Statement by Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at Global Forum on Human Rights Education


Each morning, as we send our children to school, we have many hopes for them.

We hope they will learn something new, develop their talents, make friends, and feel a sense of belonging.

We hope that their education and time in school will sow the seeds that will allow them to flourish as adults.

We also hope they will strive to create a world in which everyone can attend school and receive a quality education. A goal that has been out of reach for many generations, even as great progress has been made.

Education gives young people the tools they need to contribute to society. So we must also ensure that education gives them the tools they need to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

And for all of us, education on human rights is an important part of lifelong learning, supporting the skills required to put rights into practise in our daily lives. We are never too old to learn.

People all around the world are facing many interconnected challenges, including conflict and violence, discrimination, misinformation, hate speech, poverty, inequalities, a rising cost of living, and the triple planetary crisis.

Human rights education can foster the necessary information, skills, and attitudes that are necessary to face today’s challenges. This includes critical thinking, essential in a world where disinformation is abundant and algorithms reinforce echo chambers, leading to increasing polarization. Human rights education is also key in dismantling harmful gender, age, and diversity stereotypes, rooted in imbalances in power and discrimination.

Ten years ago, when the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training was adopted by the General Assembly, UN Member States delivered a strong message. Human rights education and training are not just a nice optional extra, but a priority that should be pursued by the international community and all States.

My Office coordinates the World Programme for Human Rights Education, a global framework for action that complements this Declaration. The programme’s current phase focuses on young people in line with the Secretary-General’s youth strategy (Youth 2030).

We have seen that human rights education can be especially empowering for children and youth, as they begin to explore what it means to be a member of society, respectful of and understanding the views and cultural values of others. Human rights education enables them to fulfil their role as active citizens, as well as to participate in decision-making processes.

Young people today, with their creativity and their ease with technology, have an enormous contribution to make. Across the world, we see young people propelling us forward, demanding climate action, inclusivity, and justice. Online and out there in the world, they are asking for their human rights. Many of them are also protagonists in human rights education, and my Office is working to document their stories. From South Africa to Samoa, from Mexico to Morocco, from Serbia to Japan, we are highlighting the work of educators who empower other young people to advocate for equality, respect, and dignity for all. I am inspired by their courage, commitment, and their unyielding desire to build a better world.

One of our young human rights education champions is from this region-a young woman from Kyrgyzstan. 26-year-old Aizat Ruslanova is educating girls and women across her country to stand up for their rights and combat gender-based violence. She uses art to communicate messages about women’s human rights in a way that resonates. Today, in the midst of so many threats and challenges, young people like Aizat are planting the seeds of a better future.

My Office stands ready to support effective human rights education initiatives. At the national and regional levels, human rights education and training are a regular part of the work of our field presences, including in Central Asia. And at the global level, we are ensuring that countries can share best practices and learn from each other.

I commend the efforts of the Government of Uzbekistan to fulfil its commitments to human rights education and to promote this with other Member States.

I wish all of you a fruitful discussion at this Forum, and I look forward to hearing about your plans to advance human rights education in the years to come.

Thank you

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