Thursday, 17 June 2010

Letter from the Chair

Dear DARE Network members, friends and colleagues,

This Spring has brought some interesting political and policy initiatives to promote EDC and HRE.

The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the European Union recently conducted a human rights education "stakeholder consultation" in order to determine in what specific areas FRA should became active. The consultation resulted in eight key strategic objectives for the FRA to consider. (You can read more about the FRA stakeholder consultation in a separate article in this issue of e-DARE.) Three of the recommended areas that were identified as needing attention confirm the importance of the advocacy, policy and research that our network is involved in: the promotion of effective HRE policy, prioritisation and capacity building at a European level; the promotion of integration of human rights education into European Commission funding programmes to support HRE initiatives and training for professional groups; and the improvement of knowledge of current HRE practice in Europe through research and dissemination. FRA intends to establish a consultative body of HRE experts in the development and targeting of FRA’s HRE activities, a fourth recommendation, that DARE is expected to be a member of.

Last month, the Council of Europe member states adopted the Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education. The Charter provides an important policy framework for the future of EDC and HRE in Europe. DARE members gave significant input to the development of the Charter and we have promoted it at several European fora over the past years, including the European Parliament. The Charter underlines, among other things, the importance of monitoring & evaluation mechanisms at the national level to measure impact, and calls on governments to make more resources available for EDC and HRE. It also acknowledges the important role the NGO sector and civil society play in EDC and HRE, both in the formal and non-formal education systems.

Finally, this Spring the draft UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training was moved to a next stage by the Human Rights Council. The Declaration is expected to enhance commitment to human rights education by UN member states and send a message that human rights education is a crucial tool to prevent human rights violations and to realise a global culture of human rights. At the same time the Declaration would codify human rights education as a human right. Again, DARE provided substantial input into the last version of the draft, which is expected to be finalised later this year.

I hope many of you will be able to attend the General Assembly in Vilnius (3 July) during which some of these trends in EDC and HRE policies will be taken up when we discuss DARE's strategic plan for the years to come.

Wishing you a wonderful summer,

Frank Elbers