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Vocabulary

convention
Agreement concluded between states; synonym of treaty. It is legally binding on the states which ratify it.

covenant
Synonym of treaty, convention; agreement between states.

declaration
A document whose signatories express their agreement with a set of objectives and principles. It is not legally binding but carries moral weight.

democracy
A form of government which requires the participation of the people. A political system which is characterized, inter alia, by the independence of the executive body, the legislative body and the judiciary, as well as free elections.

disadvantaged
Refers to all groups that encounter structural obstacles (i.e., obstacles created by society) to access to resources, benefits and opportunities. Those obstacles derive from the relationships of power which exist in all societies and the relative value which society gives to each group.

discrimination
Any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, opinion, descent, or national or ethnic origin which discourages or prevents equal recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

illiteracy (adult)
An illiterate person cannot, with understanding, both read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life. A person who can only write figures, his or her name or a memorized ritual phrase is not considered literate.

participation
A process by which people take an active and influential role in shaping decisions that affect their lives.

peace-making
Action to settle conflicts through peaceful means such as negotiations, judicial settlements, sanctions or cease-fire agreements.

protocol
Agreement which completes an international treaty or convention, and which has the same legal force as the initial document.

public freedoms
Freedoms which are guaranteed and protected by the state.

rapporteur
A representative who reports on a situation. In this case, a special rapporteur is a representative who gathers facts, visits prisons, interviews victims, and makes recommendations on how to increase respect for human rights.

ratification
Approval of a treaty, convention or other document by a country’s competent bodies, thereby securing that country’s commitment to it.

recommendation
International text which, in theory, does not constitute an obligation.

refugee
Person who has left their country due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.

resolution
Text adopted by a deliberative body, an international organization (for example, by the United Nations General Assembly or the General Conference of UNESCO).

rule of law
The requirement that the state provide legal guarantees for rights which uphold the dignity of the individual.

adapted from Manual for Human Rights Education, UNESCO, Section for Humanistic, Cultural and International Education; Intermediate School Kit on the United Nations, UN Publications; United Nations Publication DPI/1967 98-03917 March 1998 25M; Economic and Social Council, Commission for Social Development, Expert Workshop on Ways and Means to Enhance Social Protection and Reduce Vulnerability, E/CN.5/1998/5.

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