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Global Frameworks


Roopa Madhav

CRITICAL READINGS IN HUMAN RIGHTS AND PEACE
By Ram Narayan Kumar and Sonia Muller Rappard
South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Kathmandu, 2006, pp. 313, price not stated.

INTRODUCING HUMAN RIGHTS: AN OVERVIEW INCLUDING ISSUES OF GENDER JUSTICE, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND CONSUMER LAW
By South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 258, Rs. 195.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 3 March 2007

The Global Campaign for Peace Education identifies the challenges to peace as ‘the continued development of weapons of mass destruction, armed conflicts between states and ethnic groups, the spread of racism, gender inequality, community violence, the huge and widening gap between the rich and the poor through the globalized economy, massive violations of human rights and the degradation of the environment’. To this one might add some of the running themes in this book viz., cultural and social practices; engagement with religion; and state policies and practices.   The South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) has been engaged with human rights and peace research as well as the practical work of human rights documentation, public interest litigation, advocacy, building solidarity networks and civil society initiatives in all the countries in South Asia for nearly fifteen years, now. It runs a unique distance education programme on Human Rights and Peace Studies. In its current format, the course has three distinct components: (1) a three month long distance programme conducted through a secure e-learning platform; (2) a clinical component that brings the participants as well as the members of the permanent faculty in joint research projects; (3) a three week long Direct Orientation when the participants, faculty and independent resource persons come together for intense discussions and interactions.   The motivation behind initiating such a course is explicated at some length in the introductory chapter and it is best captured in their words: ‘The initiative was based on the recognition that human rights and peace education should not become a monopoly of the States, which not only commit widespread human rights violations but also stimulate with their socio-political, economic and military policies, endemic situations of violent conflict and wars within the region. Also, the complex ethos of denial that obtains in most countries in South Asia, make their universities and quasi-governmental organizations including statutory human rights commissions inappropriate forums to lead the Vienna call. Under these circumstances, a non-governmental regional network of human rights organizations, which does not depend on the local governments for funding, seemed to qualify as a forum to initiate a regional human rights and peace education programme.’   In this process, SAFHR has engaged with both activists and academics to ‘ensure that the course makes a conscious effort to move away from the banking model of education in which the participants receive deposits of knowledge into their learning accounts to a structurally reciprocal ...


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