may be incorrect.) • •

• • • • • • • •

Gender, peace and conflict Situations of armed conflict as well as periods of post-conflict reconstruction provide special challenges for the advancement of gender equality and the protection of women’s rights. During recent conflicts around the world women have continued to endure unprecedented levels of sexual violence and assault, leading to consequences including HIV infection, pregnancy and other health complications, as well as possible stigmatisation and exclusion from their communities. Women who are made refugees as the result of conflict experience intense insecurity that comes both from being isolated from their habitual support systems and from the additional physical insecurities often present in situations of forced displacement. However, despite the horrific consequences of conflict for many women, it would be wrong to see women only as “victims” of conflict and to ignore their very important role in peace-making and conflict resolution.


See [1]



Women’s engagement in peace-building is recognized by many international institutions as a crucial element of recovery and conflict prevention – a fact reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 132516, which commits the United Nations and its member states to engaging women in conflict prevention and peace-building. Further UN Security Council Resolutions have emphasized the need to protect the rights of women during armed conflicts, to prevent sexual violence, and to fully integrate women into post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction processes. In particular Resolution 182017 and Resolution 188818, highlight the ongoing crisis of sexual violence used as a tactic of war, and call for the immediate cessation of this type of violence. Despite elaborate international and national policy frameworks, women around the world face enormous challenges to their participation in peace-building processes and in translating legal instruments into real rights and concrete change. Furthermore, women’s ability to effectively influence peace-building processes is often compromised by the threat or the actual experience of sexual and gender based violence, which commonly escalates during and after armed conflicts, as well as by continuing obstacles to women’s full political participation in many countries. Too often women are neither adequately represented at decision-making levels nor involved in peace negotiations and agreements and women's grassroots organizations and peace initiatives are marginalized or ignored. Further, gender issues are often ignored in post-conflict reconstruction.


UN Security Council Resolution 1325, October 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1820, June 2008 18 UN Security Council Resolution 1820, September 2009 17






Accepting legality, fighting for legality, as a prerequisite for running a business means organizing the operations not so much, or not only, for one’s own success but also for a fairer world. Legality is the basis from which those who warrant it, through hard work and dedication and creativity may achieve results, occupy important roles and enjoy success, not just those who are most powerful, oppressing or corrupt. Legality is the minimum precondition for freedom and justice, for potential equality. And rules, dynamic and progressive rules, which aim at the common good represent the building bricks of legality. Rules and laws are precious tools that alone cannot, however, change things. Everyone must do his bit. We are the ones who must transform the rules and laws into building bricks of a more open, fairer society that can meet and satisfy people’s needs and make dreams come true. The right side is always the more difficult, but also the one that points the way to our freedom and future.

In or out One of the things that everyone has in common and that creates a relationship between us are the rules. They discipline relationships, establish rights and responsibilities; they mark out reference points for action, work and life. They are the words of a common language: legality. The easy thing about legality is that it only has two sides: one can be in or be out. When we are born, we are welcomed into a world that is full of rules. We have a lot of them to learn over time and they are not all as easy as the very first ones (putting food in our mouth rather than all over your face, saying thank you instead of grunting, being polite, starting school, etc.). Our parents or adults acting on their behalf transmit these to us. They in turn also learned them from adults; tried tested and found useful. All groups of human beings seek immediately to establish some rules and pass these on to their children. They are necessary to the survival of the group, to stay strong and united. But when the group becomes larger in numbers and more complex organization and lifestyles are created, the rules also increase and become more complicated.

Rules and laws Some of the unwritten rules that parents teach us, talk about how we should behave when we are out of the house, with others, those flocks of strangers who, with us, form society. Simple rules such as “don’t steal” usually correspond to some basic laws of society. But is that how it always is? Our first experience of community is our family whose rules shouldn’t differ much from those of the society of which it is part. Family rules and community rules should be two sides of the same coin: if it is wrong to steal from a relative or friend, then it is also wrong to steal from a stranger. Unfortunately, it would seem that for some people the rules have become separate and different, in other words it is wrong to steal from a relative or a friend but it is OK to steal from a stranger.



Growing up in one family rather than another can be very important to our first impressions of rules, of what is right and wrong. Parents transmit values to their children which, in one way or another, include those concerning respect for our fellow citizens, the community, the State. Some of us grow up in the knowledge that one must always behave properly towards everybody, through moral choice and through respect for regulations. Some are convinced that it is best to stick to the rules just because if you don’t you might get caught and punished. Some only recognise the rules that are favourable to themselves or their group (like the Mafia) and not to the community or the State. Reflection – A conscience that bounces back Everyone hates and condemns theft when it happens to them but not everyone does if it happens to someone else. A survey carried out in 2007 says that 3085 million Euros worth of goods disappeared from Italian supermarkets: clothes, food, alcohol, razors (one in four is stolen). The thieves are not professionals but “normal” people: housewives, office clerks, students. When they are not stealing because they are hungry they prove that their sense of legality is elastic. It depends on the probability of being “caught” rather than moral choices. Having an “elastic” conscience is a temptation for all, isn’t it?

Dilemmas Right, wrong. Good, Bad. Legal, illegal. Do these words mean the same thing? Can what is right for us be wrong for the next person? Who decides? Who should one listen to about behaving “properly”? How should one recognise “bad” behaviour? Is there a good answer for every occasion and every place? The concept of good and bad can vary from period to period and from place to place. Killing might be considered wrong in times of peace, but right in wartimes. A common family rule is that we should obey our parents. Chance has it that some parents are criminals or members of the Mafia. Obeying them would seem reasonable if they were to ask us to wash our teeth or ride our scooter with care. But what happens if they ask us to do something illegal? Whose is the right code to keep to: theirs, which considers this deed to be advantageous and therefore acceptable, or the State’s, that considers it to be criminal and therefore unacceptable? Who should we listen to: the people we love and know, or a seemingly abstract institution that doesn’t even know who we are? Reflection – Legal or illegal Law does not contemplate ambiguity: one can either do it or cannot. What is legal in one place, however, might be illegal in another and vice versa. Could you think of some examples? And that is before we even consider that each person’s conscience may feel more or less convinced by common concepts of good and bad, or by the laws of the place in which he or she lives.



Each one of us is part of something. Of a family, a group of friends, a school, a workplace. We are part of a country, a city, a region. Being part of something means sharing the benefits: being one of many, organized and stronger, means having more opportunities, means agreeing to the rules, or laws, which discipline our living together, our being part of a team. The Constitution of a country reminds us that if we want to stay in society and benefit from the advantages this gives, we must obey the rules of many and not just those that we give ourselves. It reminds us that our best interests coincide with those of others; and those of others with ours. Time passes and things change: certain rules get older and become inappropriate. Or they might prove wrong or unfair. When this happens, citizens of a civil country have the right to act and fight so that these old fashioned or unfair rules can be modified or substituted. In fact, laws, if they are to be obeyed, have to take into consideration the people who are expected to obey them. Rules can only be changed by following other rules which explain how to do it. Whatever the case may be, the mechanism relies on loyalty and fair play, on uninterrupted respect for what is called legality. Some find it difficult to overcome selfishness, resist the temptation to cheat for personal gain because they can’t see the advantages. The advantages of obeying the rules are guaranteed, although they may only appear after a long time, whereas the advantages of breaking the rules are immediate but risky.

Easy ways Legality isn’t always the easiest route. One has got to be patient, tenacious, understand that it is not only loyal and right towards fellow citizens, but that it pays, too. One needs role models to emulate: parents first and then teachers, men and women in institutions, politicians, writers and artists. But what when the models backfire? Even though parents love their children, some are not able to be examples of moral strength or abiding by the rules, either because of difficulties or wrong ideals. True: occasionally one gets the feeling that is surrounded by sly sorts, admired and rewarded for their arrogance. The temptation to copy is strong, thus taking the easy way out. If we just look beyond the spotlights, we will see that there are lots of other people who choose the harder way, the way of respect, loyalty, honesty. Many of them perhaps feel rewarded by a feeling of moral correctness, of being on the right side: the only side possible. Some people choose to fight actively against arrogance and abuse, no matter how great or small, and sometimes lose their lives in doing so. They always leave a mark, a method, a fundamental example that stays with us.

On the wrong side Everyone at one point or another might find himself, even briefly, on the wrong side of the law. This does not make us a criminal, that is to say a person who chooses to live (and pay their way) illegally through cheating, stealing, extortion, blackmail or even murder. But why is choosing criminality wrong? 48


The criminal willingly breaks the pact that ties him to other citizens, violating the rules in the name of self-profit. Criminals don’t strive to destroy legality, but take advantage of it, infringing laws where these upset their plans but obeying them if they work to their favour. Monstrous beings that live off evil and command where normality is banned only exist in cartoons. In reality even the worst aspire to remain in a normal world, so they can spend the money they have acquired illegally or invest it in unlawful business. In addition to a life of luxury, cars, beautiful houses and power, they also aspire to things like family and friends. The criminal is not a psychopathic serial killer: he or she is an opportunist who enjoys the best of two worlds depending on which is most convenient. A criminal’s number 1 objective is to get rich quick by means other than honest work. Doing this involves harming other people. A criminal’s number 2 objective is to prosper in criminal activity without being suspected or caught. Cosa nostra The showiest opportunism in the criminal world is the Mafia, also known as Cosa Nostra, which translates in English as ‘our thing’. In one and half centuries Cosa Nostra has developed, created a structure and adapted to times better than any other criminal organisation. But what exactly is Cosa Nostra? Cosa Nostra is a serious organisation of criminals who gain wealth through armed robbery, extortion, drug -and people- trafficking, gambling and many other illegal activities. Cosa Nostra is a parasite organisation: it has always survived through exploiting the work and resources of others (by demanding shopkeepers, in the towns where they are strongest, for a pizzo, which is monthly payment of a sum of money in exchange for so-called “protection”). Since the drug boom in the ‘60s, Cosa Nostra has been able to collect huge amounts of money. With these funds, Mafia members can set up legal businesses (such as real estate companies, construction firms, financial holdings) at no expense because, contrarily to honest business people, they are so rich, they don’t need to ask banks for loans. Cosa Nostra’s dirty wealth is in part shared out amongst its members and partly “cleaned” or laundered in lots of different ways and invested in legal businesses. Cosa Nostra will not think twice about defending its personal interests by killing people or organising massacres to eliminate rivals, police officers, magistrates and anyone who poses a threat. But how has the Mafia been able to exist for such a long time without being eradicated like other criminal activities? Why is it still so powerful? The power of Cosa Nostra does not only lie with threats and killings, crushing good people at will. It has always sat with political complicity. Cosa Nostra has always sought – and sadly found – the support of local politicians but also MPs, senators, ministers. Collusion with corrupt bankers and financiers permits Cosa Nostra to conduct business by money laundering or transferring huge quantities of dirty cash. In Italy, there are also other similar organisations to the Cosa Nostra: the Camorra in Campania, the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria or the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia.



The Mafia is a closed society which demands absolute obedience to its leaders. The only way out of the ‘family’ is death. No being able to act openly, or trust anyone, not even one’s friends, brings solitude and anxiety. Escaping law enforcers and rival families, the continuous risk of death and loss of freedom become a daily obsession.

It can be done – React! It is impossible to calculate the damage caused by the Mafia. Even during times of apparent calm (when there are no deaths), millions of Euros are subtracted from the community and many lives remain at risk. It is precisely during these moments of calm that the Mafia is alive and dangerous and decisive action against it is necessary: a non-stop painstaking job that requires patience and courage. Thousands of police officers and magistrates have worked, often in difficult conditions, to hunt down the authors of Mafia crimes. Thanks to them, the Mafia has suffered severe blows through arrests, processes and confiscation; they have revealed many seemingly inaccessible secrets. Hundreds of police officers, judges, politicians and ordinary citizens have been murdered to block investigations and hinder justice.

Did you know? - Not alone Palermo airport is dedicated to two judges of Palermo, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, killed by Cosa Nostra. Just two names of endless number of people, ordinary and famous, who have lost their lives fighting the Mafia. If they are, as they should be, remembered today as heroes (because of their courage, tenacity, sense of duty and results achieved) it is fair to remember that at the time (they died in 1992) they were far too frequently left to fight alone by those who should have supported and protected them. The great strategy of the Mafia: carry out business, preferably with no fuss, eliminating enemies or discrediting them and opposing them while they are alive. Repression of the Mafia is a job for professionals: Magistrates, Police, Carabinieri. It is a difficult and dangerous job, but it must be done and we must support it. Eliminating Mafia mentality is everyone’s responsibility. Accepting laws of arrogance and violent blackmail, be it for fear or indifference, will never bring an end to the Mafia phenomenon. Saying no to blackmail is an act of courage and one of dignity. Once, rebelling would have seemed impossible, now there are lots of people who do rebel and say no. The Mafia is not a gang of blood-thirsty ‘monsters’: it is a multinational business. Its sore point lies in its principal interest: money. It is through its money, bank accounts, property (houses, land, businesses) that the Mafia can be weakened. From this comes the simple idea of burning the earth around it, confiscating its wealth. Oceans of money accumulated illegally are often used by the Mafia to buy land, villas, factories, property. The State, repossessing and confiscating the property of convicted Mafia members, cut off their oxygen and give the community back what was stolen from them. Land and property in the hands of honest citizens will guarantee opportunities and unconditioned work that is not offered by the Mafia through blackmailing. 50


Did you know? - Two important steps The idea of confiscating assets from the Mafia came from Pio La Torre, a Sicilian politician whose assassination was ordered by Totò Riina. The Rognoni-La Torre law was passed in 1982. In 1995, a courageous priest named don Luigi Ciotti founded Libera, the association of anti-Mafia associations. The first thing that Libera managed to do was gather a million signatures to promote a law that would state: from today, properties taken from the Mafia may be used for socially useful purposes. For example: a building that is converted into a school or a holiday farm, land that is cultivated to produce cereal crops or tomatoes, in such a way that real work can be provided to honest citizens for clean wages. The law was passed in 1996.

For one and a half centuries, saying no to the Mafia meant being left alone and defenceless. Whosoever dared to rebel against a seemingly invincible violence has almost always paid with their lives. For this reason we are at the moment experiencing an unprecedented historical moment, because there are increasing – and therefore less alone – numbers of those who say no: to arrogance, to oppression, to death. It is becoming clearer that rebelling against the Mafias is everyone’s duty and not just those who live in areas at risk. The more citizens oppose the Mafia system, the more Mafiosi remain isolated and the threat they pose decreases. Saying no to Mafia blackmail is saying yes to human dignity, the right to live and work, and keeping control of yourself and your things. Today, organised crime and mafia are no longer a phenomenon localised within one country's borders. Organised crime is a transnational phenomenon able to operate within territories and populations far different from each other. It is part of our worlds – often without us even knowing. Today we are witnessing human trafficking, drug trafficking, weapon trafficking and many other illegal activities not only between neighbouring countries, but between continents. Usually, influenced by the media, there is a tendency to associate the mafia only with Italy, but in the contemporary globalised world the mafia no longer stays national, but becomes an international mega business affecting many of us and impacting increase of poverty, pollution of the environment, bleach of human rights and oppression on many people (victims of organized crime). Italy is however on the fore front in the fight against organised crime. Its legislation and the commitment of the population provide leading examples for fighting a phenomenon that has a severe impact on worldwide economy. Whether in Bulgaria, Ukraine, South Africa or Brazil, or any of the other numerous locations where organized crime exists there is a sense, not necessarily deserved, that criminality has gained an historic upper hand over the rule of law. The modern spread of transnational crime is becoming frightening and urges the need for action not only of the governments, but also of the civil society, but primarily by each citizen – including you!






Who are indigenous peoples? There does not seem to be one definitive definition of indigenous people, but generally indigenous people are those that have historically belonged to a particular region or country, before its colonization or transformation into a nation state, and may have different—often unique— cultural, linguistic, traditional, and other characteristics to those of the dominant culture of that region or state. Today, there are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries worldwide19. In Latin America alone there are more than 400 groups, each with a distinct language and culture. But the biggest concentration of indigenous peoples is in Asia and the Pacific – an estimated 70 per cent. Indigenous peoples are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to other people and to the environment. Indigenous peoples have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, the various groups of indigenous peoples around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Indigenous peoples around the world have sought recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources; yet throughout history, their rights have been violated. Indigenous peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today. Historically they have often been dispossessed of their lands, or in the center of conflict for access or valuable resources because of where they live, or, in yet other cases, struggling to live the way they would like. It was after World War I and II that movements for indigenous rights starting gaining more traction. Witnessing the immense destruction, violence and barbarism of those wars, colonized people began questioning the European claim that their civilizations were superior and peaceful. Weakened European countries could no longer hold on to their colonies, and a wave of anticolonial and nationalist movements sprung up as people around the world saw their chance to break free. European countries began conceding territories, and for many indigenous groups, accepted that they should have more rights to determine their own destiny. Did you know? - The forerunners of indigenous peoples’ rights In 1923, Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh travelled to Geneva to speak to the League of Nations and defend the right of his people to live under their own laws, on the own land and under their own faith. Even though he was not allowed to speak and returned home in 1925, his vision nourished the generations that followed.


About UNPFII/History, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues



A similar journey was made by Maori religious leader T.W. Ratana. To protest the breaking of the Treaty of Waitangi concluded with the Maori in New Zealand in 1840 that gave Maori ownership of their lands, Ratana first traveled to London with a large delegation first to petition King George, but he was denied access. He then sent part of his delegation to Geneva to the League of Nations and arrived there later himself, in 1925, but was also denied access.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world's indigenous peoples. The Declaration addresses individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; and rights to education, health, employment and language. It outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. It also ensures their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own priorities in economic, social and cultural development. The Declaration is the most comprehensive statement of the rights of indigenous peoples ever developed, giving prominence to collective rights to a degree unprecedented in international human rights law. The adoption of this instrument is the clearest indication yet that the international community is committing itself to the protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples. The process to draft the aforementioned declaration moved very slowly because of concerns expressed by particular countries at some of the core provisions of the draft declaration, especially the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples and the control over natural resources existing on indigenous peoples’ traditional lands. Some historically and currently powerful countries have been opposed to various rights and provisions for indigenous peoples, because of the implications to their territory, or because it would tacitly recognize they have been involved in major injustices during periods of colonialism and imperialism. Giving such people’s the ability to regain some lost land, for example, would be politically explosive. The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on 9 August every year.

Poverty and right to food of indigenous peoples The right to food is of particular importance to vulnerable groups, amongst which are indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples usually fall into the poorest segment of society. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), indigenous peoples make up about 5 per cent of the world’s population but comprise about 15 per cent of the world’s poor20. 20

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)



The right to food is a human right laid down in several international human rights instruments. Its most important legal basis can be found in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The right to food is multi-dimensional. Its realization and enjoyment depend on the effective realization of other human rights. With regard to indigenous peoples, among the most relevant rights that are a prerequisite to the enjoyment of the right to food are the right to culture, the right to land, territories and resources, the right to selfdetermination and the right to non-discrimination. As poverty is a key determinant of food insecurity, it is not surprising that the levels of hunger and malnutrition among indigenous populations are disproportionately higher than among nonindigenous populations. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to provide precise numbers on the extent and level of hunger and malnutrition among indigenous peoples because of lack of disaggregated data. However, the information that is available demonstrates consistently that indigenous groups suffer a higher overall incidence of poverty and hunger. Important issues to be taken into account when analysing the right to food of indigenous peoples concern land and renewable resources. A keystone of poor conditions for indigenous peoples is the continuing depletion of their natural resources, mainly through the expropriation of their lands. Thus, many indigenous peoples have been pushed onto the least fertile and most fragile lands, where it is difficult to grow enough food for sustenance, let alone earn a living, while preserving their cultural identity. Therefore, they are prevented from pursuing their traditional way of life, a way of life that usually offers substantial food security. Considering its cultural dimensions, food security for indigenous peoples goes far beyond the mere satisfaction of physical needs. The component “cultural acceptability” of the right to food becomes of particular importance in the context of indigenous peoples. Culture is an important aspect of the analysis of the right to food of indigenous peoples because “food” is indispensable to shaping indigenous peoples’ lives and indigenous identities. Indigenous peoples continue to derive selfworth, individually and collectively, from traditional livelihoods such as hunting, fishing, gathering, shifting cultivation or rotational agriculture, pastoralism, and high mountain agriculture. These practices represent – besides the obtaining of food for purposes of livelihood – an important aspect of cultural identity. Furthermore, it is fundamental to take into account that many indigenous peoples view the right to food as a collective one. The communities have to be empowered to participate fully in determining strategies for their development and to pursue their own goals and visions by strengthening grass-roots organizations and local governance. Effective and sustainable development must be tailored to their identities, values and cultures. Land is not only crucial to the survival of indigenous peoples, as it is for most poor rural people – it is central to their identities. They have a deep spiritual relationship to their ancestral territories. Moreover, when they have secure access to land, they also have a firm base from which to improve their livelihoods. Indigenous women can play an important role and have an untapped potential as stewards of natural resources and biodiversity, as guardians of cultural diversity, and as peace brokers in conflict mitigation. Nonetheless, indigenous women are often the most disadvantaged members of their communities because of their limited access to education, assets and credit, and their 55


exclusion from decision-making processes. Indigenous women suffer from two “strikes” against them: for being indigenous and for being women.

Indigenous peoples’ link with land and environment – a cultural value The value of land and environment in indigenous culture is based on a holistic vision of their territory where the entire animal and vegetal world acquires particular meaning, a value that is fundamental for the reproduction of the life of the rest. Mountains, valleys, rivers and lagoons that identify themselves with the existence of an indigenous peoples and that give to this latter their means of sustaining. The richness inherited from their ancestors and the heritage these peoples have to pass to their descendants. A space where every little part, every manifestation of life, every expression of nature is sacred in the memory and in the collective experience of a people and is shared with all the living beings in respect of their natural evolution as guarantee of mutual development. All this can be identified as the environment for indigenous peoples. In indigenous peoples’ conception, human beings are included in the overall picture and this makes an enormous difference with no-indigenous approach. The relationship between human being and environment, in occidental culture for instance, has always been one of struggle for domination, exploitation, control to avoid possible risks and modification in a friendlier place to profit from. Also the protection accorded to nature has always had an instrumental character, based on our necessities to live in a healthier environment. Although in the last years some conceptions of protection of environment, based on the intrinsic value of animals, plants and nature in general, have been spreading, our approach remains undoubtedly anthropocentric. Indigenous societies have managed to elaborate mechanisms for every individual to be able to stay in relation with natural resources in a rational and not destructive way. Everyone is prepared to perform the duty that the society assigns to him/her. Often gender is the only criteria of workdivision: in some cultures men prepare the lands for the cultivation and women plant and collect the products, creating a strong interdependence between both the sexes. In general every individual is prepared to deal with every duty necessary for social life, in this way creating, in many cases, a society without classes.







An estimated 214 million people21 currently live outside their country of origin, many having moved for a variety of reasons in which the search for protection and the search for opportunity are inextricably entwined. Driven by war, poverty, and environmental disaster, they seek elsewhere the livelihood denied them at home. Propelled by courage and determination, they defy a world which refuses them the rights that are set out in international covenants but remain absent from their daily lives. Migrants are often to be found working in jobs that are dirty, dangerous and degrading (the 3 Ds). While for some migration is a positive and empowering experience, far too many migrants have to endure human rights violations, discrimination, and exploitation. International economic imbalances, poverty and environmental degradation, combined with the absence of peace and security, human rights violations and the varying degrees of development of judicial and democratic institutions are all factors affecting international migration." Considerable international migration occurs for other reasons. The globalization of economic activity has internationalized labour markets. International experience and training in foreign settings have become necessary for workers and professionals in many fields, such as telecommunications, marketing and hotel service. Increasing exchanges of personnel take place within transnational corporate enterprises. Many countries remain dependent on migrant labourers and professionals to fill the gaps in their job markets, develop new areas of production or services, and maintain labour-intensive activity. In some countries, migrants supply a considerable portion of the domestic workforce. Many of these migrant workers and professionals have been encouraged, even recruited to come to other countries.


United Nations' Trends in Total Migrant Stock: The 2008 Revision International Organization for Migration (IOM) Facts and Figures



Migrants are often one of the most vulnerable groups. This vulnerability, which derives from an alien status, often contrasts sharply, with the determination, ingenuity and resilience required for the migration process itself. This dissociation between nationality and physical presence has many consequences. As strangers to a society, migrants may be unfamiliar with the national language, laws and practice, and so less able than others to know and assert their rights. They may face discrimination, and be subjected to unequal treatment and unequal opportunities at work, and in their daily lives. They may also face racism and xenophobia. At times of political tension, they may be the first to be suspected as security risks. By linking anti-terrorism and immigration control in the context of the “war on terror�, many governments have encouraged xenophobia against migrants and refugees. In some countries, national discrimination law does not protect migrant workers, and in any case migrants are more likely to work in sectors where labour standards are not applied, or even not applicable.

No Human Being is "illegal" Migrants are becoming scapegoats for a host of social problems. A manifestation of the victimization of migrants is the widespread, official adoption of the term "illegal migrant" by governments and international conferences. These two simple words criminalize and dehumanize human beings, making of them an antisocial "commodity". Many migrants today are undocumented, out of status or "irregular." They have the responsibility to seek documented status and accept the restrictions of a fair migration policy, administered by the host state according to due process. States have the obligation to ensure protection of fundamental human rights of all persons on their territories, regardless of status. The defence of the basic human rights of any group in society, especially the most vulnerable, is the defence of the rights of all. As history has shown, the denial of rights to one group becomes the first step and basis for imposing increasing restrictions on other groups.

A human rights approach to migration Human rights mechanisms, such as the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants22 and the Committee on Migrant Workers23, have been clear in stating that although countries have a sovereign right to determine conditions of entry and stay in their territories, they also have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all individuals under their jurisdiction, regardless of their nationality or origin and regardless of their immigration status. International refugee law provides protection for those facing political persecution, but not for those fleeing economic or environmental threats to their lives or livelihoods. For those whose experience of suffering and displacement does not fit the refugee definition, there is little choice but to turn to smugglers, or resort to temporary work programs. Illegal or temporary status undermines fragile hopes, exposing migrant workers to exploitation and abuse. With government-


UNHCHR, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants 23 UNHCHR, Committee on Migrant Workers



funded settlement services largely restricted to those who arrive with permanent status, migrant workers have few places to turn for help. Churches are called to welcome and assist migrants. Migration facts: • 214 million migrants live outside their home country24 • In 2009 more than USD 307 billion in remittances went to developing countries25 • Recorded remittances are more than twice as large as official aid and nearly two-thirds of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to developing countries26 • The percentage of migrants has remained relatively stable as a share of the total population, increasing by only 0.2 per cent (from 2.9 to 3.1 per cent), over the last decade27 The UN human rights system is based on the idea that human rights are universal and indivisible. In other words, all rights belong to all people. States are responsible for protecting the rights of their citizens. By signing the 1951 Refugee Convention, countries agree to offer protection to any person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.” Lives are threatened by such forces as economic injustice and ecologically destructive development - not just persecution. However, those fleeing violations of economic, social and cultural rights are ineligible for the kind of international protection accorded to refugees. This contradicts the key human rights principle of “indivisibility” - all rights for all people.

Migrant rights – The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families The basic migrant rights were identified in drafting the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. This document in turn is based on the principles contained in such fundamental instruments as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the Convention specifically addresses migrant workers, ratification and implementation of its provisions would provide a significant measure of protection for most other migrants in vulnerable situations. However, few countries have taken the necessary steps to adopt these standards by signing and ratifying or acceding to this Convention, thus incorporating its standards in national law. The Convention does not create new rights for migrants but aims at guaranteeing equality of treatment, and the same working conditions for migrants and nationals. This implies notably: • Preventing inhumane living and working conditions, physical and sexual abuse, and degrading treatment (articles 10-11, 25, 54);


See [1] World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 26 See [5] 27 See [1] 25



• • • • •

Guaranteeing migrants’ rights to freedom of thought, expression and religion (articles 1213); Guaranteeing migrants’ access to information on their rights (articles 33, 37); Ensuring their right to legal equality, which implies that migrants are subject to correct procedures, have access to interpreting services and are not sentenced to disproportionate penalties such as expulsion (articles 16-20, 22); Guaranteeing migrants’ access to educational and social services (articles 27-28, 30, 43-45, 54); Ensuring that migrants have the right to participate in trade unions (articles 26, 40).

The Convention also states that migrants should have the right to remain connected to their country of origin. This implies: • Ensuring that migrants can return to their country of origin if they so wish, and that they are allowed to pay occasional visits and are encouraged to maintain cultural links (articles 8, 31, 38); • Guaranteeing migrants’ political participation in the country of origin (articles 41-42); • Ensuring migrants’ right to transfer their earnings to their home country (articles 32, 4648). Scope and definitions: What extent of the migration experience does the convention cover? The Convention applies to the entire migration process of migrant workers and members of their families. It extends them rights and protection at all stages: preparation, recruitment, departure and transit; stay in States of employment; and their return to and resettlement in original homelands or States of residence (Art. 1). Who is a migrant worker? How do migrant workers differ from other migrants? Not all migrants are migrant workers. For the first time in an international instrument, the Convention provides a definition of a migrant worker centred on engagement in a "remunerated activity." This definition is broad and includes protection those who are planning to become migrant workers, actually working outside their own country, or ending work abroad and returning to their homelands. It states, "The term 'migrant worker' refers to a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national" (Art. 2). Because each type of migrant has distinct issues, those who migrate as political refugees, employees of a State, students, investors, and so on should not be confused with migrant workers and their specific needs and concerns. The Convention also recognizes the importance of women as migrant workers in their own right in the definition of migrant worker. Reference is made throughout the Convention to ensure the full applicability of human rights legislation to female as well as male migrant workers and members of their families. Are all migrant workers the same? In addition to a general definition of migrant worker status, the Convention recognizes the complexity of the migrant worker situation in the contemporary world. It also provides definitions for specific categories of migrant workers, such as "frontier worker," "seasonal worker," "project61


tied worker," and "self-employed worker (Art. 2)." The "self-employed worker" category recognizes the large number of migrant workers who operate a small family business by themselves or with other family members. Part V of the Convention elaborates which rights are to apply to which categories of migrant workers and members of the families. Why are family members included in the Convention? Who is a family member of a migrant worker? In a forward step in human rights legislation, the Convention considers migrant workers social entities as well as economic entities and favours the reunification of families of migrant workers. It defines "members of the family" as "persons married to migrant workers or having with them a relationship that, according to applicable law, produces effects equivalent to marriage," and their dependants as recognized by the legislation of States concerned (Art. 4). This terminology takes into consideration the different forms of family relations globally. It also elaborates rights and protection to family members in a range of situations, especially in the host country with the migrant workers. Does the Convention exclude anyone? For those who meet the definition of migrant worker and member of the family, the Convention has a non-discrimination article and rejects distinctions of any kind such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political conviction, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status (Art. 7). Rights of migrant workers and members of their families28 The Convention defines the rights of migrant workers under two main headings: the human rights of migrant workers and members of their families (Part III) and other rights of migrant workers (Part IV). The human rights are applicable to all migrant workers irrespective of their legal status while the other rights are applicable only to migrant workers in a regular situation. However, the Convention does not exclude illegal workers. It contains provisions for the just treatment of illegal workers. Human rights of migrant workers and members of their families The Convention is not proposing new human rights exclusively for migrant workers. Part III of the Convention is a reiteration of the basic rights which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and elaborated in the international human rights treaties now adopted by many nations. Why are they then repeated here? The Convention seeks to draw the attention of the international community to the dehumanization of migrant workers and members of their families, many of whom are deprived of their basic human rights. Indeed, legislation implementing other basic treaties in some States utilizes terminology covering citizens and/or residents, de jura excluding many migrants, especially those in irregular situations. Basic freedoms 28

The remaining text in this chapter is excerpted from the Migrant Forum in Asia publication "Ratifying UN Convention Protecting Migrant Workers" MIGRANT WOMEN Quest for Justice



Applying these fundamental rights to migrant workers and members of their families, the Convention provides for their right to leave and enter the State of origin (Art. 1). The inhumane living and working conditions and physical (and sexual) abuse that many migrant workers must endure are covered by the reaffirmation of their right to life (Art. 9) and prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment (Art. 10) as well as slavery or servitude and forced or compulsory labour (Art. 11). Migrant workers are also entitled to basic freedoms like the freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art. 12), and the right to hold and express opinions (Art. 13). Their property should not be confiscated arbitrarily (Art. 15).

The terms “regular” and “irregular” migrant are used in this chapter; this reflects the practice of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the language of the Convention on Migrant Workers (CMW). The ILO explains its usage in this way: people who enter or work in countries without legal authorization have been labelled illegal, clandestine, undocumented or irregular. “Illegal migrants” has a normative connotation and conveys the idea of criminality. Thus the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development recommended the term “undocumented”; but this is incomplete, since it does not cover migrants who enter the host country legally with tourist documents but later violate their conditions of entry by taking a job. Furthermore, migrants moved by traffickers may have false documents; this prompted an International Symposium on Migration in Bangkok in April 1999 to recommend the term “irregular”. Irregularities in migration can arise at various points – departure, transit, entry and return – they may be committed against or by the migrant”.29 The CMW defines regular migrant workers as those who are authorized to enter, stay and to engage in a remunerated activity in the State of employment (Art 5(1)). Following the definition in the CMW, the term “migrant worker” is used to refer to “a person who is to be engaged, is engaged, or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national” (Art.2 (1)). They may generally enter and live in another country only with the express consent of its authorities.

Human trafficking When a migrant enters another country illegally, or enters legally and subsequently loses any legal immigration status, his or her vulnerability to abuse and exploitation sharply increases. Irregular migrant workers “easily fall prey”30 to extortion and are highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by employers, migration agents, corrupt bureaucrats and criminal gangs. Women in an irregular status are doubly vulnerable owing to the high risk of sexual exploitation. Victims of smuggling and trafficking may find themselves both irregular in legal terms, and in situations of exploitation at the hands of the traffickers or smugglers. The more illegal a migrant, the greater is the danger of the journey, or of being exploited, or even enslaved by traffickers and unscrupulous employers. 29 30

ILO Towards a Fair Deal for Migrant Workers in the Global Economy, 2004 Source: International Organization on Migration



Both smuggling and trafficking represent dangerous options for those who place their lives in the hands of criminal profiteers in a desperate attempt to cross an international border. Smugglers, who are often paid in advance, may not have a vested interest in the health, safety or even the actual arrival of those who use their services. It is difficult to determine numbers of smuggled and trafficked persons, since the activities are illegal and the definitions disputed. The UN estimates that up to one million people are trafficked throughout the world each year. If one side of the protection coin is strengthening human rights, the other is the criminal prosecution of those responsible for forced labour, smuggling and trafficking. The two Palermo Protocols31 define trafficking of persons, and smuggling of migrants as international crimes; the first is sometimes described as a crime against people, and the later as a crime against the state. The key elements of trafficking are movement, the presence of exploitation and the fact of coercion. The offence is defined as: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person, having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation may include prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.


United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols







The right to seek a safe place to live If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. 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". Throughout history, people have been persecuted and forcibly displaced from their homes. In exile, they have sought shelter in and relied on the protection of other countries. In the 20th century, the problem of refugees and other uprooted people became the concern of the international community, which, for humanitarian reasons, began assuming responsibility for protecting them. These efforts resulted in the creation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the adoption of the Office’s Statute in 1950. In 1951, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The 1951 Refugee Convention together with its subsequent 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees remains the cornerstone of the international legal framework to protect the world’s refugees. Under these agreements, the term refugee can be defined as follows: a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country32. In addition to this refugee definition, the 1969 OAU Convention also covers any person compelled to leave their country owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part of the whole of his country of origin or nationality33. The Cartagena Declaration also include persons who flee their country because their lives, security or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violations of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order34. Discussion - Packing your suitcase One of the common results of war and oppression is the creation of refugees, people who flee their home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution for reason of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion” (Article 1.A.2 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951). You are a teacher in a school. Your partner disappears and is later found murdered. Your name appears in a newspaper article listing suspected subversives. You later receive a letter threatening 32

Article 1 A (2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention The 1969 Organization of African Union (OAU) Convention 34 The 1984 Cartagena Declaration 33



your life because of your alleged political activities. You decide you must flee. Pack your bag. You can take only five categories of things (e.g. toiletries, clothing, photographs) and only what you can carry in one bag by yourself. You have five minutes to make these decisions. Remember that you may never return to your home country again. Discuss the list that you have made with a friend or a colleague and also the experience of making emotional decisions in a state of anxiety.

An overview of the various categories of persons of concern People who have been forcibly uprooted from their homes can be found in every region in the world. They have often lost everything — their families, communities, houses, jobs and their sense of security and belonging. Identifying who these persons of concern are is the first step towards ensuring that they are properly protected. The persons of concern of International Organizations working in the field of refugee protection generally include asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, stateless persons and, in some situations, internally displaced persons and persons threatened with displacement (hereafter “persons of concern”). Asylum-seekers When people seek safety in countries other than their own, they are said to be seeking asylum and are known as asylum-seekers. Most countries expect asylum-seekers to apply to be recognized as refugees. However, even if asylum-seekers do not apply to be recognized — either because these procedures are not in place, or because the asylum-seeker is not aware of these application procedures, or because the asylum-seeker is unable or unwilling to access them—they may still be in need of international protection. In particular, children in need of international protection but who do not receive proper support and guidance are often unable to access or understand complicated asylum processes. In other situations, women, children and men who are trafficked but may also be in need of international protection may also be physically barred by their “exploiters” from accessing these procedures. Governments must take proactive measures to ensure that such persons are identified at an early stage and provided with an opportunity to seek safety. Humanitarian agencies should provide the necessary support to governments in this endeavour. Refugees The 1951 Refugee Convention defines the term “refugee” as a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution for one or more of the following five reasons (also known as “convention grounds”): • race • religion • nationality • membership of a particular social group • political opinion A refugee must be outside the country of her/his nationality, and unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail herself/himself of the protection of that country. If the person does not have a nationality, it must be established that s/he fears persecution in the country of habitual residence.



Refugees, like all other persons, have a right to family unity. As a result, family members and dependants of a refugee will normally be recognized as refugees. They have the same rights and entitlements as other recognized refugees. It is also possible that individual family members — including the husband/wife and children of a refugee — are refugees in their own right. The inclusion clause There is no universally accepted definition of “persecution”’ in the context of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Persecution consists of human rights abuses or other serious harm, often, but not always, perpetrated in a systematic or repetitive way. Rape, domestic violence, unlawful detention and torture are some examples of human rights abuses. While discrimination may not, in the normal course, amount to persecution, particularly egregious forms of discrimination certainly will. Further, a persistent pattern of discrimination will usually, on cumulative grounds, amount to persecution. In determining whether an individual has a well-founded fear of being persecuted, it is necessary to consider the individual’s state of mind as well as the objective situation that gave rise to the person’s fear. There must also be a link between the well-founded fear of persecution and one of the five “convention grounds” — race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group and political opinion. “Race” as a convention ground is understood in its widest sense to include all kinds of ethnic groups that are referred to as “races” in common usage. Persecution for reason of “religion” may assume various forms, including prohibition of membership in a religious community or prohibition of worship in private or public. Serious discriminatory measures imposed on persons because they practice/do not practice a religion or because they belong/do not belong to a particular religious community may also be persecutory. “Nationality” as a ground for persecution refers not only to citizenship, but also to membership of an ethnic or linguistic group. Occasionally, it may overlap with the convention ground of “race”. A “particular social group” is a group of persons who share a common characteristic other than their risk of being persecuted, or who are perceived as a group by society. The characteristic will often be one which is innate, unchangeable, or which is otherwise fundamental to identity, conscience, or the exercise of one’s human rights. “Political opinion” as a ground for persecution implies that a person holds an opinion that is not tolerated by the authorities, and that this opinion has come or most probably will come to the notice of the authorities. An “imputed” political opinion may arise when the authorities attribute political beliefs or actions to an individual. While ‘gender’ is not, in itself, a “convention ground”, it is widely accepted that the refugee definition, properly interpreted, covers gender-related claims. Gender-related claims may include, among other things, acts of sexual violence, family/domestic violence, coerced family planning, female genital mutilation, punishment for transgression of social mores, and discrimination against homosexuals.



A person may be unable to avail of the protection of his/her country when, for instance, a country may be unable to extend proper protection in a state of war, civil war, or other grave disturbance. A person may also refuse to accept (being unwilling) the protection of her/his country when, for instance, s/he has well-founded fear of persecution in this country. Others not in need of international protection Migrants who leave a country voluntarily, seeking a better life and who can return to their country without fear of persecution are not refugees. Similarly, people fleeing natural disasters are not refugees. There may be situations where individuals — including those who are smuggled or trafficked — who left their country voluntarily or who were coerced into leaving their country, are in need of international protection after they arrive in another country. Since refugee status is civilian and humanitarian in character, persons who continue to pursue armed activities cannot be considered to be refugees. Persons who participated in armed conflict but have genuinely and permanently renounced military activities may be considered as refugees if they fulfil the criteria of the refugee definition and do not come within the scope of an exclusion clause. Cessation of refugee status Refugee status is temporary in nature. It remains valid until it is established that international protection is no longer necessary or justified. The 1951 Refugee Convention contains an exhaustive list of the circumstances under which refugee status may cease. Refugee status ceases if a refugee voluntarily acts in a manner that demonstrates that s/he has reavailed herself/himself of the protection of a country of origin (or former habitual residence). It will also cease when a refugee acquires a new nationality and enjoys the protection of that country. Further, refugee status may cease when there have been fundamental, stable and lasting changes in the country of origin (or former habitual residence) that no longer justify the need for international protection. Even if these “ceased circumstances” exist, compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution may justify the need for continued international protection for some refugees. For instance, it may be unreasonable to expect survivors of torture to return to their country even if the situation has improved dramatically. Recognizing refugees Countries normally establish procedures to formally recognize refugees. “Convention refugees” is a term often applied to those refugees recognized by countries based on the refugee definition provided in the 1951 Refugee Convention. In some situations, UNHCR recognizes refugees in accordance with its mandate. This normally happens in countries that have not established a procedure to determine refugee status or in countries where the asylum procedures are not functioning properly. Refugee status may be decided on an individual or a group basis under the 1951 Refugee Convention, under regional refugee instruments, or by UNHCR under its mandate. If large numbers of people have fled persecution or conflict, they are often considered as refugees on a prima facie basis. This is a practical measure to allow refugees to receive international protection without the formality of undergoing individual refugee status determination.



Stateless persons A stateless person is one who is not considered to be a national by any state under its laws. A stateless person can also be a refugee when, for example, s/he is forced to leave her/his country of habitual residence because of persecution. However, not all stateless persons are refugees, and not all refugees are stateless. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) The internally displaced are people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or natural or human-made disasters. While the problems of refugees and the internally displaced are often similar and interlinked, unlike refugees who have crossed an international border, the internally displaced remain uprooted within their own country. There are over 27.1 million internally displaced persons living in some 54 countries around the world. 35 Very often, their own governments are unable or unwilling to protect them. In these circumstances, the internally displaced need the protection and support of international humanitarian agencies.36

International protection Countries are primarily responsible for protecting the human rights of all people in their territory, including asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless persons, internally displaced persons, and returnees. A number of other international agencies, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (hereafter “international community”), also support governments in caring for refugees. International protection includes a range of concrete activities that ensure that all asylum-seeker and refugee women, men, girls, and boys have equal access to and enjoyment of their rights in

35 36

Internal Displacement Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 See additional readings at the end of the course



accordance with international law. The ultimate goal of these activities is to help them rebuild their lives within a reasonable amount of time. Protection activities of international community include: • Ensuring that countries admit and register asylum-seekers and refugees and that they are not forcibly sent back to their countries (refouled) where their lives would be in danger. Non-refoulement is a core principle of international refugee law that prohibits the return of refugees in any manner whatsoever to countries or territories where their life or liberty would be threatened; • Determining who is a refugee under its own mandate and assisting governments in determining who is a refugee; • Working to ensure that the human rights — including the right to life, liberty, protection against arbitrary detention and physical violence such as rape — of refugees, the internally displaced and other persons of concern are respected and upheld. To assist countries in ensuring that some of these rights are accorded — such as the right to food, potable water, adequate shelter, education and health — in case of need to step in to provide services to women, men, girls and boys; • Identifying and addressing the specific protection needs of individual women, men, girls and boys; • Working with countries to identify and provide durable solutions for refugees and others of concern to the agency; • Monitoring how countries that have signed on to the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol, and the Statelessness Conventions, are implementing those treaties; • Providing advice to governments, courts of law, and other authorities, and advocates on behalf of persons of concern; • Assisting countries in developing and implementing national laws that protect the rights of refugees, the internally displaced and others of concern.37

Overview of the international legal framework Women, men, girls and boys of concern have often survived serious human rights violations. They may have been tortured, raped, arbitrarily detained sometimes not even recognized as citizens of any country. To ensure that their specific concerns are addressed and that they do not face any further human rights abuses, it is essential to understand the legal framework that can protect them. Understanding this framework also assists in ensuring that humanitarian operations are designed to improve the quality of protection available to them. International and national laws provide the basis for all activities undertaken by countries and humanitarian agencies to protect such persons. The main sources of these laws are: • international refugee law • international human rights law • international humanitarian law • national laws The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 sets out the principles upon which the regime of international protection for refugees is built. It established the main rights 37

See additional readings at the end of the course



and obligations of refugees as well as the treatment to which they are entitled by the country of asylum. In 1967, the Convention was strengthened by a Protocol that made the provisions of the 1951 treaty applicable to a broader range of refugee situations. The 1967 Protocol removes the geographic and time limitations written into the 1951 Refugee Convention which had effectively limited the scope of international refugee protection to refugees in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol contain the following basic protection principles: • Refugees should not be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened. This is the principle of non-refoulement. • Refugees can, subject to certain guarantees, only be expelled from a country of asylum if their presence is a serious threat to national security or public order; • There should be no discrimination in the protection offered to women, men, girls and boys because of their race, religion, nationality or gender; • Refugees should not be penalized for entering or being present in a country illegally as long as they make their presence known to the authorities without delay; • Refugees are required to conform to the laws and regulations in the country of asylum; • Since protecting refugees is a humanitarian activity, it should not become a cause of tension between countries; • Governments should cooperate with UNHCR in protecting refugees; • International co-operation is essential for finding solutions to the problems of refugees. The 1951 Refugee Convention also addresses the issues of refugees’ right to documentation, access to work, public education, access to the courts, freedom of movement, freedom to practice their religion, among other concerns. The 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the 1984 Cartagena Declaration are two regional instruments that focus on refugee protection. International refugee law does not address all problems relating to the protection of refugees. However, international refugee law, together with human rights law and international humanitarian law, provide a comprehensive framework to protection persons of concern to humanitarian agencies, including the internally displaced.38

Case Studies Have a look at the following case studies and answer the questions.

1. You are working in a UNHCR office where you have to determine who is and who is not a refugee. Amin, who comes from a neighbouring country, has been living in the country illegally 38

See additional readings at the end of the course



(without proper documents) for 5 years. One day, the government starts arresting and deporting all foreigners who are staying in the country illegally. Amin applies for refugee status with your office as he does not want to return to his country. Do you think that Amin an asylum-seeker? No! Amin is not an asylum-seeker. X Yes! Amin is an asylum-seeker. 2. Lim Li and her family are fleeing persecution and are trying to seek safety in a neighbouring country. What are some of the problems that she may face while seeking safety in another country?


She may rely on illegal ways of travelling to another country – including using smugglers or traffickers.


She may not have the time or the ability to apply for and receive travel and identity documents that will allow her to travel to another country legally.

X She may not have the time or ability to take all her possessions with her. X She may be separated from her family during her flight to safety. 3. With the help of UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies, Lim Li and her family were not refouled. They were allowed to register as asylum-seekers. At the registration centre, the government only registers Lim Li’s husband and issues him with an identity card. They claim that it is customary for the men to take care of the whole family. Do you agree with the government’s decision?


No! I do not think that only the husband of Lim Li should be registered and issued with an identity card. Yes! If it is customary for the man to take care of the family, then only he should be registered and issued with an identity card.

4. Lim Li and her family have managed to cross into another country to seek safety. They immediately approach the government to register as asylum-seekers. However Lim Li and her family are not carrying any identification documents or travel documents with them. Because of this, the government is now forcibly sending them back to their country. They have informed Lim Li that she can only return to seek asylum once she has proper travel and identity documents with her. Are Lim Li and her family being refouled? Is the government violating the principle of nonrefoulement? X Yes! The government is violating the principle of non-refoulement. No! The government is not violating the principle of non-refoulement.







Children should know what rights they have, but they should also learn how to appreciate and to use them. Human rights and children's rights will remain a mere vision on paper if they do not become meaningful for a person's real life. Therefore they need to be understood and related to concrete experience, that is to say they need to be applied in everyday life and their violations must be identified. A remark should be made from the start about the term "children's rights", as this occasionally causes considerable irritation among adolescents. Quite rightly, they do not want to be called children. Still, the rights of the child are also applicable for them, at least up to the age of 18. Adolescents should realise that children's rights provide them with an instrument that may help them to identify cases of injustice and to claim justice. By ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, every state accepts the obligation to implement these rights by all possible means; in turn this implies high priority to the process of implementation, and includes support for children and young people to make use of, and enjoy their rights.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The human rights of children and the standards to which all governments must aspire in realising these rights for all children are most concisely and fully articulated in one international human rights treaty: the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention is an international human rights treaty about young people. It was accepted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. The convention is made up of 41 articles about the rights of young people, one article about public awareness and education, and 12 articles on how to monitor, ratify, and enforce the convention. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been adopted by more countries than any other international human rights treaty. When the UN says "child", they mean all young people under 18, except when the age of majority (when someone is considered an adult) is reached earlier. Article I of the convention tells us this. Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere - without discrimination - have: - the right to survival; - the right to develop to the fullest; - the right to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; - the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. Every right spelled out in the convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care, education and legal, civil and social services. These standards are benchmarks against which progress can be assessed. States that are party to the convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights - civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Two optional protocols, on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on



the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, were adopted to strengthen the provisions of the convention in these areas. They entered into force respectively on 12 February and 18 January 2002. Although the convention is not a national law, the principles of the convention must be reflected in national legislation, policies and programmes of the countries which have signed and ratified it. Governments must also submit regular reports to the United Nations on their progress in implementing the convention. The reporting system puts pressure on governments to respect the rights of young people. By ratifying the convention, governments commit to respect the rights of people under 18 to participate in decisions that affect them, to survive, and to be protected from harm. Article 4 says that when governments adopt the convention, they will take “all appropriate measures” to practise it. It also says that when they act on our economic, social and cultural rights, governments agree to do the maximum they can with what is available to them. Once we know what the convention says and means, we can work to guarantee that these rights will be the rules that determine how young people are treated.

The right to education Education should enable children to develop to their fullest potential, to participate in society, to obtain a job that provides a living wage, and to promote human rights, tolerance, non-violence and peace. The right to education ensures that every child has access without discrimination to free education that is of good quality. Schools should be clean, safe and create a child-friendly environment, schools should have all necessary books, materials, and well-trained teachers, and curriculum should meet basic learning needs. Education should be culturally appropriate to learners from different backgrounds, and should meet the needs of learners who speak different languages, who have disabilities or other special needs.

Although everyone has the right to education, many never receive an education that fulfills article 29 of the Convention on the rights of the Child and fosters “the development of the child’s 76


personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential” (Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 29.1). Millions of children never have the opportunity to attend school at all. Many factors exclude them, such as their social status, their sex, or poverty which forces them to work to survive. Lack of education also limits their ability to enjoy other human rights. The right to education illustrates the principle of the interdependency of human rights. In 2009 two thirds of the 774 million adult illiterates worldwide were women. The global youth literacy rate has increased to 89 per cent, while the gender gap has declined to 5 percentage points. 72 million children of primary school age are not attending school, out of which over 39 million (or 54 per cent) were girls.39 According to you, how does this fact affect the human rights of women and girls?

• • •

Reflection – What if you couldn’t read? Make a list of all the times you read something in a normal day: at home, at school, in the community or anywhere. You should include also “the unconscious reading” as that done while using a computer, watching television and walking in the neighbourhood. Then think to the following: • How your life be affected if you couldn’t read? What activities would you be unable to do or do well? How could illiteracy affect the health, safety and security of you and your family? How would you be affected if you couldn’t read and you were a: parent, agricultural worker, factory worker, shop owner or soldier?

In many parts of the world a lot of children are faced with two serious problems: child labour and being forced, in one way or another, to join an armed conflict and become a child soldier.

Child labour Child labour refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries. An estimated 215 million children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labour40. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations.


United Nations Statistics Division, The World's Women 2010: Trends and Statistics 40 Yacouba Diallo, Frank Hagemann, Alex Etienne, Yonca Gurbuzer and Farhad Mehran - Global child labour developments: Measuring trends from 2004 to 2008, ILO, Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC)



Hazardous work by children is defined as any activity or occupation that, by its nature or type, has or leads to adverse effects on the child’s safety, health and moral development. In general, hazardous work may include night work and long hours of work, exposure to physical, psychological or sexual abuse; work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces; work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads; and work in an unhealthy environment which may, for example, expose children hazardous substances, agents or processes, or to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations damaging their health. In 2008 115 million children were involved in hazardous work. This means that children in hazardous work constituted more than half of those in child labour (53,6%). Almost all child labour occurs in developing countries, with about 60% engaged in agriculture. The darkest category of child labour relates to those children caught up in criminal activities such as prostitution, military enrolment, slavery (such as bonded labour), or trafficking (which involves the removal of a child from its home, often involving deception and payment, for a wide range of exploitative purposes). These categories are beyond the reach of statistical surveys but the numbers are likely to be over 10 million. Together with hazardous work, they are described as the "worst forms of child labour." Poverty is the main cause of child labour. Poor parents send their children to work, not out of choice, but for reasons of economic expediency. The hunting grounds for child traffickers are invariably areas of the most extreme poverty where families have exhausted all other strategies for survival. Poverty is also a symptom of child labour. Denial of education blocks the escape route from poverty for the next generation of the household. Other factors may provoke this cycle; for example, schools in poor countries are often inaccessible or prohibitively expensive, with inadequate teaching and classroom resources. Many agricultural economies involve seasonal migration for whole families, to the detriment of schooling and inevitable employment of children. Cultural pressures too can undermine perception of the long term value of education, especially for girl children. Development solutions to child labour Labour often interferes with children’s education. Ensuring that all children go to school and that their education is of good quality are keys to preventing child labour. A rights-based approach to child labour, relying on laws and their enforcement, is a necessary but insufficient solution to child labour. Broader human development interventions relevant to the underlying causes must play a role. The fight against child labour therefore shares common ground with poverty reduction programmes, and would benefit from greater recognition by them. The connection is most apparent in the strategy of “conditional cash transfers” (CCT), payments to poor households made on condition that children attend school and health clinics. The success of Brazil in greatly reducing the incidence of child labour is in part attributed to Bolsa Familia, recognised as the world’s largest CCT programme. Progress towards education for all children is the development indicator most closely linked with child labour. Every full-time student is one less potential full-time child worker. There is correlation 78


between those countries lagging behind education targets and those in which child labour thrives, such as Pakistan and Nepal. A global consensus in support of Education for All exists. Beyond the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education by 2015, there is increasing and convergent understanding that the aim must be, at least, basic education for all – primary plus two or three years of secondary education. That is required for two key reasons. First, to ensure that youth can enter the workforce with the basic skills required to pursue a decent working life. Second, because if the minimum school leaving age is lower than the national general minimum age for entry into employment, child labour will be an inevitable result. Education is not the sole solution, but when it is free, full time, compulsory and of quality, it is the most important part of the sum. The integration of child labour concerns into national development strategies, backed by effective legislation, would be the preferred route to a lasting solution. Child labour legislation and laws In countries all over the world, laws and policies against the exploitation of children already exist. Also, many countries have national child labour laws that establish a minimum age for work and regulate working conditions. In 1999 International Labour Organisation (ILO) unanimously adopted the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182). It called for States to prevent the most damaging child exploitation practices or the worst forms that currently exist. At the same time, the 1973 Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment (15 or the age reached on completion of compulsory schooling) has benefited from the rapid pace of ratification of Convention No. 182. But still a significant proportion of the world’s children are still not covered by these fundamental Conventions, as there are several countries still to ratify the ILO child labour standards. Case study - Marie Marie is a seven-year-old from Haiti. She is a restavek — Creole for rester avec — the local term for a type of child domestic found all over the world, one who has been handed over by a poor rural family to live with and provide domestic “help” for a usually urban, wealthier family. She gets up at five in the morning and begins her day by fetching water from a nearby well, balancing the heavy jug on her head as she returns. She prepares breakfast and serves it to the members of the household. Then she walks the family’s five-year-old son to school; later, at noon, she brings him home and helps him change clothes. Next, she helps prepare and serve the family’s lunch before returning the boy to school. In between meal times she must buy food in the market and run errands, tend the charcoal fire, sweep the yard, wash clothes and dishes, clean the kitchen and - at least once a day - wash her female boss's feet.



She is given leftovers or cornmeal to eat, has ragged clothes and no shoes and sleeps outdoors or on the floor. She is not allowed to bathe in the water she brings to the household. She is regularly beaten with a leather strap if she is slow to respond to a request or is considered disrespectful. Needless to say, she is not allowed to attend school. (Source: UNICEF) After analysing this case, discuss with your friends or colleagues what solutions (measures, development strategies or laws to be implemented) do you see to this problem.

Child soldiers The use of children as soldiers has been universally condemned as abhorrent and unacceptable. Yet over the last ten years hundreds of thousands of children have fought and died in conflicts around the world. Who is a child soldier? According to the “Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups” (UNICEF, February 2007) a child soldier is “a child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking, or has taken, a direct part in hostilities”. Children involved in armed conflict are frequently killed or injured during combat or while carrying out other tasks. They are forced to engage in hazardous activities such as laying mines or explosives, as well as using weapons. Child soldiers are usually forced to live under harsh conditions with insufficient food and little or no access to healthcare. They are almost always treated brutally, subjected to beatings and humiliating treatment. Punishments for mistakes or desertion are often very severe. Girl soldiers are particularly at risk of rape, sexual harassment and abuse as well as being involved in combat and other tasks.

The problem is most critical in Africa, where children as young as nine have been involved in armed conflicts. Children are also used as soldiers in various Asian countries and in parts of Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.



The majority of the world's child soldiers are involved in a variety of armed political groups. These include government-backed paramilitary groups, militias and self-defence units operating in many conflict zones. Others include armed groups opposed to central government rule, groups composed of ethnic religious and other minorities and clan-based or factional groups fighting governments and each other to defend territory and resources. Children are forcibly recruited into armed groups in many conflicts but the vast majority of child soldiers are adolescents between the age of 14 and 18 who "volunteer" to join up. However, research has shown that a number of factors may be involved in making the decision to actually join an armed conflict and in reality many such adolescents see few alternatives to enlisting. War itself is a major determinant. Economic, social, community and family structures are frequently ravaged by armed conflict and joining the ranks of the fighters is often the only means of survival. Many youths have reported that desire to avenge the killing of relatives or other violence arising from war is an important motive. Poverty and lack of access to educational or work opportunities are additional factors - with joining up often holding out either the promise or the reality of an income or a means of getting one. Coupled with this may be a desire for power, status or social recognition. Family and peer pressure to join up for ideological or political reasons or to honour family tradition may also be motivating factors. Girl soldiers have reported joining up to escape domestic servitude or enforced marriage or get away from domestic violence, exploitation and abuse. Demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) programs specifically aimed at child soldiers have been established in many countries, both during and after armed conflict and have assisted former child soldiers to acquire new skills and return to their communities. Despite growing recognition of girls' involvement in armed conflict, girls are often deliberately or inadvertently excluded from DDR programs. Girl soldiers are frequently subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence as well as being involved in combat and other roles. In some cases they are stigmatized by their home communities when they return. In recent years, progress has been made in developing an international legal and policy framework for protecting children from involvement in armed conflict. An increasing number of governments have ratified or agreed to become legally bound by a series of international laws banning the use of child soldiers in armed conflict.

Discussion – Young soldiers "When they came to my village, they asked my older brother whether he was ready to join the militia. He was just 17 and he said no; they shot him in the head. Then they asked me if I was ready to sign, so what could I do - I didn't want to die." A former child soldier taken when he was 13, Democratic Republic of Congo. (Source: BBC report) Discuss with your friends or colleagues the issue of child soldiers. What would you do if you would face such a situation?







The importance of freedom of information as a fundamental right is beyond question. As implicitly guarantees the freedom of expression, it is a basic element in our society. Without the right to information the citizens’ control of the public administration’s management could not exist. If the right to information is denied, at the same time we are denying the peoples’ possibility to express their thoughts and the right to form and get to know the opinions of others. If information is denied the expression of ideas won’t be free, which is a serious violation of human rights. Freedom of information forms part of the fundamental human rights and freedoms and is essential to access information from public authorities. This is particularly true for minority or disadvantaged groups and especially in countries where information is not easily accessible. Ideally, freedom of information includes the right to receive information held by public structures, also known as the right to knowledge, as well as the obligation of such structures to make information available. In terms of public interest of information we can include all the topics that are necessary for the development of a civilised society. It means the ones that using objective criteria help in the effectiveness of political and ideological pluralism. On the other hand, we can exclude all the issues that are far from this objective criteria and which are simply based on morbid curiosity. Freedom of information is the key component of a transparent and accountable government. It plays a key role in enabling citizens to see what is going on within their government and in exposing corruption and mismanagement. The importance of an effective right to freedom of information must have a solid basis in international and comparative human rights law. The basis is the right to freedom of expression.

The right to freedom of speech or expression As we saw before, freedom of information and freedom of expression are closely linked. We cannot not talk about one without discussing the other. But what is the real meaning of these words that we are so used hearing? The right to freedom of speech or expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “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”. Furthermore, freedom of speech is recognized in European, interAmerican and African regional human rights law. Freedom of expression is essential in enabling democracy to work and public participation in decision-making. Citizens cannot exercise their right to vote effectively or take part in public decision-making if they do not have free access to information and are not able to express their views freely. Freedom of expression is thus not only important for individual dignity, but also to participation, accountability and democracy.



Information as a right around the world Recognizing knowledge as a right in the modern society was first put in action by Sweden in 1766 when it incorporated “the right to information” with the freedom of press. It was regarded as a pioneering legislation ensuring public access to information or records held by government bodies. Nearly two and a half centuries later, over seventy other countries around the world have implemented some form of freedom of information legislation into their national and international laws, setting the rules of access to information or records held by government bodies. Among countries that have established citizens’ right to information are Albania, Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States or Zimbabwe. Besides these, many more countries are in the process of legally recognizing citizens’ right to information.

Subjects taking part in the right to information Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights talks about “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds”. It is arguable that freedom to receive information prevents public authorities from interrupting the flow of information to individuals and that freedom to impart information applies to communications of the individuals. It would thus make sense to interpret the inclusion of freedom to seek information, particularly in conjunction with the right to receive it, as placing an obligation on the government to provide access to the information it holds. Even if the right to information is everyone’s right, in some cases it acquires an important relevance. This refers to professionals or for-profit companies who deal with handling information. There are three kinds of subjects taking part into this process: • Universal subject - The public • Qualified subject - Professionals • Organized subject - Companies The relationships between them are sometimes complicated. It is said that each of them represents one of the three faculties: receive (universal), seek (qualified) and impart (organized). The universal subject Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: “Everyone has the right to the freedom of expression”. Nowadays this universal character has a series of restrictions because of the international oligopoly in which we live. It is clear that access to media requires economic power and some preparation to develop it.



The universal subject can take an active or passive position. One participates in the process and the others act as receivers. Moreover, we cannot forget that the universal subject will always have receptive and investigative power and the ability to pass this using its own methods. The qualified subject The qualified subject refers to journalists. In addition to their condition of universal subject, the journalists are also handling information in their professional capacity. The journalist is hired by the media company, but this does not mean that he or she has to have the same ideology or convictions as the ones of the company. The relation between the two subjects is normally a contractual one. The journalist reclaims a high level of independence and in theory his level of obedience to the company is reduced to technical matters, not ideological ones; although he or she must be loyal to the editorial guidelines. A journalist can never be fired because of ideological issues; he or she is legally protected against this.

The organized subject A company is a group of elements, such as materials and personnel, which are aimed to be combined in order to create profit. In a media company the profit objective is the traffic of information. This traffic is justifiable because we have the right to investigate and transmit. The only limitations a media company has are the ones made compulsory for other rights. It is a right that also entails a duty. Selling cars is not the same as selling opinions. A media company has an ideological tendency with the purpose of influencing its clients; this implies the traffic of particular information, not of all information. To sum up, we can say that the information is given in the way that corresponds to the editorial guideline of the company, which at the same time is known by everyone.

The role of the Ombudsman We have to underline the role of the Ombudsman in the field of the right to information. The objective of his work is supervising the public administration as a way of protecting and respecting human rights. He checks if the right to information is being respected and assures that this principle is maintained. This work includes principles of neutrality, confidentiality and 85


independency, beyond the protection of individual rights and protection from injustices and abuses of public administration. The Ombudsman develops a culture of good governance which means good administration, transparency and responsibility of the public administration. In order to have an effective functioning public administrations, one of Ombudsman’s aims is the creation of facilities for the community and awareness as the first contact with the public administration, but also awareness in the administration itself about the rights and obligations that derive from legislation in power that ratify the principle of transparency. A fact that should be highlighted is that the Ombudsman institution is part of the public administration; therefore this institution does not see itself simply as a tutor of respecting effectively the right to be informed, but also as a direct user of it.

Case Study- Information and transparency

“A student girl in the Philippines was denied admission at one of the country's elite colleges even after a public admissions exam. Her mother was disappointed and challenged the decision. After two and a half years of struggle, backed by Official Information Commission and the Information Disclosure Tribunal, her claim was upheld by the Supreme Court and the school was forced to disclose its records, admitting that they had accepted a number of students with the same exam results as her daughter because they had rich and wellconnected parents...” This case attracted widespread attention. The government reaffirmed its commitment to the disclosure of information and passed legislation to enhance the transparency of educational admissions and examination results. • In which way is the right to information relevant in this case? • What are the subjects that participate in the right to information?







Citizenship Citizenship is a dynamic process, fundamentally because it responds to different historical moments, as well as the conditions under which it is profiled and exercised. If we take the general definition of citizenship to be: • a sense of membership or identity with some wider community, from the local to the global. • a set of rights and freedoms, such as freedom of thought or the right to vote a corresponding set of duties or responsibilities, such as an obligation to respect the rights of others or a duty to obey the law • a set of virtues and capacities that enable a citizen to effectively engage in and reflect upon questions and concerns of civic interest. These elements are not fixed, but are included in a dynamic and flexible process, in conformity with the nature of modern societies. Let us take on one hand the individual and the collective dimensions of its interior and exterior aspects, and on the other hand the individual community interaction. The first approach takes a sociological view, seeing four interlinked dimensions to the practice of citizenship: a political dimension, a social dimension, a cultural dimension and an economic dimension. The second approach looks at the relationship between the individual and society from the perspective of a sense of belonging. The identity of individuals is shaped by many senses of belonging to certain groups of people. Each individual's different senses of belonging do not have the same importance (belonging to a nationality rather than to a religious group) or the order of importance may change and new belongings appear. Complexity and diversity of individual identities implies that we cannot think about a fixed set of values. Through the combination of these two approaches we can see that the ongoing development of all the four dimensions of citizenship and the changing and multiple senses of belonging of individuals are expressions of citizenship as a dynamic, integral and complex concept.

Global citizenship Global citizenship is a term used increasingly in educational circles, and consequently there are a variety of views about its definition. Education for global citizenship wants to support people's search for knowledge and understanding about the realities of the world and provide them with the skills for critical global democratic citizenship, to work towards greater justice, sustainability, equity and human rights for all. It is a learning process to understand global processes even on a local level. Global citizenship brings the global perspective into all aspects of learning and maximises the existing opportunities in various school settings. Education for global citizenship is the educational reaction and concept arising from the realities of globalisation.



Global citizenship can thus be defined as the process of becoming responsible for one's surroundings, for other individuals and for the society in which we live, in a wider and more inclusive perspective that extends beyond national and continental limits. It is a voluntary commitment to the development of a society rooted in values of respect. It is also an ethical response to the problems of civilization facing humankind and to the solution of these problems within local contexts. And it is a kind of empowerment. Reflection – Who is a global citizen? What characteristics do you think a "global citizen" has or should have? Are you a global citizen?

A global citizen is somebody who respects and appreciates diversity, somebody who understands the economical, political, social, cultural, technological and ecological structures of the world, who rises up against social injustice and is an active member of the society, on local and global levels. A global citizen is ready to work toward worldwide equality and sustainability and is able to take responsibility for what he or she does. The values and attitudes of a global citizen are: • Value and respect for diversity • Responsibility for the direct and indirect impact of actions on the world • Learning from others in the South and not assuming that the so-called West knows best • Solidarity with people who are deprived, exploited or denied human rights • Cooperation between people at a personal, local, regional and global level • Equal opportunities and social cohesion • Intercultural understanding and respect for different perspectives • Belief that people can make a difference

Diversity and pluralism – How can people live together peacefully? Pluralism refers to a basic quality of modern societies, where a wide (but not all-encompassing) range of religious and political beliefs - diversity - is accepted and where the ideal societies envisaged by different political parties may be incompatible with each other. For example, citizens who belong to radical socialist parties strive to achieve a society which would be completely alien to citizens of a right-wing, capitalist persuasion. In pluralist societies, the general influence of many traditions and values, including religious belief, has waned. Individuals can, and must, work out for themselves which values they adhere to and how they wish to live their lives. Pluralist societies therefore pose a challenge: individuals may enjoy a greater degree of personal liberty than ever before but, on the other hand, they need to work harder to bargain for agreement and compromise, without which no community can survive. This raises the question as to which political system can provide the best framework for the organisation of decision making in an open, pluralist society. In an authoritarian system - one-party rule, theocracy, or even dictatorship - this problem is solved by giving one player (for example, a party or leader) the power to decide on everyone's behalf what lies in the common interest. This solution meets the challenge of pluralism by evading it - by 89


sacrificing the liberty of the individuals. The potential of conflict in pluralist societies is suppressed, but the price to be paid is a high one: many problems are not solved properly and fairly, as they may no longer be articulated clearly. In a democracy, citizens basically agree on a set of principles, on rules of procedure and rights that allow them to disagree on many issues, but which also offer the tools to enable them to reach agreement by non-violent means. Viewed in this way, democracy supports peace in pluralist societies by civilising conflict rather than suppressing it. The common interest is something to be worked out together, and bargained for, rather than to be defined in advance by any single party. Disagreement and conflict are normal and by no means harmful as long as their destructive potential is kept under control. In democracy as a form of government, therefore, citizens are accorded such basic rights as freedom of conscience, belief and expression. When citizens use these rights, they will create disagreement and conflict, and they will have to bargain for a solution. To ensure that they agree on the rules of how to handle the conflicts and finally solve them, citizens of pluralist democracies are deemed to enter into a social contract with all other citizens to abide within the social and political conventions of that society. Such a social contract includes the principle of rule by the majority. For some minority groups, the disadvantage of this is that their own radical vision may never be achieved through the ballot box. On the other hand, such societies guarantee the rights of political minorities to pursue legitimate political ends unhindered by the state. Thus, pluralist democracies always live with the possibility of the election of radical governments, whose members might be inclined to restrict the activities of political opponents. This is why it is important to have legislation for human rights and freedoms built into the constitutions of democratic countries. Every generation must understand this complex set of challenges in pluralist societies and how they may be met in a democratic community. This includes an appreciation for the unwritten social contract without which no democratic community can survive.

Citizenship education in the school context European education has always been centred on school as the sole learning provider, but in the past few decades this school-centred paradigm was contradicted by the following evolutions: • Information became so plentiful, that the educational mission of schools has shifted to a secondary role (resulting in recent movements such as competency-centred learning or back-to-basics). • Diplomas are no longer a guarantee of employment (which means that one of the pillars of formal education i.e. evaluation and certification get to have a relative value). • Alternative sources and informal education have become more and more influential (e.g. children spend more time in front of TV screens or computers than in formal curriculum). • Pressures on the part of social environment intensified so that school had to open up and place greater emphasis on social skills • Beginning with the '70s school had to accept the fact it no longer holds the monopoly of education and it is only a component of lifelong learning. • Children and young people have become subjects of rights (e.g. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989), which presupposes more participation and democratic life inside schools.



From the point of view of citizenship education, this passive learning, based on transmission of knowledge and authority, results in subject citizens, passive workers and obedient civil servants. The new perspective to school learning will have to have an emphasis on long-lasting skills to be used in various democratic environments. As a consequence, a new school function joins the three traditional ones (cultural transmission, social reproduction and socialization), namely preparation for lifelong learning.

Youth participation and citizenship41 Young people live experiences in general very intensively and are open to all kind of changes. They are often economically and socially dependent and vulnerable to the circumstances they are exposed to. Often, they are the first losers and the first winners in developments. In this social context, how can the young be true players of social advancement? There is no simple answer. We need synergy between public policies, civil society, education and participation. The only alternative is to consider society as a whole and to support collective processes where young people are active players. These processes require three key elements: education -the tool-, participation -the methodology- and the young - the protagonists. Participation should be wide and permanent, go beyond traditional forms of representation, should provide new contents to public policies and NGO’s planning for the promotion of community social advancement and well-being of young members of the society. Participation of the young is an indispensable element of a democratic society since it asserts, consolidates and provides a pluralist meaning of tolerance and harmonious relations. The idea of an integrated and democratic development without involving the young in the design and implementation of public policies and civil society projects is just an illusion. Two factors have a decisive intervention at the time of defining concrete policies for the young. On the one hand, the nature and essence of the state that designs such policies and on the other, the characteristics or socio-political role of the youth, its political awareness or its behaviour - aligned with the evolutionary development of youth movements. State-youth synergy should contribute to public policies designed with the young, not in policies for or to the young. The sustainable grounds for this kind of policies are the solidarity and participatory nature involved in such policies design, decision -making process and implementation which are the different phases of planning- where the youth have to be main actors. These policies must be active for the young and interactive in the dialectic of youth and society. Extending and strengthening youth participation in social advancement processes will exclusively depend on the young themselves. Although we are living times characterized by apathy and antipolitic feelings in very many places and societies, there is a large number of youngsters that day after day work and collaborate with social voluntary actions, solidarity activities, participatory events and campaigns, organized by formal and informal structures, student organizations, governmental offices or civil society groups that foster society transformation.


Alicia Cabezudo, On Youth, Participation and Citizenship, 2011



Education for democracy and participation focus in youth may enhance their ability and desire to participate in the political process of promoting the public good and accountability. This education should help individual willingness to exercise self-restraint and personal responsibility in individual and collective demands related to issues that affected the health and wealth of society as well as the process of community formation and social change. These goals are difficult to achieve in practical procedural terms, difficult to be viable in ethic terms and complicated to apply in the context of present societies. That is why the application of the international charts and their principles in education planning for youth is relevant as means to create a legal platform for developing strategies, methodologies and projects towards youth civic, democratic and participatory formation. How education attends these needs and visions for a transformative process in benefit of all? Echoing a longstanding preoccupation, democratic education supposes the full and free development of the human faculties, which is prevented by the effect of massification that suppresses the sense of individual responsibility, which is the cornerstone of democratic decision making and democratic education. The notion of democracy and participation entails the notion of a democratic citizenship where social actors are responsible and able to participate, choose their representatives and monitor their performance. There are not only political but also pedagogical practices, since the construction of the democratic citizen implies the construction of a pedagogic subject. Thus, the process of construction of the “young democratic pedagogic subject” is not only a process of cultural nurturing, but also involves principles of pedagogic and democratic socialization in subjects who are neither “tabula rasa” nor fully equipped for the exercise of their democratic rights and obligations. According to this perspective, the pedagogical principles for an education to promote civil and political participation, active citizenship and democracy rights have to be: a) Learner centred; b) Dialogical; c) Transformative; d) Promote critical thinking; e) Create values and ethics formation; f) Based in genuine needs; and g) Holistic42. In this context, it is increasingly maintained that education should provide to young population opportunities for realistic and informed appraisal of contemporary problems of our world without reinforcing negative images of an “inevitable” gloom and doom future. At the same time it is argued that there is a need for the development of inquiry and the reduction of violence, and for greater opportunities in educational curricular designs for creative and rational discussion of diverse views on alternative futures. The education of youth toward an active citizenship, respect for human rights and participation should include the analysis of social and economic problems, cultural diversities, interfaith understanding, peace-making strategies and conditions likely to ensure a secure, durable world. Have to promote a state of well-being and an active process in which justice, equity and respect for basic human rights are maximized and violence, both physical and structural, is minimized through a dialogical interaction and practice. 42

Jenkins,Anthony. Framework of the Master in Peace Education. UN University for Peace, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2003







What is peace? The concept of peace linked to Ethics in contemporary peace research literature and peace education is defined broadly rather than narrowly (see Figure 1). Peace is considered conceptually on a variety of scales and levels from the personal to the global. Rather than defining peace negatively, as the interval between wars or outbreaks of physical violence, peace is defined in a positive and integrated way. It is taken to denote not only the absence of open hostilities but also the presence of peacemaking processes and conditions likely to ensure a secure, durable peace. It implies a state of well-being and an active process in which justice, equity and respect for basic human rights are maximized and violence, both physical and structural, is minimized. A broad rather than narrow concept of peace is taken as the basis for discussion here and basically as the upper value for an ethical work where Peace must prevail over all. The concept is defined “holistically”. It is seen not only as the absence of direct violence but as a state and active process of well-being and security in which human rights are respected, the environment is protected, and basic human needs in food, shelter and education are met. Reflection – What is peace? Think of concrete examples (as a person, in the groups you belong to, and in the whole world) of what you think peace is and peace is not. This might give you some concrete examples of what you could do as a youth group to start building peace.

A historical overview on the definition of peace The idea of peace has evolved significantly through history: the Greeks used the word eirene to designate the periods where there were no wars between the Greek cities. This concept of peace, then, referred to the peace they had among them, as they could use that word while they were in war with the Barbars. Similarly, at times of the Romans, pax meant the state of security and legal order inside the territory of the Roman Empire. Pax, was used for describing the times when there were no rebellions against the roman system, even if there were wars with the Barbars. Understood in modern standards, pax would mean the absence of rebellion to an occupation. Despite nowadays some countries still use the concept of peace as it was considered by the Romans, it has since then evolved significantly. In opposition to peace defined as the “absence of” (absence of war, violence, etc.), the actual concept of peace is defined in positive manner, as “the presence of” (justice, etc.). The first historical examples around the Mediterranean Sea that related the concept of peace to positive values, were shalom and salaam, that linked peace to justice, and to fair economical relations between people. Both concepts, with some nuances, are also linked to the relation with God.



In the sixties, the concept of peace defined in positive terms is taken up again. At that time, the peace researcher Johan Galtung relates it to many positive values as horizontal and cooperative relations between people, state of law, social welfare, etc. Still today, peace is defined differently according to cultures: while in Asia cultures influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism emphasise a lot more in the personal level (to be in peace with oneself), Western cultures share a concept more oriented to society. And why is it important to have a clear concept of what we mean by peace? Usually peace is considered as an unreachable utopia, and is described in very abstract terms. If, instead, peace is defined in more concrete terms, with specific examples of what peace should be and what peace should not be, then it is a good start to begin walking that way.


Broad definition of “Peace” as an ethical value.

Narrow definition of “Peace”

The concept is defined “holistically”. It is seen not only as the absence of direct violence but as a state and active process of well- being and security in which human rights are respected, the environment is protected, and basic human needs in food, shelter and education are met.


Structural violence (indirect)

“The gap between wars” Absence of war Absence of terrorism Absence of physical violence Absence of corporal punishment, etc.

“Physical” violence (direct): war, terrorism, physical torture, street bashings, corporal punishment, domestic violence, child abuse, etc.

Cultural violence: religious intolerance, fundamentalism, racism, sexism, poverty, ecological imbalance, etc.

VIOLENCE Figure 1: Defining Peace in opposition to Violence The definition of peace that will be referred in this chapter is "the process of accomplishment of justice in the different levels of the human relation. It is a dynamic concept that makes us arise, 95


confront and solve the conflicts in a non-violent way and that has the aim of obtaining harmony of the person with itself, with the nature and with the other people43”. This definition remarks the idea of the dynamism of peace that, just like democracy or justice, can always be improved. Note also that the definition highlights the importance of arising, confronting, and solving conflicts.

The purpose of Peace Education The goals and purpose of peace education are often misunderstood. The most common misperception is that peace education is simply education about peace, in which content such as peace movements and leaders - from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King - are delivered as a special course or program of study. Teaching about peace is absolutely beneficial, particularly in a world where history is most often viewed through a lens of violence. However important it is that we teach about peace, it is even more relevant that we teach for peace, or better yet toward peace. There is a wide consensus amongst peace education practitioners and theorists from around the world that peace education is education both about and for peace. An education for peace is overt in its intentions to understand, confront, resist and transform violence in all its multiple manifestations. All societies educate their members toward social purposes. Peace education seeks to transform society by changing the goals sought by education, particularly as guided by public policy. The social purpose of achieving a culture of peace is one that calls for the renunciation, delegitimation, reduction and ultimate elimination of violence in all its multiple types and forms.44

The characteristics of Peace Education Peace Education has two characteristics: comprehensive and holistic. Why Comprehensive? In the work for peace education it is emphasized the comprehensive process in which content, methodology and process are comprised and call for reflection upon the following statements: • How you come to know? • What it is that you know? • How you will use or act upon that knowledge in the world. There is a strong interrelationship among purpose, content and process. The “how we come to know” part is the process, or in educational term it might be described as the pedagogy. The above statement alludes to the idea that the “how we learn” is as relevant as the “what we learn”. Such thinking illuminates the importance of the learning process in the development of active and critically engaged learners. Betty Reardon defines comprehensive peace education as “a generalized approach to education for global responsibility in a planetary nuclear age; it operates at all levels and in all spheres of learning, includes all fields of relevant knowledge, and is a lifelong, continuous process” (Reardon 1988, 74). A comprehensive approach to education begins with the open identification of its social 43

Seminario de Educación para la Paz-APDH. Educar para la paz. Una propuesta posible. La Catarata. Madrid, 2000. 44 See glossary at the end.



purposes and the values it comprises. Content and process are then determined so as to be consistent with the social purposes. In Betty Reardon’s definition, global responsibility comprises the social purposes of the education, all fields and spheres of learning comprise the content, and the “how we learn“ is defined as an active, malleable and continuous process. The emphasis on content comprising “all levels and all spheres of learning” is also of special relevance to comprehensive peace education. Drawing from all fields and disciplines of knowledge, peace education seeks to learn from as many perspectives as possible in addressing complex social realities and conflicts. Peace education is based in such values as democracy, nonviolence, community, cooperation and social justice. Philosophically it embraces difference and diversity and also recognizes and values the autonomy of the individual learner. In consistency with these values peace education learning is often pursued through critical, reflective learning modes. In such learner-centered methods authentic values are autonomously developed by and within the learner, not inculcated by instructors. It is a process oriented learning in which emphasis on how to think and does not dictate what to think. Emphasis is given to capacitating learners with relevant skills and knowledge for active engagement in civil and political society. With what issues and to what degree a student is engaged is ultimately of his or her own choice. Why Holistic? Peace education recognizes the complexity of the human experienced, personally, interpersonally and as an extension of self into society and the world at large. The obstacles to peace are recognized as multiple and interrelated. As we become aware of this, we come to realize that there is no simple approach to educating for peace, and that the pedagogy of peace education must provide for experiences in multiple modes of thinking and learning. A holistic perspective helps learners to observe both the direct and indirect relationships between forms of violence at all levels as well as the values, practices and necessary conditions needed to overcome them. The importance of such thinking is in the ability for “expressing global awareness in terms of holism, which can link the individual directly, rather than through stages, to the wider environment” (Aspeslagh and Burns 1996, 11). Conflicts and forms of violence which reveal themselves in local contexts are almost always related to larger social phenomenon.

The aims of Peace Education Educating for Peace should aim to: • Help to understand some of the complex processes leading to violence and conflict at the individual, group, national and global levels, and be aware of some of the ways in which these conflicts may be resolved. • Cultivate attitudes that lead to a preference for constructive and non-violent resolution of conflict. • Help to build the personal and social skills necessary to live in harmony with others and to behave in positive and caring ways that respect basic human rights. • Develop “human learning communities”, in people - children, youngsters and adults - are encouraged to work together cooperatively to understand and find solutions to significant problems.



Proposing general contents The content of peace education is typically chosen to address the specific manifestation of violence within a particular site - school, home or community. This list identifies several overarching values concepts that can be used as frameworks for the delivery of peace education content (Brenes, 2003) • Human Rights, Duties and Responsibilities • Democracy and Civic Participation • Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation • The Relations of Power, Social Change and Continuity • Disarmament and Development • Global Civic Culture / Global Citizenship/Global Solidarity • Globalization and Interdependence. • Multicultural and Intercultural Societies • The Mass Media and the TICS in the Present World. • Ethnic and Religious groups all over the World. • Spirituality and Interfaith learning • Ecological Sustainability / Environmental Justice • Economic and Social Justice • Rights of the Children • Gender inequality • Building Futures , constructing Culture of Peace Exercise – Peace and violence in the media Try to recognize and select themes that you consider related to peace in the news today. Are there many? Do the same with violent news. Are there many? What is your conclusion? CREATE A PIECE OF NEWS ON PEACE TODAY and send to your friends!

Core values and skills for enhancing Peace Education A peace perspective relates closely to teaching about and teaching in peace. Human values are internalized sets of belief or principles of behavior held by individuals or groups. The values which follow are chosen because they are deemed to be universally acceptable and desirable, based on what is best described as “international humanism” and are embodied in such Charters as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Rights of the Child, on Women’s Rights, etc. which are reproduced on the project’s website. Consistent with such values are attitudes which should be nurtured in the learning process and which themselves strongly influence the process, quality and outcomes of both learning and assessment. In keeping with the general philosophy of Peace Education, it is not expected that the values listed should be delivered dogmatically; rather the learners should be encouraged to examine the



context and implications of their own values and those of others to arrive at a set of values best create a climate of peace. Likewise, the attitudes we wish to see developed begin with the individual and then, though reflection, are examined at group level, in the community, at national and ultimately on a global scale. Two vital components in this process of acquisition are the role of community service and the willingness to take action. In the following matrix you will find the main themes to be approached in Peace Education and the values to be enhanced related to each theme.

Table 3. Categories of values related to main general contents It is expected that linked to specific themes and enhancing values as we see in the above matrix the learner will develop the skills necessary to be a proactive and effective peacemaker. These can be summarized under the headings of thinking skills, communication skills and personal skills. We propose the following especially significant for Peace Education:



Table 4. Expected skills Reflection – Disarmament and (human security) development Disarmament and development (human security) are one of the themes we can approach in Peace Education. Have a look on the following websites http:// and and see the reports and fact sheets available regarding military spending. What do you think about this issue? What actions can you take in your school or in your community or in what campaigns could you participate in order to persuade governments to cut military spending and transfer it to human needs such as education, health, food, technical support, etc.?

Peace education will not achieve by itself the changes necessary for peace. Rather, it prepares learners to achieve the changes. It aims at developing awareness of social and political responsibilities, guiding and challenging people to build their own learning from individual and collective actions. It encourages them to explore possibilities for their own contribution to resolving the problems and achieving better conditions for living their lives by themselves and with others.

Peace Education can definitively help to provide the requisite inspiration and direction to move beyond a culture of violence to envisioning and working toward a better world for all where culture of peace prevails.







The importance of human rights The development of modern societies points to the question: the rights of liberty support a development of pluralist societies encouraging a high degree of secularisation and individualised lifestyle. How can these societies maintain a minimum consensus of basic values binding all citizens? Human rights and children's rights have contributed immensely to making the world a safer and more humane place to live in, and also to modernising the political, economic and cultural systems around the world. However, they must never be taken for granted, and each generation must contribute to their development, bargain them anew and also fight for them to fulfil the pledge of human rights and children's rights in future. Human rights, on which children's rights are based, have a long tradition, with many forerunners and parallels in great world religions and philosophies. Modern human rights were declared in the Age of Enlightenment, and inspired the American and French revolutions. Today, they are incorporated as bills of rights in written and unwritten constitutions of modern democracies. Throughout their history, human rights have been of particular importance to protect the weak against the strong. This is where children's rights become important: minors are among the groups whose legal status towards the executive powers is the weakest. The human rights process, both revolutionary and evolutionary, has produced successive generations of human rights: the classic rights of liberty, the social rights focusing on the value of equality, and, still under discussion, ecological and societal rights addressing issues of development and mutual dependence in an increasingly globalised one world, and, as a further specification, children's rights. The process of developing and expanding human rights and children's rights is still and perhaps always will be - under way: the universal claim of human rights and children's rights has been questioned, human rights and children's rights are withheld by dictatorships and autocratic regimes around the world, and the dynamic development of modern society and technology poses new questions and challenges. Human rights have acquired increasing importance as a framework for secular ethics, as such codified by the UN Charter and the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights. They represent the only set of values that stands a chance of being universally accepted by the world community. However, a state may misuse its rights of sovereignty as protection while violating basic human rights and children's rights of its citizens. It is an open question how human rights and children's rights are to be enforced and protected in a world of sovereign states including democracies and dictatorships. The UN Charier, it seems, needs to be developed further to protect not only peace between, but also within states. Human rights are universal. That is their pledge by which they stand or fall. They are indivisible, cannot be traded off, nor restricted to the status of mere political folklore of the western world. 102


Human rights are natural rights - they are unalienable. Thus no state authority has the power to grant or withhold human rights, but is rather to recognise and protect them. Human rights imply that the state serves the individual, and not the other way around. They apply to every human, regardless of age, sex, ethnic background, nationality and so forth. However, human rights carry responsibilities. For example, an individual's rights of liberty need to be balanced with those of his or her fellow humans: my sphere of liberty cannot be extended at the expense of others. For example, freedom of expression does not include the right to insult other people. In some countries, the freedom of property, concerning the ownership of factories and means of production, is limited by law to control management decisions concerning the job security of employees. The questions of balancing and restricting human rights are a permanent source of issues and suits that have to be settled in political decision making and/or constitutional jurisdiction.

Transformative learning through global education45 The role of global education should move from the culture of individualism, often associated with dominance, to a culture of partnership based on dialogue and cooperation. The first cultural model characterises educational systems in many countries where global themes and building consciousness of world realities are not thought to be relevant to national visions. On the other hand the partnership model can lead to international understanding and cooperation between nations and peoples. Aspects of domination exist in so many different facets of our societies and are deeply rooted in the structures of education systems. By separating subjects and categorising them we have created hierarchies of knowledge and devalued other ways of learning. The detachment that is created by this process of compartmentalised education does not place us in a connected world and so we have been unable to build bridges to approach, get to know and understand others. Global education is about implementing the vision required to move to a model of partnership between peoples, cultures and religions at micro and macro levels. Transformative learning through global education involves a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thoughts, feelings and actions. It is an education for the mind as well as for the heart. This implies a radical change towards interconnectedness and creates possibilities for achieving more equality, social justice, understanding and cooperation amongst peoples. Three main stages of transformative learning are strongly linked to global education: • An analysis of the present world situation • A vision of what alternatives to dominant models might look like 45

Global Education Guidelines Working Group: Alicia Cabezudo, Christos Christidis, Miguel Carvalho da Silva, Valentina Demetriadou-Saltet, Franz Halbartschlager, Georgeta-Paula Mihai. Global Education Guidelines Concepts and Methodologies on Global Education for Educators and Policy Makers, North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, Lisbon 2008



• A process of change towards responsible global citizenship Global education as transformative learning implies participatory decision-making processes at all these stages. The goal of this kind of learning is to foster mutual knowledge and collective selfawareness. Global education challenges greed, inequality and egocentrism through cooperation and solidarity instead of dividing people through competition, conflict, fear and hatred. Global education as transformative learning offers a way to make changes at local levels to influence the global in the sense of building citizenship through participatory strategies and methods, so that people learn by taking responsibilities that cannot be left only to governments and other decision makers. At both micro and macro levels global education brings together the agendas of different fields of education: Development Education, Human Rights Education, Education for Sustainability, Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention, Intercultural and Interfaith Education, the global dimension of Education for Citizenship etc. -in order to define the common grounds of global education. This will create a real impact on both formal education and non-formal education, which has a huge role to play in bringing people towards a wider understanding of their real power to shape the future. But global education is not only about global themes, world problems and how to find solutions all together. It is also about how to envision a common future with better life conditions for all, connecting local and global perspectives, and how to make this vision real and possible, starting from our own small spot in the world. Transformative learning enables people to shape a common vision for a more just, sustainable world for all. A focus on the kind of future we want is therefore crucial in such a transformative vision. Global education can contribute to the visioning process, but it can also play a role in the creation of new methods where social movements and non-formal learning processes are essential as they make room for values, issues and approaches not central to formal learning and give voice to all people, including the marginalised ones. By shifting the focus onto the transformation from a culture of reproduction and dominance to one of partnership based on dialogue and cooperation, global education modifies established global economy rules by restoring human dignity as a central value.





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