Human rights as a core value of the EU are embedded in its founding treaty and reinforced by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, proclaimed in 2000 but not yet adopted.
(InfoNet - Simone Kaufhold)
The EU implements worldwide programmes on human rights such as the Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights through which measures in the field of adult education can also be implemented, illustrated by a project example of dvv international.
"Human rights are called that because every human being is entitled to them" - with this sentence Europe Aid introduces one of its funding programmes: the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) regarding human rights as a guiding principle of EU cooperation policy. Europe Aid is the Directorate General of the European Commission responsible for implementing external aid programmes and projects across the world. Probably the most popular initiative in the field of the worldwide cooperation of the Europe Aid department is that of the EU election observation missions.
The EIDHR was created by an initiative of the European Parliament in 1994. The legal base of the programme, the EIDHR regulation, goes back to 1999 by the European Council. The initiative as it works today was established in 2006, which means that it has now been working for three years.
The programme´s coverage is worldwide with a budget line for 2008 of about 120 million euros. Europe Aid collaborates with partners from Asia, Latin America, Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, the gulf region as well as the European Union´s southern and eastern neighbours.
One of the most interesting points about this programme is that the EIDHR is an independent instrument which means that no governmental consensus is needed. It is implemented in partnership with non-governmental organisations and international organisations which means that the EIDHR aims to strengthen the role of civil society. That is the reason why the EIDHR is a perfect addition to the European cooperation programmes such as CARDS, TACIS etc., which have to be implemented jointly with the state governments.
For the funding period of 2007 to 2010, distinctive objectives for the programme were specified, such as supporting actions on human rights and democracy issues (human rights dialogues, human rights defenders, the death penalty, torture, children and armed conflict), enhancing the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, strengthening the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reform and supporting the peaceful conciliation of group interests. In the wider field of peaceful conciliation of group interests the following project was implemented.
The dvv international - the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV) organised a project called The Folk High Schools in Samtskhe-Javakheti within the framework of the EIDHR, with the priority theme of Combating Racism and Xenophobia and promoting the rights of Minorities in Georgia. The project ran from January 2006 to June 2008 and was co-financed by the European Union with 400,000 €.
The project was intended to endorse the rights of national minorities by realising their legal right to education, including non-formal education. The overall objective was to protect the rights of different ethnic and religious minorities and more specifically the assistance in development of human resources in Samtskhe-Javakheti (southern Georgia), which is the most multi-national region of the country. The Project was accomplished by setting up Folk High Schools in two districts of southern Georgia.
Key skills such as the ability to communicate and to hold a debate, willingness to conduct independent research and obtain information, the ability and willingness to cooperate and seek agreement on the basis of rational compromise were of great importance on the courses. Also, different cultural events such as debates, clubs, lectures, seminars and so on were organised in order to reduce potential conflict and promote inter-cultural and inter-ethnic mutual understanding. After the funding period the Folk High Schools should function independently on a fees basis.
The project shows how adult learning plays a key role in human rights by offering adult learners and especially marginalised people access to education, in this case with the help of EU funding.