Write for Rights

Learning for lasting peace

The Imperative Role of Human Rights Education

As we mark International Education Day, with a focus on learning for lasting peace, it is imperative that inclusive and equitable quality education includes education on, for and through human rights. It is impossible to talk about learning for lasting peace, without ensuring human rights education is a core pillar of both formal and non-formal education.

In our current global landscape of escalating conflict, shrinking civic space, the climate emergency, and daily violations of human rights, peace is a distant reality from the everyday lived experience of millions of children, young people, and adults across the world. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights articulated 75 years ago outlines one of the fundamental aims of education as strengthening

respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

UDHR, Article 26:2

Human Rights Education (HRE) supports learners to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote equality, dignity, and respect for human rights in their communities, society and worldwide. Without respect for human rights, peace – even peace measured by the absence of active conflict – will not be realised.

As our Secretary General recently said

The UDHR legacy demands that we resist attacks against rights, disrupt world orders that reproduce historic injustices and transform global governance.

Agnès Callamard

HRE is an invaluable tool in this work, it equips people with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to understand and defend their rights. It helps to prevent future rights violations, fights racism, discrimination, and injustice, and in doing so contributes to rights-respecting public narratives and rights-respecting peaceful societies.

Artwork from an AI Kenya W4R school club

HRE takes many forms, it can be part of the formal curriculum, it can be part of non-formal learning for children, young people, and lifelong learning for adults. It is part of the commitments made within the framework of the Sustainable Development Agenda Goal 4.7, with a target that

by 2030 ensure all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

Sustainable Development Agenda Goal 4.7

At Amnesty International HRE  is core to our work, and across the Amnesty movement our education work is varied and diverse in the methods and focus. From online courses, training, toolkits and advocacy. Our education covers a broad range of topics, as diverse as HRE in national curricula, education for refugee rights, education for the prevention of FGM and early forced marriage, to education for climate justice. 

As many countries rollback human rights protections, we need – now more than ever – to invest in building the foundations for rights-respecting societies. At Amnesty, we work with our members, supporters, activists, and partners to carry out HRE in local, national, regional, and global contexts. In 2022 our initiatives reached 4.15 million people, directly contributing to the movement’s vision of a world where everyone enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.

Learning for lasting peace requires a strong commitment to education for human rights. We cannot be complacent; building knowledge and understanding of human rights is key to building rights-respecting, peaceful societies.