By Robert Kesten, Executive Director of PDHRE
As a state in transition after years of turning off telephones to speak of meaningful things, distrust of neighbors rather than relying on them, and keeping silent on the most concerning issues, Tunisia is facing myriad changes to its civil society.
With these changes comes a growing demand for personal responsibility and a necessity to address the integration of democracy and human rights into daily life. The very foundation of a human-based world, one including equality under the law and the elimination of prejudice, calls for a framework based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
For almost 25 years, the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning (PDHRE) has facilitated the process of learning and integrating Human Rights into daily life, ensuring that every woman, man, youth and child knows, owns and can act upon their human rights. The process of integrating is not education, but the actual acceptance of human rights as an integral part of the way we act towards those in our community, mastering the relationship tools allowing us to function in society.
This is not human rights as determined by violations, but the holistic, integrated and interrelated UDHR version that demands we follow the path to realization and fulfillment of human rights goals and objectives, not merely attempt to identify and deter violations. This effort brings social change, enhanced quality of life and a personal feeling of achievement to all who participate fully.
In Tunisia, PDHRE has introduced almost 100 Tunisians to the tools of making Human Rights part of the lives. This process, over a 3-day period with over 9 hours of Learning/Integration sessions, resulted in the establishment of a Human Rights Corps and by the end of the year, the creation of Tunis as a Human Rights City.
A Human Rights Corps brings people together for the Learning/Integration of Human Rights as part of daily life sessions, encourages them to take the sessions home, to the workplace and into their network of social and professional contacts.
The goal of the effort to is reach, on a global scale, over 100 million people by 2023, the 75th anniversary of the UDHR. The plan also calls for the creation of 100 Human Rights Cities. Tunisia is well on its way to becoming a leader in the MENA nations and bringing a new, more holistic understanding of human rights to people who have lived for far too long under the rule of dictators rather than the rule of law, where all know justice equally.
A Human Rights Corps is formed by businesses, government and civil society (which includes NGOs, labor, educators, healthcare, academia and more) coming together around the same table as equals. The group seeks to take the message of human rights learning and integration to every individual in that community. By building a world based on human rights values, principles and objectives, many of our local, regional and global problems can be addressed in meaningful ways.
PDHRE welcomes the Human Rights Corps of Tunisia to the family of International Human Rights Cities and Corps. The Human Rights Corps of Tunisia will be run, operated and controlled by Tunisians for Tunisians. There will be no international administrators, workers, or foreign agency and or government involvement.
Bravo to the women and men of Tunisia for leading the way in integrating Human Rights into their lives and the society they love.