Human Rights

It’s 2017 – Welcome to CISV’s year of Human Rights!

2017 is CISV’s year for Human Rights. Throughout the year, we will bring ideas, discussion pieces, materials, and resources to help you to explore, educate on, and take action toward Human Rights in your Chapter or programme. If you’re interested in contributing any ideas or resources, contact the 2017 Human Rights Team.

Each year, CISV International puts the spotlight on one of our four educational content areas. This year we focus on Human Rights. What are they? Do we understand what they mean and how do they affect our lives and communities? How do they connect to Active Global Citizenship? How can we educate and empower people to take action in this area?

Big questions!

Over the course of the year, step by step, we’ll be tackling these questions and more, with the aim of getting CISVers around the world to think and talk about Human Rights; in your chapters, in your programmes, and in your communities at large.

Welcome to 2017 - CISV's Year of Human Rights!

Human Rights CISV

Each year, CISV International puts the spotlight on one of our four educational content areas. This year we focus on Human Rights. What are they? Do we fully understand what they mean and how they affect our lives and communities? How do they connect to Active Global Citizenship? How can we educate and empower people to take action in this area?

Big questions!

Over the course of this year, we’ll be tackling these questions and more, with the aim of getting CISVers around the world to think and talk about Human Rights, in your Chapters, in your programmes, and in your communities at large. In other words, in 2017 we want to give CISVers an extra boost to educate and inspire action with regard to Human Rights.

But where to start?

At the most basic level, Human Rights are a set of principles concerned with fairness and equality among people. They identify the most essential freedoms and entitlements we have as human beings. They describe the free and safe life that all people, everywhere, should be able to live.

Sounds fairly simple. But in practice, out in the world, Human Rights are anything but simple.

This is because, ultimately, Human Rights are an idea, created by humans. And humans are complicated creatures. Any person’s ability to have and enjoy their Human Rights depends on other people respecting those rights. And this gets complicated! Because: what happens when one person’s rights clash with another person’s? Whose responsibility is it to protect and ensure our Human Rights? What happens when Human Rights are violated? How can we, as citizens, advocate for our own and each other’s rights?

Complex, right? While Human Rights can be a challenging topic to get one’s head around, it’s also incredibly interesting and tremendously important. It’s an area that every Active Global Citizen should be aware of, and able to think critically about, whether you are aged 11 or 111.

Meet the team that will lead the 2017 Human Rights Campaign

meet the team

The team behind this year’s campaign will strive to bring you inspiring and useful resources, ideas that help you put focus on Human Rights throughout 2017. We’ll do that through blog and social media posts that bring together the best materials from within and beyond CISV. We’ll post articles, activities, resource guides, videos and links to other organizations doing great work.

If you want to follow, here are three things you can do:

  • First, bookmark this blog and check back often. We’ll post new stuff every few weeks.
  • Second, follow CISV International on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll post updates there too.
  • Third, let us know what you hope to see. Drop us a line at

In our next post, we’ll dig into the challenge of defining Human Rights and give you some tips on learning how to introduce and explain the topic.

The 2017 Human Rights Team

Educating and Inspiring Action for Human Right

human rights education

Education in CISV

As CISVers, we are very familiar with the concept of peace education. By peace education we mean that we look for non-violent alternatives to conflicts, cultivating dialogue and coexistence. Our educational programmes aim to develop a combination of knowledge and skills sustained by values that inspire our attitudes for a more peaceful and just world.

We also know that Human Rights are one of CISV’s educational content areas. But have you ever thought about what Human Rights mean in relation to peace education? What about Human Rights education? What is it all about and how can we work with it in our programs and in our chapters?

In this post, we are first going to talk about Human Rights education and about its connection with peace education. Later, we are going to take a quick look at a few small tips to bring the first part to our reality.

IPP Feed, 2015, Londrina – Brazil. Working with the local community on the right to food and the right to play.

Human Rights

The core of Human Rights was set in 1948 on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It’s a document worth reading and re-reading from time to time.  Its essence is all about protecting human dignity and valuing fundamental rights and freedoms.

Human Rights education is a tool to spread the word on Human Rights and to build knowledge, skills and attitudes to protect and promote Human Rights in our daily lives.

Recalling Adelaida Barrera and Rupert Friederichsen’s article back in 2013, the best way to look at Human Rights education is using three perspectives: educating aboutfor and through human rights. A visual form of these dimensions could be:

Human Rights infographic

Knowing about human rights means becoming familiar with what Human Rights are and what they represent in our lives. We can see Human Rights in an individual dimension, learning what they mean for myself, my own life and my environment. We can also look at them in a collective dimension and learn that “if those rights are for myself, they are for all others around me”. Connecting to peace education, knowing about Human Rights helps us understand that there is no place for violence, intolerance, discrimination when you acknowledge that we should respect people’s dignity and that we are all entitled to the same rights and freedoms.

Through Human Rights represents the principles, the values and the means that are part of the way of developing an educational process. Human Rights should be on the top of our minds in planning, implementing and evaluating steps. From our peace education point of view, Human Rights support bringing the abstract things into words. It helps us to g values, such as equality and justice, that are important to create a safe, inclusive, participative and constructive environment.

Acting for Human Rights shows the purpose, the aim of all we do and why we do it for. It represents being inspired and willing to take actions to respect individuals’ rights and dignity, giving the sense of responsibility for the decisions we make for ourselves and the impact they have on others. This is everything related to our peace education goals, to educate and inspire active global citizens to take actions for a more peaceful and just world, choosing dialogue over violence, choosing respect and valuing others and choosing life with dignity and equality.

Ultimately, Human Rights education is an important tool for a stronger development of peace education and a support base for a lasting impact of educational experiences.

Right! But how do we bring all of it to our reality?

This Human Rights campaign will take us all on a fun and revealing ride into this content area with practical tips to bring it all into action. To warm up with our expedition, here are some thoughts to explore this first “Human Rights education + peace education” overview:


Let’s try an exercise to think and reflect about whether we are aware of our rights and where to learn about them. If you were to explain Human Rights to someone else, how would you do it? What is the right you identify the most with and that you want to spread to the world? With the next friend or relative you meet, try taking 5 minutes to talk about that right you thought about.


Then let’s think about our actions in our daily lives and in our CISV moments. Am I making sure people are being included and feeling included and respected? Do I feel included and respected? Let’s think about how we talk to each other, how we interact. Do I feel comfortable and treated equally? Do I treat people equally? What can I do to make it better? How can I make my environment, my decisions and my actions reflect the values I cherish for?


Finally, let’s remember why we do all of this for. Let’s think about the persons we aim to inspire and the reason we are eager to inspire them for. Our aims, our goals, our purpose should always be clearly and strongly guiding us through our way.

It was fun to explore this first step into Human Rights. There is more to come!

Stay tuned.

Are you ready for this journey? Let’s go!

Adriana Rodrigues

on behalf of the Human Rights Team


Knowing more about human rights.

  • Are you curious to know what kind of international human rights documents your country chose to be part of? Looking at this cool interactive map of the UN’s office dedicated to Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Right to Seek Asylum

right to seek asylum

Imagine a usual morning conversation in the comfort of your home; what do you think it would sound like? Perhaps something like this:

  • Good morning!
  • Good morning to you as well, do we have any coffee?
  • Yes, we do, should I pour you a cup?
  • Yes, please! I will make some scrambled eggs and salad.

This would sound like the start of a very ordinary morning conversation between two people who live together. Very often, we take conversations like this for granted and we do so with every other aspect of a safe and happy life.

For asylum seekers, on the other hand, this kind of conversation would be an absolute delight. But, unfortunately, many people from countries in conflict do not feel safe or comfortable in their own homes; they are not able to create the life they wanted for themselves and their families.

Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up to the sound of bombs going off in our back yard or gun shots that break our windows. Most of us can’t imagine not having any stability, not enough food, or healthcare options. What would we do if we were in a situation like this? Would we try to go to a place where we felt we could survive and actually build a decent life for ourselves?

If our human rights are being crushed in our own country, we all have the human right to seek and receive asylum in other countries. But this is far from easy in practice. Click on the following link to learn more about the right to seek asylum: – The right to seek asylum

Watch our Kompaz team’s video on the right to seek asylum:

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You might ask how we include this topic into our programmes. As an example, we have recently added a new Village activity: “To flee from home”. Its purpose is to help participants gain a better understanding on the importance of the right to seek asylum and how refugees are affected by the necessity to leave their homes. Find out more about our new activity here: Click to download – To flee from home village activity

The Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association

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Do you sometimes feel you can make no difference? Do you think that protecting human rights is the job of our governments? Think again!

We do have power to make a difference in the world. If we come together working peacefully for a cause, we change the world. In fact, being able to organise and fight for change is a human right.

This right of peaceful assembly and association allows us all to come together at home or in public to express and promote our common interests. Every one of us has the human right to participate in peaceful protests, strikes and gatherings. Every person has a right to join groups – formal or informal – with the main focus of taking collective action. These groups could refer to cooperatives, civil society organizations, clubs, unions, religious associations and many others. So, by coming together to promote peace education, as you do in CISV, you are actually exercising a human right!


Click here to read more about the Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

How to Educate Children on Human Rights

Educating children on Human Rights

As an adult, how can I best educate children and adolescents on human rights?

As we move further into the topic of Human Rights, we realize how deep and complex this content area is. Because CISV is an educational organization, we must talk about Human Rights in a simple, effective and engaging way while respecting and protecting Human Rights at all times.

This post is especially dedicated to trainers and adults who are preparing for local, national and regional trainings or for being super ready for this year’s CISV programmes. We can imagine that you might have asked yourself some questions during this preparation phase such as “How can we train and talk about Human Rights in a training?” “How can we prepare leaders and staff to develop Human Rights activities in camps?” “What is the appropriate way to talk about Human Rights with children and youth of a certain age?”.

We want to help answer those questions and support your preparation for trainings and camps. To that end, we share with you some Guidance for trainers and adults educating children and adolescents on human rights, developed by Sarah Laughton and Rupert Friederichsen – please find file here: Human_rights_education_guidance_for_adults (2017). We strongly recommend reading and thinking about the issues it raises and sharing it with your fellow trainers, staffs and leaders.

Next week, we are going to bring more tips, hints and thoughts for trainers and adults on applying this Guidance in your trainings and in your camps! Stay tuned!


The Human Rights team 🙂

9 Great Activities for Human Rights


As CISV’s programme season quickly approaches, thousands of leaders, staff, and participants in chapters around the world are getting ready for inspiring, educational and transformative camp experiences.

An important part of preparing for any camp – whether you’re a Step Up participant, a Village Junior Counsellor, an Interchange Leader, an IPP Staff, etc. – is to start thinking about great activities that will create unforgettable learning experiences for everyone involved.

If you’re taking part in a programme this season and looking for some powerful Human Rights activities to bring with you, we’ve prepared a list we think you’ll find useful! We’ve put together 9 excellent activities that educate and inspire action around Human Rights. These activities explore Human Rights from a range of perspectives and activity formats, including discussion-based, creative and simulation activities. Most of these can be easily adapted for any programme.

The List

#1 Rights in Play

An easy-to-run role playing activity in which groups act out different scenarios related to Human Rights, then discuss insights and takeaways. It’s a versatile activity that can be run with nearly any age group.

#2 Human Rights Come Alive

This activity introduces participants to different aspects of the Human Rights content area. Participants explore different stories about Human Rights and are guided through a process to reflect on those stories, discuss questions and ultimately draw connections to their own experiences.

#3 The Right to Internet

Participants explore the significance of internet access as a human right by exaggerating and parodying the role of the internet in our lives in a creative fashion. A great activity to initiate a discussion about an important right that is not so often talked about.

#4 Universal Human Rights

Participants discover that what we call ‘universal’ Human Rights may mean slightly different things to different people and cultures. They explore what the implications are for protecting human rights locally. They discuss the importance of seeking a universally shared set of basic rights and freedoms.

#5 Dead Aid

Participants understand the difference between having good intentions and putting them into good practice in the fields of charity and development aid.  After a simulation activity, participant explore key questions and critically reflect together.

#6 Front Page

Participants explore Human Rights through the lens of media representation. In groups, participants write newspaper headlines based on images provided. A simple activity that can be adapted to fit a range of different groups and contexts.

#7 Looking Back

An activity in which participants learn about the history of Human Rights in an interactive way. Helps place Human Rights in a larger historical context and demonstrate that Human Rights as we know them today are the product of hundreds of years of history.

#8 Photo Story

A creative and collaborative activity where groups of participants create “photo stories” that express the theme of Human Rights. The activity is easy and adaptable and invites participants to express their perspectives through photography.

#9 Human Rights Tree

The tree is a metaphor for the connection between root causes (the roots) and the effects/outcomes that they generate (the branches) In this activity, participants create their own “Human Rights Trees,” drawing the connections between effects they observe in the world and societal root causes.


Alex Neuman 

On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign Team

The Right to Freedom of Expression



Making Ends Meet: Worker's Rights



Innocent Until Proven Guilty: The Right to a Fair Trial

What happens when the right to a fair trial, described by the international community as the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” is not honoured? What is a fair trial? Watch our video and read more here.

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Speak Up - It Can Change the World

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

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Back from a Programme: Let's Act for Change

August and September mark the time when many of us come back from CISV programmes. We’ve just arrived home and we’re reflecting on the past month, the people we met, the activities, and what we’ve learned and lived. But CISV is not only about the programme we just attended! Now we can start to apply everything we’ve just learned into our communities and our day to day lives; to take our new attitudes, skills and knowledge and use them to become active global citizens.

Many of you are familiar with the way we work in CISV, which is through experiential learning, or “learning by doing”. That is, we ‘Do’ ‘Reflect’ ‘Generalise’ and ‘Apply’. Mostly, during programmes, we ‘Do’, ‘Reflect’ and ‘Generalise’ on important topics, but the best time to actually ‘Apply’ them is later on, back at home, in our communities.

What is being an active global citizen? What does it mean to apply everything we’ve just learned about human rights? How can we apply it? How do we start? 

You can be an active global citizen by taking personal actions in your daily life but you can also look to join with others and increase the impact of your actions.

A great way to stop talking and start walking is to get involved in your local CISV Chapter, which might organize Mosaic projects and Junior Branch (JB) activities. If they don’t, who better to start doing it than yourself?

Mosaic projects use CISV’s educational approach, and each one responds to local needs and interests in a meaningful way. Most Mosaic projects are designed and run in cooperation with Like-Minded Organizations (LMOs). Junior Branch members (JBers), also develop their intercultural and leadership skills through organizing and taking part in educational and social activities. You can learn more about Mosaic by emailing your Chapter to better understand how to get involved in these areas of CISV.

You don’t have to participate in a Mosaic project to work with an LMO. You can always contact a local or national organization that works to address the issues that you are interested in, and look to join them. It’s a great way to put your skills into action and learn new ones, and contribute in whichever way is needed.

Working with LMOs could sit across several or even all of the four ‘learning by doing‘ steps, but could be considered closest to ‘Apply’; that is, taking what has been learned during a programme and applying it outside of CISV. Sometimes, as is the case with Step Up and Seminar Camp programmes, as well as Mosaics and IPPs, the interaction with an LMO takes place within the context of a CISV programme.

There is more than one way to go about working together with an LMO. While one possibility is a fruitful collaboration that is mutually beneficial for both the LMO and your Chapter, the whole idea of CISV is for our participants to apply their attitudes, skills and knowledge outside of CISV too. Don’t hesitate to engage fully with an LMO – even if it means taking a step back from CISV for a period. CISV will still be there for you later on, and getting involved with an LMO will help you to deepen your attitude, skills, and knowledge and also further CISVs ultimate goal, a more just and peaceful world.

Why is this relevant to human rights?

Working with an LMO that concentrates specifically on a human rights issue will also give you a deeper insight into the topic. There may be an organization in your hometown that is doing specific work to help address a specific problem around a human rights issue. Why don’t you join them and help them to fulfil their goals? If your Chapter is willing, why not see if you can team up and develop and run a Mosaic activity?

Other ideas include: inviting a LMO to a minicamp or Chapter meeting to give a talk; encouraging CISVers to share their time and volunteer for that LMO; or running a collaborative workshop to share ideas.

In my experience, LMOs are exactly that, like-minded, and they are more than willing to share their people and resources. We should be the same; not afraid to branch out and share CISV, and in return, have a chance to reflect on our own work and discover the amazing work of others around us.

Now that you’re back home, inspired and willing to help – it’s the best time to do it! To start applying and doing what you’ve learned. You can also exchange ideas with your camp mates on how to get more and more involved.  Don’t be afraid to try out new and different things, start new adventures. Just do it! Contact your Chapter and see what you can get involved with, research organizations and find out how you can join them, and see what you can do to become an active global citizen.

Flor Lança de Morais, CISV Portugal, on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign Team


The Right to Health

Access to health care is a declared human right but is it a right we all enjoy?

Good health is the foundation of a good life. Our health affects every single aspect of our lives – our work, our social lives, our family. To be healthy, there are many needs that have to be fulfilled: enough nutritious food, clean water, a good place to live, clean air, and so on. Even then we get sick, and then we rely on health services. When we get sick, most of us are know that we will get the help and medicines we need. But we are the lucky ones – for many, the medicines they need to live a fulfilling life can cost more than they make in a year.

Read more about this topic on the post “The right to health” from the Kompaz team

10 Lessons I Learnt at Camp

There are always lessons to be learnt from every CISV programme. We, the Human Rights Campaign Team, contacted different people involved in different ways in CISV to ask for their “lesson from camp”. We have taken these lessons and connected them to Human Rights and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We share them here, as a way to give you tips or ideas, now that you are back home and preparing yourself for your next programme.

  1. A spirit of brotherhood

One thing I have learned over several seminar camps (but could be applied to any camp) is to “let it go” (like Frozen!). Sometimes you have to let camp flow, even if you think you might know better (!!), or when you are frustrated with people ‘not getting it’.

We all learn in different ways, and the beauty of CISV is sharing these different perspectives.

Tracey, CISV New Zealand, Read article 1 UDHR: Right to Equality


  1. Right to the Freedom of Movement


In 2007, the Lebanese delegation was unable to attend the Village I was taking part in due to a bombing at their international airport that happened just a couple of days before camp. Their names were printed on our T-shirt and every other material. Debriefing for Peace was especially intense that year.

*That was the first time I saw myself comprehending Article 13 and what it actually means*

Fernanda Ferreira, CISV Brazil, Read article 13 UDHR: Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country


  1. Being able to express who we are and learn from different cultures


When I think about my camp experiences I realize how much learning about other cultures has taught me about myself and my own culture. I came back from camps with different eyes to my own reality full of ideas of how things can be done differently. I appreciate this learning being reflected in my daily life in things such as cooking a different meal for my family or promoting interesting debates on the theme of my camp in my school or work. But, how can all of this happen?

By answering this question, I realize these lessons are only possible because we have a free and safe space to show who we are and to learn about others and ourselves. These experiences have opened my eyes to the importance of the right to express your own culture without being judged or discriminated against; of being able to participate in a community where we appreciated and learn from diversity; and to understand that we can be different and have different views on what is universal to all of us, but that the fundamental principles of respect, equality, and dignity are a language we can all speak.

Adriana Rodrigues, CISV Brazil, Read the preamble of the UDHR and article 27: Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community


  1. Pushing our Boundaries Further


When you grow up attending CISV meetings, participating in minicamps and in programmes, you believe you are working towards providing the highest quality content activities for your participants, to give and gain different attitudes, skills and knowledge, but ultimately that the experience will have an impact on someone. I felt the same way when I was a Step Up leader in Jordan in 2015. Even though it was my first time as a leader, I thought I knew what I could expect from this programme. It was especially during the Local Impact Day (a day where both CISV and a local NGO work together for a specific purpose) that I have realized the relevance of these initiatives and days like these. Surrounded by more than 70 young children (5-12 years old), mostly orphans that had fled from a conflict area in the surrounding countries, we spent a day full of laughter, fun, and understanding of one another without having to speak one single word.

I believe that with understanding, an open mind, the willingness to give to others and to accept each others’ differences, Peace Education is becoming more and more relevant in today’s society. We must keep pushing our boundaries further, to develop our programmes more and to always remind ourselves to keep the local communities at the heart of our actions.

Pipa Raimundo, CISV Portugal, Read articles 1, 2 and 3 of UDHR: Right to Equality, Freedom from Discrimination, Right to Life, Liberty and Personal Security


  1. Right to make mistakes


CISV taught me how to be self aware of myself, my flaws and my strengths. It gave the safe space to grow without feeling judged. CISV really allowed me to be a much stronger person that is not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

Farah Nassar, CISV Egypt, Read article 22 UDHR: Right to Social Security


  1. Recognize others and being recognized

 If the staff or any management is visibly disagreeing, it will change the whole dynamic of the group. Every single person and every group need to function together to reach the goals.

Martin Ingelström, CISV Sweden, Read article 29 UDHR: Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development


  1. Leisure is a right too



After holding many roles in and around CISV’s programmes, I’ve come to realise that you really need to do your best to spoil each other. The chapter should do the little extra for the staff, giving them the energy to in turn take good care of leaders and JCs. When leaders and JCs are feeling good, it will show not only on the delegates’ behaviour, but in the entire learning process of the programme. With everyone participating in the group, forming a community at camp, we can balance each other’s efforts and make sure everyone gets enough rest and leisure.

Anton Ruus, CISV Sweden, Read articles 24 and 27 UDHR: Right to Rest and Leisure and the Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community


  1. Taking lessons home


After coming back home from my first camp I felt like I didn’t really belong there anymore. Home, and my life, weren’t the same anymore. I felt like a foreigner. Nothing looked the same, because I wasn’t the same.

My memories from that CISV camp are very important to me. Memories of what people taught me, all the smiles, how much I learnt. I remember the importance of giving yourself to others in order to reach a common purpose. The greatest lesson I learnt from camp was that life is something amazing, something irreplaceable. It inspired me to make my life about teaching others what CISV taught me. With CISV I found a purpose. I was able to answer to the most difficult question I’ve ever had in life: The “Why?” question. Why camp? Why all this? And then I knew… To show it to the world! To create an impact!

João Rocha e Melo, CISV Portugal, Read article 20 UDHR: Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association


  1. Learning is a lifelong journey


The biggest lesson I’ve learned coming back from a programme, both as a participant as well as an adult in a leadership/responsibility role, has to be that we all have the ability to unlearn. We have our ways, or ethics, and our morals. Yet all of this can be unlearned and relearned to better benefit ourselves, our communities, and one another. Habits may die hard but they’re a battle worth fighting against (if for the better).

Gavin Firkser, CISV Canada, Read article 26 UDHR: Right to Education


  1. Incorporating human rights and CISV into everyday life


The biggest lesson I’ve learnt, from all of my CISV programmes, is that there’s always something for you to do. There’s never a moment when you can say: ‘there’s nothing else I can do!’. You can always engage in planning the programme, help other people with their own responsibilities, improve what you have already done, and so much more. Doris Allen wasn’t afraid to create CISV from scratch, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do more than just what’s asked of you.

Teamwork is one of the most important aspects of CISV, so don’t be lazy, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, to put yourself out there, and just act. Our motto is learning by doing, so keep doing!

Human rights education is also very much about ‘doing’, about respecting and protecting our rights and those of others. CISV is an environment that allows us to learn about human rights, through human rights and for human rights.

Flor Lança de Morais, CISV Portugal



Learning With Like-Minded Organizations

CISV is so much more than just each of the incredible programmes we run and participate in. CISV is much more than what happens inside what many know as “the CISV bubble”, that magical camp or CISV experience which gets separated in our minds from ‘real life’.

In our August blog post, we showed you some ways you can look to like-minded organisations (LMOs) to APPLY your CISV learning. This post is about looking for opportunities to engage with LMOs in our local communities who work on human rights issues.

As we know, human rights apply to ALL people; no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, language, sex, or any other status. Sometimes human rights seem big, scary, and overwhelming. Human rights violations on a massive scale, such as war or ethnic cleansing (when people are killed because of their ethnicity), seem almost impossible to solve when we are bombarded with horrible images while sitting at home and in relative safety. However, as the International Committee Of The Red Cross reminds us “even wars have rules”.  Follow these links to read up on International Humanitarian Law, the Geneva Conventions, and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. They all exist to limit human suffering and to promote universal human rights. Can you think of ways to learn more about them in and through CISV? That would be a wonderful way to educate ourselves and our peers. In other words, to inspire action for a more just and peaceful world.

It’s true, we may still feel unable to do anything at times. But we can always educate ourselves, and we can take small steps. Remember: ”If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito” Dalai Lama XIV.

So let’s think about some small steps we can take to defend human rights together with LMOs.

  • There might be discussion in your country about gender equality, and reducing the pay gap between men and women. Why not organize a JB event to learn more about this issue and about article 23 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights?

  • Bullying of the LBGTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer) community is a problem in many places. To learn about how human rights of LBGTQ people are violated and to see what can be done about it, why not find and engage with relevant groups at your school and in your community?

  • Poverty and inequality are worldwide causes for why people cannot enjoy their human rights. Many organisations work to break the cycle of poverty in your community. Leisure activities like sport or creative activities or providing food are some of the many ways in which LMOs might be helping – can you get involved too?

  • In many of our towns and cities refugees have been resettled and groups have formed to support them. Why not reach out and see what they are doing?

We hope that this post inspires you to get out and explore human rights together with all the inspirational LMOs that exist around you who can help. When working with LMOs remember it is a reciprocal relationship – they should ‘get’ something from working with us, and we should be able to learn something through them. After all that is a key part of our CISV programmes IPP and Mosaic!


Tracey Cumin, CISV New Zealand

On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign Team 2017

Human Rights: Here, There, and Everywhere

When you hear the term “Human Rights”, what picture comes to mind? Some would probably answer the United Nations’ flag. Others might think of a diverse group of people, coexisting peacefully in this imaginary scenery. I myself connect Human Rights to the declaration itself – the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More specifically, for me the black and white picture of Eleanor Roosevelt holding up a copy of the text is forever connected to the words Human Rights. Yet, Human Rights are not limited to any person, object, or setting. We all face situations every day that could be connected to Human Rights, or the lack of them. In this post, we will leave all the ordinary and formal examples of what Human Rights can be about in favour of a more fun and relaxed approach. We turn to music, movies, and books to exemplify different articles or aspects of the most important document in the world. Enjoy our list of 6 items that you have probably never connected to Human Rights before!

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

If you haven’t read this book yet, you’ve got to put it on your reading list. It is immensely humorous and a quote machine, with famous examples such as “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t” and “It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”  The book circles around the life of Arthur Dent, whose life takes some strange turns when his home planet Earth is demolished to make way for an intergalactic highway. A strange starting point for a story, you might say. But rest assured, the intergalactic space odyssey through time and space to find the correct question to the answer “42” only gets stranger. The story does not in any way, even remotely, allude to Human Rights. So why are we here? (the answer is not 42). Rather, the universe that Douglas Adams has described in his book is anarchic. Pirates and thugs scour the universe, presidents are thoroughly corrupt, and corporations are only barely distinguishable from organised crime, with little care for Corporate Social Responsibility programmes. It is a parody of a human society, but it is especially descriptive of one that has lost all humanism, rule of law, and warmth. Now, the connection to Human Rights isn’t as farfetched as it seemed on first glance. Human Rights are, after all, international legal agreements on what human dignity and decency demands. Without them, we’d be living in a chaotic world lacking even a basic global consensus on minimum standards for treating one another.

2. The Lord of the Rings 

Are you born in the late 80’s or early 90’s? If you’re anything like me, you will probably have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy a couple of times. There are many reasons to enjoy these movies – epic battles, bombastic music, great story, Ian McKellen’s fabulous hair, etc. If you were to look at it from a more educational, human rights perspective however, what would you find? Many comparisons have been made between the story and the Second World War – but I think one shouldn’t always pick the lowest hanging fruits. Instead, I’d like you to close your eyes (figuratively speaking, reading might prove hard otherwise) and imagine what it was like down in the factories of Mordor and Isengard – dark, dirty, warm, smelly. Not exactly ideal working conditions! In these holes, the evil orcs worked day and night, without rest, salaries, paid vacation, parental leave, or possibility to form trade unions. To make things worse, orcs are actually revived elves. Imagine spending a whole eternity (as elves are immortal) working hard in your first life, ending up dying despite your immortality, and then be revived only to find out that all your pension savings from your previous life are gone and you now need to support an evil lord in unfashionable clothing. In short, a blunt violation of Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

3. Cher power ballads

Cher is a great artist and singer. Some of us didn’t realise until her song ”Believe” was the IJBC song of 2015 in Austria. If you haven’t heard it, find a safe place where no one will mock you for listening to powerful love songs in your loneliness and ponder, ”do I believe in life after love”? For this post however, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in life after love or not. Your right to believe in whatever you find convincing, be it religion, ideology, Cher, or the flying spaghetti monster, is protected by article 18 in the Universal Declaration. Your friends and family are not forbidden from giving you strange looks or trying to convince you otherwise. Don’t listen to them though. They haven’t felt what you’ve felt.

4. Ice Age

Many of us have followed the life of Manny, Sid, and Diego throughout the Ice Age. They have gone through a number of adventures to overcome family, friendship, and relationship issues while the world seemed to be changing around them. Their journey was moving, fun, and exciting. But we also got anxious to see if they would survive crazy storms and huge walls of ice cracking and threatening to flood their home. Any coincidence with times that we are living in is not merely coincidence. Natural causes are the reason for many of the changes we see in our world, but more and more we see the Earth responding to human interference. People having to leave their homes for natural disasters are known as environmentally displaced people. As human rights learners, we raise our awareness to the impacts of climate change in the life of many and think about human rights challenges to protect environmentally displaced people. We have to unite to save our world as Manny, Sid, and Diego have tried to do thousands of years ago. And we hope not to find any crazy squirrels cracking more ice blocks trying to catch his nut, causing more trouble!

5. Toy Story

Toy Story reflects the magical world of the toys that come to life when they are alone. Everyone might have imagined what toys do when no one is looking. The truth is that toys allow us to create any world we want and live as many realities as our imaginations can take us to! By playing, we have the chance to explore new emotions, to learn from trying new things and to be creative. And what does Toy Story have to do with Human Rights? The movie reminds us that besides the right of being taken care of, of being respected, of having freedoms and privacy assured, KIDS HAVE THE RIGHT TO PLAY! The Declaration on the Rights of the Child says children should have time to leisure, to play, to enjoy their childhood, and to be engaged in cultural and recreational activities while feeling safe and secured. Playing is serious stuff! Let’s play and go TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

6. The Sound of Music


Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp sang Do Re Mi to seven children to show them a new world outside the life and tough routine they were raised in. Above the hills of Austria, we learned how to sing and dance along with the von Trapp family. This magical scenario seems far from a Human Rights talk…but, let’s take a closer look. What Maria is doing when singing Do Re Mi is actually teaching and interacting with learners in an engaging way so she can pass on a new knowledge and facilitate the development of new skills and attitudes. Not all people have the same opportunity. The Right to Education challenges us to ensure EVERYONE has access to elementary education and other levels of education are accessible! Education should be a means to develop the human personality, and to help foster understanding, tolerance, and friendship among peoples.

Anton Ruus

Educational Content Specialist on the IJB Team,

On the behalf of the Human Rights working group.

Interview with Human Rights Student, Pablo Fernandez


Pablo holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA) from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights (EIUC) and the University of Strasbourg. His research interests include democratization, conflict mediation, transitional justice, and the role of the European Union as a Global Human Rights actor. He has worked as Project Assistant at UNESCO since January 2017


Pablo Fernández is a CISVer from Madrid, and he and his sister are involved locally in CISV Spain. In 2014, Pablo participated in an IPP in Germany, on a project on Peace Education looking at the legacy of the Nazi regime and transforming a former Nazi school into a Human Rights Education Centre. More recently, Pablo embarked on a journey to learn about Human Rights amongst students and professionals of the field from all around the world while living in Venice and Strasbourg. It is to discuss this experience as Human Rights Master’s student that we invited Pablo to speak with us. We hope you enjoy and get inspired by his words as much as we did.

Pablo, please tell us about your research topic.
P: First of all, I want to thank the Human Rights Campaign team for giving me the opportunity to share some experiences and thoughts with all of you – makes me very proud to be part of this diverse and vibrant community. Within the field of human rights, I’m especially interested in transitional processes, specifically in the way societies recover from gross human rights violations, and which institutional, social, and cultural responses can help to advance towards the consolidation of Peace.

What made you decide to get into the field of Human Rights?

P: Very honestly I was very inspired by the work of Mary Robinson. She served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and as President of Ireland.  She is also a global advocate for Women’s Rights. I came across some of her speeches and was given her memoir, “Everybody Matters”, as a gift some years ago. Her understanding of the notion of equality made a very big impact on me. Later on, the story of Sergio Vieira de Mello, also former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, inspired me in the same way.

Can you tell us about what it is like to be a Master’s student in this field?

P: As a student of European Master’s in Human Rights and Democratization, I had the opportunity to learn about different dimensions of human rights, from the philosophical or anthropological to the purely legal conception of rights. The programme shaped an understanding of human rights that is very linked to the concept of empathy. Through our interactions we became aware of each other’s aspirations and suffering, we learn to think of ‘the others’ as similar to us in some fundamental manner, and that is powerful.


“Let’s Walk to the Middle of the Ocean”
By Mark Bradford
(1961, United States)

Mark Bradford used materials found in the streets around his studio in Los Angeles to do this work described as “social abstraction”. The painting remembers the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, which shaped Mark Bradford’s young adulthood as a gay man who was part of a nightclub community in Los Angeles. He has found innovative to integrate the traditions of abstract painting with contemporary American sociopolitical issues. As noted before in this blog, human rights issues can be found and expressed in different ways, including through art. Each one of us find different ways to communicate how we see and feel things, but it is important to keep our hearts open to listen to others, and to give and find comfort when needed.

What do you see as a big challenge for a professional who works in the field of human rights?

P: Today, a number of challenges pose a direct threat to the values that shape international human rights law: xenophobic populism, inequalities, the rise of narratives fostering hatred, the presence of misogyny in society, the violation of the fundamental rights of refugees, very limited space in many countries for civil society, or the systemic discrimination against minorities. These challenges are all predicated on fear. CISV brings people together precisely to tackle them and to foster mutual understanding. Despite all these obstacles I do believe that outstanding social progress has been achieved in the last few decades. That should help us to build a forward-directed energy to keep advancing.

What do you see as key to success to develop Human Rights Education?

P: I think that dignity and mutual respect should be central. Besides that, I believe in an understanding of universalism based on recognizing the richness of diversity.

Are there any connections between your experiences in CISV and your research?

P: Undoubtedly, CISV enabled me to connect with a wide range of realities and traditions, and that is extremely valuable in any sphere of life. In a way, it makes you aware of the complexity of everyone’s background. To be in touch with diversity makes your level of consciousness rise.

What do you see as the strengths of CISV in the area of human rights education?

P: CISV is definitely well-placed to champion the issue of human rights education, and it has the power to showcase the idea that every culture provides a valuable key to understand the world. To come together valuing diversity enables you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

What aspects do you think can be improved?

P: I think we have to reflect on how to get our message across more effectively when speaking to the unlike-minded. I am aware that in many countries CISV is not accessible to a majority of the population because of different reasons, including socioeconomic backgrounds, and I am concerned about that.

As we move into 2018, what advice would you give CISVers about studying or working with Human Rights?

P: I have a hard time giving advice. In any case, I’m not in a position to do so, but I would share a thought that I try to keep in mind: pay attention – try to keep your eyes and ears open. Make sure you are aware of what is happening around you (not always easy these days). With your ability to listen, even just with your presence, you have the power to be a driving force for positive change. Let’s finish with the words of a human rights’ champion, Stéphane Hessel: ‘To create is to resist; To resist is to create’.

The Human Rights Campaign Team thanks Pablo for kindly collaborating with our blog! We are inspired by the words of a CISVer who has brought so many of the experiences and values he developed in CISV to his life. He is now also giving back much of what he learned in his paths outside CISV to enrich our thoughts inside the organization. We couldn’t miss the fact that Pablo often talks about Diversity demonstrating how close this concept is connected to Human Rights. There is beauty in diversity and it should bring us together instead of apart; We have many reasons to value our differences and learn about respecting who we are no matter who we are. After all, human rights are rights for all human beings, no matter where we are born, our sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. What a nice way to start thinking about our 2018 Peace Education Content Area, Diversity!

Many thanks to Pablo and our readers!

– Human Rights Campaign Team

Looking Back on CISV's 2017 Year of Human Rights

2017 already came to an end and, with it, the year of Human Rights. Now we’re making way into 2018, the year of Diversity, and it’s our time to say goodbye.

The Human Rights Campaign Team put together a small nostalgic video to talk about 2017 and our favorite posts, and to say goodbye to what was an amazing CISV year.

We hope you enjoyed our posts and the video, and had as much fun reading the blog as we had writing it. Looking forward to meet you soon in programmes and, who knows, maybe this Summer at the Global Conference.

Adriana, Anton, Flor,  Gonzi and Tracey – Human Rights Campaign Team 2017

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