Between July 25 and August 3, the Educational Human Rights House – Chernihiv hosted the 2017 Human Rights Educational Fest.
More than 200 participants from eight countries visited the Festival of the House. The ten-day educational marathon included more than 90 hours of open human rights awareness-raising activities. Speakers of the festival were 40 experts, trainers, practicing lawyers and human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and NGO “Educational Human Rights House – Chernihiv” with the support of the Human Rights House Foundation, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) within the framework of the Ukraine-wide Educational Program “We Understand Human Rights”.
Along with open educational activities, within the framework of the Educational Fest, representatives of the International Network of Human Rights Houses from Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia met with the aim of exchanging experience and developing joint educational projects in the field of human rights. Representatives of organizations-operators of the Ukraine-wide educational program “We Understand Human Rights” held a working meeting at the House. The Festival also became the venue for a session of the training course “Standards of human rights in the practice of lawyers and judges” (the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Unions), meetings of representatives of the Vostok SOS charitable organization for planning educational events in eastern Ukraine and strategic planning of cultural events of the organization. Graduates of the Ukraine-wide Educational Program “We Understand Human Rights”, involved in the work of the free legal public receptions of UHHRU, worked at the House on a joint project “Access to public information in the context of the development of united territorial communities”.
Graduates of youth human rights schools for young activists in 2014, 2015, and 2016 also visited the House.
During the festival, the monitoring system “Human Rights Index”, a kind of human rights know-how, and the documentary film “Transit Point”, directed by Oleksii Bida, a human rights defender, were presented. Members of the Vostok SOS organization presented a project #East-House – oral histories in artistic practice.
Participants of the first phase of the 2017 Educational Human Rights Fest joined the flash mob of human rights organizations #stop6427d and called on the President of Ukraine not to sign the text of Draft Law No. 6427-D – a document that provides a new procedure for the election of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, which will lead to the politicization of this key human rights protection position.
The organizers also provided opportunities of recreational and cultural activities. Thus, the participants had the opportunity to visit Chernihiv and its main tourist attractions, practice yoga during the sunrise, learn how to use self-defence and dance during morning activities, prepare an evening barbecue with corn and plant the first flowers in the framework of flash mob #BuildtheHouseTogather.
Organizers plan to hold the Educational Human Rights Festival annually. Events of this format are needed to gather activists and experts of civil society for the fulfillment of important goals:
- Consolidation of civil society around human rights issues;
- Protection and support of human rights defenders;
- Increase of the capacity of civil society activists, in particular, promoting the “know-how” and best educational practices, methods and tools for protecting human rights;
- Development of the network of young activists-human rights defenders, graduates of educational programs;
- Prevention of the professional and emotional extermination of human rights defenders;
- Advancement of human rights and human rights-based approaches.
The Public Association “Educational Human Rights House – Chernihiv” was founded in 2014 by seven organizations from different parts of Ukraine. During three years of work at the Educational House of Human Rights, or the so-called House, on the basis of the Union, about 200 educational events were held, in which more than 3000 people took part.
During this time, the House became a recognized educational and resource center for human rights organizations and had more than once been a supporter of human rights defenders in danger. The House is a member of the International Network of Human Rights Houses- 15 Houses in 13 countries