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When asked what should be done about human rights, the French philosopher Voltaire answered:- “Let the people know them!”

Over the years there has been considerable deterioration in the internal security environment in various parts of our country. J&K and NE states have been the theatre of ethnic, regional and state sponsored turmoil for decades for various reasons, the primary one being isolation of the region from rest of the country and the lack of social and economic development of the area. The rise in the law and order problems and failure of the government to control the situation eventually led to the long drawn involvement of the armed forces in the region. The efforts of the security forces to control insurgency and terrorism in the area have brought up the issue of violations of human rights by the security forces. The paradoxical situation now is that while there is an increasing and widespread concern for observance of human rights by the security forces operating in the environment, gross violations of the same by the militant organisations continue unabated.

“Extremist organisations find terror desirable to attract attention whereas counter measures by security forces are restrained when militants blend into the local population, making it impossible to attack their bases or personnel without collateral damage. Here in lies the dilemma for the security forces to conduct operations effectively within the constraints of ethics and the need to respect human rights.

(Jasjit Singh)

Terrorism and human rights cannot co-exist. They are mutually destructive of each other. Where there is terrorism there cannot be human rights. One of the greatest threats to the future of democracy is terrorism which is increasingly becoming a way of life in the disturbed states. Low intensity conflict operations today includes in its gambit operations against insurgents, militants, terrorists, and any other non - state actors that jeopardises national security and sovereignty. The armed forces are being increasingly used in Low Intensity Conflict Operations (LICO) or Counter Insurgency (CI) Operations, which brings it in the media lime light. Certain restrictions have to be imposed on the basic rights of people when combating terrorism, but those restrictions have some norms to be followed.

The principles of humanity suggest that military action should not cause unnecessary or disproportionate damage or suffering. When entrusted with a task of this magnitude, human rights violations do take place, but what is important is that the state remains fully aware of its obligations to eradicate the occurrence of such instances and takes prompt measures against the erring personal. It becomes imperative on part of the organisation to educate and train the personals involved in such duties with the basic rights of an individual as a human being and the steps to prevent its violation.


Statement of the Problem

This paper aims to formulate and suggest the Institutionalised Human Rights Education and Training as a means to reduce Human Rights Violations by the Armed Forces operating in low intensity conflict environment.

Justification of the Study

Human rights now constitute the common heritage of humankind; accordingly, human rights education is a means of accessing that heritage through the universal commitment to the dignity and worth of each human. The evils of injustice, exploitation, impoverishment, tyranny, civil strife, genocide, abuses of power, and catastrophic state failures have plagued humankind from time immemorial and produced humiliation and despair. They also spur action for social and economic transformation, which human rights education helps to define and put into practice.

Human rights education reinforces the human rights to peace and to development, that is, the rights of human beings and nations to be free from aggression or other unlawful use of armed force and from mass impoverishment. Genocidal practices and other massive human rights violations are a particular challenge for human rights education. Every human being should be empowered through human rights education to expose and undermine the very possibility of such practices before they emerge and to join with others in ending such practices and holding the perpetrators accountable for their deeds and those who could help accountable for their silence and inaction.

The dedication of nation-states and of the United Nations system to human rights education is a first step and the modest efforts pursued during the first United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995- 2004) and this effort must be redoubled by the Armed Forces as a responsible organisation to build stronger solidarities through the message of the dignity and equal worth of every human person.


This study focuses on establishing a framework of Human Rights Education and Training to the armed forces in low intensity conflict operations environment. It also attempts to suggest functional parameters that will assist in adopting a universal, holistic and integrated approach to Human Rights.

Methods of Data Collection

The source of data has been the abundant literature on the subject available in the College Library. A bibliography is appended at the end of the text. In addition to it, explicit use of means of mass media including internet has been made. The thought process of eminent personalities and experts on the subject, both in India and internationally, have also been incorporated as they manifested in Interviews and public shows.

Organisation of the Dissertation

It is proposed to study the subject in the following manner:-

  1. Chapter I. Introduction and Methodology.
  2. Chapter II. Human Rights - A basic Study.
  3. Chapter III. Interplay of Human Rights and Armed Forces in LIC Environment.
  4. Chapter IV. Relevance of Human Rights Education for Armed Forces.
  5. Chapter V. Approach to Human Rights Education.
  6. Chapter VI. Effective Human Rights Training.
  7. Chapter VI. Conclusion.



Human Rights - Evolution of the Concept. In the simplest of terms, human rights could be regarded as involving all those aspects which add to dignity and free existence of human beings. Historians credit the origin of this concept to MAGNA CARTA, AD 1521. On scrutiny however, it would emerge that this document actually was a petition urging the king to concede certain rights to a particular section of his people. It neither had a direct reference to the common man's basic freedom nor the required range of application. The term “Human Rights” was introduced in the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the US constitution embodied a “Bill of Rights”. The French resolution later on in 1789, ushered in the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. Much later in 1929, the Institute of International Law, New York, USA, prepared a Declaration of Human Rights and Duties. In 1945, the Inter American Conference passed a resolution seeking the establishment of an international forum for the furtherance of human rights of the whole mankind.

The World War II was probably the turning point, which drew the required attention towards human rights. The atrocities committed on ethnic grounds by the axis powers shocked the conscience of the international community. The allied powers then vowed to usher in a world order for promoting respect for the observance of Human Rights and fundamental freedom. The United Nation's charter, in its preamble declared, “we the people of the United Nations Organisation……..reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of human person, in the equal rights of men and women and the Nations large and small…..”. The charter then went on to declare that the purpose of the United Nations is, “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedom for all, without distinction based on race, sex, language or religion”. The United Nations proclaimed the universal declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The United States defined Human Rights in a policy document in 1978 , which includes the following aspects:-

“Freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, torture, unfair trial, cruel and unusual punishment and invasion of privacy, rights to food, shelter, health care, education, freedom of thought, speech, assembly, religion, press, movement and participation in Government”.

Human Rights - The International Endeavour.

The United nations Organisation in keeping with its charter to promote respect for fundamental freedom and Human Rights for all without any distinction, came out with an International bill of Human Rights consisting of the following:-

  1. Universal Declaration of human Rights, 1948.
  2. The International Covenant on civil and Political Rights, 1966.
  3. The International covenant of Economic social and cultural rights, 1966.
  4. The optional protocol (1966) providing for the right of the individual to petition international agencies.

The principles on which this bill was based on are as under:-

  1. All human beings have been brought within the scope of this bill, without any distinction.
  2. Equality of application without any distinction of race, sex, language or religion.
  3. Emphasis on international cooperation for implementation of the bill.

UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 approved and accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further on 16 December 1966, two covenants were also approved by the UN General Assembly on “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” and “Civil and Political Rights”. These covenants are legally binding and came into force in 1976. Some of the important aspects of UN Declaration are as under:-

  1. Right to life, liberty and security of person (Art 3).
  2. Right against slavery or servitude (Art 4).
  3. No one shall be subjected to torture, cruel, in human or degrading treatment or punishment (Art 5).
  4. Equality before Law and equal protection under law (Art 6 and 7).
  5. (e) Right to effective remedy against violation of Fundamental Rights (Art 8).
  6. Right against arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (Art 9)
  7. Right against interference with individuals' privacy (Art 10 and 11).
  8. Right to a free and fair trial (Art 12).
  9. Right to freedom of movement, residence and nationality and to seek asylum in other countries (Art 13, 14 and 15).
  10. Right to marry and to form a family (Art 16).
  11. Right to property (Art 17).
  12. Right to freedom of thought, religion, freedom of opinion and expression (Art 16 and 18).
  13. Right to work, reasonable working conditions and to receive equal pay for equal work (Art 23, 24).
  14. Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and to be a member of a society (Art 20 and 22).
  15. Right to a standard of living, conducive for health, well being and social protection (Art 25).
  16. Right to education (Art 26).
  17. Right to participation in cultural life of community (Art 27).
  18. Right to a social and international order in which the right and freedom set forth in this declaration can be fully exercised (Art 28).

Human Rights

The Scenario in India. India does not have a known convention on human rights. However, India is a signatory to the various conventions proclaimed by the United Nations organisation. Traditionally, Indian culture has always stressed the observance of human rights. Our constitutional founders have given this aspect the due prominence in the form of fundamental rights, which has been embodied as Directive Principles of State Policy. The important aspects are as given below :-

  1. Right to equality (Art 14).
  2. No discrimination against any citizen based on religion, race, caste, sex etc (Art 15).
  3. Right against untouchability (Art 17).
  4. Right to freedom.
  5. Right to freedom of speech and expression (19(i)(a))
  6. Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms (Art 19(i)(b)).
  7. Freedom to form associations (Art 19(i) (c)).
  8. Freedom to reside and settle in any part of country (Art 19(i) (f).
  9. Freedom in choice of profession (Art 19(i) (f)).
  10. Right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself (Art 20(2).
  11. Protection of life and personal liberty (Art 21).
  12. Protection against arrest and detention (Art 22).
  13. Right against exploitation by traffic in human beings, beggary and other similar forms of forced labour (Art 23 and 24).
  14. Right to freedom of Religion (Art 25 to 26).
  15. Right to move Supreme Court for enforcement of fundamental rights (Art 32).




“When the soldier is fighting against an adversary in war, considerations of Human Rights are secondary principles. Practices and usage of war are the best guide. But during peace time employment, in addition to the guidelines laid down in various conventions, it is essential that the environment that the soldier has to operate is clearly understood.

-Army Training Note S/1/95

Six decades after our independence, country finds itself beset with terrorism and insurgencies in many states simultaneously. The security forces have been actively involved in counter insurgency operations in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir and more recently, Naxals in as many as twelve other states. Involvement of non state actors in promoting insurgency in our border states is also well established. The insurgencies and terrorism are quite different from a full scale conventional war and thus demand the utmost attention of a government and the people. The counter insurgency operations must differ materially from regular warfare for which armies train and equip themselves.

Environmental Realities in LIC

More often than not the armed forces are deployed for operations at a very belated stage, when the situation is almost out of control. The prevailing environment that is likely to be encountered by the army therefore assumes a great degree of importance. Some of the salient aspects of the environmental realities are given in the succeeding paragraphs:-

    1. Public. There is a prevailing sense of in-security among the general public. People tend to either silently obey the militants or to migrate to safer places. They are very reluctant to cooperate with the security forces.
    2. Militants. There is an overpowering cult of the gun and defiance of authority. They acquire sophisticated and lethal weapons by establishing nexus with powers inimical to the state. They have no desire for peaceful negotiations, unless the government out rightly succumbs to their demands.
    3. Bureaucracy, Politicians and Judiciary. These come under tremendous pressure because of the constant threat of retribution.
    4. Police/Paramilitary Forces. Militants endeavour to induce fear in them through intimidation, and other forms of retribution. This coupled with inadequate equipment and training has adverse effects on the morale and efficiency of these forces. As a result their credibility gets eroded and they fail to induce any confidence among the people.
    5. Media. The official media and some of the national dailies are viewed as the mouth piece of the government and its credibility with the masses is usually low. Reporters have scant knowledge of LICO and tend to sensationalise events.
    6. Civil Administration. The general conditions prevailing amounts to the civil administration being ineffective and the authority of the government gets eroded with the writ of the militants running supreme.
    7. Law of the Land. The law of one state is not always applicable in the other states. This facilitates the militants shifting their bases and operating from areas where they can escape the law. Once certain special laws are enacted, these are portrayed as draconian in a democratic society, thereby providing sufficient cause for propaganda and also drawing attention of the Human Rights Organisations. The militants also thrive on the various existing lacunae in our legal system.
    8. Neighbouring States. Inimical neighbours exploit the instable situation to the full extent and resort to waging a proxy war.
    9. The Nexus. Militants tend to establish a nexus with identical anti government movements. Even some religious fundamentalist extends their direct support.
    10. State and Central Agencies. There is a plethora of state and central agencies operating in such an environment. They usually lack unity of purpose and operate at cross purposes.

Impact of Environmental Realities.

All these environmental realities given above have an impact on the operations carried out by the army. These are as given below:-

  1. The army gets involved when things have gone out of hands of the police/para military forces to handle thereby making their task much more difficult.
  2. Operations tend to become long drawn and the army gets involved over protracted periods to effectively neutralise the militants' potential. The resources required are also out of proportion invariably.
  3. The army invariably has to operate in an intelligence vacuum. Barriers of language pose additional problems. Militants also manage to infiltrate various civil and police organisations compromising security.
  4. There is often an absence of clear cut political directive, making it difficult for the army to understand the charter and to evolve its aims, objectives and plans n a long term perspective.
  5. There is inadequate cooperation from the local public, bureaucracy and the politicians.
  6. Media gets exploited by the militants to discredit the army, thereby imposing great caution on operations by the army.
  7. There is a lack of integration between various agencies, thus making problems of coordination acute.
  8. Where the militants enjoy public support, willing or forced, it is difficult to sift and isolate the militants from the public.
  9. Law of the land often provides great immunity to the militants and imposes numerous constraints on conduct of military operations.
  10. Where the inimical neighbours provide active support to the militants, a great deal of effort is diverted to check infiltration of such support.

Where Armed Forces Go Wrong.

It is now evident that the whole problem is intensified due to proximity of civilians to the area of operations. The following issues form part of the media campaign and cause concern to various Human Rights Organisations:-

  1. Curbing of Fundamental Rights. Operations of cordon and search, vehicle checking etc, cause harassment to people. As these operations cannot be done away with, it must be ensured that these operations are done on firm intelligence only to avoid any unwanted fallout.
  2. Rape/Molestation. Reports appearing in the media are a min of actuals and the malicious propaganda being launched by militants.
  3. Illegal Detention. As per rules, any offender is required to be handled over to the police within 24 hours of apprehension, for filing of a case. Problem arises when due to mistaken identity an innocent citizen is detained by an enthusiastic unit and the legal formalities get delayed due to efforts to extract information by that unit.
  4. Fake Encounters. Stage managed encounters in the vicinity of population centres come to the knowledge of human rights organisations.
  5. Attack on Civilians. Bomb blasts, proxy actions in populated areas and seemingly intentional killing of civilian population in hostile territory, becomes a media headline, and draws adverse propaganda.
  6. Custodial Deaths. In a bid to extract information, no suspect should be tortured. Failure to carry out a medical check up before handing over to the police authorities, could result in reasons for an eventual death of the individual at the hands of the police, being attributed to alleged torture by army prior to handing over.
  7. Compensation. All victims should be compensated at the earliest. Rules should be framed on various contingencies and offenders if any should be made to pay compensation, and punished as well.
  8. Special powers to the Army. Special powers conferred should be understood in its totality. Legal constraints like carrying police representative for cordon and search operations, frisking of women by women police, signing of “No Claim” certificates etc have to exercised with due care.
  9. Cross Fire Tactics. Militants employ this tactics of firing from a crowd or putting civilians in front of them as shields. Indiscriminate reaction by armed forces will not go well with the media and public at large.
  10. Prolonged Operations. Our experience of operations in North Eastern states have amply proved that when units are pressed to achieve quick results and prolonged operations conducted, instead of achieving tangible results, what actually took place was alienation of the population, besides causing discomfort to own troops.

“To extricate information from an apprehended insurgent/militant regarding their crime, intentions, information regarding operations in progress and whereabouts of their bases, some force is required to be used against the norms of human rights. No individual will ever divulge information if treated well.”

Lt Gen (Retd) VK Sood, PVSM, AVSM

Human Rights Record of Army

Indian army has achieved a great degree of success in this genre of conflict due to the highly successful operational style and technique adopted. This is based on a very humane approach of psychological dissuasion and winning the hearts and minds of the population. It is a “discriminate” approach, in as much as it relies upon large scale application of trained manpower as imposed to indiscriminate use of heavy fire power and airpower.

Operations in LIC are complex. The difficulty in identification of the militants and their affinity to the local population, make the task of security forces difficult. In such operations, therefore, a certain amount of human rights violations are likely to take place. The Indian Army however, takes such incidents very seriously, not only because of the violations by themselves being criminal acts, but also due to the fact that it adversely affects the units' discipline.

‘The Pledge'

We are the human rights generation

We will accept nothing less than human rights.

We will know them and claim them,

For all women, men, youth and children,

From those who speak human rights,

But deny them to their own people.

We will move power to human rights




Increased awareness of human rights over the last thirty years has led to new standards for state actors in peace and war. Since the Cold War, democratic governments have promoted constitutional reforms aimed at subordinating the military to civilian control and preventing human rights abuses.Militaries have also undergone a self examination to adapt their roles and missions to the changing strategic environment. By and large they have endorsed democratic principles and human rights. In India, we have a commitment by the armed forces to remain subordinated to civilian authority, act within constitutional bounds, and respect human rights. Reflecting changes in national security strategy, the Indian Armed forces need to play a critical role in promoting democracy and human rights.

Rooted in a belief that there is an affinity between democratic systems and free market economies, and that democratic states are less likely to go to war with each other, this strategy aims to ensure that regimes consolidate democratic institutions and increase respect for human rights. The incorporation of democracy and human rights as national security policy objectives has been accompanied by operational changes in the role and mission of the forces as per our military doctrine.

Existing Human Rights Safeguards

Historical Legacy

This Humane characteristics of the Indian Army and its soldiers have been exemplified in the history : -

  1. During the Police Action against Razakars in the state of Hyderabad in 1948. Gen J N Choudhry, commander of the Indian Forces, reminded the Indian troops that they should be absolutely humane while dealing with the local population as they were their own countrymen particularly the woman, children and the infirm.
    1. (b) Similarly, in December 1961, after the military operations in Goa the then Chief of the Army Staff in a message to the troops said ‘ In Goa, you are in India and with your compatriots. Your duty is at home. Go and protect the people. Let no one suffer violence'. At the end of the operations the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his message to the operating forces said “ You, and officers and men serving under your command in Goa Operations, have my warmest congratulations on the splendid way all of you have carried out the allotted task- with efficiency, courtesy and humanity”.
    2. (c) As mentioned earlier 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered in 1971 Bangladesh operations. At the time of surrender Lt Gen J S Aurora gave a solemn assurance that “ The personnel, who surrender, shall be treated with dignity and respect that soldiers are entitled to in accordance with the Geneva Convention and protection shall be provided to the foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and the personnel of West Pakistan origin”.

The Indian Army has stood the test of time as regards the Human Rights issue wherever and whenever deployed for counter insurgency or conventional operations. History is on its side to prove the point. After the end of 1971 Indo-Pak war, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered. While treating the POWs, the Indian Army not only complied meticulously with the Geneva Conventions on POW, but also gave them free access to their friends and relatives in West Pakistan. It also gave them freedom to celebrate their religious festivals. The Indian Army is fully aware of the pitfalls, nuances, implications of Human Rights violations and the resultant adverse effect on its operational efficiency and morale. It has therefore taken comprehensive measures at all levels to safeguard and prevent Human Rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The measures undertaken at the macro level to the grass root level of troops operating in LIC operations in Jammu and Kashmir are enumerated in the succeeding paragraphs.

Humane Fibre of Indian Soldiers

By and large, the basic instinct and reaction of an Indian soldier in most of the situations is to protect the Human Rights and uphold human dignity. The factors responsible for development of this attitude and reaction to a large extent are military discipline, compassion and camaraderie and apolitical entity.

Indian Army in Peace-keeping Operations Outside India

The contributions of the Indian Army to the Humanitarian cause in United Nations peacekeeping operations outside India is well known, appreciated world wide and well documented. The Indian Army has earned for them the praise and admiration of the warring factions, the United Nations and the Government of their own country. Peacekeeping operations in Korea, Gaza, Congo, Somalia, Cambodia, and Rwanda are some of the shining examples of the legacy of the Indian Army to the Human cause.

30. Human right training has been intensified and efforts to reform military justice in Indian Army have been introduced. While these initiatives have lowered the decibel level between human rights advocates and the military, there is no consensus on their effectiveness. Two crucial dilemmas arise in attempting to harmonize such efforts with other objectives. First, training has met obstacles that limit its impact. The backgrounds of many militaries have afforded them considerable freedom from civilian control while portraying them as guarantors of the state. Another dilemma involves threats such as drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism. In most mature democracies responsibility for dealing with such threats falls to civilian institutions. But in much of the country, these challenges have overwhelmed new democratic governments, leading to a call for the army to play a central role. The democratic transition in many nations removed the armed forces from internal security operations; thus human rights organizations and democracy activists fear that proposed roles and missions will reinforce impunity and lead to a return to violations.

There is a greater focus required on incorporating human rights issues in operational training exercises and developing more pragmatic and mission related arguments for respecting them. The Army needs to sponsor a collegium or working group which could compose of representatives of various international and regional organizations and officials with responsibility for human rights training. It will need to produce a consensus document that specifies objectives for doctrine, education and training, internal control systems, cooperation with external control systems, and the delineation of police and military functions. Deliberations earlier have highlighted possibilities and difficulties of reaching a consensus between civil and military representatives on advancing human rights. On the positive side, a relatively detailed consensus does exist. At the same time there are major differences over priorities. Military officers stress education and training as key to improving performance. They acknowledge the importance of incorporating support for democracy and respect for human rights in doctrine. Civilian participants, on the other hand, emphasize the need for both internal and external control mechanisms to ensure accountability for violations.

New Threats, Ancient Rights

If the transition to democracy has fostered a new emphasis on individual rights, it has also produced a far more complex array of challenges. The international and regional legal architecture for promoting and protecting human rights is based on obligations under international covenants to control actions of state agents. It was commonly argued that only states can commit human rights abuses because of their obligation to guarantee rights. In India, however, non-state actors pose the greatest threat to human rights. Terrorist, Insurgents, Maoists / Naxals, Drug cartels and organized crime have overwhelmed and subverted efforts to strengthen civilian law enforcement.

Harmonizing objectives relating to democracy and human rights with other security goals in the India is a vital challenge. In addition, an expanding body of international humanitarian law in an increasingly globalized world is likely to require more formal and detailed attention to human rights. In this environment, demands for internationally recognized individual, civil, and political rights are increasingly countered by demands for harsher measures to restore order. Social cleansing actions and vigilante efforts to punish criminals are growing in frequency and popularity while support for democracy and human rights is eroding. These new threats pose a dilemma for the nation in ending Army's involvement in internal security.



Efforts to promote human rights in the Indian Army have recently started fruitifying. The Armed Forces have begun inserting specific human rights training into programs. Although human rights issues are treated peripherally in our counterinsurgency training, there still is a requirement that the curriculum be revamped. To this end, instructional materials in all courses should stress respect for human rights as indispensable to successful military operations.

Human Rights Education

What is needed, therefore, is to create the conditions, circumstances, and milieux for ongoing, large scale HR Education that is also attentive to the details and lived contexts of individual local situations. Practical ways must be found to make everyone human rights literate. This means that HR Education should be both holistic in terms of learning about central common values and visions reflected in the Universal Decade of Human Rights (UDHR) as reflecting the aspiration of humanity (human rights as belonging to all women, men, youth and children,) and a vehicle for all people to know about the existing body of human rights law - norms and standards - and the governments' commitments made and obligations undertaken. Only then may HR Education become in their hands a powerful tool for action.

Human Rights Education & Training Methodology

Methodological approach needs to be developed on the basis of experience gained is comprised of basic elements which, appropriately adapted and modified for each target group, can provide useful guidance for the conceptualization, planning, implementation and evaluation of human rights training programmes for armed forces personals. These elements are described below.

Collegial presentations

For the selection of resource persons, it is suggested to draw from a list of practitioners in the relevant field. Much more can be accomplished through a collegial approach, in which students discuss these matters with each other, than by a professor-student model of training. This approach allows the trainer to access the distinctive professional culture which surrounds each particular audience. At the same time, practitioners/trainers should be accompanied and supported by experts in human rights, thus ensuring that the substance of international human rights standards is fully and consistently reflected in the course contents.

Training the trainers

Participants in human rights training courses should be selected on the understanding that their responsibilities will continue after completion of the training exercise. Each will be charged with conducting his/her own training and dissemination efforts after returning to his/her duty station. In this way, the impact of such courses is multiplied as the information imparted is disseminated throughout the institutions concerned. Accordingly, in addition to substantive content, the courses should include training methodology and capacity-building components, such as lessons and materials designed to impart training skills to participants.

Interactive pedagogical techniques

The courses developed should introduce a variety of effective techniques for training adults. In particular, for the use of creative, interactive teaching methods, which offer the best hope for securing the active involvement of the programme participants. Techniques that may be especially appropriate and effective in human rights training for adults will include: presentation and discussion, panel discussion, working groups, case studies, problem-solving/ brainstorming, simulation/role-playing, field trips, practical exercises (including drafting), round-table discussions and visual aids.

Audience specificity

The mere recitation of vague principles of general applicability offers little hope of affecting the actual behaviour of a given audience. To be effective—indeed, to be at all worthwhile—training and education efforts must be directly targeted and appropriately addressed to a particular audience. Accordingly, the content of teaching materials focuses more on the standards directly relevant to the daily work of the armed forces personals and less on the history and structure of HR and HR organisations.

A practical approach

The training begins with the recognition that professional armed forces personnel in the real world want to know not just what he human rights rules are, but also how to do their job effectively within the confines of those rules. Without bowing to instrumentalist approaches to human rights, trainers must also recognize that professionals will also want to know “what is in it for them?” That is, what value can a better understanding of human rights bring to their work? Training efforts which ignore either of these areas are likely to be neither credible nor effective. Accordingly, trainers and course designers must include practical information on proven techniques for the performance of the actual duties of the participating personals, as derived from the recommendations of experts. While practical recommendations are a key component of courses offered under this approach, it would not be possible to provide detailed training on technical professional skills in a human rights course. Instead, the existence of such techniques should be highlighted and targeted for further training as a follow-up to human rights training, and conceptual linkages should be made between the two sets of skills.

Comprehensive presentation of standards

These courses should be thorough in their presentation of the relevant international standards. To this end, relevant instruments and simplified learning tools should be translated and distributed to participants. In every case, one or more persons specialized in human rights should be involved, to control the substantive content of the courses and workshops, and to supplement course presentations as required.

Teaching to sensitize

In addition to imparting standards and practical skills, the courses should also include exercises designed to sensitize trainees to their own potential for contributing to violative behaviour, however unwitting. For example, well-developed exercises (including role playing) which can make trainees aware of gender / regional or racial bias in their own attitudes or behaviour can be valuable. Trainees should be made to understand that, for example, the term “degrading treatment”, as found in various international instruments, may imply different activities and thresholds when applied to women as compared to men, or to one cultural group as opposed to another.

Flexibility of design and application

To be universally useful, training courses must be designed in such a way as to facilitate their flexible use, without imposing a single rigid focus or approach on the trainers. Courses must be adaptable to the particular cultural, educational, regional and experiential needs and realities of a diverse range of potential audiences within the target group. Accordingly, course materials should not be intended to be read verbatim to trainees. Trainers should create their own targeted presentation notes and materials, based upon the content of prepared materials and the particular realities on the ground. Training should be constructed in self-contained modules, allowing appropriate selection and tailoring according to particular needs and objectives.


The training courses should result in improved competence in the relevant field. Unlike briefings and seminars, training courses should be designed around learning objectives, and all trainees should be required to demonstrate competence throughout the course during assigned exercises, and to undergo testing (in the form of a written examination) both before, and upon completion of the course. Comparison of pre- and post-course test results, together with careful attention during course presentations by participants, provides a concrete measure for evaluating improved competence.

Evaluation tools

Training courses include pre- and post-training evaluative exercises, such as testing questionnaires, which serve three crucial purposes. Pre-course questionnaires, when properly utilized, allows a trainer to tailor his/ her course to the particular educational needs of the audience. Post-course questionnaires and evaluation sessions will both allow trainees to gauge what they have learned, and assist trainers in the continuous (crucial) modification and improvement of courses and materials.

The role of self-esteem

The importance of appropriate regard for the self-esteem of adult trainees cannot be overemphasized. Professionals will bring to the classroom their own professional expertise and practical experience, which should be acknowledged and can be tapped for the benefit of the course. The extent to which the trainer does so will largely determine the trainee's reaction to the training exercise. Obviously, participants will not respond well to instruction which is seen as “spoon feeding”; nor will a “schoolteacher” approach or a “military” approach be well received. Instead, trainers should seek to create a collegial atmosphere in which the exchange of expertise and experience is facilitated, the professional knowledge of trainees recognized and professional pride encouraged. The goal here is to send the message that knowledge of human rights is a key element of professionalism in the work of the target group and that, accordingly, the trainees have much to gain and also much to contribute in this area.

Linkage to organizational policy

If training is to produce the desired impact on behaviour and professional performance, it must be clearly supported by, and linked to, corresponding rules in the trainees' institutions. Institutional policy must reflect the human rights imperatives taught in the classroom, and management must be trained in and committed to ensuring its application.

Planned follow-up

Traditional human rights training initiatives have often been composed of “a lecture and a wave”. Meaningful, competency-based and objective-oriented training, on the other hand, requires a certain degree of sustained commitment and planned follow-up, if improved capacity is to be achieved. This means that the training programme should include structured follow-up plans from the formulation stage. They may include periodic return visits by specialists for quality control, review and reinforcement purposes, or a system of review and reporting to be carried out by the local trainers themselves. The newly trained trainers should be charged with implementing fully developed training programmes in their own right, following from the pilot or initial programme. Of course, periodic and final evaluation is a must.



Learning Objectives

Human rights training should be based upon clearly articulated objectives. The objectives of the trainer should facilitate satisfaction of the needs of the trainee. Three basic learning objectives should form the foundation of such programmes and mirror the following needs of the trainees.

  1. To receive information and knowledge of what human rights and humanitarian standards are and what they mean for the work of the trainees in their profession of arms.
  2. To acquire or reinforce skills, so that the functions and duties of the personals can be fulfilled effectively with due respect and regard for human rights. Simple knowledge of standards is not enough to enable trainees to transfer these rules into appropriate professional behaviour. The acquisition of skills should be viewed as a process whereby skills are fine-tuned through practice and application. This process may need to be continued, in the light of training needs identified in specific areas of the trainees' work, including through appropriately tailored follow-up programmes.
  3. To become sensitized, i.e. to undergo a change in negative attitudes or to reinforce positive attitudes and behaviour, so that the trainees accept, or continue to accept, the need to promote and protect human rights through their work, and actually do so in the course of their professional duties. The question at issue here is the values of the trainee. This, too, is a long-term process, to be reinforced by further, more technical, training.

Tailoring Courses

When arranging training programmes, the principles of audience specificity and relevance require that organizers follow a few basic rules of thumb:

  1. Courses and programmes should be preceded by and based upon a consultative needs assessment involving the target institution or group to be trained.
  2. Whenever possible, separate training programmes should be arranged for different categories within the profession, according to the particular function and context of that sub-group's daily work. This allows training to focus on:-
  3. Strategy and policy-making aspects for senior commanders.
  4. Pedagogical aspects for trainers.
  5. Operational aspects for others.
  6. Basic training in only the most fundamental areas and key concepts for support staff and non combatants.

The Participatory Method

This method requires an approach which is interactive, flexible, relevant and varied, as described below:

  1. Interactive. This programme implies the use of a participatory, interactive training methodology. Adult trainees most readily absorb human rights course curricula when they are not “spoon-fed” the material. Rather, for effective training, they should be fully involved in the process. As practitioners, the trainees will bring to the course a rich pool of experience, which must be actively drawn on in any interesting and effective course.
  2. Flexible. Contrary to certain myths associated with adult training, it is not advisable to adopt a “military” approach, in an attempt to force trainees to participate. The result of such techniques is, more often than not, the sowing of resentment among trainees and, consequently, the closing of effective avenues of communication between trainer and trainees. While a certain level of control should be maintained by the trainer, the first rule should be flexibility. Questions—even challenges— from the audience should be welcomed, and should be addressed by trainers in a positive and forthright manner. Similarly, excessively rigid timekeeping can leave participants feeling frustrated and resentful and should be avoided.
  3. Relevant. The unspoken question of the trainee throughout the course will be: “What does this have to do with my daily work?” The extent to which the trainer continuously answers this question will be an important measure of his/her success. Every effort must therefore be made to ensure that all material presented is relevant to the work of the trainees, and that such relevance is made clear where it is not self-evident.
  4. Varied. To secure and retain the active commitment of participants, it is best to vary the teaching techniques used through out the course. Most adults are not accustomed to long classroom sessions, and a tedious and monotonous routine will leave them more conscious of the classroom than of the subject matter. A varied selection of techniques should be used, alternating discussion with role-playing and case studies with brainstorming, as appropriate to the subject matter.

Participatory Techniques

Presentation and discussion. Following a presentation,an informal discussion is useful to clarify points and facilitate the process of translating ideas into practice. Such discussions are conducted by the presenter, who should try to involve all participants. It is useful for presenters to have a prepared series of questions available to initiate the discussion. At the conclusion of the presentation and discussion, the presenter should provide an overview or summary. Presentations should be supplemented with prepared visual aids or study materials distributed in advance to all participants.

Panel discussion

The formation of a panel of presenters or experts, possibly following a presentation by one or more of them, has frequently been shown to be a useful training device. Such an approach is particularly effective when presenters have expertise in different aspects of a topic, because of their professional backgrounds. Ideally, human rights experts should be included on the panel, together with experts in the relevant professional field. One presenter should act as facilitator, to enable the widest possible participation, to ensure that participants' needs are met and to provide an overview or summary at the conclusion of the discussion. This method should include direct exchanges between panel members themselves, and between the panel and the audience.

Working groups

These are created by dividing a course into a number of small groups of a maximum of five or six participants. Each group is given a topic to discuss, a problem to solve or something concrete to produce, within a short time period. A facilitator may, where necessary, be assigned to each group. The course is then reconvened and the results of the deliberations of each group are presented to the full course by a spokesperson for the group. The course participants can then discuss the topics and the response of each group.

Case studies.

In addition to dealing with discussion topics, working groups can consider case studies. These should be based on credible and realistic scenarios which are not too complex and which focus on two or three main issues. Case studies should require participants to exercise their professional skills when responding to them and to apply human rights standards. The scenario for a case study can be presented to participants for consideration by them in its entirety, or “fed” to them sequentially as a developing situation to which they have to respond.


These sessions can be conducted as intensive exercises to seek solutions to both theoretical and practical problems. They require a problem to be analysed and then solutions to be developed. Brainstorming encourages and requires a high degree of participation and it stimulates those involved to maximum creativity. Following presentation of the problem, all ideas in response to it are recorded on a board or flip chart. No explanations are required and no interventions are judged or rejected at this stage. The presenter then categorizes and analyses the responses — at which stage some are combined, adapted or rejected. Finally, the group makes recommendations and takes decisions on the problem. The learning or sensitization process occurs as a result of the group discussion around each suggestion.


These exercises require participants to perform a task or tasks in a realistic situation simulating “real life”. Simulation or role-playing exercises may be used to practise a skill or to enable participants to experience hitherto unfamiliar situations. A written factual situation is distributed in advance and each participant is allocated a particular role (the army officer, the victim, the witness, the judge, etc.). During the exercise, no one is allowed to leave his or her assigned role for any reason. This technique is particularly valuable for sensitizing participants to the feelings and perspectives of other groups and to the importance of certain issues.

Field Trip

Group visits to relevant institutions or sites can provide valuable perspectives. The purpose of the visit should be explained in advance and participants should be instructed to pay critical attention and to record their observations for a subsequent discussion.

Practical Exercises.

This involves the assignment of trainees to apply and demonstrate particular professional skills in a supervised exercise.

Visual Aids.

Adult learning can be enhanced by the use of blackboards, overhead transparencies, posters, displayed objects, flip charts, photographs, slides and videos/films. As a general rule, information produced on transparencies and charts should be concise and in outline or list form. If more text is required, printed handouts should be circulated.

Locations for Training Courses

Ideally, the following conditions should be met in respect of the location for a training course:

  1. Courses should be held at a location away from the normal place of work of the participants.
  2. The room used for a course should be of sufficient size for the number of people it is intended to accommodate.
  3. There should be a sufficient number of small ancillary rooms available to accommodate working groups, so that participants may focus without interruption on their assigned topics.
  4. Seating facilities should be comfortable and flexible, allowing chairs, desks and tables to be moved around to accommodate various training techniques.


Selection of trainers

The selection of trainers and resource persons should be based on the following criteria:

  1. Expertise in the subject matter.
  2. Ability to apply the interactive methodology of the programme
  3. Professional credibility and appropriate reputation.
  4. Ideally, a panel of trainers should be primarily composed of officers from all arms, accompanied by at least two experts in the field of human rights.

Briefing Trainers

It is important that trainers are adequately briefed on the following matters:-

  1. Basic historical, geographical, demographic, political, economic, cultural and social information on the areas of interests, basic information on the constitutional and legal arrangements of that country; human rights and humanitarian law treaties to which the state is a party; current or planned human rights projects etc.
  2. Organizational aspects of the trainees.
  3. Categories and numbers of trainees participating in the programme.
  4. Particular issues of current concern in relation to the armed forces personals to be trained.



“There is presently no part of the world that is immune from terrorism. The threats are real and call for a firm response from states. The response should, however, be proportional to the danger involved and carefully tailored to address it, bearing in mind that the danger includes not only the harm done by terrorism, but also the harm done to the fabric of our societies by disproportionate responses that undermine democracy itself.”

Arthur Chaskalson, ICJ President,

Opening speech, Berlin 2004

With continuing widespread fear of terrorist attacks and a security dominated agenda, governments are redefining and seeking to bypass well-established human rights and rule of law principles. Terrorism itself puts human rights in peril and states have a duty to protect people from terrorist acts. However, new and old counterterrorism measures worldwide threaten the rule of law and human rights. The legal and human rights community is struggling to meet this global challenge in an effective and coordinated way. Policy-makers dismiss general statements of human rights principles as unrealistic and the public in many countries seems ready to accept an erosion of rights. Some states have faced cycles of terrorism and counterterrorism for decades, yet policy-makers are not listening to the lessons of history. Despite signs of an emerging rhetorical acceptance by democratic states that their fight against terrorism should not jeopardize democratic values, there is still little agreement on what this means in practice for the work of the police, the military, anti terror units and the courts.

There is a need to move from principle to a more sophisticated and detailed exploration of the issues. What are the acceptable limits of counter-terrorism measures? What is the nature of today's security threats and how different are they to past threats? Do these threats justify changing existing rules of international human rights and humanitarian law? How should laws and policies change if they are both to confront terrorism effectively and respect human rights and the rule of law? The legal community worldwide must now take a leadership role in articulating how the rule of law can be respected in addressing terrorism in its many complex global and local forms.

Human rights education is a means of accessing the common heritage of human beings through the universal commitment to the dignity and worth of each human. The evils of injustice, abuse of power, and catastrophic state failures have plagued humankind from time immemorial and produced humiliation and despair. They also spur action for social and economic transformation, which human rights education helps to define and put into practice.

Human rights education reinforces the human rights to peace and to development, that is, the rights of human beings and nations to be free from aggression or other unlawful use of armed force and from mass impoverishment. These rights also include the right of human beings to benefit from the peaceful applications of science and technology and to have the capabilities of exercising choices and participating in decision-making that affect their lives. In this sense, human rights education can define the framework of a peaceful world and provide a strategy for human development. Genocidal practices and other massive human rights violations are a particular challenge for human rights education. Every human being should be empowered through human rights education to expose and undermine the very possibility of such practices before they emerge and to join with others in ending such practices and holding the perpetrators accountable for their deeds and those who could help accountable for their silence and inaction.

It is hence imperative upon the armed forces in the changing world milieu to get them better equipped as far as the human rights are concerned. It assumes particular importance in case of troops operating in the low intensity conflicts. The paper has recommended certain principles and practices that can be adopted by the armed forces for institutionalising the human rights education and training to its personals. The approach may though exhaustive, may not be all inclusive and hence will require revisions and modifications from time to time.


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