On the 23rd of April, 2016 a meeting of the working group on Human Rights Education (HRE) initiative was held at the National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine. The event was organized by the NGO “Ukrainian initiative” and supported by Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Foundation.

The initiators of the project are: Olena Biedova, the participant of the program “Young Generation will Change Ukraine”, and Marta Levytska, who took part in fundation’s project “Ukrainian Youth Delegate to UNESCO” in 2015.

The work has started with welcoming speech of Dr. Bohdan D. Hawrylyshyn who presented Proposed Declaration of Human Obligations, set the pace of the discussion and encouraged participants to make changes. In his presentation he noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the existing competition between countries led to the situation in which there are more losers than winners. He also stated that having a Declaration of Human Rights is not enough, because the problem is in irresponsible people who enjoy their rights and forget about their obligations. That is why we have a fairly common problem of non-compliance and violation of human rights.

The Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Administration and Local Self-Governance (NAPA) Inna Valentyuk also addressed the participant of the meeting stressing the importance of human rights education for students and particularly students of NAPA.

The creators of the Human rights education (HRE) project were inspired by Dr Hawrylshyn. The project itself is aimed to enshure realization of human rights in Ukraine and increase respect for human rights as a value through the implementation of human rights education in Ukraine. The initiators of the project – Olena Biedova and Martha Levytska presented the main stages and their correlation with the action plan to implement the National Strategy in the field of human rights, which without doubt underlines the significance of the initiative. Representatives of some working sections shared the results of their online-work with the participants and experts present at the roundtable.

The interest to the initiative has also been expressed by the OSCE expert on human rights Natalia Betza. She shared information about the organization’s work in this area and described the ongoing cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to implement the action plan items for raising awareness of human rights.

In discussing the program experts of UHHRU “Understanding Human Rights” Kostiuk Iryna and Trofimenko Alexandera, as well as expert from the NGO “Teachers for Democracy and Partnership” Tetyana Remekh stressed the urgent need for making legislative changes to certain articles of the draft of a new law of Ukraine “On Education”, which would allow to introduce courses on human rights in the curricula of secondary and higher educational institutions of Ukraine.

The Members supported the proposals and wrote them down for inclusion in the future action plan. Demchuk Inna, Deputy Director on Education in the high school №153 named after Pushkin A.S. practically talked about the complexity of implementing a new discipline in the school curriculum and prepared participants for possible risks and obstacles.

After the first pause, the work was divided into two sections: the development of the course for pupils and course for students. Participants of both sections planned advocacy, discussed issues and developed training programs on human rights. At the end of the roundtable participants suggested to continue the work in the online format and presented a plan for the next general session.

Thanks to invited experts and lively discussions of the working group, the roundtable work provided an opportunity to clarify contradictory questions, determine the principled position regarding the issues discussed, and understand vector of further development of HRE initiative.

The organizers would like to thank all the participants of the round table with special thanks to Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Foundation and National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine for the opportunity to hold a long-awaited live meeting of the HRE initiative working group.

Olena Biedova