The purpose of Module 2 is to provide trainees with a brief history of the struggles for recog­nition of ESC rights at the international level.  The module also introduces some fundamental principles, such as equality and nondiscrimination as well as the universality and indivisibil­ity of human rights. 

This module should help trainees understand/clarify for themselves:

  • the history of ESC rights at the international level, including struggles that contrib­uted to their recognition;
  • principles such as equality, nondiscrimination, universality and indivisibility of hu­man rights; and
  • the importance of taking the contemporary context into account.

Suggested Methods

A trainer may consider supplementing the information provided in the manual with his/her own research or by inviting an expert on the subject to introduce the module. 

  • Using the information shared in the previous session on Module 1: A trainer could intro­duce the module by summarizing the information shared by the participants in the previ­ous session.  Information that was shared, for example, about workers’ or peasant move­ments that have contributed to the recognition of ESC rights could be used as an intro­duction to the module.  The purpose is to convey that ESC rights are won as the result of struggles, by individuals and by groups of people, and that activism of today builds on and continues the struggles-organized and unorganized, successful and unsuccessful-of earlier decades and centuries.
  • Using visual aids for a lecture and discussion on the history of the development of human rights: A trainer could summarize the information provided in the manual (if necessary, supplementing it) and present it in the form of a lecture accompanied by visual aids (transparencies or flip charts).  The presentation should cover the developments before and after the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.  It should also include clarifi­cations on basic concepts such as equality, nondiscrimination, universality and indivisi­bility of human rights.
  • Using a game and/or case study for introducing the basic concepts: In addition to the lecture presentation, a trainer could use games and/or case studies for introducing basic principles.  The following are some suggested methods:

Potato game for introducing principles equality and nondiscrimination

A potato is distributed to each participant.  All are asked to write a description of their potato.  They can imagine it to be a human being and describe it.  For example, they can give it a name and describe some physical and emotional characteristics.  In the next step, each reads the description of their potato.  After this, everyone drops their potato into a box.  Finally, participants are asked to find in the box the potato described by them.  Clearly, identifying the individual potatoes has become difficult, if not impossible, once they have been mixed together.

At this stage, participants are asked to reflect on the message of the exercise.  One mes­sage is that we often ignore the individuality of a person and associate that person with the group to which he or she belongs.  Stereotyping is common and leads to prejudice and discrimination.  Discrimination is a negation of equality and human dignity.  The discus­sion then leads on to the question of the equality of everyone based on the inherent dig­nity of all human beings.  This provides a means for introducing human rights norms that are based on the fundamental principles of equality and nondiscrimination.

Case study for introducing the concept of the indivisibility of human rights

Trainees can be asked to enact a role play based on the following case study.  After the role play, the trainer should ask the participants to share their views and facilitate a dis­cussion on the question of the indivisibility of human rights.

Kampong Reap is a village of some seventy-five households in country C.  The nearest school is five to seven kilometers away.  The few children who are sent to school are sent when they are old enough to walk the distance.  Those who go to school pay money to the teachers, who demand it since they are not paid regularly by the government.  Most parents find it economically difficult to send their chil­dren to school.  Only a handful of people in the village can read and write.

People in the village have to travel a long distance for medical treatment, which is itself an expensive and difficult undertaking, since the village is several kilome­ters from a motorable road. A significant amount of money is spent on health care by the villagers.  With poor nutrition and nonexistent sanitation, disease flour­ishes.  Illness is the most important reason that poor villagers sell their land. 

Fishing has traditionally been a very important occupation.  Recently, the gov­ernment reintroduced auctioning of fishing lots for private owners.  The area claimed by the lot owners has expanded and areas previously reserved for public fishing have shrunk.  Villagers have been told that wherever the water reaches, the lot reaches.  This is a powerful assertion in an area where the water floods up to the edge of the houses for six months of the year.  Lot owners or their subcon­tractors threaten and use violence against people for fishing in front of their houses. 

Lack of access to fishing lots particularly affects those who do not have land.  The landless households are completely dependent on the rapidly declining fish popu­lation.  Lacking access to fishing and without alternative employment, some families face starvation.

The right to freedom of association and assembly is not guaranteed in the country.  The government does not tolerate any form of protests by the people.  Impunity is a major problem in the country.

Faced with a dire situation, some villagers broke the barriers marking fishing lots and began to fish.  The lot owners brought in the police and during the ensuing skirmish several villagers were shot and killed by the police.  Many were arrested, kept in illegal detention and tortured.  An international human rights organization conducted a fact-finding mission and concluded that it was a case of arbitrary killing.  The international group also severely criticized the government for illegal detention and torture of villagers.

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