Conference on Human Rights Legal Education in Bulgaria
The NCHR and partners recently organized a conference presenting two reports, focusing on the existing curricula on human rights at Bulgarian universities, and the introduction of human rights in mandatory legal curriculum in Bulgaria.
Credit: MoJ Bulgaria
On 28-29 April, in cooperation with the New Bulgarian University (NBU) and the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) organized a conference on the project “Human Rights Legal Education in Bulgaria: Combining Theory and Practice”, funded by the Norway Grants program. This conference was convened to present and discuss two important reports, an assessment report on the existing curricula on human rights at Bulgarian universities and another report containing guidelines on the introduction of human rights in the mandatory legal education curriculum in Bulgaria. Professor Gentian Zyberi (NCHR) presented the results of the assessment report and its recommendations. Among the various recommendations for improving human rights teaching, he suggested the inclusion of a course on human rights as part of the compulsory part of the curriculum (see presentation here).
The Minister of Justice of Bulgaria, Mrs. Nadezhda Yordanova, and the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Borislav Ganchev, spoke in favour of such an inclusion and highlighted the benefits that such a step would have not only for legal education, but also for legal practice in Bulgaria. Several important contributions to the conference were made by renowned speakers from Bulgaria and international experts (see full program), as well as by the participants. The Ministry of Justice has reflected on this event and its aims here (in Bulgarian). A day prior to the conference, on 27 April, Professor Zyberi had a work meeting with the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Borislav Ganchev, discussing legal education and sharing good teaching experiences from the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo (in Bulgarian).
Context of the project
The NCHR has been working with the NBU and the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice to build up the capacity of Bulgarian universities for the introduction of human rights legal education with a practical orientation. Under this cooperation, the Government Agent’s Office at the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, the Department of Law at the NBU, and the NCHR have undertaken a series of capacity building measures to ensure that international and European human rights law are taught effectively, by qualified academic staff, and with consideration to its domestic law dimension.
Expert review of existing curricula, guidelines and the work forward
As part of the activity, NCHR experts carried out a review of the existing curricula. Through cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and the New Bulgarian University, they collected information from university management, academic staff and students, respectively. They also reviewed relevant documents and other sources. As a result, the team has drafted guidelines on the implementation of human rights in horizontal training (included in other disciplines) and vertical training (as a compulsory subject and/or specialised master’s programme).
Current results and expected outputs
After having completed the two reports on the assessment of existing curricula and the guidelines for vertical and horizontal inclusion of human rights in the legal education, the next steps in the project include:
- A plan for horizontal and vertical teaching of human rights in the legal education drafted.
- Initiative for training future human rights specialists and support for the establishment of an accredited human rights doctoral program at a Bulgarian university undertaken.
- Model PhD course on human rights to be part of the respective PhD training at the Bulgarian universities proposed.