CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Civic Education, Participation and Human Rights

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 29, 2010

– Written by Ikechukwu O. Nwokedi, CSI Research Intern –

The critical elements towards ensuring that global human rights abuses are minimized significantly are “an improved civic education and participation”.  A large number of people, particularly in developing countries continue to experience human rights abuses, partly as a result of weak engagement through citizen participation and civic education. As the drive towards reforming societies continues, the questions remains:

  • Are the citizens fully aware of their human rights?
  • A re the civil societies doing enough to engage citizens?

It is alarming that despite the growing numbers of civil societies globally, people’s rights are still being abused in many countries. A recent (2009) report by Amnesty International points that people are abused and tortured in 81 countries, face unfair trials occur in 54 countries, are restricted in their freedom of expression in 77 countries,  and continued marginalization targets women and children.

It is obvious that the minorities and the underprivileged in our societies continue to be the major victims of these abuses and leadership structures in these countries contribute to the suppressing of the voice of the citizens.  Hence the ‘messenger is often silenced’!

Achieving an almost zero mark on the level of abuse is indeed a Herculean task and requires that civil societies should direct their efforts towards educating people about their rights through campaigns geared at improving citizen’s participation.  Indeed, as Shulamith Koenig* claimed at the United Nations, “most of the women, men, youth and children in the world – six billion of us – for whom the holistic human rights framework was created – with great efforts and moral authority by all nations – do not know about the relevance of human rights to their lives. They are not aware of the extent that their government made commitments and undertook obligation to implement human rights, but are slow in doing so”.

– Ikechukwu O. Nwokedi –

*Shulamith Koenig, Executive Director of the PDHRE (People’s Movement for Human Rights Education), is a recipient of the 2003 UN Prize in the field of Human rights.

[Illustration – HREOC]

One Response to “Civic Education, Participation and Human Rights”

  1. Umeh Chukwuemeka said

    Yea! I agree with you, education’s key to empowerment of the citizens.It’s difficult to achieve human rights protection without a well mobilised and educated population.
    We must encourage civic education and other forms of educations that will free the human mind from slavery and oppression.

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