The International Year of Human Rights Learning was launched in April 2009. To support its launch, UN-HABITAT along with the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning developed an innovative approach on making human rights learning accessible to more people, namely the urban poor.
As the objective of this venture is to develop a process that will reach as many people as possible, modern technologies were examined for their potential. Mobile phones were found to be widely accessed by the urban poor, therefore were ideal as a means of communicating human rights issues. The basic concept is to send out human rights action messages. This could be done by SMSs or through mobile phone games in which people learn about the holistic and practical human rights framework. Mobile phone manufacturers and software companies are being approached to initiate these strategies.
Similarly, internet and computer applications are also being considered for development that will allow people to learn about the relevance human rights has in their lives. These could be accessed anytime; however UN-HABITAT would ensure the installation of such applications at One-Stop Youth Centres and other community centres in slums. Ultimately, these applications may be used on a broader scale as part of school curricula.
These developments align themselves with the way of life of the urban poor. Being given multiple paths through which they can access this vital information will make human rights learning relevant and available. This is an opportunity for the scaling-up of UN-HABITAT’s and People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning’s work in this field and an ideal way of launching the International Year of Human Rights Learning.