Katarina Tomaševski – Croatia

Education is still not globally recognized as a right, despite endless solemn affirmations of the universality of human rights, according to a new report Education Denied: Costs and Remedies, written by Katarina Tomasevski, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Katarina Tomaševski – Croatia

Education Denied: Costs and Remedies, published on 8 April 2003, is written by Katarina Tomasevski, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

This is personal appointment, and is unpaid. The rapporteur conducts human rights missions to countries such as the United States of America, Turkey, or People’s Republic of China, has on-going dialogue with the World Bank focusing on charging fees in primary school, especially where the World Bank itself acknowledges that fees are illegal. Lacking authorization to investigate violations of the right to education, Professor Tomasevski has molded her mandate to be able to tackle at least the most egregious violations, such as the killings of students and teachers.

The book goes one step further and speaks about the denial of the right to education, not only violations. Education is still not globally recognized as a right, despite endless solemn affirmations of the universality of human rights. Indeed, today its fate is worse than before because education has become a commercial service. University education remains a right in barely a handful of countries.

Millions are victimized by the denial of education, but the problem is attributed to poverty rather than misrule. Where poverty results from the denial of human rights, the solution is not to deny children education merely because they are too poor to afford its cost, as was the policy of the World Bank during the 1980s. At the turn of the millennium, the global commitment to education in the poorest countries has improved, but reality lags far beyond rhetoric.

Number-crunching dominates the global debate. There is also a myth that any education is better than none. Abuse of schooling exposes children and young people to indoctrination in the name of education, evident from the very purpose of education as defined in countries such as Cuba or Saudi Arabia. School textbooks generate controversy, but their censorship triggers too few human rights challenges.

The author’s recipe for action is simple. Governments are obliged, collectively and individually, to make education available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. This in effect condenses human rights requirements into a simple 4-A scheme. Exposing and opposing abuses of power which impede progress has always been the core of human rights work. The book highlights examples of effective mobilization for change, from India to Uganda, and Brazil to Japan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katarina Tomasevski is Professor of International Law and International Relations at Lund University in Sweden, and External Lecturer at the Centre for Africa Studies of Copenhagen University. Educated at the University of Zagreb and Harvard Law School, her teaching and research experience spans all regions and issues as different as imprisoned children, HIV/AIDS, or the imposition of sanctions for human rights violations. She has published extensively in English and Spanish and her books have been translated into French, Japanese and Chinese. Her books include: Responding to Human Rights Violations 1946-1999 (Kluwer Law International, 2000), Between Sanctions and Elections (Pinter Publishers/Cassell, 1997), Foreigners in Prison (HEUNI, 1994), Human Rights in Population Policies (SIDA, 1994), and Women & Human Rights (UN/NGLS and Zed Books, 1993).

Education Denied, costs and remedies is published by Zed Books, London & New York; University Press Limited, Dhaka; White Lotus Co. Ltd, Bangkok; David Philip, Cape Town.

She is also a Special Rapporteur on the right to education of the UN Commission on Human Rights and is the founder of the Rights to Education Project. She has published extensively on human rights, education, development and aid. Over the years she has worked with UNICEF, SIDA (the Swedish International Development Agency), the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OCHA), WHO and the NGO Liaison Service of the UN. She was coming to CID for talking about her views on the World Bank and a rights-based approach to education.

Katarina Tomaševski’s Rapport, as Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Addendum Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (England), she rapported on 18-22 October 1999 her work with the following chapters:

I. Introduction;

A. Historical legacy; B. Changes in the period 1944-1996; C. Government strategy;


IV. DOMESTIC FRAMEWORK: A. Human rights in education; B. Discrimination or social exclusion?;

V. HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS: A. Availability; B. Accessibility; C. Acceptability; D. Adaptability;


See the whole rapport itself on this ECOSOC link.


sale of children;

HR and home eduction;

HR in the African Context;

HR violations;

Literacy as freedom;


Tibetan Center of HR.

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