Istanbul Law Review
Human Rights Education: A Historical, Methodological and Critical AnalysisMuharrem Kılıç
The rise of human rights activism in the last quarter of the 20th century has turned human rights into a discourse of the modern age by giving a positive acceleration to the evolution of human rights towards an institutional structuring. The potential of human rights, which are structured through a normative construct, to transform societies has become a main focus of international institutions/organizations. Such an institutional structuring practice for human rights has revealed the need to gain insight into the declarative, conceptual and institutional framework of human rights. Focusing on human rights education for building a value system has become an institutional goal. Rights education as an ideological and pedagogical strategy is structured with the aim of disseminating and systematizing the universal human rights regime. The methodology of human rights education is not rhetorical or dialectical between trainer and trainee; it can be viewed as an operational process. At the same time, the teaching process for the knowledge of rights can be defined as a behavioral form transfer structured and internalized with values. Human rights education, which has many definitions based on different theoretical perspectives and tendencies, is exposed to a wide range of theoretical and conceptual criticism ranging from essentialist approaches to formalist and critical approaches in the globalizing world. The focus of these criticisms is towards the emergence of a regulatory human rights practice with the reduction of human rights to law. It is considered that human rights education has to focus on the erosion of citizenship, democracy and human rights under the devastating effect of deepening social injustice in the world built on neo-liberal policies. The theoretical development dynamics of the rights education makes a participatory perspective with multi-stakeholders and multi-actors essential. It is therefore clear that the national human rights institutions should be more involved in the rights education as an institutional actor.
İnsan Hakları Eğitimi: Tarihsel, Yöntemsel ve Eleştirel Bir ÇözümlemeMuharrem Kılıç
Yirminci yüzyılın son çeyreğinde insan hakları aktivizminin yükselişi, insan haklarının kurumsal yapılanma yönlü gelişim serüvenine pozitif bir ivme kazandırarak insan haklarını modern çağın bir söylemi haline getirmiştir. Normatif bir kurgu üzerinden yapılandırılan insan haklarının toplumları dönüştürme potansiyeli, uluslararası kurum/kuruluşların odaklandığı temel bir konu olmuştur. İnsan haklarına yönelik böylesi bir kurumsal yapılanma pratiği insan haklarının bildirgesel, kavramsal ve kuramsal çerçevesine ilişkin bir içgörü kazandırılmasının gereğini ortaya koymuştur. Bir değer sistemi inşa etmek amacıyla insan hakları eğitimine odaklanma, kurumsal bir hedef haline gelmiştir. İdeolojik ve pedagojik bir strateji olarak haklar eğitimi, evrensel insan hakları rejimini yaygınlaştırma ve sistematikleştirme amacı doğrultusunda yapılandırılmıştır. İnsan hakları eğitim metodolojisi, öğreten ile öğrenen arasında retoriksel ya da diyalektiksel değil; eylemsel bir süreç olarak işlemektedir. Aynı zamanda haklar bilgisine yönelik öğretim süreci, değerlerle yapılandırılmış ve içselleştirilmiş ‘davranışsal bir form aktarımı’ olarak tanımlanabilir. Farklı kuramsal perspektiflere ve eğilimlere bağlı biçimde birçok tanımlaması yapılan insan hakları eğitimi, globalleşen dünyada özcü yaklaşımlardan formalist ve eleştirel yaklaşımlara kadar uzanan geniş bir kuramsal ve kavramsal eleştiriye maruz kalmaktadır. Söz konusu eleştirilerin odak noktası insan haklarının hukuka indirgenmesiyle regülatif bir insan hakları pratiği ortaya çıkmasına yöneliktir. İnsan hakları eğitiminin neo-liberal politikaların üzerine kurulu dünyanın sosyal adaletsizliği derinleştiren yok edici etkisi altında yurttaşlık, demokrasi ve insan haklarının erozyonunu odağına almak zorunda olduğu değerlendirilmektedir. Haklar eğitiminin kuramsal yönlü gelişim dinamiği çok paydaşlı ve çok aktörlü katılımcı bir perspektifi gerekli kılmaktadır. Bundan ötürü kurumsal bir aktör olarak ulusal insan hakları kurumlarının haklar eğitimine daha fazla dahil edilmesinin gereği ortadadır.
The rise of human rights activism in the last quarter of the 20th century has turned human rights into a discourse of the modern age by giving a positive acceleration to the evolution of human rights towards an institutional structuring. The potential of human rights, which are structured through a normative construct, to transform societies has become a main focus of international institutions/organizations. The declarative normative framework of human rights education was initially regulated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR; United Nations General Assembly, 1948). Expressing the normative framework determined by the Declaration regarding the right to education, the principle of “everyone has the right to education.” (UDHR; art. 26/1) has put forth the subject of the right to education. The transformation of human rights education into a global movement corresponds to the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. The United Nations World Conference on Human Rights (UN, 1993), held in Vienna, represents a turning point for human rights education. In fact, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (UN, 1993, para. 78) which has been adopted as an output of this Conference emphasizes that “human rights education, training and public information is essential for the promotion and achievement of stable and harmonious relations among communities and for fostering mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.”
Within the framework of national and supranational documents, the human rights education has shown a dynamic of gradual development. The first phase (prior to 1948) discusses the historical roots of human rights education in regards to the relationality between the basic educational theories and the morals education from Plato to John Dewey (1859-1952). The second phase (1948–1994) focuses on the institutionalization of the human rights education as an educational activity that aims at legitimizing the values and principles of universal human rights. The third phase (1995-2010), which corresponds to the transformation of human rights education into a global movement, begins with the declaration of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. As a result of these gradual developmental phases, the rights education has become a global activism that aim to raise awareness on the rights granted and registered in the human rights treaties. The theoretical development dynamics of the rights education makes a participatory perspective with multi-stakeholders and multi-actors essential. It is therefore clear that the national human rights institutions should be more involved in the rights education as an institutional actor. In fact, such institutional structures play a significant role in systematically monitoring and reporting the pedagogies related to the human rights education and their impacts and putting awareness-raising activities into practice.
The methodological approaches to the human rights education are characterized as a quest for a “fusion of horizons” (Hans Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, Bloomsbury Academic, 2004) that brings forth an intercultural consensus in the field of human rights. However, the envisaged consensus is not based on a notion of transcendent idealism or moral realism. It is more of a consensus that is affirmed and conceptualized in many cultural structures. The educational models developed for the human rights education in the last quarter of the 20th century have generated a number of schemas to theorize the emergence, conceptualization and exercising of human rights. Although there are many methodological approaches to the human rights education, it can be stated that there is a general consensus on some basic components. First of all, the human rights education should cover both content and learning processes. Secondly, the human rights education should include relevant objectives related to cognitive (content), attitudinal or emotional (values/skills) and action-oriented components. While the main focus in the current human rights education paradigm is “education on human rights”, the relational hermeneutic/interpretive paradigm focuses on “education for the realization of human rights and their equivalents”. In the hermeneutic paradigm, the main focus is the dissemination of the rights knowledge by means of the cultural epistemology. On the other hand, the dissemination of the rights knowledge by means of the Western conceptualization of the human rights appears as the main focus in the modern human rights education paradigm. The foundation of human rights education in the relational hermeneutic epistemology will make it possible to eliminate the tension between the educational orthodoxy and Universalist-Relativist trends.
Therefore, it is necessary to address the human rights education through the perspective of hermeneutics which has turned into a philosophy of interpretation in the modern period. Unlike the structured education models, the hermeneutics which reflects the multi-faceted dialectic between the comprehensor and interpreter makes it possible to construct a “subject”. In fact, a subject-centered methodology is not regarded in the structuralist education models. However, education is the construction of a semantic world. Similarly, the human rights also appear as a pluralistic dynamic cultural universe, as they address the dynamism of life as well as the rights and freedoms. Therefore, the human rights education should be addressed through a hermeneutic perspective, not a structuralist/constructed perspective. It should be noted that there are a number of critical perspectives focusing on the ‘effectiveness of human rights education, learning methodologies, pedagogical strategies and human rights discourse’. The human rights education has been criticized for many aspects, ranging from the transformation of human rights education into a global movement, human rights education turning into a political commitment, the literature focusing on purely pedagogical and methodological issues, the declarative nature of education and the colonization of rights education. These criticisms reveal the tense relationship between the modern theory of human rights notion and the cultural relativism. Furthermore, it is seen that the human rights education is organized around a human rights discourse specific to Western culture. In this context, it is emphasized that the human rights education is based on a Westerncentered pedagogy of human rights rather than a culture-based pedagogy. Constructed as the institutional entity of producing and teaching knowledge, the existential essence of the rights education is inherent in the spirit of universal principles and values. The existential tension between theory and practice, tradition and modernity, value and interest affects the pedagogical philosophy of the rights education. Considering all these critical perspectives, it is quite important to develop methodological pedagogies that enable to build a universal language, spiritual texture and culture specific to the teaching of rights, and to examine the forms of methods produced for the rights education through the paradoxical relationship between socio-economic and socio-political reality. All these exploratory efforts are critical for the identification of the organic structural problems that human rights education has been facing.