Robiya Arslonova*


This article analyzes the historical roadmap of global society from Universal Declaration of Human Rights to 4th phase of World Program for Human Rights Education with the aim of giving glimpse of future that awaits youth. It outlines actions being taken by Uzbekistan to become active participant of WPHRE and highlights the importance of the youth and youth related policies for global and national communities.

Key words: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, Youth, United Nations Youth Strategy, World Program for Human Rights Education, Uzbekistan, Human Rights Education.


Ушбу мақолада глобал жамиятнинг Инсон ҳуқуқлари умумжаҳон Декларациясидан бошлаб Инсон ҳуқуқлари таълими бўйича умумжаҳон Дастурининг 4 босқичига қадар бўлган тарихий йўл харитаси, бизнинг ёшларимиз ва бизни кутаётган келажак ҳақида маълумот бериш мақсадида таҳлил қилинади. У ИҲБУДнинг фаол иштирокчисига айланиш учун Ўзбекистон томонидан қилинаётган тадбирларни санаб ўтади ҳамда глобал ва миллий ҳамжамиятлар учун ёшлар ва ёшлар сиёсатининг муҳимлигини таъкидлайди.

Калит сўзлар: Инсон ҳуқуқлари умумжаҳон Декларацияси, Бирлашган Миллатлар Ташкилоти, ёшлар, Бирлашган Миллатлар Ташкилотининг Ёшлар Стратегияси, Инсон ҳуқуқлари таълими бўйича умумжаҳон Дастури, Ўзбекистон, Инсон ҳуқуқлари бўйича таълим.


В этой статье анализируется история развтия образования от Всеобщей декларации прав человека до 4-го этапа Всемирной программы ООН по образованию в области прав человека с целью выявить основные тенденции этого процесса и ее влияние на молодежь. В нем изложены действия, предпринимаемые Узбекистаном, чтобы стать активным участником Всемирной программы, и подчеркивается важность политики в отношении молодежи для глобального и национального сообществ.

Ключевые слова: Всеобщая декларация прав человека, ООН, Молодежь, Молодежная стратегия ООН, Всемирная программа образования в области прав человека, Узбекистан, образование в области прав человека.



On February 19th of 1861 Czar Alexander II of ruling Russian monarchy abolished serfdom by issuing The Emancipation Reform[1]. The biggest problem ensuing from the reform was ignorance of freed people who did not know what to do with the newly obtained status. Russia would have to go through a string of other reforms and a revolution to restructure the society in the aftermath.

In a slightly similar line of historical development, United Nations General Assembly adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th of 1948 in Paris[2]. Incomparable in scale, output and influence in the lives of global population, UDHR also levied the responsibility of breathing in the new atmosphere to people who managed to start and finish two world wars in half a century. To this day without educating the global population about the human rights, without letting human rights education to become as ubiquitous as general literacy, world risks of abandoning the lessons of two world wars.


What is Human Rights Education?

There is wisdom in deriving the core from constituents. Thus, revising one's understanding of Human Rights and Education separately will be of value when looking at the definition of Human Rights Education as a whole.

Human Rights are fundamental, inalienable, universal, and egalitarian rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status[3]. They include, but not limited to such rights as right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, right to work and education and many others. While most of these rights are straightforward to understand in their concept, some of them may seem alien in different parts of the world depending on level of development. For instance, the value of right to freedom of expression may not be fully understood in more authoritarian countries and the peoples of the regimes may seem ready to give up their freedom of expression for the feeling of security and peace. In poverty stricken countries, right to education and work and basic medical care may not be seen as basic human rights by ordinary citizens but as a privilege of the few wealthy. 

Another issue is understanding the characteristics of every human right and what makes human rights fundamental, inalienable, universal, and egalitarian. How to ensure that human rights are inalienable and universal? How to measure that human rights are being accorded to people based on egalitarian principles? This is where the role of education becomes apparent and definition is required. As it stands, education is act or process of imparting and/or developing knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, and competencies in one or multiple fields[4]. The role of education is finding the answers to two questions asked above.

Elucidating the logical chain of thinking, Human Rights Education (HRE) is act or process of imparting or gaining the knowledge in the field of human rights and developing skills and competencies to exercise one's own human rights or competence to recognize and respect others human rights. In this regard, HRE allows realization of human rights of one people without diminishing the rights of another, i.e. without physical altercations that has accompanied so many fights against slavery. HRE “contributes to the prevention of violence and conflicts[5]” in the process of helping one group of people to realize that they are hindering the enjoyment of human rights of another group. In sum, HRE includes any learning, education, training or information efforts aimed at building a universal culture of human rights[6].

HRE Milestones

HRE has been evolving since its inception along with modern notion of human rights in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In legal terms, HRE is as old as UDHR. UDHR substantiates HRE in Article 26.2 by stating:

                        "Education shall be directed to the full development of the

                        human personality and to the strengthening of respect for

                        human rights and fundamental freedoms[7]"

This article gives all-encompassing definition of human rights education and sets the objective for HRE. Even though UDHR was adopted in 1948 by 48 member of UN which then comprised of 58 countries, second part of XX century was not free of obstacles for advancing human rights causes even in the most developed of countries[8]. While USA was immersed in debacle over equating the rights of African Americans by removing segregation, Europe was usurped in deciding the place, status and role of women in family, society, and work. These events resulted in adoption of Convention against discrimination in Education by UNESCO in 1960. Article 5 of the convention resonates with Article 26 of UDHR in defining and setting the objective for education in general and human rights education in particular:

                        "Education shall be directed to the full development of the

                        human personality and to the strengthening of respect for

                        human rights and fundamental freedoms[9]"

Tehran Conference - International Conference on Human Rights - brought the youth to the forefront of human rights movement. Importance of starting human rights education with young people was highlighted in resolution XX of the conference. The participants and signatories of the resolution called upon the global community to ensure that youth grow up with a spirit of respect for human rights and dignities[10]. This was a fundamental move that resonated with globally active youth and shifted the focus of human rights education where it belongs first of all - young people. While it is undeniable that human rights education is a lifelong process, not unlike education in general, the biological fact that people are most open to new ideas, ideologies, and concepts at young age should be exploited in HRE also. In addition, young people develop new skills and competencies faster than adults and spread them among their peers much more effectively and efficiently than adults[11].

1993 World Conference on Human Rights reaffirmed the duties of states signatories of UDHR regarding HRE. UDHR, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and other international legal instruments oblige governments to ensure that “education is aimed at strengthening respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”[12]. States play the biggest role in ensuring the rule of law and respect for human rights. Closure of prisons, fair treatment of prisoners, provision of freedom of expression, right to protection from torture are some of the freedoms people can enjoy provided governments understand the values and characteristics of human rights. Therefore, HRE that started with young people should encompass all layers of demographic map up to the biggest authorities.

One of the main outcomes of World Conference on Human Rights from 1993 in Vienna was conclusion that peaceful, harmonious and tolerant relationship between individuals, groups, communities and nations could be achieved by eradicating illiteracy[13]. Recommendation was to achieve eradication of illiteracy via directing "education towards the full development of the human personality and the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedom”[14]. Based on these recommendations UN General Assembly proclaimed a decade starting from January 1st, 1995 - United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education. The decade was aimed to be spent on building and strengthening programs for Human Rights Education at all levels. The biggest achievement and most positive outcome of this decade has been the World Programme for Human Rights Education that started in 2005 and has been continuing ever since.


World Program for Human Rights Education


WPHRE was built on the expertise collected over five decades since UDHR and systematized during the Decade for Human Rights Education.  While Decade for Human Rights Education was one time, limited period effort to strengthen HRE programs, WPHRE is the child of this decade that is meant to continue over a long period in several stages[15].

Phase 1. 2005-2009

 WPHRE is being carried out at different stages for different auditoriums. First stage was directed at human rights education in primary and secondary schools. In alignment with philosophy of focusing on young people first, WPHRE mobilized nations to carry out strategic human rights education programs in schools with the help of educators and human rights activists[16]. Evaluation conducted in the aftermath of the first stage of WPHRE revealed that most countries took the step to include HRE into school curriculum. Country by country analysis revealed that while some countries taught human rights and rights of children as a separate subject, others have integrated HRE into the education systems whereby students are taught and led to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Yet in other countries, such as Russia, these two approaches were combined for better effect whereby children were taught separate subjects on human rights even though HRE had been integrated into the education system as a whole[17].

Phase 2. 2010-2014

Phase 2 presented a logical continuation of Phase 1 by focusing on students of higher education institutions, teachers, educators, civil servants and military personnel. While very few countries reported under-achievement[18], second phase was very successful in most countries. Majority of reporting countries mentioned that human rights were already being taught at tertiary institutions even without government or third party interference. Especially, faculties or departments of Law, Political Sciences, Social Sciences, and International Relations have been found to teach human rights throughout the globe[19].

Phase 3. 2015-2019

Phase 3 was built around the idea of strengthening the effects of first two stages, eliminating the shortfalls of the previous stages, and training the media professionals and journalists in the field of human rights. Phase three allowed nations to revisit their education policies with the hindsight of first two phases, feedback provided by OHCHR and global community and involvement of other professionals who had been trained in human rights by this time. In addition, majority of countries conducted multi-level training for not only media professionals but for law enforcement and educators too[20]. Focusing on training of trainers during multi-level training sessions allowed countries to create pebble effect of spreading human rights educations throughout their countries.

Phase 4. 2020-2024

On September 27, 2018, The Human Rights Council adopted resolution 39/3 making the youth the focus of the 4th phase of World Program for Human Rights Education[21].  The aim is to align 4th phase of WPHRE with SDG target 4.7 in educating youth for “equality, human rights and non-discrimination, and inclusion and respect for diversity with the aim of building inclusive and peaceful societies[22]”, “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”[23].

Essentially global scale initiatives are carried out with sustainability in mind. Likewise, advancing and guaranteeing the ideals of universal and inalienable human rights for all human beings living and those who will live on Earth will require involvement of today's youth in these efforts at some point in time in timeline of current history being written. The earlier youth get involved, the better the outcome. Unlike their predecessors who came to understand the characteristics and value of human rights over two world wars, it is better for current youth to understand the vitality of human rights through education, participation, and leadership. Today's youth is tomorrow’s adults and leaders. While today they are being shaped by world around them, tomorrow they will shape the world.

Inherently, all youth do have universal basic human right to education and this right includes education in human rights or human rights education[24]. By exercising their right for education, youth can act as agents of change for the better and prevent political and societal failures by preventing international, interreligious, and inter-ethnic conflicts that have been main source of abuse of human rights. Signatories of Doha Declaration (1995) committed themselves to developing programmes for youth with foresight of youth serving as agents of positive change in crime prevention, human rights protection, and advancement of rule of law[25].

Youth are seen as solution for future conflicts provided they are armed with principles of humanity, international harmony, respect for human rights and diversity. UN Secretary General encourages teaching youth fundamentals of human rights, international relationships, peace building, socio-emotional and behavioural skills in his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism[26].


Uzbekistan and HRE for Youth

In Uzbekistan, young people make up about 40% of the population[27], as such youth are seen as major force in political, economical and cultural life of Uzbekistan. Currently, government agencies, NGOs and educational institutions are working together to promote active participation of youth in political, economical and social reforms being carried out through out Uzbekistan. To usher in the reforms to educate youth in line with global standards of HRE the Law on “State Youth Policy” was adopted.

Political activity of youth is being encouraged countrywide at national, regional and local levels. Statistical evidence for the decisive role youth are going to play in lives of Uzbek people emerged in the aftermath of 2019 Parliamentary Elections for the Republic of Uzbekistan. 9 deputies (6%) of the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament and local representative bodies (10%) under the age of 30 were elected during the December elections. This is the result of reforms in education and youth policy throughout the country.

Most importantly, Parliament of Uzbekistan adopted the National Action Plan for the implementation of the provisions of the “United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training (HRET)” and the “Roadmap” to the Plan, which laid a new impetus to educational activities and confirms the state's commitment to human rights values.The National Action Plan for implementing the provisions of the UN Declaration on HRET is intended to identify areas and determine the general direction in which specific measures will be implemented. This document can be considered as an implementation of the ideas and provisions of the Fourth phase of the World Program for Human Rights Education.

Uzbekistan has hosted several international events with the participation of the UN, OSCE, OIC, and the CIS to further the reforms in par with international standards. In particular, in June 2018, Tashkent welcomed participants of international conference on the topic “The role of youth in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalism leading to terrorism”, which was attended by the Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake.

At the regional level, within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on September 7-8, 2019, the Sixth international seminar of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission was held on the theme “The importance of promoting and protecting the rights of youth for building peaceful democratic societies and sustainable development”. During the event, Ryszard Komenda welcomed Uzbekistan as one of the fast-track countries for implementation of UN Youth Strategy[28]. In addition, participants of the 6thinternational seminar adopted the outcome document – the Tashkent Declaration on the Rights of Youth of the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

As part of the UN75 initiative, Uzbekistan plans to hold a large-scale event - the Samarkand Human Rights Forum. At the 72nd UN General Assembly, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan H.E. Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed the development of the UN International Convention on Youth Rights. Uzbekistan has initiated work to create this document. A Draft International Convention on the Rights of Youth has been prepared and it is planned to discuss the document in the framework of the Samarkand Forum. Furthermore, the Forum will also discuss the important and positive role of youth in sustainable development, preventing crisis and ensuring gender equality, realizing human rights and building a culture of peace, which are incorporated into the UN Strategy “Youth-2030”.

The event is expected to yield important documents and the outcomes are anticipated to boost and channel efforts of Uzbekistan in developing its young resources.



*Robiya Arslonova-Senior Specialist of the Human Rights Education and Training Department at National Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights.

[1]Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Emancipation Manifesto | Russia [1861]. [online] Available at: [Accessed 05 March 2020].

[2] United Nations. 1948. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Available at: [Accessed06 March 2020].

[3] Ibid

[4] 2020. Definition of Education | Dictionary.Com. [online] Available at: [Accessed 06 March 2020].

[5]Draft Plan of Action for the fourth phase (2020-2024) of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, A/HRC/42/23 (26 July 2019)


[7] UDHR, Article 26


[9] UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Convention Against Discrimination in Education, 14 December 1960, Available at: [accessed 10 March 2020], Article 5

[10] Resolution XX  entitled “Education of youth in the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms” International Conference on Human Rights in Teheran, 12 May 1968.

[11]Broady, T., Chan, A. YC. & Caputi, P. (2010). Comparison of older and younger adults' attitudes towards and abilities with computers: implications for training and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41 (3), 473-485.

[12] United Nations General Assembly. 1993. Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, 12 July, A/ CONF.157/23.


[14] 2020. OHCHR | United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 March 2020].


[16]United Nations. 2006. World Programme for Human Rights Education First Phase. New York and Geneva: United Nations.

[17] Final evaluation of the implementation of the first phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education - Report of the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on Human Rights Education in the School System. UN.Doc. A/65/322.

[18] Estonia only targeted higher education institutions, leaving out the professionals, Kuwait limited the training for Ministers, Burundi trained only police officers and some school principals.

[19]Final Evaluation of the implementation of the second phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education – Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN.Doc. A/HRC/30/24.

[20]Midterm progress report on the implementation of the third phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education

[21] 2020. OHCHR | Fourth Phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 March 2020].


[23] United Nations. 2020. Education - United Nations Sustainable Development. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 March 2020].

[24] UDHR

[25]Draft plan of action for the fourth phase (2020–2024) of the World Programme for Human Rights Education

[26] ibid

[27] 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2020].

[28] Speech of Ryzszard Komenda on the occasion of Sixth International Seminar of the OIC IPHRC.