Thursday, 30 August 2012

International Day of the Disappeared - 30 August 2012

Amnesty International Press release
29 August 2012

Some 14,000 people remain unaccounted for in the countries that make up the former Yugoslavia – nearly half of the total number who disappeared in the decade since war broke out in 1991.

Between 1991 and 2001, a total of 34,700 people were reported missing due to enforced disappearances or abductions in the region. The majority of their relatives are still waiting for justice.

In a briefing published today on the International Day of the Disappeared, The right to know: Families still left in the dark in the Balkans, Amnesty International calls on the authorities in the Balkans to investigate enforced disappearances – crimes under international law – and to ensure the victims and their families receive access to justice and reparations.

“People living in the Balkans have not closed the chapter on enforced disappearances. They are a daily source of pain for the relatives still waiting to learn the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones, still searching for truth, justice and reparation,” said Jezerca Tigani, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director.

“The victims of enforced disappearances come from all ethnic groups and from all walks of life. Civilians and soldiers, men, women and children – their families have the right to know the truth about the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and the result of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person. For families of the disappeared, having the body returned for burial is the first step towards achieving justice.”

“The governments must ensure that all victims and their families have access to justice and receive, without further delay, adequate and effective reparation for the harm they have suffered.”

The briefing highlights cases of enforced disappearances and abductions in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia and Kosovo. All six governments have failed to abide by their international legal obligations to effectively investigate and prosecute these crimes.

Some perpetrators have been brought to justice by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), but the Tribunal is nearing the end of its mandate.

Domestic courts are slow to abide by their responsibility to seek out, identify and prosecute the remaining perpetrators.

“The lack of investigations and prosecutions of enforced disappearances and abductions remains a serious concern throughout the Balkans,” said Jezerca Tigani.  

“The major obstacle to tackling impunity and bringing the perpetrators to justice is a persistent lack of political will in all countries of the region.”

Of the 6,406 people reported as missing after the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, it has been possible to establish the fate of 4,084. More than 2,300 people remain missing, of which 1,735 are Croatian citizens. In the last two years the fate of only 215 missing people has been revealed and the remains of approximately 900 bodies await forensic identification.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Out of a population of 3.4 million at the end of the conflict in 1995 an estimated 30,000 people were reported as missing. The fate of an estimated 10,500 people, most of whom are Bosnian Muslims remains unknown. The families of more than 7,000 people, deliberately and arbitrarily killed in 1995 in the Srebrenica genocide, are still waiting for justice and reparation. Many alleged perpetrators continue to live in the same communities as their victims and their families.

For a decade after the 2001 armed conflict between the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army and the Macedonian security forces, the authorities failed to effectively investigate allegations of enforced disappearance.

No adequate measures had been taken to investigate the cases of six ethnic Albanians believed to be the victims of enforced disappearances by the Macedonian Ministry of Interior police during the armed conflict.

Relatives have challenged a decision by the Macedonian parliament in 2011 which effectively ended the investigation of four war crimes cases returned from the ICTY for prosecution in Macedonia, by extending the provisions of a 2002 Amnesty Law. This included the investigation of the abduction of 12 ethnic Macedonians and one Bulgarian national, allegedly by the Albanian National Liberation Army

In May 1992, some 83 Bosniak civilians, who had fled the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were arrested in Montenegro and transferred back across the border where they were transferred into the hands of Bosnian Serb forces. Twenty one men from the group are believed to have been killed in a prison camp in Foèa, in the Republika Srpska. The fate of at least 34 of them remains unknown.

In March 2011, nine former police officers and government officials were acquitted on charges of war crimes related to the enforced disappearances of these individuals on the basis that there was no armed conflict in Montenegro in 1992. In 2012 the verdict, which failed to reflect international humanitarian law, was overturned after an appeal by relatives of the disappeared. A retrial opened in 2012.

Serbia and Kosovo
Some 3,600 people were reported as missing in Kosovo during the 1998-9 armed conflict and in its immediate aftermath. They include more than 3,000 ethnic Albanian victims of enforced disappearances by Serbian military, police and paramilitary forces. They also include Serbs, Roma and members of minority communities (an estimated 600), who are believed to have been abducted by Kosovo Albanians, including the Kosovo Liberation Army.

An estimated 1,797 remain unaccounted for. Families in both Kosovo and Serbia are still waiting for the bodies of their relatives to be exhumed, identified and returned to them for burial. Even where the bodies have been found and returned to their families, few of the perpetrators of these enforced disappearances and abductions have been brought to justice.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Citizenship Foundation: Call for partners in the Youth in Action programme

The EC has launched two calls for proposals under the „Youth in Action‟ programme. The first call aims at encouraging „Innovation and Equality‟. It seeks to support projects targeting the introduction, implementation and promotion of innovative and qualitative elements in non-formal education and youth work. These innovative aspects may relate to: the content and objectives, in line with the development of the European co-operation framework in the youth field and the priorities of the „Youth in Action‟ programme; and/or, the methodology applied, bringing new ideas and approaches to the field of non-formal education and youth. ISSUE: EI 08:12 – AUGUST 2012 17

The second call for proposals for „Youth Support Systems‟ aims at supporting partnerships with regional or local public bodies or other stakeholders active in the youth sector at European level in order to develop over the long-term projects which combine various measures of the „Youth in Action‟ programme. This mechanism aims at encouraging synergies and co-operation between the EC, via the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, and the different actors working in the field of youth by pooling resources and practices with a view to maximising the impact of the programme and to reaching out to a higher number of beneficiaries.)

Citizenship Foundation is looking to form international partnerships and  would be interested in joining proposals of any DARE members and beyond. Any info would be useful.
please contact:

Monday, 20 August 2012

DARE European Focus Meeting (and GA) "The Effects and Challenges of the Economical Crisis on NGO´s, Rome 8th-9th October 2012

Dear members of the DARE Network,

Twenty years ago HRE/EDC was something new, developing. In the meantime it has progressed to an important integral part of almost all European intergovernmental organizations and their programmes. Along with that development and support grew the number of INGOs, national NGOs, networks and successful HRE/EDC programmes all over Europe. HRE/EDC became part of formal education policies in all European countries, and – according to the second phase of the UN World HRE Programme - it is making its way into universities and civil servants sector. DARE Network, as the biggest European NGO network in HRE/EDC, is itself an outcome of this process of growth.

The financial and economic crisis has affected the entire EU. Many countries have implemented austerity measures with spending cuts on public health services, unemployment and welfare benefits, social security and housing benefits, legal aid, etc. This has led to an increased burden on civil society organisations: reduced budgets but increased demand for services.

The situation in many countries around Europe is dramatically changing; growing economical crises, deconstruction of the social state and new challenges to existing democracies make HRE/EDC more needed than ever. Will this mean more efforts on the EDC/HRE, more programmes, more funds? The recent development in the sector gives NGOs, from the smallest to the biggest ones, many reasons for concern.

How to survive and continue good practices on HRE/EDC field with less and less grant opportunities? With less and less support from national states? With the fact that HRE/EDC somehow loosing the gained status in educational programmes? Many of these concerns were sensed by DARE Network in the previous year and also reacted upon.

DARE´s European Focus Meeting “The Effects and Challenges of the Economical Crisis on NGO’s” will be held 8-9 October in Rome and aims to not only put the actual above mentioned concerns on the HRE/EDC agenda, but to open the floor for the search of new, alternative ways of financing our activities, for maintaining sustainability of existing good practices, for securing HRE/EDC presence European-wide also in forthcoming challenging years.

Draft Program:

8th oct 2012

Afternoon Check in at the Hotel Don Bosco Hotel ("Sacro Cuore", close to Termini Train Station)
6 p.m. evening reception and DARE General Assembly

9th oct 2012

9:00      Keynote inputs: Luisa Brunori (Grameen, Italia ); Carlotta Sami (AI, Italia) tbc
coffee brak
10.30 -12   Working groups on:

• Low and no-budget projects
• Funding from non-governmental sources
• Volunteering
• New forms of cooperation with governmental/inter-governmental agencies
• Social enterprise models

12-1p.m. Closing session,  recommendations and lunch

For any inputs to the Working groups DARE will reimburse accommodation and travel costs (up to 250 €) for DARE members.

The Focus meeting is open to external participants, too.
All travel directions will be send to you soon.

For further information please directly contact Georg Pirker

Apply for the COE EDC/HRE Charter Evaluation conference!

The COE Youth directorate is also launching a call for applications for the Conference “ Human rights and democracy in action – Looking ahead” will take place in Strasbourg, 29-30 November 2012. The Conference will take stock of the progress achieved, gather main stakeholders and give guidance for the action of the Council of Europe in human rights education. The Conference will be instrumental in shaping the work of the Council of Europe in human rights and citizenship education in the next years.

The conference will be preceeded by two events: an informal meeting organised for the Youth Department participants and the first edition of the Janusz Korczak seminar on ‘Democracy and education’, both taking place in the European Youth Centre Strasbourg.

The conference will bring together more than 200 participants, out of which 50 will be selected by the Youth Department. The call for participants is attached and available in both English and French, see attached.

In order to have DARE members represented at the conference please consider:
The dead-line for applications is 15 September, and the application forms are available on  in English and French.

For further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us at


Anca-Ruxandra Pandea
Educational Advisor
Education and Training Division
Council of Europe -Youth Department
European Youth Centre Budapest

Phone: +36 1 4381032 Email:

Your contribution and participation needed to further EDC/HRE

Survey on current state of the COE Charter on EDC/HRE!
Two years ago, the Council of Europe adopted the Charter on education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, marking a turning point for human rights educators and defenders in Europe and beyond. The Charter is an important step forward in mainstreaming human rights education in both formal and non-formal education, and aims to be a real support for both governments and non-governmental partners in making access to EDC/HRE a reality for us all.

Today, the COE Youth department is launching a survey among non-governmental partners (youth organisations, human rights organisations, student associations, parents and teachers associations, etc.) to gather their input on the impact of the Charter in these past years and to have a basis to evaluate the ways to go further.

The survey is open until 15 September 2012 and available in English and French on Youth Department platform:

Access the survey on

For further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact the COE YOUTH DIRECTORATE at

Anca-Ruxandra Pandea
Educational Advisor
Education and Training Division
Council of Europe -Youth Department
European Youth Centre Budapest

Phone: +36 1 4381032 Email:

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Social Competence - E-Learning - Human Rights Education

A new study dealing with the question if social competences can be taught via e-learning has just been published. Human rights education is used as example:

Sandra Reitz: Improving Social Competence via E-Learning? The Example of Human Rights Education, Frankfurt/Main et al. 2012.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Rio +20: Educating for the Future

During the recent Rio +20 Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) from 20-22 June, I presented on a panel on educating for sustainable development called "The Future We Create", which HREA co-organised with Soka Gakkai International, Centre for Environment Education (CEE), CSD Education Caucus, and Inter Press Service (IPS). Below are some observations on how the human rights education movement has used the international framework to advance human rights education.

Frank Elbers, Executive Director, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA): Thank you for inviting me as a relative outsider you could say.  Although human rights and the human rights framework addresses sustainable development and development and the environment, it really doesn’t focus on it.  I feel honored to be here tonight and talk a little bit about the experiences that we have in human rights education.  I also feel somewhat in a surprising position here because usually people do not come to us and say, “well we would love to hear and to learn about your experience.”  When Hiro approached me he said “you, meaning human rights educators, you already have a UN Decade for Human Rights Education that you already completed over eight years ago.  And you now have a World Programme for Human Rights Education.”  When he said that, I realized that is so very true.  That’s not to say that a framework like the UN Decade is sort of an absolute requisite for environmental education for sustainable development to happen.  Both of you have already highlighted various things that are already happening and have been happening for decades.

Thank you Pam for reminding us and going back to 1972, which is actually very interesting in that in human rights education in the 70s, similar initiatives were already being undertaken.  It took some time for them to actually get some traction, but they were there.  The main defining document of human rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948 by the UN General Assembly, after WWII.  One of the main stipulations in that document that also followed in treaties afterwards, and human rights treaties that addressed all kinds of human rights issues, was the importance of education, the importance of everyone knowing about their rights.  The importance of the full enjoyment of human life was also very much emphasized in these documents. 

The UN declared the UN Decade for Human Rights Education in 1995, which was almost two decades ago.  It really led to a whole range of activities globally, north, south, east, west, the governmental sector, intergovernmental sector, NGOs, civil society organizations, community based organizations, and, of course, the education sector, mainly in the formal schooling sector.  The UN put out a number of very practical guidelines on how to approach human rights education, what are the underlying values, what are some of the examples of curricula, what are some resources that you can use.  That is one of the successes going back to one of the questions you had asked:what are the successes of this decade? There are many more resources available.  For those people, those educators, those community leaders who wanted to bring human rights to the classroom and human rights to communities.

Another success was that through that UN Decade for Human Rights Education, a coalition, even a movement, was started, which is different from the human rights movement in general.  I think it is also different from the environmental movement, which is so broad.  There really was such a thing as a human rights education movement that was created by many people that would call themselves human rights educators.  Whether they were teachers in secondary schools, or elementary schools, or whether they were professors at institutes of higher education, or whether they were trainers of law enforcement who also need to be aware of the human rights and the various international standards, the human rights standards that exist.  That was definitely another success and that actually led to some of the follow up.

When we look at some of the downsides, the failures of this UN Decade -- there were definitely not enough resources, not enough materials.  There were teaching and learning materials in various languages, but not enough.  Not every teacher who wanted to bring human rights to the classroom had the resources that he or she was looking for. 

Another thing, which I think is a lesson learned, was there really was no monitoring mechanism.  We really were working with anecdotal evidence.  There was no baseline.  Governments reported annually to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on what they had done in human rights based on a checklist saying okay, do you have a curriculum?  What’s happening when you are teaching in these institutions?  What is happening in terms of training and humanitarian law in the armed forces?  What do you do with other government officials like law enforcement officials and teachers?  But it was all very spotty, anecdotal and also most of these questionnaires were never returned.  That was definitely a failure, and at the time a lesson learned.

Finally, there was basically an implementation gap, which means that there were a lot of resources, there were a lot of materials, a lot of support and policies in place, but we didn’t quite know how much was actually happening in the classroom or in the community centers, or in police academies. The record of ten years of human rights education, sort of being under the lime light at the international level, was rather mixed. 

We are now under the World Programme for Human Rights Education which started in 1995, at the end of the UN Decade.  That really continues to put human rights education on the agenda, on the agenda of the UN, on the agenda of various governments, but also regional, intergovernmental organizations like the Organization of American States, the various regional organizations in Europe like the Council of Europe, and to a lesser extent in Africa and Asia. 

The World Programme really means that governments still need to report on their responsibility to aid, educate, and train anyone who are so-called duty bearers, so anyone who has a responsibility to uphold, to defend and to respect human rights i.e. government officials.  They still report out on that in a much more accurate manner than they used to under the Decade.  It also means that there is still a movement of educators that can really refer to this World Programme, when they are trying to do something in their communities, or when they are trying to go to the Ministry of Education and say something like “we really want to do something in our community on human rights and human rights education.”  Therefore, in that respect, this World Programme is really useful.

Finally, the World Programme and the preceding Decade for Human Rights Education has actually led to the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training last December by the UN General Assembly in NY.  That Declaration doesn’t actually mean that human rights education is part of international law, but it has some quite strong language about the importance of human rights in curricula, in learning in general, in life-long learning.  Learning is an on-going process.  

There is actually one more step that needs to be taken.  And that is to mainstream human rights education.  What I mean by that is to not only look at human rights education as only the education.  Kartikeya also referred to this in that ESD has a “for” in between, it’s not just human rights as a subject matter.  In fact there is no room in the curriculum.  Every time that I hear people mention education, they always tell me “well, we are into traffic education, then we have life-skills education, and we have do environmental education, not to mention that we have history, social studies, science, math and what have you.  So please don’t come with human rights education on top of that.”  It is really more values based.  It really needs to be cross-curricular.  It needs to be much more coordinated.  I think that is also very much true for education for sustainable development.  It’s not just a subject matter.  It’s a way of thinking.  It’s a values model that everyone needs to take responsibility for.  That is one way of mainstreaming human rights education.

The second way is actually through the, not perfect, but existing UN system.  I can say that here.  The human rights system actually has a reporting system in which countries have to either report on treaties, human rights treaties that they have ratified, that they adhere to or because some other mechanism, but what these countries could do.  We actually try to do that with coalitions, and try to encourage them that what they actually have to do is to report on what is actually happening in their countries in human rights education.  What are you doing as the government of India or the government of the United States to actually promote human rights values, to learners, be it the young learners, the youth or continuing education learners? 

I’m going to wrap up with a little anecdote that I use to underline one important aspect, which is: be patient.  My organization was established in the year that the UN Decade for Human Rights Education was proclaimed in 1995.  We at the time thought "well, after the Decade we can dissolve ourselves because the work will be done, human rights education will have gained traction and will be everywhere, and accessible to everyone".  That was somewhat mistaken, somewhat optimistic.  It could be youthful ignorance, but I guess the message that I try to get across is that we really need to be patient.  ESD was first mentioned in 1972, at the Stockholm Conference.   This is a long-term process and we need to continue to fight, we need to continue to push for education being about sustainable development or human rights.  Thank you.

Friday, 10 August 2012

CFA open! Workshop: European Regime Changes, Berlin, 3-9 Feb 2013

Call for Applications:
Workshop “European transitions from dictatorship to democracy in the late 1980ies”
Berlin, February 3-9, 2013

The workshop is open to adult applicants of all ages and educational backgrounds with a permanent residency in one of the 27 EU member states, plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

Application deadline is Oct 15, 2012.

Click here for more information and online application form.

The one-week workshop focuses on the political transitions in the late 1980ies in Europe and its repercussions. Participants will share their own experiences and discuss with eyewitnesses and experts. During the workshop the participants play a regime change simulation that is based in a fictitious country transitioning from dictatorship to democracy.
Costs for accommodation and group meals during the workshop will be covered. Travel costs will be reimbursed up to 250 Euro. Need-based individual exceptions may be negotiated.

Contact: Anne Stalfort, Humanity in Action Germany, a.stalfort(at)

The workshop is funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Program, Grundtvig Workshop no. 2012-1-DE2-GRU13-11280