Teaching Human Rights in New Zealand. The final project of the Man of Peace.
07/22, 2004
By Jessica McMeekin

A major international relations undertaking, “United Nations Human Rights Educational Project” (UNHREP), has resumed its course in the City of Hamilton, New Zealand on July 22, 2004. The Project had been started by the late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello in July, 2002, only to be prematurely disrupted by the tragic death of its founder in the last year’s August 19 explosion at the UN Headquaters in Baghdad, Iraq.

The loss of their mentor did not diminish UNHREP employees’ determination to complete the work. They are now back in Hamilton, re-establishing disrupted processes and re-joining old friends and associates.

According to Mr. Igor Doubenko, a US/Britain-educated employee of the United Nations system and the Project’s Manager, “the challenge for us was not in deciding whether to close UNHREP or go on with it. We knew we had to finish it. In the absence of Mr. de Mello, the challenge was to come up with enough resources to, well, have a workable operating budget. But we are back on track now—thanks to many fine people around the world who support us and want to see us succeeding.”

The goal of the Project is to set up an educational facility for teaching Human Rights from a variety of angles. And that is just a start. The school will then be further developed to include subjects of international relations, conflict resolution, diplomacy and diplomatic etiquette. “We will definitely invite local academics and international relations specialists to join UNHREP in tutoring and mentoring students. As one can imagine, there is also no lack of international expertise within the United Nations, and we will be definitely bringing in our own lecturers,” says the UNHREP Manager.