Oslo, 2-5 September 2004 - The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Notes by Ramola Sundram on
‘The Shared Space of Human Rights and Religious Freedom’
‘The Shared Space of Human Rights and Religious Freedom’ is a project being undertaken jointly by the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning (PDHRE). The aim is to institute changes in people’s freedom of religion or belief at the community level. The means is through the creation of a resource pack for training on human rights related to the freedom of religion and belief consisting of audio-visual materials, an accompanying manual and the training of trainers to implement it.
The package of training materials will be designed firstly to engage the emotions and then to foster critical thought about the complex issue of the right to a broad definition of religious freedom that includes inter-faith harmony. It will be modelled on a similar initiative on women’s rights already undertaken by PDHRE in the late 1990s.
The project will run from 2004-2006. Laying the foundations is now underway, both organisations having requested their contacts in four countries - Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and South Africa - to send true stories from their own experience that can be dramatised and videotaped to show the impact of the lack of such human rights in people’s lives.
The stories that can best evoke empathy and learning will be featured in the format of a docu-drama - i.e. telling the ‘real’ stories of people’s lives vis-à-vis their experiences with a denial of their human right to the freedom of religion or belief. The manual for trainers and learners that will accompany these videos will develop critical thinking, analysis, and methodologies for community activities. It will be targeted to reach 45 rural and urban communities at the outset.
These audio-visual materials will be accompanied by a training manual that is specifically designed to be used at the community level. They will help learners, particularly including local opinion-shapers, to start to ask what can be done either to address religious freedom issues in their community, or prevent them arising. Depending upon their suitability, the materials will eventually be used in training seminars with the two organisations’ regional networks around the world, beyond the initial audiences in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, and South Africa.
The project is principally funded by the Dutch Foreign Ministry. It will be evaluated (through a sample) recording changes of knowledge, the prevalence of positive attitudes, the incidence of changed or new practices, and an independent assessment of any substantial claims of community-level improvement.