Specific target groups

While priorities have to be set according to the needs of each country, human rights responsibilities are integral to the work of some groups. These include government officials (in particular, those working in education and in the administration of justice: the judiciary, police and corrections), the business sector and the media.

Human rights education should also be aimed toward empowering particular sector groups who experience disadvantage in terms of their human rights.

A report by the Ministry of Justice in 2000 noted that:

Policies which respect and reflect human rights are more likely to be inclusive, equitable, robust, durable and of good quality. Critically, such policies will also be less vulnerable to domestic and international challenges. Accordingly, domestic and international human rights provisions should inform or animate all relevant policy. For this to occur, human rights need to be taken into account early in the policy making process. Thus one needs appropriately trained officials operating good processes that are informed by reliable data (para. 207).

The report also comments that departments should ensure that officials are provided with an appropriate level of training and development in relation to human rights (at para. 225). There has not been any comprehensive survey of the levels of knowledge that government officials have about human rights, nor of the extent of public sector training in human rights.

A priority group for human rights education is those people who have statutory powers to deprive people of their liberty, including powers of arrest and detention. Consultation participants considered that human rights training was needed for all officials working in the area of public safety. The corollary was that such education was also needed for non-governmental agencies working in the same areas to ensure that they were able to assist individuals contacting them for assistance.

With regard to officials working in the justice sector, New Zealand 's report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (2002) stated that education on the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 is included in the training and information given to police and prison officers.

In response to amendments to the Human Rights Act in 2001 (which gave new powers for people to complain about discrimination in law, policy and practice) the Ministry of Justice has had responsibility for promoting and supporting the mainstreaming of human rights considerations in the development of government policy. The Ministry leads an inter-departmental group to give effect to this work and has published guidelines to assist policy makers.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2003) has produced a handbook on international human rights, and the State Services Commission (2003) has issued guidelines on Creating a positive work environment: Respect and safety in the public service.

The Human Rights Commission has developed a comprehensive training programme to assist the public sector to incorporate human rights standards into policy development, employment and service delivery. The Making Human Rights Work programme has been delivered to a large range of government agencies (HRC & OHRP, 2003). Acceptance has varied among agencies, but there has been a gradual increase in some of awareness and understanding of human rights beyond consideration of human rights in terms of equal employment opportunities and legal compliance.

New Zealand Defence Force

Following a gender integration audit in 1998 (the Burton Report), the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has undertaken human rights education of both its military and civilian personnel. Training has focused on equal employment opportunity and the elimination of discrimination and harassment (Human Rights Commission, 2000). A review of the implementation of the Burton Report is currently under way. Two branches of the NZDF - the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Navy - have won EEO Trust Work and Life Awards for their initiatives. In addition, the NZDF trains all armed forces personnel on the prohibition against torture (United Nations Committee Against Torture, 2002), and has also introduced anti-homophobia training.

New Zealand Police and New Zealand Immigration Service

Many people who gave their views in the consultation considered that more training was needed for police and immigration authorities (along with employers, teachers and health professionals), particularly in dealing with diverse groups in the community such as disabled people and ethnic groups. One comment was that police needed to be 'trained in matters of civil liberty so they do not abuse their position of power' (Hamerton & Fowler, 2004b, p.22).

Participants noted particular difficulties in dealing with immigration authorities. Some said that officers were uncommunicative and unhelpful, or that they themselves lacked information about their rights or how to proceed.

Some positive steps have already been taken to provide human rights education to officials in these areas. For example, the New Zealand Police has a training module for all new recruits and senior members that aims to improve service to gay and lesbian people.

The business sector

Many organisations in the business sector provide human rights training for their staff. Resources to support businesses are available - one such example is the Department of Labour's Employers' Guide to Employment Rights. The Human Rights Commission provides limited education to small and medium-sized businesses. It has also prepared guidelines for avoiding acts and practices that may be inconsistent with the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1993. Recent examples include guidelines on health insurance and on the avoidance of pregnancy discrimination in employment (HRC & OHRP, 2003).

Many trade unions have an active programme of training for delegates on workers' rights.

The EEO Trust actively supports members in regard to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. A number of people in the consultation felt that some employers did not know their obligations, and took advantage of workers such as young people and migrants who do not know their rights.

Participants called for employers to be educated on human rights to counter discrimination in the workplace and in obtaining jobs. This education should include information about relevant legislation, diverse cultural groups, gay and lesbian issues, disability and mental health. One group suggested 'cultural awareness days' at work, and several others proposed cultural awareness training for both employers and employees.

Programmes to stop workplace bullying were suggested, as this was seen to impinge on people's rights to good and safe working conditions and freedom from discrimination.

In the area of housing, education on rights relating to tenancy was mentioned. Housing to meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities so they could be part of the community was also suggested. Part of this was a perceived need for community education to 'replace ignorance and arrogance with understanding and good spirit' (Hamerton & Fowler, 2004a, p.165).

The media

There is no broad-based human rights education for the New Zealand media. Training does generally include consideration of freedom of expression and some BoRA issues. However, news values can conflict with other human rights. For example, race relations news is often reported negatively in terms of conflict or 'bad news' rather than positively in terms of participation or achievement.

Consultation participants considered that the media had a key role to play in people's lives. While the media were viewed by many as part of the problem in terms of portraying negative stereotypes of minority groups, others saw them as part of the solution. Many considered that the power of the media to influence people's views and attitudes could be used in a positive way, through a more balanced portrayal of the issues or through advertising campaigns.

The development of Maori media (television, radio and print) has contributed to balance in the media's portrayal of race relations. However, for the New Zealand media to accurately report on disadvantaged groups and increase public awareness of human rights requires a greater commitment to incorporating human rights education in journalism training and in continuing education in the newsroom.

Training in relation to specific groups

Action for Children & Youth Aotearoa (2003) has noted that children's awareness of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is very limited, partly because teaching about it in schools is limited and partly through lack of promotion in media that are popular and accessible to children and young people.

There is a strong call from children and young people themselves for human rights education. At a Symposium on Children's Rights in February 2004, 150 young people (aged 11-19) from around New Zealand reported that too many of New Zealand youth are falling through the cracks of society because they are unaware of their rights. They wanted education on rights in schools, including education on the responsibilities that come with them, and on human rights organisations. Particular interest was expressed in education on rights relating to the law and employment (Biddulph, 2004).

"Children don't always know that they are being treated unfairly and they can easily feel alone and trapped. We need to be aware of our rights and have help if one should need it"
13-17 year old survey respondent

The New Zealand Disability Strategy contains key actions to address the objective of 'ensuring rights for disabled people'. Key actions to achieve this include 'providing information for everyone about the rights of disabled people', 'providing education to ensure that disabled people understand their rights, recognize discrimination and are able to be self-advocates', and 'educating agencies responsible for supporting children and families about the rights and abilities of disabled parents' (Minister for Disability Issues, 2001). The strategy requires all government departments to develop action plans for how the objective will be implemented, although information on progress is not yet available.

Initiatives in relation to other specific groups are more limited in their scope. For example, plans to educate older people and women on their rights and to improve the attitudes of others toward them focused on discrimination and harassment in employment (Ministry of Social Development, 2003; Ministry of Women's Affairs, 2002). Pacific peoples are said to need access to information and education to enable them to exercise their rights in relation to legal services and the courts (Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, 1999). Consultation participants also called for greater education of new migrants about their rights and about the Treaty of Waitangi.

Evaluation of impact

Research aimed at developing high-quality indicators for measuring the impact of human rights education activities should be supported. In particular, it is useful to conduct high-quality evaluations to examine how effective human rights education programmes have been in the long term, how people's lives or school environments changed, and how behaviours have been affected.

While there is a great deal of descriptive information about human rights education, there is very little evaluation of its impact. Individual organisations do evaluations of their own human rights education programmes. The Human Rights Commission is developing a template for identifying and measuring the effectiveness of its interventions (HRC & OHRP, 2003). An evaluation of its Tu Tikanga programme for disabled people has also been undertaken.

Long-term evaluation of human rights education appears to be non-existent and the development of high-quality indicators for effective human rights education is also very limited.