First human rights MA course in Mozambique

OSISA-funded programme is first in Lusophone Africa

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

May 11th, 2012

In future, Mozambicans will look back on 2012 as a critical year for the promotion of human rights and good governance in the country – following the establishment of its first National Human Rights Commission and now the launch of its first Masters Degree Programme in Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance. 

The launch of the course comes at a crucial time for Mozambique. While the country has a human rights orientated constitution and has enjoyed almost two decades of multiparty democracy, the promotion of human rights has been challenged by a plethora of issues, including the massive claw back clauses in the Constitution, obsolete legislation, a weak judiciary, the lack of national human rights overseeing bodies, the pervasive culture of impunity enjoyed by the security forces, and the huge skills and capacity deficit among human rights practitioners.

The result of all these challenges is that the gap between the theory enshrined in the constitution and legislation and the practice on the ground has been widening and, consequently, Mozambique is lagging behind in terms of most human rights indicators.

Given this worrying trend, the Universidade Tecnica de Moçambique (UDM) asked OSISA to support a new Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance Master Degree Programme – the very first in Mozambique and, indeed, in any Portuguese-speaking country in Africa.

Funded by OSISA, the programme will be run by UDM with technical support from the Universidade Federal de Pará (Pará University) of Brazil, which will ensure that there is a transfer of skills between Brazil and Mozambique – with each Brazilian lecturer being required to work with and mentor a Mozambique lecturer.

The programme is a balanced mix of the theoretical world of human rights, democracy and good governance and concrete problem solving assignments that will address current issues in Mozambique and the region. It will run for 18 months, with 8 modules plus a dissertation.

Speaking at the official launch of the programme, OSISA’s Deputy Director, Deprose Muchena, expressed his hope that beyond training a new cadre of experts, the programme would also contribute to deepening the debate about tolerance and accountability in Mozambique, as democracy, good governance and human rights are at the heart of development.

“Mozambique is not a poor country but the people are poor because its natural wealth does not benefit everyone,” said Muchena. “If poverty is to be effectively tackled in Mozambique then human rights, democracy and good governance must be at the heart of policy, legislative reforms and the actions of the state.”

Replying on behalf of the government, Aly Bashir, stressed that the programme was being launched at a pivotal moment for Mozambique given the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission, which will require additional know how and expertise that this Masters course will help to provide.

But this course is not just intended to benefit Mozambique. If successful, it will hopefully inspire similar courses in other Lusophone African countries, which suffer from the same shortage of skilled human rights activists and practitioners as Mozambique. 

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