Our work

Human Rights Education

Te manu ka kai i te miro, nona te ngahere
Te manu ka kai i te matauranga, nona te ao
The bird that eats of the fruit of the forest knows only the forest.
The bird that eats of the tree of knowledge knows the world.

 

Human rights education encourages learning about human rights and how to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, groups and communities. Human Rights Education includes learning about civil and political rights and social, economic, and cultural rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights urges us to recognise, respect, protect, and promote respect for human rights and freedoms. Human rights education provides the knowledge and awareness needed to meet this responsibility.

Human rights education is especially of value to:

  • those who are most vulnerable to human rights violations
  • those who are most able to protect or violate human rights, and who are responsible for upholding human rights
  • those who lead or shape public opinion and have an ability to influence and educate.

What is the Human Rights Commission’s role?

The Commission identified human rights education as a significant way to fulfil its mandate by:

  • being an advocate for human rights and to promote and protect, by education and publicity, respect for, and observance of, human rights;
  • promoting by research, education, and discussion a better understanding of the human rights dimensions of the Treaty of Waitangi and their relationship with domestic and international human rights law.

The Commission has recently launched an online human rights education portal which is freely available to the public. You can view it here

If you have any human rights education queries or requests in the meantime please contact us through infoline.co.nz

Human Rights and You, Ō Tika Tangata: Human Rights Education Online

To make sure as many New Zealanders as possible develop an understanding of human rights – what they are and what they mean – the Commission has just launched an online education programme: Human Rights and You - Ō Tika Tangata.

The portal is open to the public, easy to use, and provides the most comprehensive human rights learning environment in the country. You can learn more here

Definition of human rights education

This definition of Human Rights Education has been developed as part of the review of human rights education in Aotearoa New Zealand being undertaken by the Human Rights Commission Te Kähui Tika Tangata. Individuals and groups contributed to the definition over a period of six months during 2004.

Human Rights Education encourages people to:

  • internalise and apply rights and responsibilities
  • reflect on historical processes that have prevented the realisation of human rights and analyse current structures and systems
  • critically examine human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand prioritise those rights and responsibilities that are most pertinent to a group, community or society apply international human rights standards to local and national realities.
  • Human Rights Education (HRE) is directed toward,
  • “the strengthening of respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms,
  • the full development of the human personality and sense of dignity [mana],
  • the promotion of understanding, recognition, … equality and friendship among [all peoples],
  • the enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society,
  • the furtherance of activities … for the maintenance of peace.”
    (UNHCHR, 1996)

Purpose

The primary functions of the Human Rights Commission are [s5(1)] to,

  • advocate and promote respect for, and observance of, human rights
  • encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society.

Education is identified as a significant means of fulfilling this mandate. The Commission is authorised by its Act [s5(2)], to carry out, among other things, the following functions,

  • to be an advocate for human rights and to promote and protect, by education and publicity, respect for, and observance of, human rights;
  • promote by research, education, and discussion a better understanding of the human rights dimensions of the Treaty of Waitangi and their relationship with domestic and international human rights law.

Education can occur in formal, non-formal or informal contexts. In Aotearoa New Zealand,

  • formal education extends from early childhood education, through primary and secondary school, to tertiary education. It is curriculum-based and includes general academic studies and technical and professional training.
  • non-formal education involves organised educational activity usually outside the formal system. It is designed for specific learning groups with particular learning objectives. Non-formal education can include work-based education and training, and adult and community education.

In contrast informal education is an unorganised and often unintentional lifelong process where individuals acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from their experiences and the educative influences and resources in their environment.

The Human Rights Commission’s HRE review focuses on formal and non-formal educational activity that is intentional, planned, and may be evaluated. The review does recognise, however, that informal learning can also occur alongside organised education activities.

Human Rights Education Principles

The practice of human rights education is consistent with its purpose. Hence the process of human rights education focuses on strengthening respect for the human rights and dignity of participants, and enabling their full and active participation in the learning process. It is,

  • accessible, acceptable, and adaptable
  • learner/participant-centred
  • innovative and adaptable to a wide range of learning environments
  • relevant to the social and cultural context of participants
  • based on the recognition of Mäori as tangata whenua
  • aimed at reflecting on lived experience through a human rights viewpoint
  • encouraging of critical thinking and problem solving
  • directed toward to the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual and cultural needs of participants.

Human Rights Education includes:

  • human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration
  • personal, communal and global human rights
  • domestic human rights legislation, particularly the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993
  • human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi rights of specific marginalised groups mechanisms for addressing human rights grievances.

Human Rights Education encourages people to:

  • internalise and apply rights and responsibilities
  • reflect on historical processes that have prevented the realisation of human rights and analyse current structures and systems
  • critically examine human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand 
  • prioritise those rights and responsibilities that are most pertinent to a group, community or society 
  • apply international human rights standards to local and national realities.

Human Rights Education has similar practices and approaches to other forms of education (such as peace, environment, civics, Treaty of Waitangi, union, health, and development education). It needs to be recognised, however, as distinct from them in its substance.

Taku Manawa - Building human rights communities

Taku Manawa (My Human Rights) is an initiative through which the Human Rights Commission works with communities to promote human rights. It uses a human rights community development approach to engage with a particular community over a period of at least three years.

The Commission works with individuals, organisations and agencies in the community to identify the human rights issues they consider to be of greatest importance to them. These groups then nominate people who they think are best able to address these human rights issues by participating in the programme.

Outcomes of Taku Manawa

The Commission has been undertaking human rights community development work since 2003. Since the initiative began:

  • 74 community participants from diverse backgrounds have become Taku  Manawa human rights workers
  •  participants have represented 82 organisations
  • four regional human rights networks have been formed
  • over 400 community-based activities have been reported to the Commission, ranging from relatively straightforward events to those that are more complex, such as whole community events.

You can read: Taku Manawa- Building human rights communities (PDF) here. (Word Version and HTML Version).

You can read the Taku Manawa summary document here.

Building human rights communities in education

Building human rights communities in education is a collaborative initiative for better education and citizenship – through the development of schools and early childhood education centres as learning communities that explore, promote, and live human rights and responsibilities. The Commission is a key partner in this project, visit their website to find out more.

A publication was produced supporting this initiative and introduces the concept of early childhood education centres and schools as human rights communities. This is available in PDF and Word.

Human Rights Education: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions

The Commission has contributed to a human rights education resource published by the Asia Pacific Forum (APF). This professional training resource will work to support the work of human rights educators in their vital work to empower individuals and communities and promote social change.

Human Rights Education: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions draws together principles and practice that are essential to effective human rights education.

It provides a  theoretical framework to assist NHRIs with the design, delivery and evaluation of all types of human rights education, from professional training programs for police and law enforcement officials through to community development initiatives.

The manual features a broad range of case studies from NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region, as well as a range of practical tools and techniques that human rights educators can adapt for a variety of settings.

It also includes chapters looking specifically at education human rights education for children and young people, human rights education in conflict and post-conflict situations and the role of the media in building community awareness of human rights.

“National human rights institutions (NHRIs) have a crucial role to play in advancing human rights education in their countries,” said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

“This work represents a powerful, long-term investment in building understanding and respect for human rights among a broad range of stakeholders and, ultimately, in promoting fairer and more just societies,” he said.

“We hope that this resource provides human rights educators with a valuable toolkit to implement programs that make a genuine difference.”

The manual was written by Dr Jillian Chrisp, the Human Rights Network Manager, with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. Dr Chrisp has undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in education and has worked as an educator in New Zealand and internationally for a number of years.

APF Human Rights Education Video Toolkit

A new video resource launched this month by the APF explores the key steps in developing and leading effective human rights education programs.

The resource complements the Human Rights Education: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions and aims to support human rights educators in their vital work to empower individuals and communities and promote social change.

Featuring senior human rights educators from a broad range of APF members, Life Lessons is a series of short videos that discuss:

There are also a range of case studies available: 

APF video resource on human rights of women and girls

The APF has recently published a video resource on NHRIs and their work to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls.

The series looks at a range of important topics including:

It includes a number of case studies and examples of good practice from NHRIs across the region, including the national inquiry on rape and "honour killings" conducted by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. 

The video resource complements the APF manual on the human rights of women and girls (available in English, Arabic and Tetum) and will be used in our training program with member institutions.

Bullying in the Workplace training resource

Bullying is a difficult issue to deal with in the workplace. The Commission has produced a training kit that looks at what workplace bullying is, what the law says, and examines the costs to employers. Read more here.

APF Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex manual for NHRIs

The APF-UNDP manual explores how NHRIs can work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities and better advocate for their rights. Read it here