The University of the South Pacific (USP), in partnership with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Regional Office for the Pacific, has developed a 200-level Human Rights Defenders Course as part of its Leadership, Governance and Human Rights (DLGHR) Diploma programme, to improve understanding of human rights in the Pacific region.
The Human Rights Defenders Course, DG201 was launched yesterday (24 Feb) will now be offered at USP from Semester 1 of 2021, a first within the small Pacific Island countries and the Southern Hemisphere.
Speaking during the launch of the course at the Japan ICT Lecture Theatre Laucala Campus last night, OHCHR Regional Representative for the Pacific, Ms Heike Alefsen said OHCHR was delighted to partner with USP on this course.
“This course for students from the Pacific reflects our mandate on human rights education and promotion and complements our mandate on monitoring of human rights,” she said.
“We envisage that this series of Human Rights Defenders courses (DG201 and DG302) will challenge students to understand the diverse situations of human rights defenders, to think critically, devise effective action to defend human rights, and adapt human rights to real life situations.”
USP Acting Vice-Chancellor and President, Dr Giulio Paunga said the University was deeply appreciative of the UN OHCHR funding of the project ($US78,999) that has helped support the development, delivery and promotion of these courses in its first semester of offering.
“This will ensure that the Human Rights Defenders course is sustainably offered beyond the duration of the OHCHR project in the Pacific. USP remains committed to ensuring its courses and programmes continue to be relevant and responsive to the needs of the region,” he said.
Dr Paunga added that the Human Rights Defenders Course at a tertiary level is a strong preventive measure that will seek to influence future Pacific leaders.
“USP continues to foster partnerships and stakeholder collaborations in these relevant areas,” he said.
USP’s Diploma in Leadership, Governance and Human Rights (DLGHR) programme previously has successfully collaborated with Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) (funded through Australia AID in 2012) in setting up the initial programme and is also currently collaborating with UNDP to develop a new 200 level course on Anti-Corruption in Pacific Island Countries” he added.
According to LGHR Programme Coordinator, Dr Natasha Khan, an additional 300-level course will be offered in Semester 2, 2021.
The new Human Rights Defenders course has been thoroughly reviewed to ensure that students receive high quality content that is of international standards.
Acting Head of School of School of Law and Social Sciences (SoLaSS), Dr Sandra Tarte, Dr Natasha Khan, Mr Anare Tuitoga, Dr Claire Slatter and Mr Romitesh Kant have been integral in developing these courses.