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

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Human dignity is commonly framed as a foundational human rights idea; but, regardless of its centrality to worldwide human rights and growth frameworks, the boundaries of its which means stay contested, with a variety of conceptualisations persisting throughout various cultures and contexts. These contestations, and what they imply for human rights and growth tasks and insurance policies in apply, type the topic of the analysis challenge ‘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 growing a pilot useful resource on this space gives 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 overview 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 Schooling and Coaching’, which requires human rights schooling to ‘be based mostly on the ideas of equality…human dignity, inclusion and non-discrimination’ (Article 5), whereas the Council of Europe’s ‘Guide for Human Rights Schooling with Younger Individuals’ stipulates that human rights schooling actions ought to ‘be such that dignity and equality are an inherent a part of the apply.’

“Human dignity” is a objective of human rights schooling, which  has been recognized as a method of each growing ‘the human character and sense of dignity’ and educating 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 ‘academic 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, academic actions which centre on, or embody dialogue on “human dignity” show how human dignity can act as a device to assist develop understanding of human rights. For instance, the UN’s “‘ABC: Educating Human Rights’ information, the Zurich College of Trainer Schooling’s “Dwelling Democracy” challenge, and the World Youth Alliance’s “Human Dignity Curriculum” all include classes which utilise “human dignity”. These curricula have been adopted around the globe, whereas at a home stage additional examples will 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” will be taught in various academic contexts around the globe, how human rights will be “translated” into native contexts, and the position of “intermediaries” reminiscent of NGO employees, 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 culturally related eventualities 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 boost questions on dignity and discrimination.

In opposition to this backdrop, our challenge seeks to know the probabilities and challenges of integrating a “localised” idea of “‘human dignity” into human rights schooling in Cambodia’s larger schooling system, particularly its legislation faculties.

Dialogue with human rights educators in Cambodia raised the likelihood that “human dignity” may present a great tool by 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 Celebration. This makes human rights schooling more and more delicate and difficult for educators. But, in such a context it’s arguably much more helpful for future attorneys and authorized practitioners to additional their understanding of the underpinning ideas of human rights.

Over the past eighteen months, members of our workforce interviewed and carried out focus teams with human rights educators from round Cambodia. In addition they held focus teams and trial educating classes with legislation college students in Phnom Penh, utilizing domestically 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 educating assets have been required. For instance, one educator famous that the idea “is admittedly 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 prompt: “[i]f you’ll be able to publish a e-book and state the final phrases, the ideas 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 have 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 obligations extra broadly. For instance, throughout a dialogue based mostly on a case research on the theme of the dignity of the useless, one pupil talked about {that a} conventional funeral with Buddhist rituals ought to nonetheless be organized, “as a result of it’s the final probability for them to pay attention to varied chant and dharmas based on the custom that we, Cambodians, have to organize…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 acquire some further data associated to case evaluation and enhance data about dignity and human rights to a different stage…By way of the dialogue, it gave me new data from all of you, and all of you additionally obtained new data from me.” Educators additionally mirrored positively on the ways in which engagement with “human dignity” might inform their educating apply. 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 means 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 added assets on “human dignity”, and {that a} case research strategy may present a technique by which to introduce the idea in a authorized schooling context. Over the previous months, now we have been designing educating supplies for 4 classes on “human dignity” that may be tailored to swimsuit current human rights legislation programs in Cambodia. Importantly, our objective is to not promote any specific definition of human dignity. As now we have beforehand explored, “human dignity” has a number of, various and contested meanings, and our challenge is designed to query somewhat than reinforce uncritical assumptions of universality. As a substitute, the supplies encourage reflection on the idea and permit college students to work in the direction of an understanding of its position as a basis of human rights.

Drawing on our area analysis and expertise of educating by case research, the supplies embody 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 Courtroom of Human Rights and European Courtroom 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 contemplate dialogue questions that intention to foster reflection on the idea’s which means and goal in that context. We hope that using various case research will promote a ‘bottom-up’ strategy, the place college students can mirror on the conceptual boundaries of “human dignity” in numerous contexts. On this means, our hope is that “human dignity” might act as a useful entry level by which to mirror on human rights, each as a world framework and as one thing related to Cambodia. The next months will contain searching for suggestions from college students and educators alike, in an try to collect 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 challenge titled, ‘Finding ‘Human Dignity’ in Cambodia’. This challenge is a collaboration between the Centre for the Research 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 World Challenges Fund, grant quantity: TGC200177. For additional data contact Dr Rachel Killean at [email protected] You may entry our analysis briefs in English and Khmer and browse extra in regards to the challenge right here.

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