Our Oral statement on the interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues

On Wednesday March 12, in the afternoon session of the Human Rights Council, the interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.

fernand de varennes
Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

The Special Rapporteur began his intervention by presenting his report on the visit that he made to Spain from January 14 to 25, and subsequently presented his thematic report on “education, language and the human rights of minorities” in which he stressed the importance of the linguistic dimension for a correct integration of minorities as well as recommended that a series of practical guidelines be drafted to provide concrete guidance on the content and implementation of minority human rights and the use of their languages ​​in the field of education. He further recommended that the guidance document be made available in the six official languages of the United Nations.

Following the report presented by the Special Rapporteur, OIDEL wanted to highlight in its oral statement the importance of language in education as a mechanism for inclusion, and the importance that public authorities have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that all children enjoy a quality education on equal terms.

Screenshot 2020-03-18 at 13.21.31

“Thank you Mr. President,

First of all, we would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his exhaustive work, as well as the numerous country visits, communications, conferences and awareness in order to raise awareness of the human rights of minorities and increase their visibility.

Secondly, we agree that language is a pillar of the identity of many minorities. Moreover, language issues are sometimes among the main reasons for grievances, exclusion and discrimination in education that can lead to tensions between minorities and central authorities. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the use of minority languages by these groups is essential to ensure inclusion and trust, particularly for vulnerable segments of society, such as indigenous peoples and women.

Finally, we would like to mention the reference of the report of public and private education, highlighting that, as the report points, minorities have the right to establish and operate private schools and educational institutions that use their language to teach. Human beings have a right to education, and States must comply with this right by ensuring a quality and public education and guaranteeing to the different communities the establishment of alternative schools to those managed by the State. The main obligations of the states regarding the right to education are not about the preservation of a unique educational model, but rather of assuring the 4 A’s: Ensure that education is Available, Accessible, Acceptable and Adaptable. Public Authorities should have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that the equal respect of the enjoyment of the right to education for all children, regardless of whether they are part of a majority or a minority, and irrespective of income levels

In conclusion as the Special Rapporteur points, it is essential ensuring a pluralistic,inclusive and quality education for all, as indicated by the Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Thank you.”

You can find our Oral Statement at the following link – minute 1:30:25

http://webtv.un.org/search/-id-sr-on-minority-issues-29th-meeting-43rd-regular-session-human-rights-council/6140554348001/?term=minority%20issues&sort=date

 

 

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights

camila_side_event

On Wednesday, March 4, under the framework of the Human Rights Council, the Interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Mrs. Karima Bennoune.

The Interactive Dialogue began with the intervention of the Special rapporteur, who emphasized the need to implement measures to provide adequate financial support, visibility, protection and ability to work freely in the cultural sector. She pointed out that the cultural rights defender label cannot be used to undermine human rights protection. She mentioned some examples of positive practices, such as the measures taken to implement the protection of cultural rights defenders in national legislation and policies by including the participation of cultural rights defenders in making rights-related decisions cultural, for example. She also mentioned avenues that can be taken into consideration when the human rights of cultural rights defenders are violated.

Several countries intervened to thank the rapporteur for her great work and highlight the situation in their countries. In the case of Cameroon or Nepal, they highlighted the importance of education for the full realization of cultural rights.

From OIDEL, we did an Oral Statement recalling the importance of the cultural approach on the right to education and therefore, the need to acknowledge the important role of teachers.

First of all, we would like to thank the work carried out by the Special Rapporteur during her years of mandate and thank her for choosing an issue of such importance and relevance as cultural rights defenders.

 Secondly, considering that defenders can be of any gender or age, from any part of the world and from any profession, we would like to highlight the role of teachers. The right to education plays an important role in the realization of cultural rights. As General Comment No. 21 says “The right of every person to participate in cultural life is also intrinsically linked to the right to education” (par.2). In this sense, it is important to recognize the role of teachers who ensure cultural transmission to groups whose culture is excluded from mainstream education, as is the case of certain minorities or indigenous people. We believe that the role of these teachers should be taken into account as human rights defenders, since without their work the intergenerational transmission of certain values and cultural heritage would be impossible.

We encourage the rapporteur to take them into account.

 Thirdly, we would like to highlight what was said by the former Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, who pointed out that defenders working in the field of economic, social and cultural rights – including teachers – They often have more difficulty getting their work accepted as human rights work

 In conclusion, we would like to highlight three recommendations from the reporter’s report.

  1. Adopt cultural rights-based cultural policies that include the work of cultural rights defenders, and protections for them, including strategies and mechanisms for responding to violations, and amend existing cultural policies to ensure these issues are fully covered.
  1. Express support for cultural rights defenders and their work, and encourage non-State actors to do so.
  1. Raise awareness, through human rights education, of the inherent importance of cultural rights.

You can find our Oral Statement at the following link – minute 1:29:54

http://webtv.un.org/search/id-sr-on-cultural-rights-18th-meeting-43rd-regular-session-human-rights-council-/6138316454001/?term=cultural%20right&sort=date#player

 

High-level segment del 43º session del Consejo de Derechos Humanos ¿Qué es y qué se ha dicho sobre educación?

El pasado 24 de febrero de 2020, se inauguró la 43º sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos (24 de febrero – 20 de marzo). Primera sesión del año 2020, está primera sesión se caracteriza por celebrarse en ella el “High-level segment” en el cual durante 3 días pasan por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos más de 100 representantes – incluyendo jefes de estado y ministros de exteriores- de diferentes países para presentar ante el Consejo la situación de derechos humanos en su país, sus esfuerzos nacionales, la importancia de la cooperación internacional para paliar los desafíos actuales, y las perspectivas y retos de futuro.

 

Este importante evento fue inaugurado por la Señora Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Presidenta del Consejo de Derechos Humanos; el Señor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Presidente de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas; el Señor Antonio Guterres, Secretario General; la Señora Bachelet, Alta Comisionada de Derechos Humanos; y el Señor Ignazio Cassis, Jefe del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores de Suiza; quienes dieron el discurso de bienvenida y resaltaron la importancia de diversos temas de interés internacional, entre ellos, la educación.

 

El Secretario General Antonio Guterres informó a los presentes que para que las personas puedan reclamar sus derechos y se cumpla el núcleo de la agenda 2030 de no dejar a nadie atrás, es esencial garantizar una educación para todos, especialmente para las niñas, así como sacar a las personas de la pobreza extrema, garantizar su atención medica universal y permitir que todos tenga acceso a las mismas oportunidades y opciones.

 

La Señora Bachelet, coincidió con lo dicho por el Secretario General, indicando que la mejor manera de paliar el panorama político turbulento que se está viviendo, es mediante la promoción del acceso a la educación, de la atención médica, de la protección social universal y de una vida digna.

 

Posteriormente el Presidente de la Asamblea General, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, quien le dedico una amplia parte de su discurso a los derechos del niño y al derecho a la educación, hizo mención al informe del Instituto de Estadística de la UNESCO, donde se resaltó que hay cerca de 258 millones de niños, adolescentes y jóvenes que no van a la escuela en todo el mundo. Para paliar esta situación, el Presidente de la Asamblea General, apuntó la necesidad de generar alianzas que ayuden a abordar la crisis de aprendizaje y lograr mayores niveles de acceso a la educación y no abandono de las escuelas. Resaltó a su vez la importancia de asistir al colegio, siendo este el que capacita a los niños a alcanzar su máximo potencial y es el motor que les saca de la pobreza y, en general, les prepara para una mejor vida adulta.

 

Como se ha podido observar, la educación se tiene como un factor esencial para permitir el acceso al resto de derechos humanos. Es como indicó Alfred Fernández, un instrumento de auto-donación de sentido, el lugar del “aprender a ser”, es un derecho transversal que se debe proteger y promocionar, y de esta manera, se logrará un beneficio a nivel social, económico e individual, como así indicó la Señora Bachelet.

 

Camila Garcia

 

(UPDATE) The threat against the existence of faith-based schools in Sweden continues: The UPR and the Parliament Report

As we said in a previous article in Sweden a debate on educational pluralism has taken place in the Parliament since the last elections with to ban faith-based schools. Although the debate still is ongoing certain constraints have already been approved.

This situation is shocking in a state that traditionally last years has shown an openness towards religious pluralism and educational pluralism. The international community has been surprised by this debate and therefore there have been already some reactions. Two weeks ago there was the UPR of Sweden. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. OIDEL, together with other NGOs, submitted a document pointing to the threats of the potential new legislation against human rights. In this regard, some countries raised the question of the convenience of these legislative initiatives and some recommendations were made. The most critical recommendations against the situation of Sweden were made by the Solomon Islands which pointed:

Review the proposed legislative ban on faith-based private schools” and “Recognize that the State has no legitimate authority under international law to mandatorily prescribe conventional education for all children, that individuals have the right to seek alternative forms of education, and that the prohibition and criminalisation of home education is a violation of international human rights law”.[1]

Internally, in Sweden on the 8th of January, there was the presentation of the official report produced by a Commission appointed by that was Parliament on the consequences of the new legislation on confessional schools. We can withdraw some conclusions.

One first and brief conclusion is that the report acknowledges that in any of the compared countries (Norway, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany) there is any legislation that does not allow faith schools.

The second important conclusion is that this initiative is frontally contrary to the Human Rights Obligations of Sweden. The report recalls that Sweden has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRCh) which includes the child’s right to comprehensive education as well as the right to religious and cultural identity.

The document also points that according to the European Convention of Human Rights the right to exercise their religion applies also to non-governmental schools. It remarks that “inter alia under the EU law, there is a right to establish and operate private schools. (…) it is not possible to prohibit certain natural or legal persons from being considered for approval as managers of independent preschools or schools (…). If (…) persons with a religious basis were denied consideration for approval as managers of (…) schools (…), this might run the risk of constituting discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights”. The document points how the new legislative proposals can be against obligations accepted by Sweden on the field of human rights concretely on freedom of religion and free right of establishment.

The Commission points that a way to ensure that faith-based schools are compatible with the Swedish society is by introducing a democratic condition to approve the existence of a school. The Commission says that an individual shall not be granted approval as a manager for an activity concerning education if there is a particular reason to believe that this person or persons are engaged in violence or improperly violate human rights, if they discriminate, if they engage in abusive treatment of children, if they undermine the principle of the best interest of the child or if they undermine the democratic system of government.  [2]

The main reaction after the presentation of the report is that the different legislative initiatives in this regard will not make it through the European Court. Nevertheless, the Minister of Education has said that still, this report gives a good foundation for a law to stop new religious schools.

Ignasi Grau

[1] Human Rights Council – Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Thirty-fifth session (20–31 January 2020) Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Sweden, A/HRC/WG.6/35/L.9

[2] Statens Offentliga Utredningar (2019) Nya regler för skolor med konfessionell inriktning – Betänkande av Utredningen om konfessionella inslag i skolväsendet. Available at : https://www.regeringen.se/48d7d1/contentassets/29992645492d4d608d004e9fc02968f5/nya-regler-for-skolor-med-konfessionell-inriktning-sou-201964?noaccount=true

Debate in the Human Rights Council on privatization and the role of non-governamental schools

The Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education took place on July 26th and 27th during the 41th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In this session, the Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to education and in particular on the increase of private actors’ s participation on the field of education had been discussed.

In this regard, we at OIDEL were concerned about the possible interpretation that states could face significant limitations in their relationship with schools in the private sector, in particular about the ways of funding non-governmental schools. These doubts were first communicated to the Special Rapporteur in private in order for the latter to clarify some points that could be problematic from a Human Rights perspective.

During the debate, the Special Rapporteur made a brief introduction remembering the state’s obligation to guarantee access to public, free and quality education for everyone. This aim is stated in goal number 4 of the 2030 Agenda.

Furthermore, Ms. Bally Barry showed her concerns about the increase of private actors in the field of education. In this sense, she insisted on the fact that states have to establish a framework to regulate the participation of these private actors. She also highlighted that her recommendations are inspired by the Abidjan Principles.

Even if states have to give priority to funding public education, the Special Rapporteur recalled that this obligation cannot imply the violation of the parent’s right to choose for their children other different schools from the ones offered by the state. The state has to respect this freedom and has to guarantee the right to create new non-governmental schools by civil society. The Special Rapporteur stressed the importance of this freedom in order to ensure protection of religious, philosophical and pedagogical beliefs of parents. 

After the introduction, delegations of different states intervened. Many of them thanked the Special Rapporteur for her work and they informed about the current situation of the right to education in their own countries. Also, many of them emphasized the use of public-private partnerships as a way of supporting education of children by the non-governmental institutions, in order to offer a better educational system overall.

Moreover, many delegations asked for examples of best practices on how states can form the most effective public-private partnerships while adhering to human rights principles.

After these interventions, NGO’s and members of the civil society had been given the floor. Director Ignasi Grau spoke for OIDEL and also on behalf of several other NGO’s.

In the oral statement, after thanking the Special Rapporteur for her work, OIDEL reclaimed some clarifications. In particular, OIDEL insisted on the importance of the role of non-governmental schools in order to achieve a pluralistic educational system and in order to protect the rights of minorities. Some elements of the report have to be clarified so they will not be misinterpreted as limiting the right to education and the freedom to choose. You can read the oral statement of OIDEL in this link.

The debate concluded with a summary statement of the special rapporteur. She acknowledged the important role of non-governmental and non-profit schools, especially in those places where the states do not have the resources to fulfil their obligations. In particular, Ms. Bolly Barry praised the strategies developed by countries such as France  (with institutions as “l’école sous contrat”) or Tunisia where public-private partnerships have been launched, contributing to offer higher quality education. 

It’s vitally important to underline the distinction made by the special rapporteur to close the debate. Ms. Bolly Barry clarified that, when she mentions private actors whose practices imply a threat to right to education, she exclusively refers to private mercantilists and the for-profit sector – not civil society’s schools, including religious schools. This way, the special rapporteur affirmed the importance of state support for civil society in the field of education in order to achieve the best posible realization of the right to education. 

 

Amelia Suárez Picazo

 

 

 

 

Debate sobre la privatización y el rol de las escuelas no-gubernamentales en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos

Los días 26 y 27 de junio ha tenido lugar el diálogo interactivo con la relatora especial sobre el derecho a la educación en el marco de la 41a sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos en Ginebra.

En dicha sesión, se ha debatido y comentado el informe escrito por la Relatora Especial sobre el derecho a la educación Ms. Bolly Barry en relación al incremento de la participación de actores privados.

En relación con el informe, en OIDEL surgieron ciertas preocupaciones sobre la posible interpretación que podría hacerse por parte de los estados, en concreto en lo relativo a las formas de financiación de las escuelas no gubernamentales. Estas dudas se manifestaron primero en privado a la Relatora Especial, con el objetivo de que ésta última aclarase durante el diálogo ciertos puntos que podrían resultar problemáticos desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos.

Durante el desarrollo de la sesión, la relatora especial ha realizado una breve introducción recordando la obligación de los estados de garantizar el acceso de todos a una educación pública, gratuita y de calidad. Dicho deber se recoge en el objetivo 4 de la Agenda 2030.

Además, Ms. Bally Borry ha mostrado su preocupación por el fuerte incremento de los actores privados en el sector educativo. En este sentido, ha insistido en la necesidad de que los estados establezcan un marco regulatorio para la actividad de los actores privados en el ámbito educativo y ha recalcado que las recomendaciones de su escrito se inspiran en los Principios de Abidján.

A pesar de insistir en que los estados deben priorizar la financiación de la educación pública, la relatora especial ha recordado que esta obligación no puede obviar el derecho de los padres a elegir centros escolares no gubernamentales para sus hijos. El estado debe respetar dicha libertad de elección, así como garantizar el derecho a crear nuevos colegios no gubernamentales por parte de la sociedad civil. La relatora ha hecho hincapié en la importancia de esta libertad sobre todo para garantizar la protección de las convicciones religiosas, pedagógicas y filosóficas de los padres. Según la relatora, existen actores privados que pueden ofrecer otras vías de educación, pero deben ser regulados por los estados para que esto no acentúe las desigualdades.

Tras su introducción, han intervenido las delegaciones de los distintos estados. Numerosos países han agradecido el trabajo realizado por la relatora y han informado sobre la actual situación del derecho a la educación en sus respectivos estados. Muchos de ellos han recalcado el uso de alianzas público-privadas en sus territorios como forma de apoyo al estado por parte del sector no-gubernamental, con el fin de ofrecer un mejor sistema educativo.

Además, son muchas las delegaciones que han solicitado a la relatora especial que exponga ejemplos de buenas prácticas de colaboración entre el estado y el sector privado.

Tras estas intervenciones, se ha dado la palabra a las ONG’s y miembros de la sociedad civil. OIDEL ha sido la primera ONG en intervenir, en nombre propio y en el de otras ONG.

En su declaración, después de agradecer a la relatora especial su trabajo, OIDEL ha solicitado que clarifique los puntos más controvertidos. En particular, OIDEL ha insistido sobre la importancia del papel de las escuelas no gubernamentales a la hora de garantizar un sistema educativo plural que refleje la diversidad cultural y proteja los derechos de las minorías. Varios elementos del informe deben esclarecerse para evitar que se interpreten erróneamente y contribuyan paradójicamente a limitar el derecho y libertad de educación. Adjuntamos la declaración oral completa de nuestro director Ignasi Grau.

La sesión ha concluido con una última intervención de la relatora especial. Ésta ha reconocido en su conclusión el importante papel que juegan las escuelas no-gubernamentales y no lucrativas, sobre todo en aquellos lugares en los que el estado no dispone de medios para cumplir con su obligación de garantizar el acceso de todos a la educación. En concreto, Ms. Bolly Barry ha alabado las estrategias desarrolladas por países como Francia (con instituciones como l’école sous contrat) o Túnez donde se han puesto en marcha alianzas público-privadas que han contribuido a ofrecer una educación de mayor calidad.

Es de vital importancia recalcar la clara distinción hecha por la relatora para cerrar el debate. Ms. Bolly Barry ha aclarado que, cuando menciona a los actores privados cuyas prácticas pueden implicar un riesgo para el derecho a la educación, se refiere exclusivamente al sector privado mercantilista con fin lucrativo y no a los colegios privados de la sociedad civil como los colegios religiosos. De esta forma, la relatora especial ha recordado la importancia de que el estado apoye a la sociedad civil en el campo de la educación con el fin de que dicha colaboración conduzca a la mejor realización posible del derecho a la educación.

Amelia Suárez Picazo

Mon expérience au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme

PHOTO-2019-03-04-11-05-16

La 40ème session du Conseil des Droits de l’Homme s’est achevée vendredi dernier. Durant quatre semaines, le haut-commissaire, les organisations onusiennes, les ministres et délégués de tous les pays et des membres de la société civile n’ont cessé de se rassembler afin de se pencher ensemble sur les droits humains, notamment sur la situation de ceux-ci dans le monde.

Pendant un mois je me suis alors rendue tous les jours au Palais afin de me consacrer à l’écoute de certains sujets. L’éducation est un domaine recouvrant et recouvert par beaucoup d’autres. Décider de la pertinence d’un side-event pour l’OIDEL n’est alors pas compliqué. En fait, tous étaient intéressants. La variété des conférences est incroyablement large. J’ai assisté à une multitude de discussions très enrichissantes qui m’ont apporté grand nombre de nouvelles connaissances, tant sur le monde que sur le fonctionnement des instances de droits humains.

Le 4 mars a eu lieu le débat annuel sur les droits de l’enfant. « Autonomiser les enfants handicapés aux fins de la réalisation de leurs droits humains par l’éducation inclusive » a été le thème de la journée. Les personnes en situation de handicap ont d’ailleurs été le sujet de discussion pendant plusieurs jours consécutifs. Depuis une semaine je voyais défiler ministres et ambassadeurs dans tous les coins des Nations Unies. Et puis l’attention a été portée sur moi. En tant que stagiaire chez OIDEL, consultant de l’ONU, j’ai pris la parole pour affirmer le soutien de l’ONG pour l’éducation inclusive, basée sur une approche culturelle. La déclaration orale a aussi souligné le rôle potentiel qu’a l’éducation d’inculquer les valeurs prônées par les droits humains. Je me suis rendu compte de l’ampleur de l’auditoire qu’une fois que j’attendais que la parole me soit donnée. Je ressentais un peu de stress, mais la présence de ma chère collègue me réconfortait. Quand le moment est arrivé, toutes mes pensées se sont envolées et je me suis tout simplement lancée dans la lecture. Je ne réfléchissais plus, complètement prise par ce que j’avais à dire. Cette expérience a été unique et inoubliable. On m’a fait confiance et je l’ai moi-même ressentie. Je suis ravie d’avoir représenté l’OIDEL devant l’instance la plus importante des droits de l’homme.

Claudia Silva