The Right to Know Our Rights: International law obligations to ensure international human rights education and training

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The Right to Know Our Rights outlines the international law obligations on States to ensure that everyone has access to education and training about their international human rights so that they develop sufficient facility to use the treaties to advocate on behalf of themselves and others in their communities.

Essential human rights education includes learning about:

  • substantive rights in international human rights treaties and other standards;
  • mechanisms by which international human rights are enforced internationally and nationally — including in local courts and tribunals.

The 120-page report also assesses availability of international human rights education and training in BC and concludes that the province falls well-short of its obligations to ensure international human rights education and training. It was prepared by LRWC with support from the Law Foundation of British Columbia.

See the full report online (pdf) 120 pages | Report Table of Contents | Human Rights Education Links and Resources | LRWC Human Rights Education and Training Portal

The Right to Know Our Rights: Table of Contents

Executive Summary iii

Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Purpose and scope of this report 2
Summary of research methods 3
Contributors to the research 3

Chapter 2:The fundamental importance of human rights education: The international consensus 5
Why is international human rights education important? 6
What is “Human Rights Education”? 8

Chapter 3: The State duty to provide IHRET: Obligations of BC 11
Emergence of consensus: A historical overview 11
UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) 12
World Programme for Human Rights Education (2005 – ongoing) 12
Harmonized guidelines for States’ Periodic Reports to Treaty Bodies (2006) 14
Drafting of the Declaration on HRET (2007-2011) 14
The process of human rights making and implementing treaties: An overview with emphasis on obligations of Canada’s Provinces 15
BC’s responsibility to implement international human rights 16
Treaty bodies 17
How human rights treaties become part of Canadian law 18
United Nations Instruments 19
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 22
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 22
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 26
International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 27
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment 29
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 33
Convention on the Rights of the Child 34
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 41
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) 42
National Human Rights Institutions: The Paris Principles 45
UN Declaration on human rights defenders 48
Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers 50
Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training 50
The right to human rights education 51
The International Labour Organization 55
Inter-American Human Rights System 55

Chapter 4: How does British Columbia measure up? 59
Criteria for assessing human rights education in BC 59
International Human Rights Education and Training in BC 60
BC Primary and Secondary Schools 62
Higher education in BC 67
Other BC government initiatives 69
Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of BC 68
BC Human Rights Tribunal 70
Education of police working in British Columbia 71
Education and knowledge of judges and lawyers in BC 73
Non-governmental organizations 87
Concern about marginalization of IHRETin BC 89
How does human rights education increase adherence to human rights? 90

Chapter 5: Conclusions and recommendations 95
Recommendations for the BC government 97
Provincial Plan of Action on IHRET pursuant to the WPHRE 97
Provincial Human Rights Institution and the Paris Principles 99
Recommendations for municipal governments 99
Recommendations regarding education of Judges and Lawyers 99
Recommendations for BC non-governmental organizations 100
Appendix 1: Dissemination of this report 101
Appendix 2: University programs or courses 102
Appendix 3: BC organizations conducting domestic HRET 104
Appendix 4: Organizations conducting IHRET in BC 106
References 112

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