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.
 Full text (pdf)

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).