NCHR at ASEM Seminar on Human Rights Education and Training
Although Human Rights Education (HRE) has taken root in most countries in Asia, there is a wide range of issues that needs to be addressed regarding HRE both in Asia and in Europe.
Photo: Asia-Europe Foundation
This was the main topic of discussion during the 19th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights Education & Training in Tromsø, Norway 4-6 November. The goal of the seminar was to further strengthen the implementation of and access to HRE at the ASEM level, as well as to discuss good practice examples of existing strategies for effective HRE.
NCHR participated in the seminar along with collegues from all over Asia and Europe. The Seminar was co-organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Peoples’ Republic of China. The seminar was hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A longstanding partner of NCHR, through the SHAPE-SEA network, Prof. Sriprapha Petcharaeree and journalist/researcher Frank Elbers wrote the background paper to the conference, which highlights both progress, and obstacles to promoting HRE in the two regions.
Knut D. Asplund from NCHR acted as rapporteur for one of the four working groups at the seminar. The topic discussed by this group was Human Rights Education & Professional Training.
Increasing HRE engagement and research
The rapporteurs concluded on a positive note, noting that more actors are involved in HRE, there are more coordination and coherence in legal and policy frameworks and there are more research and systematic evaluations.
However, amongst challenges remaining is a basic unequal access to education. There is also a lack of teaching materials in local languages, and qualified instructors. In addition, there is still more focus on duties than rights and the field is dominated by law schools and a lack of multidisciplinary approaches.
Academic freedom and self-censorship
Many participants expressed an increased worry on issues related to academic freedom, self-censorship and shrinking political space that create challenges for HRE.
The rapporteur’s conclusions recommended that all countries present take the seminar outcome back to their respective governments asking for more investments, to get more actors involved, more research and systematic evaluation on HRE, and better coordination and more coherence in legal and policies frameworks.