By DAVID PETRASEK
CIPS Policy Brief No.17, March 2012
- The Canadian Museum of Human Rights has set itself a sound objective: to challenge and equip visitors actively to promote human freedom and well-being.
- The Museum will fail to meet this objective, however, if it is overly historical in its approach, because the past is not always a reliable source for understanding current or future human rights abuses, and carries within it a narrative of progress and permanence that encourages complacency not commitment.
- Instead, the Museum should focus on the present and future of human rights, and should present the idea of universal rights as a topic of critical dialogue.
David Petrasek is Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa. He was Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of Amnesty International and has worked for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-98), for the International Council on Human Rights Policy (1998-2002), and as Director of Policy at the HD Centre (2003-07).