Monday, May 14, 2018

Citizens' Right to Learn

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which set out the support and protection citizens across the world are entitled to expect from those they have entrusted with the power and resources to run their country.

One of the key challenges arising from disputes over alleged violations of human rights and what actions should be taken, is how people can resolve such disputes when ignorance, deception, and misinterpretation so often get in the way. If people fail to see wrongdoing for what it is, or are duped into regarding vital interventions as unwarranted interference, the defence of human rights will face an uphill struggle.

It should be remembered that Article 26 of the Declaration states not only that “everyone has the right to education”, but that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

In practice, it is rare for education at any level to pay much attention to raising people’s awareness and understanding of the problem of belief evaluation. Naïve embrace of ‘freedom of expression’ as a licence to lie, incite or misdirect has enabled the enemies of human rights to subvert democracy and con millions into blaming scapegoats. What is urgently needed is a sustained campaign to boost critical learning about how to differentiate reliable claims from dubious assertions.

The ‘Question the Powerful’ project, in association with the global Citizen Network, has brought out a new book, What Should Citizens Believe? It provides accessible resources for anyone interested in teaching, promoting, or facilitating discussions about ideas and practices that support reasoned assessment of what citizens ought to believe.

What Should Citizens Believe? exploring the issues of truth, reason & society is available in the following formats:
E-book (£2.99):
Paperback (£5.99):

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all royalties I receive from the sale of the book in 2018 will be donated to Amnesty International.