We empower people by making them smarter in
the knowledge and skills of granting others their Human Rights.
As stated in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the European Charter of Human Rights and many others, the fact that a person is a human being, comes with him being protected as such. No distinction is made between the sexes, races, beliefs, sexual attraction or such. We, at the Gerard Noodt Foundation fully agree with this.
Moreover, GNF, like many other organizations, makes will stand against any that fight these inalienable human rights. At the same time, the battle for human rights is mostly fought using two strategies, namely a) by using the rule of law and b) by using cultural values.
- Rule of Law. Most nations are governed by varying degrees of rule of law. Therein laws describe people’s rights and penalties upon breaking the law. At the same time laws are not always fair; neither do they always treat all peoples as equals. A typical example concerns people that are not willing to serve in the military for religious or conscientious reasons. In some countries these conscientious objectors are given no choice but to accept a jail sentence. In these cases the law does not negotiate, nor does it accept the reason of the objecting individual. All the law can do is attempt to deter or punish behavior. The law has, however, little power to persuade people to change their conscience and their motive. All it can do is pass sentence or not. Even increasing prison sentences has shown little effect on the motive of people to do or not do what they deem right.
- Culture consists of a set of rules about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. It defines how people interact and judge. Cultural elements are transferred through the generations (parent-to-child), storytelling, religions, schools, the law, and the media. Cultural values dictate an estimated 98% of a persons ethics and conscience. And although the culture seemingly goes towards the root of Human Rights problems it is not the root itself. Deeper is the way it is transferred, through parents and all social structures in society.
Education. A third, and alternative strategy for Human Rights, is educating people, both en-masse as well as the individual. Educating is not about telling people what is right or wrong from their own cultural or legal perspective; it is more about helping people look at multiple sides of the problem to find solutions. Take, for example the cultural tradition of people in Mauritania, where the men beat their wives during the peak of sexual activities. For those of us who are not from Mauritania this act seems like a clear case of Human Rights abuse, as women should be treated equally to men, men should not dominate, and it is wrong to beat people. But that is too easy of an answer, and needs to be thought through from their cultural perspective as well.
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The same can be said for how rear their children. Some parents just dictate a set of rules about behavior. Whilst others help children learn discern between truth and error by talking about it to make them think. Both of these strategies have their pro’s and cons. What is appropriate also depends on the culture, the law, the social structure of the family and other such elements.
The education we help provide is teach how to see more sides to the cases at hand, and help people through the thinking process of deciding why something may be right or wrong. One could call it Conscience Development by Raising Awareness and Sharpening thinking.
“We have no right to prejudice another in his civil enjoyments because he is of another church.”
The Gerard Noodt Foundation (GNF) does the same. It is true that we also work with rule of law, as well as with our own cultural norms. But the strategy we use in particular is promoting enthusiasm for the debate of Human Rights. This is done by setting up meetings with other NGO’s, attending such meetings, giving speeches and presentations, and working with the media.
As such the Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief supports directly organizations such as Human Rights Without Frontiers, Mensenrechten Zonder Grenzen Nederland, Platform Godsdienstvrijheid Wereldwijd, Freedom of Religion or Belief Round-Table, FoRB Ronde Tafel Nederland, and European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom. Other like-minded organizations such as EPRID, are sponsored indirectly.