The Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) organised a seminar recently with the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) to begin to put together a plan to write a new textbook on human rights and the 2013 Zimbabwean constitution.
The seminar brought together participants representing partner academic universities, independent research centres, civil society organisations, and government authorities, among others.
The seminar, “The Promise of the Declaration of Rights in the Zimbabwean Constitution – Development of a Textbook on Human Rights and the Constitution”, is part of the Institute’s Zimbabwe Human Rights Capacity Development Programme 2016-2018.
We asked a few questions to RWI’s Programme Officer, Timothy Maldoon, who participated in and co-organised the seminar.
What was the purpose of this textbook seminar?
During the programme’s inception phase, a critical need, related to human rights teaching requirements, arose from RWI’s discussions with programme partners: that is, the lack of and hence urgent need for a textbook on human rights and the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution.
This textbook was envisioned to be used in primarily academic teaching, but also, when possible, beyond, to influence policy- and decision-makers, among others. So this seminar last week aimed to take stock of ideas, delineate specific opportunities, needs and challenges, develop a concrete and realistic plan and map the way forward.
What was the outcome of the seminar?
The seminar kicked off with a presentation of each of the participants and a detailed and interesting lecture on “The Promise of the Declaration of Rights in the Zimbabwean Constitution”, which resulted in “energetic” discussions, to say the least.
The participants then engaged with each other over the course of two days on the various ways to go about producing such a textbook as well as some of the pitfalls that we need to avoid. The urgent need for such a textbook was emphasised by more than a few participants, who wanted it sooner rather than later. The final outcome of the seminar was the creation of an editorial board comprised of Zimbabwean academics, which will submit an action plan to RWI by November containing a draft table of contents, identified authors, timelines, etc.
What will happen next?
Once RWI receives the action plan, we will work together with the editorial board and cooperate to fine-tune any remaining issues so as to have at our disposal a concrete and realistic textbook project to be budgeted for and worked on over the next two years. While we are a long way from 2018, the final goal is the publication of an authoritative and comprehensive textbook on human rights and the Zimbabwean Constitution and its broad dissemination across multiples sectors of Zimbabwean society.