The aim of this glossary is to give users of Compass a short definition or brief explanation of the main concepts, conventions and terms as they are used in the manual. For more detailed information the reader should consult the relevant sections of background information to the themes in chapter 5 and use the Internet.
Accession: replaces the classic two-stage process of signing and ratifying a treaty that is already in effect. By acceding to the treaty, a state is immediately bound by it. An example where the idea of accession is in play is the issue of whether the European Union should accede to the ECHR.
Accountability: a process which requires government to show, explain and justify how it has fulfilled its obligations to the people.
Advocacy: to publicly support or suggest an idea, a development or way of doing something.
Affirmative action: action taken by government or private businesses to make up for past discrimination in, for example, education and work against, for instance, women, those of specific races, ethnic groups, religions or disabilities. Affirmative action is one way to give disadvantaged groups substantive equality. Affirmative action should be seen as a temporary measure until such a time as equality is achieved.
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights: (African Charter, sometimes also referred to as the Banjul Charter); a regional human rights treaty for the African continent adopted by the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) in 1981.
American Convention on Human Rights: (American Convention); a human rights treaty adopted by the Organisation for American States (OAS) in 1969. It covers North, Central and South America.
Antisemitism: fear, hatred, resentment, suspicion, prejudice, discrimination or unfair treatment of people of Jewish origin or those who confess Judaism. Modern forms of antisemitism include Holocaust denial.
Apartheid: inhumane acts of murder, rape, torture, enslavement or other crimes against humanity committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups, and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.
Arab Charter of Human Rights: adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States on 22 May 2004 it affirms the principles contained in the UDHR, the International Covenants of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.
Arbitration: a process by which, instead of going to court, disputing parties ask a third person to listen to their arguments and then to make a decision, which they agree to follow.
Association: an organisation formed by a group of individuals with the aim of accomplishing a defined purpose. Such organisations may also be called voluntary organisations, voluntary associations and unincorporated associations. Non- governmental organisations (NGOs) are associations. Associations form the basis for what is called “civil society”.
Asylum-seeker: an individual who has sought international protection and whose claims for formal refugee status have not yet been determined.
Autocracy: government by a single person or small group that has unlimited power or authority, or the power or authority of such a person or group
Bill of rights: a statement in a constitution of human or civil rights that lists protections against interference by governments. Also see International Bill of Human Rights.
Charter: a document that lays out the granting of rights or privileges.
Charter of the United Nations: founding treaty of the United Nations. It was adopted unanimously on the 25th June 1945 and sets out the rights and obligations of Member States as well as establishing the United Nations organs and procedures.
Citizenship: a) a legal relationship between a person and a state, resulting in mutual rights and obligation or b) used to describe the general relationship between individuals and the state to which they are “attached”, including expected forms of behaviour and attitudes.
Codification, Codify: The process of formalizing law or rights into written instruments.
Charter of Fundamental Rights: a treaty containing political, economic, and social rights for European Union citizens. It binds member states of the EU when they are applying EU law.
Civil rights: (sometimes known as civil liberties); a category of rights and freedoms that protect individuals from unwarranted government action and ensure their ability to participate in the civil life of the state without discrimination or repression.
Civil society: refers collectively to voluntary civic and social organizations, associations and institutions, for example registered charities, non-governmental organizations, community groups, women’s organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trade unions, self-help groups and advocacy groups that form the basis of a functioning democratic society. Civil society is seen as distinct from the state and commercial institutions of the market.
Collective rights: the rights of groups to protect their interests and identities; sometimes referred to as ‘third generation rights’. These rights exist in addition to individual rights.
Commission on Human Rights: UN body now superseded by the Human Rights Council.
Commissioner for Human Rights: an independent institution within the Council of Europe mandated to promote the awareness of and respect for human rights in Council of Europe member states. See also High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Competency: the ability to perform a job or task. In relation to defending human rights, the knowledge and understanding necessary for young people to gain a deeper understanding of human rights issues and the skills, attitudes and values required to defend human rights.
Conflict transformation: the process by which conflicts such as wars and inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence are changed or transformed into peaceful outcomes. It is a long-term process that addresses the root causes of the conflict as well as the behaviour and attitudes of the parties involved.
Constitution: a set of laws by which a country or organisation is governed. In the majority of countries the constitution is written down and agreed as the supreme law of land; it lays down the foundation for the state and its political system. About four countries do not have a written constitution; here the law develops through legal judgements and precedents.
Conflict prevention: actions undertaken over the short term to reduce manifest tensions and / or to prevent the outbreak or recurrence of violent conflict.
Conflict management: actions undertaken with the main objective of preventing the vertical (intensification of violence) or horizontal (territorial spread) escalation of existing violent conflicts.
Conflict resolution: actions undertaken over the short term to end violent conflict.
Covenant: a binding agreement between states; used synonymously with convention and treaty. The major international human rights covenants, both passed in 1966, are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Convention: a binding agreement between states; used synonymously with treaty and covenant. A convention is stronger than a declaration because it is legally binding for governments that have ratified it.
Council of Europe: founded in 1949 to protect and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Today its 47 member states cover virtually the entire continent of Europe. It is based in Strasbourg.
Crimes against humanity: widespread or systematic acts of violence directed against any civilian population. For example, murder; extermination; enslavement, torture; rape; sexual slavery; forced pregnancy; persecution of a group on grounds such as race, ethnic, gender amongst others; enforced disappearance of persons; the crime of apartheid and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
Crimes against peace: in international law refers to (i) planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i). Known as the Nuremberg principles.
Culture: a broad set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices, often based on historical traditions shared by an institution, organization or group.
Cultural rights: the right to preserve one’s cultural identity and development.
Customary international law: practice that is recognised in law on the basis of custom and tradition. In order to become customary international law a practice has to fulfil two elements: uniform and consistent state practice over time and the belief that such practice is obligatory (opinio juris). It is an important and useful source of international law because it binds all nations, whether or not they have consented to a treaty.
Death penalty: the sanctioned taking of life by the state as a punishment for a crime. The European Convention on Human Rights originally allowed for the death penalty, but now prohibits it within its territory (protocol 6) even in times of war (protocol 13). Most countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty.
Debriefing: a structured conversation between facilitators and participants in order to review an experiential and participatory activity; to talk about what happened and how people felt. The aim is to help participants clarify their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment.
Declaration: a document stating agreed upon principles and standards but which is not legally binding. UN conferences, like the 1993 UN Conference on Human Rights in Vienna and the 1995 World Conference for Women in Beijing, usually produce two sets of declarations: one written by government representatives and one by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The UN General Assembly often issues influential but legally non-binding declarations.
Declaration on the Rights of the Child: adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1959, this non-binding instrument sets forth ten general principles, which later formed the basis for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was adopted in 1989.
Democracy: a form of government where the authority to govern is derived from the people, either by direct referendum or by means of representatives elected by the people entitled to vote.
Derogation: a declaration from a treaty member state that allows that state to suspend or restrict certain rights – for example, in times of war. Some rights can never be derogated from – e.g. the right to be free from torture.
Development: a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting there from. See also Right to development.
Disablism: (sometimes disabilism, or ablism) discriminatory, oppressive or abusive behaviours arising from the belief that people with disabilities are inferior to others.
Disappearance: the expression used when people vanish because they have been killed or secretly imprisoned by the government or other organisations. They disappear because of their political opinions or activities challenging an unjust regime or doctrine of the organisations.
Discrimination: any distinction, exclusion or restriction of preference, which is based on any ground such as race, culture, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, physical handicap, or other characteristics not relevant to the issue in question.
Economic: relating to factors concerning the production, development, or management of material wealth.
Economic rights: rights that concern the production, development, and management of materials for the necessities of life. These are proclaimed in the UDHR and safeguarded by the ICESCR and the European Social Charter.
Empowerment: increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals and communities. It is used in relation to giving marginalised individuals and groups the ability claim their rights to participate fully in society through, for instance, legislation, affirmative action and training.
Entering into force: the process by which a treaty becomes fully binding on those states which have ratified it. This happens when the minimum number of ratifications called for by the treaty has been achieved.
Environmental rights: normally used to describe the rights individuals have to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment. Sometimes used to refer to the “rights” that the environment itself may possess – including the rights of animals, plants and ecosystems to survive the impact of human actions.
European Committee of Social Rights: a body responsible for monitoring states’ compliance with the European Social Charter. It is made up of 15 independent and impartial experts who meet regularly to consider reports submitted by member states to the Social Charter.
European Convention for the Prevention of Torture or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: a regional human rights treaty adopted in 1987 by the Council of Europe that aims to prevent various violations against people who are detained by a public authority in places like prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, refugee camps or psychiatric hospitals.
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR): (European Convention, European Convention on Human Rights), a regional human rights treaty adopted in 1950 by the Council of Europe. All Council of Europe member states are party to the ECHR, and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.
European Court of Human Rights: situated in Strasbourg, it is a supra-national court, established by the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides legal recourse of last resort for individuals who feel that their human rights have been violated by a contracting party to the Convention.
European Court of Justice of the European Communities: (often referred to simply as “the Court”); set up 1952. Based in Luxembourg, its job is to make sure that EU legislation is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries, so that the law is equal for everyone. It ensures, for example, that national courts do not give different rulings on the same issue.
European Cultural Convention: (adopted by the Council of Europe, 1954; entered into force 1955); a regional treaty that provides the official framework for the Council of Europe’s work on education, culture, heritage, youth and sport. A complement to the European Convention, the Cultural Convention seeks to safeguard European culture and to develop mutual understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity between its various peoples.
European Parliament: is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union. The Parliament has two meeting places, Strasbourg and Brussels. The EP has 736 Members of Parliament (MEPs).
European Social Charter: (adopted by the Council of Europe 1962; revised 1996); a regional treaty that guarantees social and economic human rights; it complements the European Convention, which principally addresses civil and political rights.
European Union (EU): an economic and political union of member states located in Europe and committed to regional integration and social cooperation. The EU was established by the Treaty of Maarstricht in 1993.
Evaluation: a structured conversation between facilitators and participants to enable participants to analyse and appraise what they have learned from an experiential and participatory activity. In the process, participants reflect on how this learning relates to what they already know and how they may use the learning in the future.
Evolving capacity: a principle used in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that recommends greater exercise of a child’s rights in relation to his or her growing cognitive and emotional maturity.
Facilitator: a person who prepares presents and co-ordinates Compass activities. A facilitator is someone who “makes something happen”, who “helps”, encourages others to learn and develop their own potential. A facilitator’s role is to create a safe environment in which participants learn through experimentation, exploration, giving and taking. It is not a question of one person, a leader, who is “an expert”, giving knowledge to others. Everyone should grow through the sharing experience, participants and facilitators alike.
Fascism: A governmental system based on an ideology of national or racial supremacy and the importance of control over all aspects of political, economic and cultural life. It may be characterised by forcible suppression of opposition and criticism, control over the mass media, state control of industry, commerce, etc., and an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
First-generation rights: the rights which were generally accepted as human rights in the 17th-18th Centuries. They include all civil and political human rights such as the right to vote, right to life and liberty, and freedoms of expression, religion, and assembly The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) principally codifies these rights. Because the term suggests a hierarchy of civil and political rights over second generation rights, or economic and social rights, it is increasingly falling from use.
Formal education: the structured education and training system that runs from pre-primary and primary through secondary school and on to university. As a rule it takes place at general or vocational educational institutions and leads to certification.
Framework convention: a convention that establishes the principles and norms under which international action will proceed, and sets up a procedure for negotiating the more detailed arrangements necessary to deal with the issue.
Freedom of expression: the freedom to express views in print and other media, and to receive as well as communicate ideas. The term “freedom of expression” is often used in a general way to refer to either or both of Articles 19 and 18 of the UDHR.
Gender: A social construct that informs roles, attitudes, values and relationships between women and men. While sex is determined by biology - the biological differences between men and women - gender is determined by society; almost always functioning to subordinate women to men.
Gender mainstreaming: a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. It is not an end in itself but a means to achieve the goal of gender equality though ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities including policy development, resource allocation and planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects.
Geneva Conventions: four treaties adopted in 1949 under the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. They set out the rules that apply in armed conflict, in particular relating to the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen, prisoners of war and civilians under enemy control.
Genocide: the systematic killing with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group of people because of their nationality, race, ethnicity or religion. Also, causing serious bodily or mental harm and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Globalisation: generally describes the process of increasing interdependence and exchange between nations – particularly in the economic, social and cultural spheres. The term is also used to refer to a specific form of international integration, designed to fulfil the interests of private power, manufacturing corporations and financial institutions, closely linked to powerful states.
Hearing: a process in which interested parties, and any other persons who may be affected by a result, have the opportunity to make submissions, ask questions or register objections about a matter. For instance a hearing may be held by a local or national government department, an international body or a specially established commission.
High Commissioner for Human Rights: the principal human rights official of the United Nations. The High Commissioner heads the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights which was set up to support the UN human rights mechanisms. (Not to be confused with Commissioner for Human Rights, an institution of the Council of Europe).
HRE: acronym for Human Rights Education
Human rights: rights that universally belong to all human beings. Human rights are indivisible, inalienable and universal and respect the equality and dignity of each individual.
Human Rights Committee: a United Nations body of 18 experts that meets three times a year to consider the five-yearly reports submitted by 162 UN member states on their compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR.
Human Rights Council: an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the UN General Assembly in March 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights, and with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them.
Human rights framework: the evolving and interrelated body of international and regional instruments that define human rights and establish mechanisms to promote and protect them.
Humanitarian law: the body of law, mainly based on the Geneva Conventions, that protects certain persons in times of armed conflict, helps victims and limits the methods and means of combat in order to minimize destruction, loss of life and unnecessary human suffering.
Indigenous peoples: are defined as much by their relations with the land as by any intrinsic characteristics that they may possess. They have suffered from colonisation, are always marginal to their states and they are often tribal. Many indigenous peoples seek recognition of their rights as distinct peoples, including the right to self-determination, and the right to control the development of their societies. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.
Inalienable: refers to rights that belong to every person and cannot be taken from them under any circumstances.
Indivisible: refers to the importance of seeing all human rights as part of an undividable and inseparable whole. A person cannot be denied a particular human right on the grounds that it is “less important” than another or “non-essential”.
Informal education: the lifelong process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educational influences and resources in his or her own environment (family, peer-group, neighbours, market place, library, mass media, work, play etc).
Instruments: any formal, written document of a state or states that sets forth rights as non-binding principles (a declaration) or codifies rights that are legally binding on those states that ratify them (a covenant, treaty, or convention). They may be national or international.
Intercultural: refers to the interdependency and interaction between various linguistic and ethnic communities. An intercultural perspective requires us to recognise that reality is plural, complex and dynamic, and that interaction is an integral part of all life and culture.
Interdependent: refers to the idea that enjoyment of a particular human right is dependent on enjoyment of all the others. For example, your ability to participate in your government is directly affected by your right to express yourself, your health, freedom of movement, and an absence of discrimination.
Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs): organisations sponsored by several governments that seek to coordinate their efforts. The United Nations is an international IGO. Some IGOs are regional e.g. the Council of Europe, the Organisation of African Unity; some are alliances e.g. the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, (NATO) and some are dedicated to a specific purpose e.g. the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Internally displaced persons (IDPs): people or groups of individuals who have been forced to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of, or in order to avoid, the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural- or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an international border.
International Bill of Human Rights: an informal name given collectively to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and their Optional Protocols.
International Criminal Court (ICC): a permanent tribunal established in 2002 and situated in The Hague, Netherlands to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. (The ICC should not be confused with the International Court of Justice.)
International Court of Justice (IJC): (World Court); is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, its main functions are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly. (The ICJ should not be confused with the International Criminal Court.)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): (adopted1966, and entered into force 1976); one of the key international human rights treaties, the ICCPR declares that all people have a broad range of civil and political rights and sets up ways to monitor their respect by the member states.
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR): (adopted 1966, and entered into force 1976); one of the key international human rights treaties, the ICESCR declares that all people have a broad range of economic, social and cultural rights.
International Labour Organisation (ILO): established in 1919, is a tripartite UN agency that brings together governments, employers and workers of its member states to promote decent work in human dignity throughout the world.
Irregular migration: a term used by most migration researchers instead of “illegal”, “undocumented” or “unauthorised” migration to underscore that no person is illegal as such.
Jurisprudence: a legal term that refers to the collection of cases and the principles established by these cases at a particular court, for example the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
Legal rights: (also called statutory rights); rights laid down in law and which can be defended and brought before courts of law. Also used to describe human rights relating to legal process, for example, right to a fair trial.
Life stance: a framework of ideas that helps us understand the world and find meaning and value in life; a shared label encompassing both religions and alternatives to religion, without discrimination in favour of either.
LGBT: an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Mediation: a process whereby a third person helps disputing parties to settle their disagreement by discussing the issue to find common ground that they can both agree on.
Member States: countries that are members of an intergovernmental organisation (e.g. of the United Nations, the Council of Europe).
Migrant: a term used widely in the work of the European Committee on Migration to refer, depending on the context, to emigrants, returning migrants, immigrants, refugees, displaced persons and persons of immigrant background and/or members of ethnic minority populations that have been created through immigration.
Minority: any ethnic, linguistic or religious group within a State, in a non-dominant position, consisting of individuals who possess a sense of belonging to that group and determined to preserve and develop their identity.
Moral rights: rights deriving from general ethical principles, such as fairness and justice.
Multicultural: people of different cultures living side by side in a community, interacting to various degrees but at the same time retaining their distinctive features.
Natural rights: rights that belong to people simply because they are human beings. Also called inalienable rights, they are considered to be self-evident and universal and not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government.
Negotiation: the process by which people in a dispute talk to each other in order to arrive at a solution to their problem.
Neo-Nazism: refers to post-World War II far right political or social movements and ideologies that seek to revive Nazism or some variant based on racial or ethnic nationalism.
Non-formal education: any planned programme of education outside the formal educational setting that is designed to improve a range of skills and competences, for example youth work. Non-formal education is also referred to as non-formal learning.
Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs): organisations set up to be independent of government, normally with a lobbying, charitable, or activist role. Some are large and international e.g. the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the Scout movement, Human Rights Watch, the European Youth Forum. Others may be small and local e.g. an organisation to advocate for people with disabilities in a particular city; a coalition to promote women’s rights in one refugee camp. You can search for NGOs in your country in the Council of Europe database, http://ngo-coe.org
Oligarchy: government by a small group of powerful people.
Ombudsman: an independent official, usually appointed by the government or by parliament, who is charged with investigating complaints reported by individual citizens. The word ombudsman comes from old Norse meaning “representative”.
Optional Protocol: a treaty that modifies another treaty e.g. by adding additional procedures or provisions. It is called “optional” because a government that has ratified the original treaty can choose whether or not to ratify the changes made in the protocol.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): a security-oriented intergovernmental organization bringing together virtually all the countries from Europe and Central Asia, the United States and Canada. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE): situated in Strasbourg, PACE meets four times a year to discuss topical issues and ask European governments to take initiatives and report back. The 318 representatives are appointed from among the members of the national parliaments of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states.
Participation: taking part in the public life of a community or society. The Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life is an international policy document to promote youth participation at the local level; adopted by the Congress of the Council of Europe in 2003.
Peace-building: (including post-conflict peace building); actions undertaken over the medium and longer-term to address the root-causes of violent conflicts
Political rights: the right of individuals to participate in the political life of their community and society, such as by voting for their government.
Positive discrimination: a term with the same meaning as affirmative action.
Plutocracy: a system of government in which the richest people in a country rule or have power.
Racism: the belief that people’s qualities are influenced by their ethnic group or tribe and that the members of other groups and tribes (“races”) are not as good as the members of their own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other “races”.
Ratification, to ratify: the process by which the legislative body of a state confirms a government’s action in signing a treaty; the formal procedure by which a state becomes bound to a treaty after acceptance. After ratification a state becomes a party to the treaty.
Refugee: someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country. The term is also used in a general way to describe anyone in a refugee-like situation, for instance asylum seekers.
Reservation: the exceptions that states make to a treaty e.g. provisions that they do not agree to follow. Reservations, however, may not undermine the fundamental meaning of the treaty.
Right to development: the right of groups to grow in cultural, political, and economic ways so that their human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully and progressively realized. The UN Declaration on the Right to Development of 1986.
Role-play: a short drama acted out by the participants. People draw on their own life experiences to role-play a situation; role plays are mostly improvised. The purpose of role playing is to enable participants to experience situations and explore solutions to problems in a safe environment.
Rule of law: no person, whether a governmental official, a king, or a president, is above the law. The same law binds those who govern and those who are governed.
Second-generation rights: the rights which entered popular discourse around the beginning of the 20th century mainly encompassing economic, social and cultural rights, such as an adequate standard of living, health care, housing and education. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights principally codifies these rights. Because the term suggests a hierarchy of civil and political rights over economic and social rights, it is increasingly falling from usage.
Separation of powers: the separation of governmental power into different branches, so that none is able to exercise absolute control. The normal division is between a legislative branch, which makes the laws, an executive branch to carry out the laws; and an independent judicial branch to oversee observance of the laws.
Sex: the biological differences between men and women, which are universal and do not change. This is in contrast to gender, which refers to social attributes that are learned or acquired during socialisation as a member of a given community.
Shadow report: an unofficial report prepared by institutes or individuals representing civil society submitted to a committee monitoring a human rights treaty. Such reports usually contradict or add to the official reports on treaty compliance and implementation submitted by a government as part of its treaty obligations.
Signature: the signature of a treaty is the first step to become party to the treaty, which invariably means the step towards ratification. By signing a treaty the state expresses an intention, in the future, to accept all the obligations arising under the treaty and in the meantime to refrain from doing anything inconsistent with these obligations.
Simulation: an extended, structured role-play that takes the participants into unfamiliar situations and roles.
Skill: an ability to do an activity or job well, especially because you have practised it. The ability to defend human rights includes, for example, skills of communication, problem-solving, creative thinking, negotiation and teamwork.
Slavery: a practice based on a relationship of power and submission, whereby one person owns another and can exact labour or other services from that person. Modern forms of slavery include: the sale of children, child prostitution, the exploitation of child labour, the use of children in armed conflicts, debt bondage, the traffic in persons, the exploitation of prostitution and forced labour.
Social rights: rights necessary for full participation in the life of society. The UDHR, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the European Social Charter guarantee social rights.
Solidarity rights: see collective rights.
Special Rapporteur: a person chosen by a human rights body, such as the UN Human Rights Council to report on a particular theme e.g. on adequate housing, child prostitution and child pornography, on violence against women or on the human rights situation in a particular country.
State sovereignty: the idea that a government has the ultimate legal right to determine what is done within its jurisdiction. International human rights documents set certain limitations to sovereignty, as does membership of international bodies such as the EU.
Stereotype: an oversimplified, generalised and often unconscious preconception about people or ideas that may lead to prejudice and discrimination. A generalisation in which characteristics possessed by a part of a group are extended to the group as a whole.
Sustainable development: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The term was first used by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), convened by the UN in 1983.
Third-generation rights: rights, not easily classified as either civil-political or social-economic, which emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. They include the right to a healthy environment, the right to peace, the right to development, and the right to natural resources. See also collective rights.
Tolerance: willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs which are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them. Declaration of Principles on Tolerance (UNESCO 1995).
Trade Union: an association of workers in a particular trade or craft that looks after the workers’common interests, for instance, better working conditions. The right to form and join a trade union as well as a right to collective bargaining of wages are widely recognised human rights.
Trainer: a person who prepares programmes of learning activities, for instance, debates, study visits, viewing films and running Compass activities for a group of participants. When doing Compass activities, the trainer or teacher works democratically with the group of young people and has the role of facilitator.
Training: the process of learning the knowledge, skills and attitudes that you need to do a particular job or activity, for instance to enable you to defend human rights.
Treaty: (used synonymously with convention and covenant); a formal agreement between nation states that defines and modifies their mutual duties and obligations. When a state ratifies a treaty that has been adopted, the Articles of that treaty become part of its domestic legal obligations.
United Nations: an international intergovernmental organisation (IGO) founded in 1945 after the Second World War with the aim of maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
UNICEF: (United Nations Children’s Fund); advocates for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish it as an international standard for all behaviour towards children.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC): one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 5 permanent members, each of which has the power to veto any decision by the Security Council, and 10 non-permanent members.
Universality: The principle that all human rights are held by all persons in all states and societies in the world.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): (Universal Declaration); adopted by the general assembly on December 10, 1948. The primary UN document establishing human rights standards and norms. All member states have agreed to uphold the UDHR. Although the declaration was intended to be non-binding, through time its various provisions have become so widely recognized that it can now be said to be part of customary international law.
Youth participation: see participation
War crimes: crimes committed during a conflict, internal or international, which involve grave breaches of humanitarian law or other laws relating to armed conflict. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 along with the Geneva Convention of 1949 are among the first formal international laws of war and war crimes and the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war.
World Health Organisation (WHO): an intergovernmental organisation under the auspices of the United Nations that works to promote health worldwide.
Xenophobia: (irrational) fear of foreigners, of persons from other countries or of things foreign generally. Xenophobia can lead to discrimination, racism, violence and even armed conflict against foreigners.
Manual for Human Rights Education
with Young People
- Chapter 1 - Human Rights Education and Compass: an introduction
- Chapter 2 - Practical Activities and Methods for Human Rights Education
- Chapter 3 - Taking Action for Human Rights
- Chapter 4 - Understanding Human Rights
- Chapter 5 - Background Information on Global Human Rights Themes