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“Human dignity” as a device for human rights schooling in Cambodian legislation faculties

Human dignity is commonly framed as a foundational human rights idea; but, regardless of its centrality to worldwide human rights and improvement frameworks, the boundaries of its that means stay contested, with a spread of conceptualisations persisting throughout numerous cultures and contexts. These contestations, and what they imply for human rights and improvement initiatives and insurance policies in observe, type the topic of the analysis undertaking ‘Finding “Human Dignity” in Cambodia.’ What are the probabilities and challenges of integrating the idea of “human dignity” into human rights curricula in Cambodia’s legislation faculties?  Our work in creating a pilot useful resource on this space offers some insights.

Since human dignity is foundational to the worldwide human rights framework, it’s unsurprising to search out it emerge as a rising theme within the discourse round human rights schooling. Our assessment of related human rights schooling literature, curricula, and coverage discovered that “human dignity” is framed in 3 ways:

As a precept of human rights schooling, “human dignity” influences  the UN Declaration on ‘Human Rights Training and Coaching’, which requires human rights schooling to ‘be primarily based on the rules of equality…human dignity, inclusion and non-discrimination’ (Article 5), whereas the Council of Europe’s ‘Handbook for Human Rights Training with Younger Individuals’ stipulates that human rights schooling actions ought to ‘be such that dignity and equality are an inherent a part of the observe.’

“Human dignity” is a purpose of human rights schooling, which  has been recognized as a method of each creating ‘the human character and sense of dignity’ and instructing college students ‘to deal with an individual with dignity and take part in making the group of dignified individuals’.  It additionally seems within the Council of Europe’s definition of human rights schooling as ‘instructional programmes and actions that target selling equality in human dignity’.

“Human dignity” in Cambodian legislation, coverage and civil society advocacy

Important variations come up round how “human dignity” is outlined and guarded, and what it requires of states, non-state establishments and residents.

Inside human rights schooling curricula, instructional actions which centre on, or embrace dialogue on “human dignity” reveal how human dignity can act as a device to assist develop understanding of human rights. For instance, the UN’s “‘ABC: Instructing Human Rights’ information, the Zurich College of Instructor Training’s “Dwelling Democracy” undertaking, and the World Youth Alliance’s “Human Dignity Curriculum” all comprise classes which utilise “human dignity”. These curricula have been adopted around the globe, whereas at a home stage additional examples could be present in China, Thailand, and South Africa, amongst others.

These discussions across the position of “human dignity” in human rights schooling overlap with different debates in human rights discourse, together with debates about how “common ideas of rights” could be taught in numerous instructional contexts around the globe, how human rights could be “translated” into native contexts, and the position of “intermediaries” corresponding to NGO staff, attorneys, and lecturers in “refashion[ing] international rights agendas for native contexts.” In our analysis, we discovered a number of examples of “localised” human rights curricula that engaged with “human dignity” by means of culturally related situations and ideas, together with in Namibia, the place “ubuntu” was used as a framework for exploring concepts which resonated with human rights, and India, the place the caste system was used to lift questions on dignity and discrimination.

Towards this backdrop, our undertaking seeks to know the probabilities and challenges of integrating a “localised” idea of “‘human dignity” into human rights schooling in Cambodia’s increased schooling system, specifically its legislation faculties.

Dialogue with human rights educators in Cambodia raised the likelihood that “human dignity” would possibly present a useful gizmo by means of which to debate and promote foundational human rights values in a politically delicate local weather the place they’ve turn into more and more related to political opposition to the dominant Cambodian Individuals’s Get together. This makes human rights schooling more and more delicate and difficult for educators. But, in such a context it’s arguably much more worthwhile for future attorneys and authorized practitioners to additional their understanding of the underpinning rules of human rights.

Over the past eighteen months, members of our crew interviewed and performed focus teams with human rights educators from round Cambodia. Additionally they held focus teams and trial instructing classes with legislation college students in Phnom Penh, utilizing regionally related case research such because the controversial “Draft Legislation on Public Order” to discover “human dignity” and its relationship to human rights.

Two key findings emerged. First, we discovered that whereas educators highlighted the potential significance of the “human dignity” idea in human rights schooling, extra instructing assets had been required. For instance, one educator famous that the idea “is absolutely very a lot in want of clarification. If we don’t perceive, we can’t train others and [may] make them much more confused”. One other steered: “[i]f you possibly can publish a guide and state the final phrases, the rules for a person to have dignity…authorized circumstances or conventional authorized circumstances, it will be simple for me to show.”

Second, we discovered that utilizing case research as an entry level sparked animated conversations round how “human dignity” and different human rights ideas had been understood in Cambodia. In trial lessons, college students engaged in dialogue on the gendered dimensions of dignity, resonance with Khmer social values, Buddhist ideas, and rights and duties extra broadly. For instance, throughout a dialogue primarily based on a case research on the theme of the dignity of the lifeless, one pupil talked about {that a} conventional funeral with Buddhist rituals ought to nonetheless be organized, “as a result of it’s the final likelihood for them to hear to numerous chant and dharmas in line with the custom that we, Cambodians, have to arrange…The funeral is an efficient deed and dignity for all of us.”

On the worth of the case research strategy, one pupil famous that “I can achieve some extra information associated to case evaluation and enhance information about dignity and human rights to a different stage…By the dialogue, it gave me new information from all of you, and all of you additionally acquired new information from me.” Educators additionally mirrored positively on the ways in which engagement with “human dignity” may inform their instructing observe. For instance, at a workshop with Cambodian educators in Could 2022, one participant famous that speaking about “human dignity” made them really feel extra assured of their capability train human rights and foundational human rights ideas, because it provoked deeper reflections on what these ideas meant.

Centring human dignity within the human rights curriculum: a case research strategy?

This preliminary analysis suggests that there’s an urge for food for extra assets on “human dignity”, and {that a} case research strategy would possibly present a method by which to introduce the idea in a authorized schooling context. Over the previous months, we’ve been designing instructing supplies for 4 classes on “human dignity” that may be tailored to swimsuit present human rights legislation programs in Cambodia. Importantly, our purpose is to not promote any explicit definition of human dignity. As we’ve beforehand explored, “human dignity” has a number of, numerous and contested meanings, and our undertaking is designed to query fairly than reinforce uncritical assumptions of universality. As an alternative, the supplies encourage reflection on the idea and permit college students to work in direction of an understanding of its position as a basis of human rights.

Drawing on our subject analysis and expertise of instructing by means of case research, the supplies embrace a number of case research drawn from related our bodies and establishments of legislation. Reflecting on the significance of “localisation”, we use the Extraordinary Chambers within the Courts of Cambodia to introduce college students to “human dignity” within the context of worldwide humanitarian legislation, in addition to home laws. Different case research are drawn from worldwide human rights our bodies such because the African Court docket of Human Rights and European Court docket of Human Rights.

In every case research, college students are supplied with the information of the case and the position that “human dignity” performed within the judgment, earlier than being requested to think about dialogue questions that goal to foster reflection on the idea’s that means and function in that context. We hope that using numerous case research will promote a ‘bottom-up’ strategy, the place college students can replicate on the conceptual boundaries of “human dignity” in several contexts. On this manner, our hope is that “human dignity” could act as a useful entry level by means of which to replicate on human rights, each as a global framework and as one thing related to Cambodia. The next months will contain looking for suggestions from college students and educators alike, in an try to assemble extra details about how centring “human dignity” can facilitate dialogue and the promotion of foundational human rights values in Cambodia’s politically delicate local weather.

The article attracts from the two-year analysis undertaking titled, ‘Finding ‘Human Dignity’ in Cambodia’. This undertaking is a collaboration between the Centre for the Examine of Humanitarian Legislation in Phnom Penh, Queen’s College Belfast and the College of Sydney Legislation Faculty. It’s funded by the British Academy Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling International Challenges Fund, grant quantity: TGC200177. For additional data contact Dr Rachel Killean at [email protected] You possibly can entry our analysis briefs in English and Khmer and skim extra in regards to the undertaking right here.



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