Culture and Human Rights

In the early 21st century, ‘human rights’ has developed into the most global of all discourses, perhaps even more global than ‘the market.’  Increasingly we hear of human-centered development taking precedence over market-based development, although many would likely disagree here.

Teaching the subject of human rights is by its very nature both pedagogical as well as activist: to teach about human rights is to raise consciousness with regards to human rights, and to compel participants into critical reflection as well as action.  Therefore this module makes extensive use of basic human rights instruments, in addition to critical and academic analyses of human rights.

This six-lesson module teaches the emerging framework of transnational human rights from a cultural perspective, using case studies from around the world that demonstrate the contemporary global variation in human rights discourses and practices. The first three lessons focus on the acquisition of basic knowledge of the substance of international human rights, including civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.  The last three lessons focus on specific issues in human rights, including violence and the problem of torture, the rights of women and children, and the rights of indigenous peoples.

1. Identify and describe the main instruments and mechanisms of the international human rights regime, and the global causes to which these instruments respond.
2. Discuss the relation between culture, humanity, and rights.
3. Discuss the problems of cultural universality and diversity in regards to implementing human rights at the international, national, and local scales.
4. Understand the global significance and controversies of human rights in the 21st century.

Testimonial from a Piloter of the Culture and Human Rights Module

Click to view the video with subtitles.