Human Rights Education History

The emphasis on Human Rights Education began in 1995 with the beginning of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, though previously addressed in 1953 with the UNESCO Associated Schools Program, which served as an “initial attempt to teach human rights in formal school settings”. The first formal request for the need to educate students about human rights came about in UNESCO’s 1974 article Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace, and Education Relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The participants of the International Congress on the Teaching of Humans Rights eventually met in 1978 to form a specific definition of what would be required application of the education in formal curricula. The aims at which the Congress agreed upon including the encouragement of tolerant attitudes with focus on respect, providing knowledge of human rights in the context of national and international dimensions as well as their implementations, and finally developing awareness of human rights translating into reality whether social or political on national and international levels.

Human Rights Education became an official central concern internationally after the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. This conference brought the issue of educating formally to the top of many countries’ priority lists and was brought to the attention of the United Nations. It was two years later that the United Nations approved the Decade for Human Rights Education, which reformed the aims of application once again. Since the development of the UN Decade, the incorporation of human rights education into formal school curricula has been developed and diversified with the assistance of nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and individuals dedicated to spreading the topic through formal education.

Today the most influential document used to determine what qualifies as human rights and how to implement these ideas and rights into everyday life is the Universal Declaration. This declaration was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, making December 10th annual Human Rights Day ever since. To this day the 30 article compilation is seen as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.

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