In his keynote address, Special Rapporteur Clément Voulé emphasized the inherent relationship between human rights education and the rights on freedom of assembly and association within his mandate. On this issue, he contends that
“Through human rights education, rights holders are empowered to exercise human rights, including rights to peaceful assembly and association… it enables them to participate in public life and contributes to peaceful and equitable societies.”
Noting the importance of intersectionality in human rights activism, Special Rapporteur Voulé went on to praise how the dialogue generated by human rights education leads to concrete action that protects the rights of vulnerable groups. Calling attention to the power of the work done by Equitas and other NGOs in this field, the Special Rapporteur stated that “human rights education challenges patriarchy, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination that marginalize groups and prevent them from participating in civic space.”
Following up on this inspiring and stimulating keynote address, panelists delivered comments based on their own experiences as human rights defenders and educators across the globe.
For Fernanda Lapa, the progressive shrinking of civic space in Brazil has created challenges for the exercise of human rights. Advocating that “every country should have an open space… to dialogue with civil society about human rights education,” she denoted successful efforts to establish dialogue on human rights education in political spaces. In particular, she drew attention to Brazil’s increased engagement on the international level on the subject of human rights education, noting that over 100 human rights defenders engaged in this conversation during the most recent Universal Periodic Review in Brazil.