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Human Rights and Scouting

17. أكتوبر 2013

Dear Fellow Scouts,

I am a member of World Scout Human Rights Task Force established by the World Scout Committee following the last World Conference. Our remit is to study current human rights policies and practices in Scouting and to report to the Committee with recommendations based on our findings. As part of its action plan, the HRTF has already coordinated workshops on Human Rights at the 24th Asia-Pacific Regional Scout Conference in Dhaka (November 2012), the 5th European Scout Symposium in Dublin (April 2013), the 21st European Scout Conference in Berlin (August 2013) and at the 25th Inter-American Scout Conference in Buenos Aires (September 2013).

This world level exercise on sharing ideas, examples and views on how human rights, diversity and non-discrimination in Scouting can be progressed will conclude with a working session focused on Human Rights Education at the World Scout Education Congress in Hong Kong (22-24 November 2013). I will be running this session and hope to see you there or participating online. Accordingly, in my preparations for this workshop, I would be really interested to learn about your own views and examples from around the world. I am writing this ‘post’ on the new website to facilitate that interaction and to invite you to share with me and with each other.

The attached workshop session outline asks: “could the Scout movement be one of those ‘small places’ where human rights begin?” And: “is Scouting the place where children and young people all over the world can find equal justice, equal opportunity and equal dignity without discrimination? Should and could Scouting be a place where young people are empowered to learn about human rights? I think Scouting already is and very much should be all of these things.

I invite you to share your thoughts, ideas and examples with me and others. With your permission, I may use some of your inputs in further developing the workshop session for the Congress. Here are some prompt questions to get you thinking about this:

• How can and does Scouting as ‘education for citizenship and peace’ contribute to establishing and developing respect for human rights and a culture of human rights? What contributes most to making this possible at the moment and how could we build on this?

• As you reflect on successful ways that Scouts and Scouting currently engages in human rights education and respecting human rights, what initiatives stand out as being exceptionally promising and why? How is it making a difference now and for the future?

• How your local unit or National Scout Organisation is engaged in human rights education and respecting human rights? (e.g. in the programme, adult training, in support and resources and in policies and procedures)

• What kinds of Scouting initiatives (e.g. programmes, activities, policies/procedures, partnerships) are most encouraging human rights/human rights education?

• What are the areas where you feel greater focus on human rights/human rights education could have the most impact in Scouting and the quality of what we do towards our Mission?

• What are you most proud of in terms of your Scouting, your Scouts or your National Scout Organisations contribution to human rights/human rights education?

• What small changes could we make right now (relatively quickly/easily) that would really encourage more Scouts get involved with human rights education and respecting human rights? How would you like to be involved as a Scout/Scout Leader?

• The Universal Declaration states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”. In your experience how is this reflected in access to and participation in Scouting? What promising Scouting examples do you have of ensuring equality of opportunity for all, valuing diversity and working inclusively on the basis of non-discrimination? How can we build on this?

• In what areas and in what ways is and should Scouting be collaborating with others on human rights education, and what areas are most promising for expanding this collaboration? Who might be interested partners in enhancing our work on human rights education and why do you think they might be interested?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours in Scouting,

Dan Wood

Background on Scouting’s commitment to Human Rights

Since 1977, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) has formally accepted and supported human rights as defined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. This commitment is both reflected in several World Scout Conference resolutions over the years and in the status that WOSM enjoys within the United National Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In March 2010 the World Scout Committee (WSC) issued a statement on human rights issues which affirmed its “unequivocal adherence to the principles of human rights expressed in the UN Declaration” noting that “this includes, inter alia, articles related to discrimination. The WSC also presented a Declaration on Human Rights to the World Conference in Brazil in January 2011 which was well received and there was a clear desire to open some spaces for reflection and debate on this issue at regional and world level, as well as bringing some further proposal maybe in the form of a policy, resolution or other statement to the next World Scout Conference in 2014.

Find out more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Education

The most recent definition of HRE, taken from Article 2(2) of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training (2011), is as follows: “Human rights education and training encompasses education: (a) About human rights, which includes providing knowledge and understanding of human rights norms and principles, the values that underpin them and the mechanisms for their protection; (b) Through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners; (c) For human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others.”

In case you are unfamiliar with the concept, I have linked to some nice little videos that I have found helpful in explaining these ideas.

التعليقات (5)

  • Kaddi
  • من Germany
  • 11. أبريل 2014

Hi Dan, thank you very much for your detailed info. I was searching for some info on the background of the latest Info in "Circular No 15/201". Do you know anything about the WSC statement on Human Rights?

  • Dan.Wood
  • من United Kingdom
  • 11. أبريل 2014

  • Kaddi
  • من Germany
  • 11. أبريل 2014

Thank you very much - I've received the note! I'm just wondering WHY has WSC pubished/submitted it? Has there been a specific case that made it appropriate to underline that Human Rights are part of Scouting? Etc? Do you know anything about the background of the statement?

  • Dan.Wood
  • من United Kingdom
  • 11. أبريل 2014

Hi Kaddi.

Sorry. I hadn’t fully appreciated your question initially.

Obviously, I can't speak on behalf of the World Scout Committee, so you would need to ask the Chairman/SG directly if you wanted to know for sure.

My understanding is that this was, at least in part, a reaction to the recent passing of legislation regarding homosexuality in Uganda. From my perspective it is disappointing that this has not yet been made clear in introducing the context of the statement as I believe was agreed.

The Human Rights Task Force (of which I am a member) provided its advice to WSC at their request on this matter amongst other things.

It almost goes without saying, of course, that the matter in Uganda is of course far from the only consideration for Scouting in respect of Human Rights and I think the statement is right to make clear that the stance does not only apply to a specific instance or issue. Our posture and approach in Scouting is as an educational Movement based on clear values and principles, not as a campaigning or advocacy organisation.

HRTF has also been working on its report to the World Scout Conference which was also reviewed and accepted at the recent WSC meeting. This proposes developments in our approach to Human Rights Education and suggests strengthening our policy position to make even clearer that WOSM and NSOs should respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights and make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

I do hope this helps you.

Best wishes,


A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special. The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.

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