The Swedish Human Rights Forum

Important That Sweden Doesn’t Slide Backwards in Terms of Human Rights, says Pillay

Hundreds of people are gathering in Gothenburg this week for the Swedish Human Rights Forum, the largest venue for human rights in Scandinavia.

RWI’s director Morten Kjaerum joined the opening of the forum with Navi Pillay, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN.

“It’s very important that Sweden doesn’t slide backwards in terms of human rights, because then all of Africa will also very likely follow suit because they have just developed their protections,” said Pillay, who comes from South Africa. “This is an important reason why you need to use the international human rights tools to advance human rights here in Sweden.”

Participants have come from far and wide around Scandinavia and other countries for the two-day forum. Representatives from local, national and regional governments, many high school students, as well as NGO’s, human rights activists, and even people working in hospitals and with youth, are attending the many seminars, workshops, and discussions.

“Human rights is key in the fight against racism, islamophobia and anti-Semitism because it creates the framework for the very dialogue between all of us,” Kjaerum said during the kick-off of the forum. “Human rights are the values that we actually base the global dialogue between all of us upon. It is crucial to constantly insist on human rights compliance, because if we can’t agree on the human rights then we can agree on very little.”

The theme of this year’s Swedish Human Rights Forum is racism, and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute is hosting a number of panel discussions and representatives are participating in several workshops.

Human Rights Education

AmelieOne of those panel discussions today will focus on Human Rights Education. We sat down with Amelie Sällfors, RWI Programme Officer, for more information.

Describe the panel and the topic of the debate.

The panel will focus on Human Rights Education and how it can be used as an effective tool to contribute to human rights change in society.

Through the panel, examples and perspectives will be presented from different countries with specific focus on Malaysia and Turkey. The panel will take its starting point from the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training. It will be explained how education can be carried out about human rights and the values that underpin them, through human rights applying learning and teaching in a way that respects both learners and educators, and for human rights by empowering learners to enjoy and exercise their rights.

From Malaysia we will listen to how Human Rights Education can contribute to change through the work of the Human Rights Commission in Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and how Human Rights Education is applied with for example law enforcement, primary schools and indigenous people.

panelhreFrom Turkey we will learn more about how Human Rights Education can be carried out through the methods of Clinical Legal Education and how these methods can be used to address racism and discrimination. RWI will also share examples of how we work with Human Rights Education as a method to change attitudes and contribute to change in society, exemplified through the capacity development programmes in the different parts of the world we are operating in.

The panelists are:
Malaysia: Simon Karunagarum, Deputy Secretary, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Malaysia, and fellow at RWI in the Regional Asia Programme
Turkey: Kiwilcim Turanli, Director Legal Clinic, Faculty of Law, Anadolu University, Turkey
RWI: Amelie Sällfors, Programme Officer, Department of International Programmes, RWI
The discussion is moderated by Abigal Booth, Head of RWI’s Asia Unit.

Why is this important to discuss?

In order to have a society that is based on human rights and human rights principles, it is necessary for individuals not only to gain knowledge and skills on how to promote and protect human rights, but also, and equally important, to allow a change of individual attitudes and behaviors. Hence, through Human Rights Education, important principles such as equality, non-discrimination, respect and participation, and their applications, can be discussed. Through this panel, we will also illustrate the transformative power of Human Rights Education and share perspectives of applying this method as a tool for addressing different kinds of human rights violations in society.

Why is this important to discuss now?

We live in a society today of growing inequalities and where our values are put to the test. In this context it is important to address and discuss attitudes and values in our society. One concrete way of doing this is to use the framework of Human Rights Education since values and attitudes in society are then put in the broader context of human rights and human rights based principles.

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