International training centre for Human Rights and Peace Teaching


The 17th International Training Session on Human Rights and Peace Education

The 17th International Training Session on Human Rights and Peace Education took place in Geneva from 11-17 July 1999, under the auspices of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Europe. 79 educators, a majority of whom are members of national NGOs in their 50 countries, participated in the French- and English-speaking sections of this Session.

The teaching team was composed of professionals specialized in social sciences, legal knowledge, pedagogy, economics, political sciences and education in institutional and popular environments.

Both the French- and English-speaking programs contained 38 course hours, audio-visual presentations, evaluations of pedagogical materials, games, workshops, group activities, and visits to international organizations. Participants also took part in optional intercultural activities organized in the evenings ; in particular, the " educational forum " which gave them the opportunity to present their own work in the domain of human rights and peace education.

Main points of the Session

It is difficult, in fact practically impossible, for educators to treat the question of peace education without taking into account the socio-political issues related to international, regional and intra-national relations.

The reasons explaining the birth of armed conflicts and their resolution by negotiation or by force, as the case may be, shed light on the politics of States and the influence they exert on different aspects of society. Intense national feelings, inter-ethnic rivalry, inclinations towards power and authority, defense of specific interests, a spirit of competition, social and economic differences, and ideological struggles have been, to date, amongst the major aggravators of the recurring worldwide tensions and crises. In the face of repetitive conflicts where the language of arms imposes silence on peace, in-depth examination of socio-cultural foundations and the ideologies of conflict and of peace is required.

Institutions are going through a crisis of legitimacy, in particular the school grappling with violence, which tries, with more or less success, to put into action strategies for the non-violent resolution of conflicts. In the context of reform of education policy most everywhere in the world, one needs to ask about the means necessary to ensure that human rights and peace education have their rightful place in curricula. The school, in the broad sense of the term, is not sheltered from conflict. Its educational role must not lead it to forget that it also has a responsibility for political socialization as well as an ethical obligation to fight against marginalization and exclusion. Consequently, an obvious question : which education policies, which pedagogy and content can respond to such demands while promoting adherence to the collective values of peace and respect of fundamental rights? This was the background question asked during all the activities of this 17th session.

Each year in Geneva, The International Training Center for Human Rights and Peace Teaching ( CIFEDHOP ) organizes an International Training Session for teachers and educators specialized in human rights education. The session, divided into two linguistic sections ( French and English ), plays a fundamental role in the development of human rights and peace education on a worldwide basis. It is a very unique opportunity for educators, teachers, pedagogues, NGO members, governmental experts and non-governmental experts to meet and share with the goal of developing pedagogic approaches which respect rights and fundamental freedoms.

CIFEDHOP also holds regional and national training sessions in Africa, North America, and Western and Eastern Europe. The work of the international and regional sessions is published in the two series "Thématique" and "Perspectives régionales " ( both available only in French ). An analysis of the annual theme of the international session is published in " The CIFEDHOP Dossier ".

The next CIFEDHOP International Training Session will be held in Geneva from 9-15 July 2000. The activities of the week will be focused on issues concerning the right to education.