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UN Declaration on right to know about human rights

Last Updated (Wednesday, 21 December 2011 14:50)

‘Everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education’, according to article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training adopted on 19 Dec 2011.

In adopting the Declaration by unanimous vote the UN General Assembly was ‘motivated by the desire to send a strong signal to the international community to strengthen all efforts in human rights education and training through a collective commitment by all stakeholders’.

Work on the Declaration followed the 2005 World Summit in which Heads of State and Government supported the promotion of human rights education (HRE) and learning at all levels, including through the implementation of the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

The Declaration affirms that HRE is aimed as the development of ‘a universal culture of human rights’, and ‘encompasses education

(a)    about human rights, which includes providing knowledge and understanding of human rights norms and principles, the values that underpin them and the mechanisms for their protection;
(b)    through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners;
(c)    for human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others.’ (article 2)

These are the principles that underpin the work of partners in New Zealand’s Human Rights in Education initiative – the sort of collaborative HRE effort envisaged by the World Programme and the Declaration.

The New Zealand Curriculum launched in 2007 requires respect for human rights to be ‘encouraged, modelled, and explored by students’. Unfortunately, according to the initiative's managing partner, the Human Rights in Education Trust, few other steps have been taken by the Government or Ministry of Education to make HRE an inherent and explicit characteristic of New Zealand education.


Areas for curriculum inquiry

Last Updated (Saturday, 10 May 2014 11:11)

Some interesting learning area-related articles we’ve come across recently:


‘Restorative practices are more than a behaviour management tool’

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 November 1999 12:00)

One of the messages emerging from teacher workshops at a major conference last month, was that opting for restorative practices in schools was more than a matter of ‘behaviour management’.

Many of the 100 teachers who joined professionals working in areas such as youth justice in an international conference in Wellington agreed that processes aimed at healing relationships went to the heart of what sort of  community/society/world we are building. In curriculum terms the learning that occurs in effective restorative sessions is part of schools’ contribution to building key competencies of managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing. And of course restorative practices are about providing effective remedies for violations of rights – a human right in itself.

Mark Corrigan, from the Ministry of Education, ran some interesting sessions on building the evidence base for restorative approaches in schools. But in the meantime, take a look at a well-known Scottish pilot project or some of the Ministry of Justice-commissioned research.

The Human Rights in Education Trust would like to work with schools exploring the place of restorative practices as part of human rights-based education. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you are interested.


‘A beautiful book’

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 November 1999 12:00)

Key Human Rights in Education support partner, Unicef New Zealand, has just published a wonderful picture book on the human rights of children. Illustrated by New Zealand artists, For Each and Every Child has been sent to all primary schools. Visit Unicef’s website for more information and to order copies.

Non-voting New Zealanders and the right to democratic participation

Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 November 1999 12:00)

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country....The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.... (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 21)A million eligible New Zealanders did not vote in the recent election – the lowest turnout in percentage terms in 120 years. Only 77% of eligible New Zealanders aged 18-24 had joined the electoral roll by the deadline. (NZ Herald story)

A similar trend in Europe has been one of the factors behind an increased commitment to ‘education for citizenship’.

As the UK-based Citizenship Foundation says:
The values of democracy, justice, equality and inclusion have been long fought for, but are easily neglected and abused. This is especially true when faith in politics is low and economic times are tough.
The best way to guard these values is to develop well-informed, educated citizens with the confidence and appetite to take part in society; to question injustice and to drive change.
The best way to guarantee a brighter future for all is to create a society in which we all understand our rights and responsibilities and in which everyone is equipped – and ready – to play an active part.
This is one of the core purposes of the Human Rights in Education initiative. If you would like to be part of a team working on education for citizenship, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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