Buraku Liberation News May 1999 No.108

Summary of the International Conference on Human Rights Education in the Asia-Pacific Region

-Towards Universal Realization of Human Rights-

(the final part of the series)

November 27, 1998

Session 6: Towards Universal Realization of Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region

The session was chaired by Ms. Lalita Ramdas, President of ICAE. The first speaker was Mr. Manzoor Ahmed, Director of UNICEF Office for Japan. Reflecting the past 50 years, Mr. Ahmed said that the East-West ideological divide has embroiled the universal implementation of human rights. After the destruction of the cold-war structure, we still face horrible human rights violations such as ethnic cleansing or massacre. While it is almost mid-term of the Decade, we see few countries which have established an education system incorporating human rights education. Human rights information and opportunities of human rights education are not easily available to ordinary people. With the violation of right to education, human rights are again abused due to absence of knowledge about it. Concluding that the past fifty years was not encouraging to us, he called on participants to realize universal respect of human rights in ten years.

Then, Dr. Dong-Hoon Kim, Director of HURIGHTS OSAKA, was invited to speak before the floor. The colonialism and the following cold-war doctrine throughout the region deprived majority of people of their fundamental rights. Economic globalization never meant human rights globalization in the region. Due to these historical facts, there are many countries which are not interested in implementation of human rights education programs. Human rights education programs, if any in such countries, are usually provided by NGOs. Especially, in those countries where many children cannot go to school and the right to education is not fully guaranteed, NGOs and national human rights institutions are expected to take important role. Thus, it is necessary in the region to build an effective network among these NGOs.

In conclusion, Ms. Ramdas said that as long as 'human rights' remain as words or concept, we can never achieve universal realization. Therefore, we need to develop educational strategies. In doing so, the word 'human rights' may give subversive impression. Thus, it could be included in such strategies "not to use the word 'human rights'."

Session 7: Back to the Future

Chaired by Professor Theo van Boven, the last session began with a speech of Dr. Clarence Dias entitled "Back to the Future." This title has an important implication. According to Dr. Clarence, past, present and future cannot be alienated from each other. While we see many potential problems coming across on the future of human rights, we have to learn from the past so that we will be able to prevent it from occurring. He clarified some important aspects while developing human rights education in the region. These include: to help put human rights awareness in action; to develop human rights education strategies in order to bring about social changes; and to make human rights education a life-time education. In addition, he also encouraged the participants to establish human rights education which responds to the issues of development, the environment and globalization, and to develop human rights education programs according to receivers (for instance, teachers, police, or the oppressed).

During the discussion about what to do next, many ideas and suggestions were raised from the participants. The following show some of them:

For the promotion of human rights and human rights education;

  • To ask celebrities to talk about the UDHR or the Decade publicly.
  • To ask the mass-media to pick up more topics relating human rights issues including Buraku discrimination. (Sometimes, they are too careful to do so)
  • While a declaration like the Osaka Declaration is adopted by a conference, there is no clear personal commitment made before the floor saying, "I will advertise the Declaration back in my country." Let each of us do so this time.
  • Not only a national plan of actions, but also a personal plan of actions is important. Such small but substantial efforts of individuals will eventually lead to a great achievement.

For networking among NGOs, governmental agencies and UN agencies;

*UN agencies should make information about human rights education more easily available to NGOs, and NGOs in the region should send more voices information about their activities to UN agencies and NGOs in Europe.

* Both governmental agencies and NGOs are required to make data-bases for their human rights education information.

* The Organizing Committee encourages participants to inform it how one uses the Declaration or achievements of the Conference if used.


* For the realization of human rights in the region, we have to learn from the history including aggression, colonization, armed conflicts and others, so that we can really appreciate human rights.

* It can be a good idea to set up an 'Asia-Pacific human rights education fund' with contributions from companies, local governments and individuals.


Adoption of the Osaka Declaration

Following the discussion by the Draft Committee of the preceding night and reflecting opinions from the participants, the final Osaka Declaration entitled "Challenges of Human Rights Education for the 21st Century" was presented and

unanimously adopted by the Conference.

Closing address

In commending the result of the Conference, Maki Ukawa of the Human Rights Education Team of the Amnesty International Japanese Section, said in a closing address, "The future will definitely prove the significance of this Conference."

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