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Sociología y Educación en Derechos Humanos

April 15, 2014

Ícone+legenda SSF_RIOpeq

El documento que ora SSF/RIO divulga aquí es representativo de algunas líneas de reflexión desarrolladas por Sociologists without Borders / Sociólogos sin Fronteras. Pone en relieve la articulación entre la investigación sociológica y la actividad pedagógica como expresión del compromiso intelectual y práctico con la promoción y defensa de los derechos humanos, que inspira nuestro envolvimiento al servicio de esa causa en SSF / RIO.



Sociología y Educación en Derechos Humanos

Este artículo analiza los usos y limitaciones del esquema clasificatorio que prevalece en el campo de los derechos humanos -un marco operativo tripartito que delinea la primera generación de los derechos civiles y políticos que garanticen la libertad, la segunda generación de los derechos económicos y sociales que promueven la igualdad, y el grupo de tercera generación con los derechos culturales que apoyan la solidaridad. Cuando se aplica estrictamente, el marco corre el riesgo de reificar las tres categorías, exagerando el impacto de la Ilustración europea sobre normas contemporáneas, sin percibir a los contextos históricos en los que las peticiones de derechos emergen. Aunque útil para fines analíticos y pedagógicos, el paradigma existente no logra captar todo el espectro de violaciones de los derechos humanos y las soluciones en el mundo contemporáneo. Más precisamente, no tiene en cuenta las intersecciones entre los diferentes tipos de derechos. Para el fin de renovación del paradigma, este artículo avanza los principios de holismo, la globalización, y el historicismo como herramientas para educadores en derechos humanos.

Fonte:Mark Frezzo/Sociology and Human Rights Education: Beyond the Three Generations?/  Societies Without Borders-Human Rights and the Social Sciences (EISSN 1872-1915), 9 September 2011. Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 3-22 (20)

© Sociologists Without Borders/Sociologos Sin Fronteras, 2011 [Versão pdf – Acervo de SSF/RIO]



Sociology and Human Rights Education: Beyond the Three Generations?

Mark Frezzo

University of Mississippi

Societies Without Borders 6:2 (2011) 3-22-Received June 2011 Accepted August 2011




This article examines the uses and limitations of the prevailing classificatory schema in the field of human rights—a tripartite framework that delineates first-generation civil and political rights ensuring liberty, second-generation economic and social rights promoting equality, and third-generation group and cultural rights supporting solidarity. When applied strictly, the framework runs the risk of reifying the three categories, exaggerating the impact of the European Enlightenment on contemporary norms, and overlooking the historical contexts in which rights-claims emerge. Though useful for analytic and pedagogical purposes, the existing paradigm fails to capture the full spectrum of human rights violations and solutions in the contemporary world. More precisely, it fails to account for the intersections among different types of rights. To the end of renovating the paradigm, this article advances the principles of holism, globalism, and historicism as tools for human rights educators.



Human Rights Education, Rights Bundling, UN, NGOs


It is commonplace to divide human rights into three categories: civil and political rights (including individual protections, the right to assembly, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and voting rights); economic and social rights (including protections from the fluctuations of the market, along with the rights to a fair wage, unemployment insurance, and social security); and group and cultural rights (including the rights to maintain traditional customs, inhabit the lands and use the waterways of a group’s ancestors, and receive an education in a minority language). Since the late 1970s, scholars, policymakers, and activists—especially in the US and elsewhere in the global North—have tended to employ the three-generations paradigm in interpreting the declarations and campaigns of the United Nations Organization (UN) and such NGOs as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW). For their part, in serving as producers and disseminators of knowledge about human rights, the UN, AI, HRW, and other organizations have predicated their human rights education programs on the three-generations paradigm. (For the UN’s program, see; for AI’s program, see http://;for HRW’s pro- gram, see

In the process, these organizations have exerted a profound influence on the public reception of such canonical texts as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the 1966 Inter-national Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – the three components of the putative International Bill of Human Rights (IBHR) (United Nations Organization 1948, 1966a, 1966b). Phrased differently, the three-generations paradigm – though formalized by Karel Vasak, then Secretary-General of the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, three decades after the promulgation of the UDHR and more than a decade after the promulgation of the ICCPR and the ICESCR – has shaped both the scholarly exegesis and the popularization of the three of documents (Vasak 1977). Following Vasak’s precedent, theorists and practitioners of human rights have routinely assumed that a precur- sor of the three-generations paradigm found its tentative expression in the UDHR and its definitive elaboration in the ICCPR and the ICESCR. Though plausible, this assumption has obstructed many scholars, organizations, and educators from taking stock of the new forms of human rights thinking emanating from mass mobilizations in the global South.

Notwithstanding its analytic and pedagogical utility, the three- generations approach – when applied strictly – makes it difficult to capture the full range of human rights abuses and remedies in the ‘real world.’ Thus, in defining poverty, social inequalities (based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and national origin), and environ- mental destruction as violations that cut across the three categories, sociologists imply that the solutions – to be found, presumably, in the form of government policies that promote poverty alleviation (or alternative development), greater social equality, compensation for historical injustices, and environmental restoration – must be holistic or totalizing. In acknowledging the indivisibility of human rights both at the theoretical and the practical levels – sociologists have proposed ‘rights bundles’ or packages of organically connected rights that transcend the conventional categories (Blau and Moncada 2005: 51-64).

To the end of demonstrating the advantages of a more holistic, global, and historically sensitive approach to human rights, this article defends three rights bundles (or collections of social entitlements): ‘longevity’ (consisting of the rights to food, housing, healthcare, and a clean ecosystem); the ‘full development of the person’ (consisting of the rights to a nurturing milieu, an education, occupational training, leisure activities, and identity choices), and ‘peace’ (consisting of protections from interstate warfare, civil strife, crimes against humanity, and the structural violence stemming from racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia) (Frezzo 2011). It is the author’s hope that human rights educators – whether employed by universities, affiliated with NGOs, or engaged in community organizing – will not only adopt these rights bundles, but also cultivate the habit of devising new rights bundles to meet the needs of their constituencies. It is in the act of inventing, honing, and defending rights bundles that students and community members come to understand the remarkable malleability and efficacy of the discourse of human rights.

This article is divided into five sections. The first section explores the recent surge of interest in human rights among social scientists – a significant but largely unanticipated development in the academy. The second section examines the theoretical problems associated with the three-generations paradigm, while the third section addresses the historical problems surrounding the paradigm. Extrapolating the insights of scholars who have emphasized the indivisibility of human rights and the consequent need for rights bundling, the fourth section elaborates an immanent critique of the three- generations paradigm. Drawing on a renovated version of the paradigm, the conclusion offers a new reading of the IBHR, and then traces the ramifications of this reading for human rights education.

Versión integral accesible en Internet:  Societies Without Borders


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