The Role of Civil Society Organizations in Human Rights Education in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


In today's world, the role of civil society is becoming prominent in influencing political, economic and social policies to the advantage of the poor and marginalized sector of the society. Emerging between the government and private sector as the third segment of societal relations, civil society plays a decisive role by complementing what has not been addressed by government and influencing the relationship between government and private sector. Therefore, this fact has now become clear and certain that civil society occupies an influential position on the global as well as national activities. Civil society organizations are the result of society's recognition that government and private sector alone cannot solve major societal Problems. This contributes to the need to act together for a common causes or interests rather than waiting of the action of government or pri vate sector. The issue of human rights is one of the areas in which civil society organizations are actively involved through out the world. From the multifaceted right-based issues, creating public awareness is taken as a basic preventive mechanism for human rights violations in which almost all right-based NGOs are engaged. Moreover, human rights will be respected only if everyone knows what they are and such knowledge is neither natural nor spontaneous. It has to be undertaken by all actors including civil society organizations. Civil society and government entrusted with the task of raising public awareness on human rights. In the Ethiopian context, there are different human rights NGOs involved in human rights education. However, it is witnessed that the general public is beyond the reach of those institutions. This problem has its own background. Among these, less development of right-based CSOs, the legal and policy impediment on the activities and internal factors of CSOs themselves can be mentioned. Even though the development and operation of CSOs in Ethiopia is limited due to extemal and internal factors, it is believed that there are improvements in the CSOs activities. However, the internal problems of CSOs like: lack of qualified and committed personals in their HRE activities, being urban centered, left out some group of the society in their HRE programs and weak manual preparation can be mentioned as gaps of CSOs particularly working on HRE .Moreover, poor networking culture among CSOs, poor collaboration with government offices, problems of accountability and responsiveness to their HRE activity are also their internal problem, which undermine their legitimacy. There are also external factors which in one way or the other affect HRE activities of CSOs. Lack of updated NGO legislation, problem of fund, biased perception of government officials and long bureaucratic obstacles in their operations are some of the external factors . It is identified that the cumulative effects of these factors contribute to the development of weak Co-operation between the government and the CSOs sector. It also makes the CSOs human rights promotion activities ineffective. So, the public is not still beneficiary from CSOs HRE activities as it is expected. These necessities to conduct depth research to generate ideas about the solution to strengthen government - CSOs relationship.



Role of Civil Society