Founded in 2011, Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA) is a growing network dedicated to building a culture of human rights by providing an innovative forum for HRE practitioners and supporters to learn, network, and exchange professional expertise and better serve the HRE community.
To promote human dignity, justice, and peace by cultivating an expansive, vibrant base of support for human rights education (HRE) within the United States. Consistent with our opposition to all forms of discrimination, we commit to dismantling systemic racism and confronting white supremacy that manifests itself across our nation.
What is Human Rights Education?
Human Rights Education is a lifelong process of teaching and learning that helps individuals, groups, and communities develop the knowledge, skills, and values to fully exercise and protect their human rights and those of others; to fulfill their responsibilities in the context of internationally recognized human rights principles; and to achieve justice and peace in the world.
Human Rights Education and Social Justice Advocacy
As we carry out our work to have Human Rights Education (HRE) become an integral part of U.S. public education standards and curricula, we believe it is vital to also articulate the connection between HRE and social justice advocacy. Recognizing and valuing these connections can help strengthen collaborations and clarify that all of us working in these arenas have common goals for positive social change that furthers equality, equity, justice and dignity for all people.
HRE and its connection to social justice advocacy:
Universal human rights are the bedrock principles that underlie all racial and social justice movements. The universal human rights principles, spelled out in such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), as expounded by HRE, provide practical and well-established legal and ethical foundations for use by all social justice movements, worldwide. When referenced and followed, universal human rights principles provide standards and norms that are invaluable tools to support social justice advocates in their struggles to overcome white supremacy and other oppressive ideologies.
Example of connection between HRE and Social Justice Advocacy: Our Human Right to participate in our government, secured through protecting the right to vote:
UDHR Article 21 states the following:
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his/her country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Social Justice advocates like Stacey Abrams, her supporters at Fair Fight, as well as members of the
NAACP, Common Cause and Brennan Center for Justice, are among the many who are striving to ensure that every person can exercise their right to vote. The importance of this work could be further amplified by including reference to the significance of voting as a universal human right belonging to every human being, identifying the gaps that exist in preventing people from exercising each part of UDHR Article 21, and pointing to how each social justice effort is vital to closing these gaps.
Our Guiding Principles and Values
HRE USA is committed to the basic human rights principles of human dignity, equality, and non-discrimination as articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In accordance with these principles, we value diversity, inclusiveness, transparency, and consensus-based decision making and commit to treating each other with dignity, integrity, caring and respect in all our undertakings.
We believe effective human rights education is transformative, empowers individuals and communities, and promotes the respect for and embodiment of these human rights principles and values.
To fulfill our mission, we shall maximize our efforts and support those of our members and partner organizations to:
- Build a national movement for human rights education;
- Advocate for the recognition of international human rights and humanitarian law and for a national commitment to educating individuals and communities about their principles and expectations;
- Promote national and regional policies that support human rights education;
- Integrate internationally recognized human rights standards, including those recognized by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, into formal and non-formal educational settings;
- Advocate for the inclusion of human rights education in national and state education standards, curricula, and pedagogy;
- Promote the incorporation of human rights education into pre-service and in-service teacher training programs;
- Develop and provide resources and training for educators;
- Empower educators and learners to continuously embody human rights principles;
- Participate in global networks and forums to share best human rights education practices;
- Contribute to research and scholarship on human rights education.
Over seventy-five educators, students, higher education faculty, members of non-profit organizations, representatives from national teacher unions, and other stakeholders participated in the “Building a Human Rights Education Strategy for U.S. Schools,” which took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 16-17, 2011. This event was co-sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA), the National Education Association, and the University of San Francisco’s School of Education.
The sharing and planning work of the conference resulted in the development of a national strategy draft for human rights education. Moreover, a decision was taken to initiate a new network for human rights education in the USA. The work of this new network, Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA), was given great inspiration in December 2011 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, underscoring the importance of human rights to every child’s education.