Awakening the Power of Human Rights Learning - Moving from Theory to Action -

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1

Awakening the Power of

Human Rights Learning

-

Moving from Theory to A
ction
-



A
r
etreat to
d
eepen

the p
ractice
of
h
uman
r
ights
l
earning
as

a framework for social and economic t
ransformation


29
October
-

1 November
, 2007


I.
Themes and Principle Goals


Human
r
ights offer to all people a powerful tool for

positive social change throughout all sectors of society.


The fundamental goal
of this gathering is to
explor
e
, debat
e
, and
generat
e

strategies
,
methodologies, and pedagogies

for changing the consciou
sness of people everywhere as to how
they understand
Human Rights

and for stimulating
their effective engagement with it

as a
framework for social and economic transformation
. Human
r
igh
ts are indivisible, interconnected,
and interrelated
.
They

off
er to al
l people a powerful holistic vision and framework

for positive
,

social change throughout all sectors of society
. This

change
that
we seek to explore

and expand

initiate
s a
fundamental shift in understanding w
hat
Human Rights is

about
: not a litany of viola
tion
but
rather
a comprehensive
, proactive

strategy for

human, political, and economic

development
that can provide our global society with a positive, ethical framework
.
H
uman
R
ights
affirm the
dignity and equality of all people,
remind
ing

us that our glo
bal society should not be hierarchical
but dialogical with all people given the
equal
opportunity to contribute to the creative, hope
-
filled
process of transforming our lives and our world for the better.


Transformational h
uman
r
ights

learning

imbues peop
le with a knowledge that the world should be
and can be different.
It empowers people to take action wherever they are
now,
equip
ping

them
with a vision to see a better world and the tools to begin that transformation.

It provokes us to
critically question

our assumptions and how they define our feelings about ourselves and the
world, boosting us to develop and act on a more inclusive perspective.
Human r
ights learning can
catalyze

an empathetic recognition of the dignity and irreplaceable value of each and

every
individual person.
H
uman
R
ights
,

moving from this learning

a
nd practiced as a way of life,
offer
s

each of us a radically new way of interacting with our neighbors and the w
orld.
A
lthough this
change begins with individuals, our overall goal is somet
hing much larger, that of awakening
entire communities and cultures to the power of
H
uman
R
ights
as a framework for revisioning the
world aro
und them, for tearing down
barriers
, and for working toward
equality.


The primary aim
of
this gathering
is to bro
aden and deepen our

understanding of
various forms of
human r
ights

learning

for

economic and social
transformation
, to
identify more effective means to
communicate

Human Rights
as a way of life
, as a pathway living

in commu
nity and in dignity with
others,
and
to develop the strategies and
institutions necessary to further

understanding

of

h
uman
r
ights learning

everywhere.

At
this retreat
, people from diverse backgrounds will share
their experiences and ideas for implementing

programs for

sustai
nable social
change. This
will
require vision but also concrete skills and knowledge of how to initiate
at the

community level a

dialogue about
Human Rights
as a way of life

and develop methodologies for h
uman
r
ights
learning that are relevant to people’s daily lives.
Of course this
gathering

is only a starting point. It
is the beginning of the conversation, the laying of the first stones of our bridge. Yet even as we
keep our minds open to new ideas and perspective
s
, it is essential that we use this gathering to
develo
p concrete ways and means of institutionalizing

h
uman
r
ights learning
. Our insights and
goals must be supported by real strategies and real actions.



2

II.
Toward
Human Rights Learning

for

Economic and S
ocial


T
ransfo
r
mation


Human
r
ights learning c
hallenges people to see themselves and their communities as
active procurers and co
-
creators of
human r
ights for themselves and for their neighbors
around the world.

Human Rights

instruments
,

encompassing

civil, political, cultural, economic, social
and
en
vironmental rights,
award us with a fully comprehensive, holistic perspective of life
. Human
R
ights

are ours by the virtue of being human:
they

are the rights to be human
,
applying to all
people in all places at all times.
Human Rights

have been enshrined
in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (
UDHR
), which has been affirmed by the vast majority of nations. Despite
significant achievements

however
, much remains to be done to realize the values it symbolizes.
Humanity, standing on the brink of devastat
ion, with millions of people mired in poverty,
environmental destruction, disease, hunger, violence, and oppression
,
aspires to live in a world of
freedom, and social and economic justice. Learning
Human Rights

provide

people, particularly
youth, with a su
pport system
to achieve this
.
W
hen human rights learning is transformational, it
challenges people to see themselves and their communities as active procurers and co
-
creators
of
Human Rights

for themselves and for their neighbors around
the world.

A wonde
rful example comes from school children in Thies, Senegal. Students, between the ages
of nine and eighteen, learning that education is a
human right
, asked why many of their friends
did not go to school, They were told that th
ese

children were not registe
red at birth. In response,
they created teams that went from house to house in all the neighborhoods of Thies


250,000
population, retrieved the necessary information and registered
the

4500 children they had
identified! They then petitioned the mayor’s a
nd Governor’s office to request that more school
rooms be made available and more teachers be brought in to accommodate these additional
students.

Wh
en h
uman
r
ights learning becomes

internalized,
as in this example,
it
brings about
ch
ange
. Living
out
Human

Rights

in practice requires not only receiving dignity through

Human
Rights

but also creating
space for the dignity of others

by helping them achieve their
h
uman
r
ights
.
T
ransformational

h
uman
r
ights learning is an awakening
not only
to one’s own oppressi
on
but also
to
one’s own oppressiveness.

Already there are encouraging projects underway that demonstrate that this revolutionary, lived
process of
Human Rights

is possible at scale. A growing number of cities around the world have
chosen to identify them
selves as Human Rights Cities.
This involves

a process
of
h
uman
r
ights
learning and dialogue on a systemic level, rea
ching from the poorest neighborhoods

to the
highest government o
ffices. Citizens and officials pledge

to use
Human Rights

as the ope
r
ative
framework for reshaping their social, economic, and political structures.


Rosario, Argentina, has been engaged in such a process for almost a decade. The city has
become a shining example of the way that an entire community

with more than one million

res
idents

can
embark on an intentional process of transformation. The
Human Rights

framework has been internalized in ma
n
y sectors of the community and the language of
Human
Rights

is used in many of the
local
institutions: police, schools, healthcare,
and mu
nicipality
.
Other specific activities include a report on the ill
-
treatment and persecution of transvestites and
prostitutes, neighborhood women writing a chapter for a Parallel Report to the United Nations
Human Rights Committee and a local community deve
loping a participatory budget to be
presented to the city council.
A participatory community learning project focusing on the
indigenous Toba population has resulted in their drafting of their own “passport to citizenship.”
The first article of their passp
ort calls on the people of Rosario not to treat the Toba people like
thieves when they go into the shopping mall. More recently, poor women who were ill
-
treated in
local hospitals called on doctors and nurses to join them in viewing a “theater of the absur
d”
performance where they demonstrated how badly they were treated by the medical staff. This
resulted in the immediate issue of directives to change the situation. Further, courses on
Human
Rights

are now required for all medical students. Underlying the
se

process
es

of change are
specific
aims to

enhance knowledge, clarify values, change attitudes, develop critical
understanding, promote solidarity
,

and alter behavior and practice

at all

levels
.
It is an ongoing

3

process of mapping
h
uman
r
ights
violations
and
h
uman
r
ights
realizat
ion
throughout the city; a
process

of

analysis and reflection that leads

to specific action.


This is but one example of human rights learning already in practice.
Other examples from Asia
and Africa include SPARC’s (the Society f
or the Promotion of Area Resources) work with
pavement dwellers in Mumbai, India
,

and the Ngua Mlambo Development Trust’s (NMDT)
programs with indigenous miners in Kasighau, Kenya. In both cases, the external actors did not
try to take control of the peopl
es’ str
uggles; rather they
s
upport
ed

the respective groups to
explore ways to deepen and strengthen what they know, what they can learn
from
and teach
each other, and how they can form supportive networks to sustain their momentum in addressing
the tough i
ssues
they face
.
As SPARC founder Sheela Patel recounts, “The foundational idea of
SPARC was to provide support to very vulnerable people to form their own organizations and to
create a network of communities that shared common problems. We wanted the poor

to stop
seeing themselves as quivering apathetic and helpless
groups who begged authorities, ‘
don't
evict me
.



Common

processes that have evolved
in communities with the support of SPARC
include women
producing a data base of information on pavement dwe
llers in th
eir area; setting up

savings and
credit programme
s
; and exploring change through tangible precedent setting.
As pavement
dwellers came to understand their
h
uman
r
ights, they took action and for
ced the government to
recognize them and give

them t
he same status and privileges of other citizens. This
empowerment has
led to a significant

qualitative improvement in the live
s

of many communities
with the movement now covering
cover now 550, 000 households in nine states in India.

One

example concerns
18,000 households who planned and managed their own resettlement from
along the railroad tracks in Maharashtra, working in a constructive partnership with governments
at different levels

and the
World Bank
.

The miners of Kasig
hau, Kenya engaged in a review

process

to

identify ways and means to enhance their struggles for control of and access to
minerals in their own ancestral lands
. They subsequently began to organize themselves through
different processes
to demand better access to their resources from th
e government and
to
challenge the corporate

mining

company’s monopoly over trading gemstones.
This included

forming

a Human Righ
t
s Forum where they could debate and
begin to
address
the

larger
structural issues
, like
land distribution,
that were underlying

their
deprivation.


While these
examples demonstrate the power and potential of processes
of human rights
learning, they
obscure

some of the significant challenges of operationalizing

it in reality

in a form
that can support people to take act
ion

for
soc
ial change to realise their
h
uman
r
ights
.
We
highlight
some examples of

these challenges here as well as
the way in which
different forms of
human
rights learning can
potentially
help us to
overcome

them.


In order for human rights learning to
catalyze fa
r
-
reaching change, it

must examine closely
and
provide tools to respond to
the institutional and cultural structures that are at work against us.
Acquiring sufficient negotiating power with governments and other powerful actors to demand
access to decision
-
making spaces and fundamental resources is a problem we all know too well
in efforts to realise
Human Rights
.
There are also
more internal problem
s

c
oncerning

building a
common movement for change and retaining the legitimacy and meaning of
Human Rights
.
A
n
example
here relates to
governments and groups

co
-
opting the language of
Human Rights

to
reinforce structures of domination and inequality and to obfuscate the real motives behind
actions. We have even witnessed military invasions justified in terms of
Human Rights
! In order
for
the
Human Rights

framework
to remain meaningful, we must address this misuse and abuse
of
Human Rights

language and convey to people everywhere how the value
of
Human Rights

as
a
way of life

can be easily discerned from twisted r
hetoric by witnessing the actions that people
and communities take to ge
nerate positive social change.
The languag
e of
Human Rights

is not
enough:

it must be back up by actions that further the goals of the UDHR for all people.


Our most powerful oppositio
n comes not from governments or corporations

however
, but from the
deeply embedded practice and expectation of male dominance pervasive in practically all cultures
and social structures worldwide

the patriarchy. The patriarchal system of oppression extends

far
beyond its painfully obvious impact on women; rather it is a universal system of oppression and
inequality that has contributed to a ubiquitous pattern of hierarchical organization within social

4

institutions and myriad other forms of rampant inequalit
y. Patriarchy lies at the core of all
h
uman
r
ights

violations and is interwoven with all of forms of discrimination, particularly racism,
nationalism, and xenophobia. It is vital to recognize that each of us contributes individually to
these oppressive beh
aviors by accepting and abiding by them. Human rights learning in its
various forms helps us to recognize how patriarchal patterns of oppression shape our ideology
and behaviors, and, moreover, it offers us a tool transcend this system through the practice

of
Human Rights

as way of life.


Change within

the human rights and developm
ent movement itself must also be achieved if we
are to generate, accelerate and broaden

transformational
h
uman
r
ights
learning
.
These changes
are both internal
-

in terms of how
w
e act and relate to others
-

and external, looking at our focus
and strategies for effective human rights learning.
First addressing the internal, the focus in

transformational h
uman
r
ights learning

is

creating a community of learning
rather

than creating
a
plan of education.
We activists are not the leaders of the
Human Rights

revoluti
on but its
grassroots facilitators
. While our experiences and knowledge can be helpful in spreading

h
uman
r
ights
learning
,

we must
also
be willing to be learners ourselves. C
ommunities around the globe
take

bold steps to achieve their
h
uman
r
ights
and present to us further exa
mples for
understanding how the
Human Rights

framework can guide
action

for social change
. To learn
from

these communities of change

is vital to the achi
evement of
transformational h
uman
r
ights

learning

for all. Ideas and strategies must flow readily in all directions.
Just as this retreat is
premised on invigorating
h
uman
r
ights learning by building linkages with a broader variety of
profession
s

and disco
urses
, so to
o

must it be
driven from

the knowledge, suggestions, and
achievements of people and communities from diverse locations and cultures.


In relation to external changes to explore, we can see that b
y focusing

too much

on governments
and legislati
on
,
h
uman
r
ights
education has

often
been addressing only the symptoms and not
the deeper social
, political,

and cultural mindsets
and causes
that excuse and perpetuate
h
uman
r
ights
abuses.
Also
,

a generic approach to
h
uman
r
ights
education
h
as not created

sufficient
space for addressing identity.

H
alf of the world’s population is under the age of twenty five, and
the vast majority of these young people do not find themselves fitting neatly into the meta
-
narratives about globalization and the information ag
e.

Many have immigrated to cities or new
countries in hope of brighter opportunities and have lost the
ir

means of identifying themselves
through connection to the land or through family history within a specified geographic context.
Unknown in unfam
iliar c
ontexts, they
often find
that
what identity they do have is constructed by
others through stereotype or prejudice.

These youth people ar
e caught in a crisis
,

unsure
themselves of who they are,

seeking to find their meaningful and purposeful role in the wor
ld.
Human
rights

learning can put in their hands a powerful tool for action

to become part of the
movement for social and e
conomic transformation and give

th
em important roles as

innovators
a
nd leaders of the transformational processes occurring

within the
ir local contexts.


These are but a few of the issues confronting us as we seek to build on concrete examples and
move towards more systematized and conscious human rights learning for economic and social
transformation.
Unfortunately
,

it is far easier to
lay out on paper this norma
tive vision
than it is to
operationalize it.
At this retreat we must reflect seriously about our understanding, pedagogical
practices and delivery systems.


At present, our knowledge of how to
practice
more
transformational huma
n rights learning and how to
reach the multitudes at all levels of society,
including rich and poor, men and women, old and young,

is inadequate.


III. Distilling the Essence


The h
uman
r
ights community of learning must be open to the ideas of all practit
ioners. It
should be informed by numerous discourses but constrained by none.


Our first task

must be
to draw from practices around the world as well as from concepts, theories
and methodologies, the essence of human rights learning for economic and social

transformation.

How can transformational learning be facilitated?

A critical step in this process is

dialogue with
other development, social justice and social change
activists and
practitioners. Learning from
other development movements and discourses no
t only increases the vitality and potency of our
efforts, it also generates a broader perspective so that we are better able to understand what

5

Human Rights

must be able to do and, as such,
develop the tools to do it.

In reality, many NGOs
that do not labe
l themselves as
h
uman
r
ights
organizations are already deeply involved
in
the
practice of communicating
and promoting indirectly human r
ights learning. We must
seek to find a
common space together in order to strengthen our work with theirs and their work
with ours. We
must learn from their practices and work together with them to support innovative ways to achieve
our common vision of secured human dignity for all. We should also seek together to develop the
repertoire of tools and strategies for activatin
g
Human Rights

to ensure that
it

meet
s

the needs of
people seeking social and economic transformation.


The following examples

offer a few suggestions of areas that can clearly c
ontribute wisdom and
guidance to

our own work and invigorate
our discussions
at this retreat:





Freireanism and Popular Education

Although Paulo Freire’s ideas
have
been widely embraced and augmented
throughout the development community, these roots of the popular education
movement remain a valuable departure point for our own
dis
cussions and
reflections. Freire famously coined the phrase “banking education,” describing
pedagogies that simply transfer information from an authoritative teacher to
submissive students. Instead, Freireanism calls on educators to recognize the
knowledge

and dignity of students and to treat them as equals in a dialogue.
Learning becomes a multi
-
directional process where all are teachers and all are
learners. Teachers relinquish their role as leaders and become facilitators of a
process in which everyone s
ets their own goals.

At the heart of the Freireian
methodology is the idea of
praxis
. Concisely defined, praxis is a reiterative process
of learning, action, and reflection. This oscillation between action and reflection
continues to be core of all transfo
rmative pedagogies.


T
he popular education movement spawned by Freire’s work in adult literacy was
explicitly political.
Literacy was not viewed as a tool for national or economic
development, but as a vital element in human development in which a person
come
s

to recognize his or her

place in the world. Linked closely with the philosophy
of liberation theology, popular education became a powerful force for resistance
and structu
ral change across Latin America
, Africa, and
North America
.
Of
particular relev
ance to our efforts in this retreat are the Citizenship Schools
spearheaded by the Highlander

Folk

School in the 1950s. The schools started as a
small scale adult literacy program aimed at helping African Americans in South
Carolina pass the literacy test
that was required before they could register to vote.
The schools used the UDHR and along with other simple materials that people
brought from home like checkbooks and magazine order forms. The high success
rate of the program made other communities want
to replicate it. Within only a
couple of years, Citizenship Schools had spread far beyond South Carolina and
multiplied until no one could track their actual numbers. Highlander and the
Citizenship Schools are often viewed as important catalyst
s

to the Ame
rican Civil
Rights Movement because the schools provided a venue for African American
s

to
come together and
to recognize

their common problems and their poten
tial
capacity for changing the larger context when

united as a group.




Participatory P
ractices

In
the past fifteen years,
participation theory has taken a central place in the
discourse of development studies and practice.

Advocating greater recognition and
awareness of power asymmetries in the relationships between development
practitioners

and their
stakeholders, proponents of participatory practices such as

the

I
nstitute of Development Studies’ (I
DS
)

Robert Chambers
,

have advocated an
inversion of these power roles so that the “last are put first.” Through empowering
methods such as Participatory Rur
al Appraisal and Participatory Action Research,
th
e stakeholders

themselves are given the opportunity to define themselves and
their goals for development and
social change. Moreover, the

overall
project of
development

worldwide

becomes more of a dialogue
as the knowledge a
nd

6

perceptions of those actually living in poverty

come to be incorporated into the
larger discourse.




Transformative Education

Pertaining originally to the study of emancipatory pedagogies for adult education,
this field of study has be
come much broader and much more reflecti
ve in recent
years. Building on the etymology of the wor
d “education
,
” which means a
movement from outside to inside and from inside to outside
, transformative
education looks not only at the mechanisms for tra
nsform
ing the consciousness of

learners

but also at the nec
essity of transforming educational

institutions and
processes themselves. Cognizant that education is often a force for replicating and
reproducing the same social inequalities that it seeks to overcome,

transformative
educators

endeavor

to become reflective practitioners,

hold
ing

the mirror up to their
own teaching practices so that they can make their methods more congruent with
their expressed goals.

As a result t
he language and process of education ch
ange
fundamentally: teachers become facilitators; students become participants; and
curriculum design becomes participatory.




Power Analysis

Although power theory is more difficult to put into act
ion than participatory theories
,
it can also be an important

tool for tra
nsformation. W
e as
h
uman
r
ights
activists
ca
n
not consider our work as apart

from politics or the struggle for power.

We can
succeed only by engaging critically with the study of power and integrating it within
all aspects of our work: o
nly by
being aware of power
a
symmetries

can we hope to
reduce or reverse

them.
Steven Luke’s well know
n

“three face
s

of power” model

can be a helpful starting point for analyzing a situation. The first face of power is
the open violation of
h
uman
r
ights
and freed
oms by force. The second face is more
subtle because it takes the form of policies and practices that impede real
structural change even when
the
oppressed are nominally included in the
discussion. The third face of power is the most pernicious because it
represents an
internalization of inequali
ty when people at the bottom no

longer question their
indignity and disenfranchisement, acce
pting without argument that their

oppression
is “the way it is” and that no other alternative path is possible. In terms of

bu
ilding
communities of change

that are empowered by
their knowledge and

practice of
Human Rights, Mich
el Foucault provides important insights about the nature of
power
itself. Arguing that power is
capillary and can be created by the joining of
many toge
ther for the same

cause, he undermines the viewpoint

that power exists
in a set quantity and must be wrenched away from those who possess it. Indeed, in
Foucault’s vision, the people possess power inherently and
together
can build a
force for change.

It is

a vision of “power with” rather than “power over.”




Feminist Thought

Feminist theory constitutes another vital component of our work. Indeed, how can
we carry forward a serious discussion about
Human Rights

without intentionally
recognizing that half of t
he world’s population is female? As Swami Vivekanand
h
as written, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of
women
is
improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on one wing.” Moreover,
feminist thought has provided us with

important tools for
critical social analysis that

can help initiate the change in

consciousness toward an

ethic of

lived

Human
Rights

that we are seeking. Certainly, our und
erstanding of p
atriarchy as a
pervasive system that influences

all people, and no
t only women, is drawn from
feminist writing. In scrutinizing the confines of gender roles, writers such as Judith
Butler have encouraged us to think of gender and gender roles as “performances”
that have been reinforced by social institutions for so long
that they now appear to
us as natural, when in fact they are a form of
internalized
subjugation
further re
-
e
nforced by
the
cultures in which we are embedded. Such performances are not
individual acts but

are

require
d

rit
ualized productions that depend on

t
he
cooperatio
n and complicity of the culture

as a whole.
Indeed, this line of thinking

provides us with important insight as to how the
Human Rights

framework should

7

be o
perationalized to overcome dominant

patriarchal practices
. Our efforts cannot
not be a
imed only at individuals, rather we must strive for a collective
transformation of communities and cultures whereby the old disciplinary regimes
are overturned
, allowing for practices rooted

in
h
u
man
r
ights learning to safely take

shape.



I
V. Broadening O
ur Vision


With help from a new range of collaborators, we can break free of the old paradigm and
abandon the tired, incremental process of doing things better and undertake a radical leap
toward doing better things!


Clearly the

areas mentioned above are
only the beginning of what must become a much longer
list of collaborating discourses. Indeed, they inherently show a bias toward development studies,
an area in which most
h
uman
r
ights
advocates are well versed by education and experience.
The
purpose

of
this retreat is to break out of the
se

trenches and look further afield, to bring together
the knowledge and resources of other disciplines and professions that have
previously had little
input in human r
ight
s

education

and learning
. Einstein often declared
, “You can’t solve a
problem
using the same thinking that created it.
” Clearly
h
uman
r
ights
learning

is no
t the cause of the
problems it seeks

to address, but we must humbly admit that our present modes of analysis and

strategy have not had the wide
spread
impact we’ve long been fighting for. With help from a new
range
of collaborators
,

we can break fr
ee of the old paradigm and abandon

the tired, incremental
process

of doing things better and undertake

a radical leap toward doing better things! The
following

list is a sample of the new voices whose accumulated wisdom we are
seeking as we
expand the

practice of
human r
ights learning.




Psychologists

Our efforts are

premised around the change in consciousness that can
accompany
human r
ights learning

for economi
c and social transformation
. What
can psychology tell us about these shifts in
perception and
consciousness? How
are
self
-
worth and
worldviews constructed? How are the
y

challenged?

What are
the
cognitive shifts that occur as a pers
on becomes empowered?
Wha
t can
social psyc
hology tell us about the dynamics

of group and community change?




Sociologists

Understanding the context in which o
ur efforts are situated and making

prep
arations for that unique
micro
environment

is essential to the success of
human r
ight
s learning. Sociologists can lend considerable assistance in
understanding this multitude of contexts.

They can
also
offer us models for
understanding
social structures and process at

the aggregate level. Their study
of past social movements offers a clear
er understanding of how change occurs
within a society.




Media

and Communication

Specialists

B
y linking programs of human r
ights learning with effective media strategies
, we
can reach a population of people magnitudes larger

than by face to face sessions
and trainings.

If we
use

a variety of media outlets

radio, television, billboards,
community rallies

eventually an understanding

of
Human Rights

as

a way if life
will
germinate. How can

understanding

commercial marketing and media
strategies
help to make o
ur message connect to people and spread far and wide




Educators

The
h
uman
r
ights
community of learning must ask for the help of educators of a
ll
stripes.
Vocational education, non
-
formal education, adult education, and adu
lt
literacy,
and human rights lite
racy
just to name a few;

these are all important
components to
h
uman

r
ights learning.




Economists


8

The

movement of
h
uman
r
ights learning must seek the aid of those with a deep
knowledge of economic theory. Together we must redouble our efforts to
promote k
nowledge of
the
economic

aspects of

the
Human Rights

framework

which
offers us

an

alternative path to

the neoliberal, consumerist
pa
radigm which
has been driven by

reward
for

a few at a cost to the

many. We m
ust share the
knowledge of this alternative

and
empower the peoples

of the world to demand
reforms of

the
se

powerful global systems

to make them more j
ust, equitable, and
sustainable.




Environmentalists

For too long, the work
of
promoting
Human Rights

awareness and the task of
protecting the world’s env
ironment have been considered distinctly separate, if
not antithetical, goals. However
, t
he emerging paradigm of participatory resource
management begins to reunite people and the

land. Human
r
ights l
earning
should engage in

conversations not only about ac
cess to natural resources but
about their conservation. As the Ticos say, “Most Costa Ricans are
not yet
born.”
It is a reminder
that
a

culture

based on
Human Rights

should acknowledge
not
only
those who inhabit the Ea
rth today but also to those

who
will
i
nherit the
future.




Community Leaders

The

heaviest burden of this movement

will fall on local leaders who

must toil
ceaselessly to beat the drums of change and keep bright the embers of hope
when chan
ge seems beyond all means
.
More than any other group in
volved in
this endeavor, co
mmunity leaders are positioned

to inspire

people and
to
awaken
them individually to t
heir power through
Human Rights
.

We must encourage their
work and listen seriously to their difficulties and frustrations. Through their
success
es and impasses we can

gauge the effectiveness of the movement’s
strategies
.




Philosophers

The critical thinking of

theorists and philosophers can
help

us
cli
mb out of the
engrained trenches of thought and action, allowing

us

to

break into o
pen ground
wher
e
we can reinvent our practices by transcending the limitations of the
thinking that underlies them.
They can
challenge our own worldviews
and make
us think more reflectively about our work.




Artists

Whether local performers or world
-
wide celebrities, art
ists can delivery the
message of
transformational

human r
ights
learning
in ways that
are
appealing
and deeply emotive
. Through any variety or combination of mediums, artists can
reveal

the power of

Human Rights

more powerfully and articulately than words

a
lone

allow. Images, rhythms, and performances co
nvey archetypal symbols that
cut

straight to the heart of
h
uman
r
ights learning
.




Cultural anthropologists

Cultural anthropologists can help us to understand certain groups and cultu
res
more deeply, and
help

us
to
understand better specific ways in which
human
r
ights learni
ng can be made relevant to particular

context
s
, traditions, and
worldview
s
. They can also help us to look into the past for the historical memory
of
Human Rights

in each
culture
. Although

Human Rights


is a modern term
coined in the West, the yearning for dignity at the heart of this framework is in no
way new or geographically specific.




Health Professionals

Health

professionals have long contributed to
the
struggle for the recognition an
d
fulfillment of Human Rights.
Given the difficulties of acce
ssing medical care even
in
developed countries, especially the United States, perhaps doctors

and nurses

can play an important role in conveying

the universal necessity of adopting

9

Human Rights

a
s a framework for transformation

bot
h in the global North and

South
.
Moreover, practitioners of traditional and alternative medicine widen our
perspective to more holistic meanings of health, treatment, and wellness.


Again, this list is only a

sampling of

the professions that

need to

be contributing to
the
h
uman
r
ights
community of learning.
As we chart the future of
human r
ights learning

for economic and
social transformation
, we must envision it as an eclectic fusion of discourses and professional
experi
ences which

interact synergistically to create t
he basis for a new movement that

speaks to
people everywhere
, that reawakens their dreams and their yearning for dignity, that empowers
them to use
Human Rights

as
a
framework for transforming themselves, the
ir communities, and
the

political landscapes

in which they live.


V. Stra
tegies to
Support
Effective

Outreach



We can’t make meaningful progress unless we

commit ourselves to intense and sustained action.


We are a few individuals trying to reach out to
literally billions of people. It is vital that any
movement based on
transformational h
uman
r
ights l
earning be formulated around strategies for
disseminating our message
,
concerning
both the way it is articulated and how it is
circulated
.
One
of the primar
y outputs from this gathering should be a specific action plan for
moving from theory
to practice! This action plan should
include
a
tentative timeline for
a
series of future gatherings
that are linked to certain
defined
goals. In this way we can create a
roadmap that prioritizes our
tasks and gives us a clear sense of where we should be moving to next and how fast

we
need to
be progressing
on each step to get there
.


One potential strategy is the establishment of a training Academy for

Human Rights Learnin
g

for
continuous research, development, and training
.
Perhaps this could be a brick and mortar
institute dedicated to training trainers and community leaders from around the world. Or perhaps
it could be a mobile program in which advocates
for
Human Rights

move to particular countries or
regions for several months at a time and undertake intensive training schedules

or perhaps
both?

What kind of approach should such an academy adopt. How can it catalyze a decentralized
movement rooted in the
Human Rights

fr
amework in which participants

become agents of change
and

share their experiences with others who then in turn do the same? W.B. Yeats once said,
“Education is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire.” Can a
Human Rights

academy do precisely that?
If such
an academy can light thousands of fires in the minds of all those who come to participate,
then we have succeeded in our role because

h
uman
r
ights learning
is then
rightly into the hands
of the people and communities everywhere who will carry it forward.
W
hat are other possible
strategies?
Perhaps there are

other,

more effective ways to institutionalize
h
uman
r
ights learning.
What is clear is that

institutionalization

in some fashion

is central to the sustainability of this
movement.


S
pecific
strategies w
ill evolve out of our effo
rts as a group at the retreat
,

however here are some
initial ideas to get us thinking
:




Create an online forum accessible to all participants of

this gathering

so that we
can continue to share and reflect on each others ideas and
experiences. IDS’

Facilitating Learning and Social Change (FLASC) group has been very successful
at using a
n

online format they described as “conquiry” that allows members of a
conference to continue their group discussion

and synergy

well af
ter the actual

event has ended.




Organize an “institutionalization” team to look at strengthening and augmenting the
existing network of regional human rights learning institutions around the world.
PDHRE has already begun this process through its regional centers and w
orking
offices located in many of Human Rights
C
ities. How can this infrastructure be
expanded under the aegis of human rights learning? Can we negotiate
partnerships with NGOs, universities, and regional peace centers around the globe

10

to piggyback our eff
orts, or to provide facilities to incubate new human hights
learning institutions?




Organize a team to create a training program on
h
uman
r
ights learning

geared
toward community leaders and
h
uman
r
ights
trainers that clearly and concisely
define
s

the princ
iples of human rights learning and elaborate
s

ways that these
principles have been and can be put into action in a variety of contexts.





Organize a team to create materials for NGOs that have not previously identified
themselves as working in the field o
f Human Rights. Clearly demonstrate how
Human Rights

as a framework for transformation is already in tune with their goals
and practices and can provide a powerful new force for

empowering their
stake
holders to take action.




Organize a working group to cre
ate strategies for reaching youth under the age of
25.




Organize small teams from each of the professional groups r
epresented to

create

short statements elaborating the

linkages be
tween their respective fields and

the
practice
s

guided by the

Human Rights

framework.
Invite

additional professional
s

to
join our community of learning so that our efforts can put down broader and deeper
roots.




Solicit a small team of academics to elaborate on the concepts and practice of
Human Rights

as a way of life

and guide
the development of
an inclusive group
product that demonstrates t
he best examples
of transformational human r
ights
learning
.




Organize a team to develop

media strategies for disseminating the core ideas of
h
uman
r
ights learning

and the meaning of
Human Ri
ghts

as a way of life
. It’s
estimated that some 95% of the world

s population have access to radio
broadcasts on a daily basis. How do we tap into such systems? How do we
formulate our messages so that they convey effectively in a radio format? How can
we
help community groups to create their own radio programs tha
t
that foster
social and economic transformation
? What of television and print media?




Organize a group
to
analyze and create strategies for utilizing internet and other
information technologies.

Can we offer
technology assistance to community
h
uman
r
ights
groups by helping them to build and maintain their own
websites?





Organize a team to further elaborate on the concept of the Human Rights

Learning

Academy.


Let us emphasize

again

that
these ar
e preliminary ideas that will be developed as
we
move
through the retreat
. This list does, however, reiterate some of the most important themes we plan
to discuss. By setting such correlated goals and deadlines, we hope to keep the energy and
action up wel
l after our time together.



VI
.

Conclusion
s


Human
R
ights as a way of life is ultimately about
social and economic
justice,


trust, and respect for all fellow human beings.


This document has aimed to
outline

the
status of

h
uman
r
ights learning and to in
vit
e new
participants and their

ideas to

the

table.
This retreat will be

a significant step towards a new
community of learning. Blending our diversity of education and professional experiences, we must
question together, analyze together, and together dev
elop fresh pedagogies, content, processes,
and methodologies. The conceptual gaps that have plagued us in the past can become places for

11

the light to shine in, where new ideas can originate and fill in these gaps. Where we lack sufficient
answers, we can b
e confident that other people and communities will fill in the blanks as
appropriate for their local contexts.


We hope this document offer
s ideas that inspire

creative though
t

about the essence and
process
es

of

transformational human r
ights learning. Hope
fully participants in the retreat will take
tim
e to ponder these ideas
and be prepared to engage in a deep conversation about
h
uman
r
ights learning, offering concrete suggest
ions
,
examples
, and strategies

for taking

it

forward. In
spite of the complexity o
f what
we
are suggesting and
the
need for a multi
-
faceted

approach, it is
always important to remember the big picture: that
Human Rights

as a way of life is ultimately
about
social and economic justice,

trust
,

and respect among

all fellow human beings, ab
out each
human
life of belonging in community

with others,

with
both
dignity

and hope
.
It

is a place of
social
responsibility that demands that each of u
s strive to make this vision

a

reality for all people
everywhere.

Please join our communit
y of learning

and help us to raise this movement to the next
level
.


*

*

*


In preparation…

Please consider these preliminary questions and reflect on your own experiences as they relate
to the aims and goals expressed in this document. We request your input on these q
uestions by
in order to develop the retreat program.


We want to ensure that it reflects your priorities and
perspectives as much as possible. We also hope to foster some common understanding within
the
participating
group in the lead up to the retreat. If

you feel unable to respond to some of the
questions at this stage, then just leave them
out
.


1.

Can you provide a short introduction to yourself, detailing your interest and expectations
in participating in this retreat?

2.

What are the core issues that you fe
el must be prioritized for discussion in this retreat?


3.

How have you witnessed or experienced real and sustainable change in people and in
communities?(a) What makes you think so? What evidence? (b) How did this work


what made it work?


4.

From your perspec
tive and experience how can transformational learning occur? By
which catalytic events or experiences? What are the necessary ingredients? How can
learning and reflection and action be sustained?


5.

How do you think that
human rights learning can best be con
cretized and activated for
optimum use?


6.

What changes are needed in how
Human Rights

are conveyed to people worldwide in
order for people to seize human rights as their own tools for social and economic
change?


7.

How best do you think that the most excluded

and impoverished can be

reached with and
supported by
human rights learning?

8.

What are the major challenges that you see in stimulatin
g
human rights learning around
the world?




Paper developed by Felix Bive
ns

with input from Shula
Koenig, Kathleen Modro
wski & Emma Sydenham