CÔTE D'IVOIRE: Human rights institute to open soon

The Université Atlantique in Abidjan is opening an institute of human rights in September, and last month it held a conference to prepare its operations.

Fraternité Matin of Abidjan said the event focused on such matters as the selection and recruitment of students, academic programmes and course content, and identifying the public institutions for which education in human rights would be important.

The institute's Director is Noël Yao, a human rights activist who has previously worked at senior levels in the National Commission of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Operation in the Côte d'Ivoire.

Establishment of the Institut des Droits de l'Homme, or IDH, was announced last year on the initiative of Aliou Mané, President of the Université Atlantique, reported Fraternité Matin at the time.

The paper said Mané was confident Yao would make the institute a pioneer in human rights among the Ivoirian people, and it would aim to instil respect for human dignity. The human rights situation, like democracy, was an unfulfilled revolution and there was not a day that passed without its contravention.

Even states and govenments which through basic law were guarantors of the defence of human rights daily flouted citizens' rights, said the paper. The task could not be exclusively reserved for those who governed, which was why the Université Atlantique was going to play its part alongside government and private institutions already active in this area, said Fraternité Matin.

Yao said last year he wanted the IDH to make the general public aware of human rights through workshops, seminars and conferences, but also through field studies, with results made available to all.

Mané had already initiated partnerships with the educational authorities in Abidjan and Bouaké, and with the Université Montesquieu in Bordeaux, France. He had the support of the UN Secretary-General and the Human Rights commission, said Fraternité Matin.

At last month's conference three working groups got down to the practicalities.
One established a programme for selecting students and defining conditions of recruitment, and decided which teachers to contact to work in the institute.

Another had responsibility for proposing course themes, and training programmes for those who would teach them. The third identified public institutions that should be targeted for human rights education, and the content and methods of these studies.

The conference started with a presentation of the Bologna degree structure of three, five and eight years higher studies corresponding to bachelor, master and doctorate levels, said Fraternité Matin.

Dr Gilbert Gonin of the University of Cocody told participants of his ambitions for the IDH to make human rights accessible to all. Diploma courses should be organised following the model of international human rights institutes and education centres, which necessitated the Bologna system.

Gonin said the education should be available to the widest possible public because violations of human rights receded when knowledge about human rights advanced, reported Fraternité Matin.