United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos wins 2002 UNESCO Human Rights Education Prize

Paris - UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura has announced the Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos (AMDH) as winner of the 2002 UNESCO Human Rights Education Prize.

The AMDH, which was recommended by an international jury that met in Paris on 28 and 29 October, is pioneering the spread of human rights education in Mexico. Founded in 1983 by a group of figures from different sectors of civil society, it has been carrying out a range of activities, such as offering human rights classes, producing and distributing educational material and using radio and TV to raise public awareness about human rights.

The Academy has trained many target groups, including community leaders and players from civil society. It has played a key part in setting up a national network of ombudsmen and human rights commissions at federal and state level. It has also helped establish election monitoring and has generally encouraged democratic growth in Mexico.

Three Honourable Mentions were made. One went to Benin's Institut des droits de l'homme et de promotion de la démocratie: la Démocratie au quotidien (IDH), an NGO founded in 1993 to train and educate citizens about human rights and democracy. It is headed by Professor Maurice Glele Ahanhanzo and has put together courses in the country's various languages.

An Honourable Mention went to Ionna Kuçuradi (Turkey), professor of philosophy at Hacettepe University (Ankara), where since 1981 she has taught courses in human rights. She set up the university's Centre of Research and Application of the Philosophy of Human Rights and has held a UNESCO chair of philosophy for human rights at the university since 1998. She also chairs the Turkish national committee for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education and heads the ethics committee of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.

An Honourable Mention also went to Nyameko Barney Pityana, the first president of South Africa's Human Rights Commission, where he has helped set up human rights education and anti-racism programmes and activities. Author of several publications on racism, Dr Pityana has also chaired a Commission set up in 2000 by the South African government to promote equality and prevent discrimination.

The six-member jury was: Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia), UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and vice-president of the UN Human Rights Commission; Guido Gerin (Italy), president of the International Institute for the Study of Human Rights in Trieste; Kinhide Mushakoji (Japan), head of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre (Hu-Rights Osaka); Nasila S. Rembe (Tanzania), holder of the Oliver Tambo Human Rights Chair at South Africa's Fort Hare University; Dina Rodriguez Montero (Peru), Director of the Gender and Peace Studies Department at the United Nations University for Peace (Costa Rica); Rumen Valchev (Bulgaria), holder of the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and the Culture of Peace at Bourgas Free University, in Sofia.

The UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education, awarded every two years, was founded in 1978 on the 30th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to encourage and honour institutions, organisations or individuals for substantially furthering human rights education.

Recent laureates have included: Václav Havel (Czech Republic) in 1990, the Arab Institute of Human Rights, IADH, (Tunisia) in 1992; the Philippine Human Rights Commission and Chilean academic José Zalaquett Daher (1994); the former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1996); Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia (1998) and the City of Nuremberg, in 2000.

Contact: MoniquePerrot-Lanaud, Bureau of Public Information, Editorial section
Tel: +33-1 4568 1714
E-mail: m.perrot@unesco.org

Source Press Release No.2002-89
Publication Date 11 Nov 2002
© UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 7565