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Standards and norms

The Right to Education: Monitoring - Standard settings instruments of UNESCO


The UNESCO Constitution  expresses the belief of its founders in ‘full and equal opportunities for education for all’. It entrusts the Organization with the mission of ‘instituting collaboration among the nations to advance the ideal of equality of educational opportunity without regard to race, sex or any distinctions, economic or social’.  Principles and norms for the right to education laid down by international instruments provide a normative basis for action to that end.

Normative Framework of the Right to Education

The right to education has been strongly affirmed in international law, most importantly in the Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960). Among the core United Nations human rights treaties, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural rights (1966)  contains analogous provisions (article 13)

While conventions and international treaties form the backbone of international law, other instruments, such as declarations, guidelines and principles adopted at the international level contribute to its understanding, implementation and development. Although recommendations and declarations only have moral force, they reflect political commitments of States, and governments are expected to take measures for giving them effect through national legislation.

The World Education Forum (2000) reaffirmed education as a fundamental human right, and set objectives for achieving EFA goals   based upon political commitments by the international community to achieve the right to basic education for all.

The Millenium Declaration (2000) affirmed by World Leaders the same year and reaffirmed at the UN Summit in 2005 form an agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives. Two of them echo EFA goals 2 and 5: MDG 2  and MDG 3

See also

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website for an overview of International Human Rights Instruments: International Human Rights Law 

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education was originally established by the Commission on Human Rights in April 1998. 

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