As the importance of education in and for human rights is increasingly recognized as an effective strategy to prevent human rights abuses and to build free and democratic societies, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) has organized a training course for Egyptian Political Parties Young Members on the issue of Human Rights.
This training course which lasted for eight days, from the 23rd to the 30th of July 2007, aimed primarily at introducing the young political activists to the international human rights treaties as well as to the latest national and international questions related to the issue of human rights. It combined a series of seminars, training sessions and activities around specific topics such as the International Covenant for Civic and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination around Women and the situation of women’s rights in Egypt, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the situation of torture inside Egyptian’s prisons and security centers. Among the other topics that were tackled are the constitutional amendments in Egypt and the anti-terrorism law, the role of youth in democratization, and the new Egyptian social movements. Workshops were also organized within the course to develop participant’s skills in leadership, internet activism, advocacy and coalition building.
During the eight days of the training course, 40 young participants affiliated to different political parties and movements inside Egypt were brought together to share their experience, ideas and hopes for the future of their country. Differences and contradictions between their thoughts appeared in their discourses but the real success lied in the fact that however obvious the divergence of their viewpoints was regarding certain issues, they managed to discuss these issues and learned to listen to one another. Many were surprised that their political parties shared several commonalities in their vision and political programs. Their belief in the importance of human rights respect and the comprehension of the gap between their understanding of the nature of human rights before and after the training was evident in their final presentation, when they – individually – presented how they could contribute to the respect of human rights.
These presentations, which came as the concretization of the intensive 8-days training course highlighted an essential realization: Whatever the ideological and political difference between the participants was, the very reason of their adherence to their parties resided in their strong will to actively participate in the construction of a better future for their country. Therefore, the training course did not contribute in the formation of this will, but rather in the setting of priorities and understanding the tools required in the process of democratization.
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