The role of the right to education in the prevention of atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations


Published
29 July 2019
Author
Special Rapporteur on the right to education
Presented
To the General Assembly’s 74th session
Link

Summary

In this report, the Special Rapporteur considers ways in which the right to education contributes to the prevention of atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations.

Education has a key role to play at all stages of prevention. The Special Rapporteur underlines the particularly forceful preventive potential of the right to education in the very early stages, before warning signs are apparent.

States and human rights mechanism share common objectives for education. Those include peace, acceptance of the "other", respect for cultural diversity, the participation of all in the development of society, and an education that is adequate and adapted to the specific needs of people in their own context.

However, education is not afforded the importance or the funding it deserves and needs in order to meet those objectives.

The Special Rapporteur highlights circumstances under which schools can become tools for division and lay the groundwork for future violent conflicts. She focuses on a number of steps that are crucial in terms of prevention. Such steps involve the organization of school systems, pedagogy and the values and skills to be transmitted to learners.

ABCDE framework

The Special Rapporteur proposes an education framework—known in English by the acronym ABCDE—that encompasses the interrelated features of education needed in order for the preventive potential of the right to education to be fully deployed. This "ABCDE framework" states that education should promote:

  • Acceptance of self and others
  • (a sense of) Belonging to society
  • Critical thinking
  • Diversity
  • Empathy for others

If States and other stakeholders are serious in their commitment to prevent violent conflicts, atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations, they need to prioritize the right to inclusive and equitable quality education.

Experts’ meeting

For the purpose of preparing this report, the Special Rapporteur held a meeting of experts in New York on 7 and 8 May 2019.

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