Extracurricular Activities at the Human Rights Center
Along with being the platform for the implementation of three structural “Studies and Training Programmes”, during the course of the “Development of Human Rights Education and Research at the National University of Timor Leste (UNTL)” project, the Human Rights Center (HRC) is envisioned to become a space for participation for members of academia, students, civil society or simple human rights enthusiasts, with the aim to foster open and respectful exchange. With this in mind, a set of regular extracurricular activities was launched in October, comprising of weekly "Human Rights Talks" and "Human Rights & Cinema" events, as well as the newly launched "Fridays@ Human Rights Center" format.
The Human Rights Talks & Cinema events, taking place on alternate weeks, are envisioned to raise awareness of human rights values and initiate constructive debate, by introducing the visitors (mostly UNTL students and professors) to selected relevant issues, following the UN calendar of international days and commemorations. The kick-off event was organized in October with the Deputy Ombudsperson for Human Rights of Timor Leste, who presented the role of National Human Rights Institutions. Since then, the students have had a chance to learn, exchange and debate with engaged professors, state institutions’ representatives (like the National Police of Timor Leste), as well as representatives of international institutions, most notably on the occasion of the World Children’s Day, organized in cooperation with the Delegation of the EU and UNICEF office.
Film, on the other hand, is arguably one of the most powerful communicative tools of human rights, as it can convey profoundly complex social and political topics in a way which is palatable, yet mind-opening for the viewer. The Human Rights & Cinema program is curated to give the audience a chance to learn about human rights issues in different countries and contexts (with a focus on the Global South), mostly through renowned documentaries, followed by a moderated discussion to reflect on the issues highlighted in the selected movies and their implications on the Timor Leste context. So far, the visitors have had the chance to watch and discuss documentaries like: Waste Land, Fed Up and He Named Me Malala.
The Human Rights Talks & Cinema events are realized with the tireless help of the Faculty of Social Sciences’ professors, who host and moderate the always packed events, with young people eager for an opportunity to learn and debate in a small and conducive setting. Since the beginning of the events, nearly 250 visitors, with an encouragingly balanced gender ratio, have tackled a wide variety of issues including the violence against women, rights of people with disabilities, crimes against journalists and other challenging topics.
In addition to the regular events aimed primarily at UNTL students and professors, in December the HRC opened its doors to Timorese civil society at large, with the "Fridays@Human Rights Center". This format aims primarily to meet the needs of small grassroots organizations and activists, including those led by university students, providing them with space in a safe and funtional environment to meet, hold workshops and conduct other activities, as well as advice and informal guidance by Global Campus staff. On December 5th 2019, the HRC hosted the first civil society group, with 25 international relations students who debated about youth, peace and security with the ''International Women Peace Group''.