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Experts – whether from academia, national human rights institutions, governmental structures, or civil society – can be a valuable resource for awareness raising, training and the education of public officials. The experience of an individual working at the grassroots level on a specific fundamental rights challenge can also make a very convincing testimony and offer real-life examples.


In November 2012, the Study and Information Centre for Human Rights at the University of Utrecht held a workshop on the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the meaning of this ratification for local policy. The workshop was part of a series of debates on local human rights, initiated by the Municipality of Utrecht.

The workshop featured presentations by local authorities, the university and local organisations working with people with disabilities.

Sources: Interview La’shan Lewis, Advisor for International Affairs, 2012, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Learning Point

The above example – as well as the focus group discussions with public officials conducted for this toolkit – illustrates a number of factors related to the design of educational programmes such as:

Available expertise
Expert bodies and organisations, such as national human rights institutions, civil society organisations or universities, often have extensive training programmes and experienced trainers that can be used. Some of these training programmes may already be financed and usefully complement internal funding.

Using external trainers
Using external professional trainers is useful for delivering training to larger groups of public sector staff, particularly those who are at the frontline of service delivery. The cost of external trainers is a factor that needs consideration.

Using peers as trainers
Using peers to do the training will create the feeling that fundamental rights are part of the job. Using generic fundamental rights training material and tailoring it to the needs of the organisation could prove very economical. Comparable templates could be used in induction, ongoing training, supervision and the appraisal of employees.

Material for internal trainers
Reviewing existing training supplies of national human rights institutions and international bodies can prove useful. These can be web-based, paper-based or interpersonal, held either in the work place or at a special venue. Some examples of such training include:

  • e-learning programmes based on the European Convention on Human Rights, with national examples that are made available to local government bodies, free of charge;
  • specific training tailored to decision makers and senior staff;
  • staff induction training, which includes information on international human rights treaties and their obligations.

A central hub on human rights e-learning is the online platform of the Human Rights Education Associates. It offers self-directed e-courses and tutored e-learning courses on topics - such as rights of the child, or health and human rights - for human rights defenders and educators, development workers, and public officials.

FRA regularly produces publications such as factsheets, handbooks and toolkits on fundamental rights topics. Handbooks and manuals can be particularly useful for a fundamental rights training session i.e. the Handbook on European non-discrimination law or the upcoming fundamental rights training manual for border guards.