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Event to map future for human rights education

  • Date

    Wed 18 Nov 20

An event this December will take a 360 degree look at human rights education – recent developments in relation to awareness-raising and the protection of human rights, and newer thinking on how a rights-based approach could impact on education more generally.

What is human rights education? How does it support the promotion and protection of human rights? And how can a rights-based approach address existing inequities in education?

On 10 and 11 December, The Future of Human Rights Education, will bring together a UNESCO Chair, current staff from the Human Rights Centre and a roll call of illustrious Essex alumni to provide a unique opportunity for reflection.

Dr Aoife Duffy, Co-Deputy Director of the Human Rights Centre, said: “While the importance of human rights education was recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need to reflect on the practice of human rights education is a much newer phenomenon.

“The skills required to work in human rights are ever-changing, a process of development accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. We will be looking at the importance of ongoing evolution in education and training in supporting advocacy and practice but also the role human rights can play in meeting the need for change in education more generally.

“We hope this event will inspire knowledge-sharing and serve as a touchstone to future collaborations, influencing programme development and new ways of thinking about human rights education.”

“I owe much to my Essex international human rights law degree. The knowledge and skills, alongside the networks and lifelong friendships forged, have continued to be enormously beneficial throughout my career.”
Professor Sandra Liebenberg university of stellenbosch

The online workshop event is designed to appeal to a broad audience, including practitioners, educators, students and activists.

The first of three panels will look at Human Rights Education for Human Rights, exploring examples from the Human Rights Centre Clinic, including its Digital Verification UnitDr Patricia Palacios-ZuloagaDr Koldo Casla and Dr Daragh Murray will discuss how opportunities to work on social justice projects while studying help develop students’ professional skills, aiding employability.

A second panel, Human Rights Education, will feature Professor Felisa Tibbitts, UNESCO Chair in Human Rights Education in Higher Education, Dr Duffy and Dr Carlos Gigoux-Gramegna, Deputy Director of the Centre for Migration Studies. This panel will raise the question of how human rights educators incorporate human rights principles and values, such as equality and non-discrimination into the classroom? How do asymmetries of power in learning environments affect participation?

The final panel will focus on Future Directions for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Chaired by Human Rights Centre Director Dr Andrew Fagan, the panel will feature Professor Sandra Liebenberg, H.F. Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law, University of Stellenbosch, Professor Cephas Lumina, Nelson Mandela School of Law, University of Fort Hare and an Advocate of the High Court of Zambia, Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and Dr Magdalena Sepulveda, Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) and Senior Research Associate at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

This panel illustrates Essex Human Rights Centre’s ongoing role at the forefront of human rights education. Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Sandra Liebenberg (LLM, International Human Rights Law,1993) recalled how her Essex degree provided a ‘springboard’ to her future career. Returning to South Africa, she chaired an influential committee advising on the Bill of Rights contained in that country’s new constitution: “The in-depth international human rights law knowledge I gained during my LLM degree was invaluable to me in this role.

“I owe much to my Essex international human rights law degree. The knowledge and skills, alongside the networks and lifelong friendships forged, have continued to be enormously beneficial throughout my career.”