Human Rights Day 2019

Today we formally, internationally, observe and recognise this anniversary, commemorating the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR).

The significance of UNDHR in affirming the rights of all human beings across the world continues to be profound.  It resolves to protect the “inherent dignity” of individuals and declares that “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.  Over many decades the UDHR has served as a defence against “tyranny”, “oppression”, and “barbarous acts” which “outrage the conscience of mankind.”  On this important anniversary, therefore, it is essential that we continue to uphold the values and principles enshrined in the declaration and stand against those who would discriminate on the basis of “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion…”

The Centre believes this anniversary and international day provides an appropriate moment to consider the legacy of the Convention and, in particular, its subsequent UN Children’s Rights Charter (UNCRC) that was so influenced by the life and legacy of Janusz Korczak, as well as the challenges and opportunities human rights present us in the present day. Professor Stuart Foster, our Executive Director commented thus:

‘We know from history and our Centre’s work that genocides occur because perpetrators place no value on the rights and humanity of ‘others’. So, it is imperative that we support our teachers and schools to educate for a world in which understanding overcomes ignorance and empathy prevails over brutality.’

We are delighted therefore, as a Centre, to be able to recognise this anniversary by sharing the reflections of Ruth-Anne Lenga, Programme Director, in a special guest blog and the example of some of our partner and Beacon Schools who have embedded human rights in their values, ethos, curriculum and provision.

Teaching and learning about genocide – be it the Holocaust, or those that came before or after it – is not an easy endeavour and it is often underpinned by a human rights agenda: had human rights been championed, respected and valued, the Holocaust and genocides since would not be possible, or made less likely. Here at the Centre we work on daily basis helping to support those who wish to develop their practice and make their students’ encounters with human rights related issues, through the lens of the Holocaust, as meaningful and productive and possible. And, during the course of our work over the last decade, we have seen evidence of truly inspirational teaching and learning. Some of these examples are the product of imaginative and innovative teaching; others have been driven by young people themselves; all are testament to what can be achieved when there is both the will to explore these complex and complicated issues, and the means to do so.

On this Human Rights Day, we would love to share how you/your school are marking the day and what links you are able to make to rights, especially children’s, to the history of the Holocaust. Tweet @UCL_Holocaust  ‘We explore Human/Child Rights in our Holocaust T&L because… we do this by…’ with an accompanying photo of an example and the hashtag #HumanRightsDay and we will help spread the word and champion best practice.

Today, we are very delighted to share some of these examples with you, schools who have been influenced by Korczak’s philosophy and view of the child, committed to human and children’s rights and even become UNICEF Rights Respecting schools, here – their work epitomises the importance and relevance of Human Rights Day:

Manchester Enterprise Academy

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy

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