Part II
D: Facilitating Human Rights Education

The previous suggestions concern facilitation in general. However, the subject of human rights education presents some particular challenges to the facilitator.

  • Help participants feel part of something larger. Seek ways to connect the workshop to larger issues both nationally and internationally. Include a global citizenship dimension to the human rights topic being examined, making clear that problems in the local community are also experienced in other parts of the world. Build a sense of solidarity through the realization that people across the globe are learning about and insisting upon the full realization of their human rights. Facilitators need to be prepared with current and relevant global examples of particular issues.
  • Introduce human rights law as a "work in progress." Everyone has a right to know their human rights, and such knowledge can be empowering. Explicitly link people's personal experience to human rights issues; when possible connect the issue to specific articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights documents. However, don't emphasize documents over experience or present them as "perfect" or "settled." Encourage participants to examine and question everything.

    Emphasize also that each of these international documents resulted from the efforts of men and women to codify moral principles of justice and human dignity. And as social conditions change, new human rights laws must be developed or existing laws adapted in response to newly recognized needs. The ongoing participation of all people is needed for human rights law to continue to develop and be interpreted.

  • Avoid jargon and acronyms. Hearing "UDHR" when you have only just been introduced to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be confusing. Hearing about the "CRC" when you have never heard of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is downright insulting. Remember that human rights has its own vocabulary that is unfamiliar to most people. Always explain whatever acronyms and technical terms you must use: write them down and/or give people a glossary of terms.
  • Emphasize commitment to improving people's lives. Human rights education is not just about human rights (i.e., acquiring information). It is also education for human rights, helping people to feel the importance of human rights, to integrate them into the way they live, and to take action to promote and protect the rights of others on individual, local, national, and international levels. Human rights education contributes directly to improving the life of both individuals and the community.