Launch of innovative undergraduate courses on human rights defenders by the University of South Pacific

News | Posted on Wednesday 28 April 2021

The Centre for Applied Human Rights congratulates The University of the South Pacific (USP) on the launch of two landmark undergraduate modules, "Introduction to the Role and Challenges of Human Rights Defenders" and "Building Resilience among Human Rights Defenders", the first of their kind in the global South.

University of South Pacific campus
University of South Pacific campus

Developed in partnership with the UN Human Rights Office for the Pacific, these modules are part of USP’s Leadership, Governance and Human Rights Diploma led by CAHR-alumnus Dr. Natasha Khan of the School of Law and Social Sciences. These modules aim to inspire a new generation of students across the Pacific and to improve the understanding of human rights in the Pacific region.

Explaining the rationale for these modules, Dr Khan observed, “I have always been very passionate about human rights defenders, particularly after spending time at Centre for Applied Human Rights at University of York. That Centre has a very vibrant environment for human rights defenders and I was hoping that we at USP could strive for something like that in future.”

Praising the launch of these modules in February, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, highlighted, “I hope that this course will support cross-over linkages between academics, activists, governments, institutions, organisations and the private sector, to create a new generation that welcomes critical debate with and by human rights defenders, no matter who they are and where they are...”.

Ms Heike Alefsen, the OHCHR Regional Representative for the Pacific, commended The University of the South Pacific, saying, “students will have the opportunity to interact with course participants from across the Pacific region and to understand better how international and national human rights regimes work, and to emulate good practices in the protection of human rights defenders from other regions across the globe.”

Dr Alice Nah of CAHR was invited to provide an independent review of these two modules during their development. She observes, “These modules are unique in the way they communicate about human rights issues in the Pacific and the work and struggles of local human rights defenders in building societies that are fair, just and equal. They are an important milestone in human rights education globally.”