WHINSEC opens center for human rights

WHINSEC Commandant Col. Keith W. Anthony signs the proclamation announcing the opening of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a new teaching department of the Institute. (Photo by Lee Rials)

WHINSEC Commandant Col. Keith W. Anthony signs the proclamation announcing the opening of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a new teaching department of the Institute. (Photo by Lee Rials)

Lee Rials, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation /

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation moved to solidify its role as a leader in human rights education, democracy support and ethics training when it inaugurated the Center for Human Rights and Democracy June 17 at the Institute.

The Center brings together the faculty members who have responsibility for each of these areas into a unified team under the direction of Dr. Tony Raimondo, the Institute’s long-time Human Rights and International Law professor.

Raimondo said, “The Center will facilitate WHINSEC’s commitment to human rights and democracy by placing its many classes, electives, courses, staff rides and other educational and training programs in these areas under one roof.”

The keynote speaker, Dr. Charles Blaha, Director of the Office of Human Rights and Security in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (U.S. Department of State) opened the three-part event, speaking of the U.S.’s efforts in working with our partners.

Ribbon-cutting by the commandant at the doorway of the International Operational Law Classroom symbolized the opening. In the classroom a proclamation was read and signed by leaders and key guests. (The CHRD is a new department of WHINSEC, but for now, its instructors will be located in several offices on the Institute campus.)

At its beginning in 2001, WHINSEC was mandated by Congress to teach at least eight hours of specific human rights and democracy topics to all students and instructors. The Institute has gone far beyond that directive by adding classes and increasing the number of hours.

The Center will now lead this expanded service by promoting, through international programs and partnerships, the education and training of human rights, the rule of law, due process, humanitarian law, ethics and democratic principles to military, law enforcement and government civilians.

Part of the Center’s responsibility will be to develop a human rights curriculum that can be used by units and agencies outside of WHINSEC, to educate and train deploying U.S. and partner nation’s service members and law enforcement officials, and to provide consultancy services to those units and agencies that are engaged in the education and training of human rights and democracy concepts, principles and topics. Countries across the world realize the need to incorporate effective training in these areas before any type of deployment and are looking to institutions such as WHINSEC for ways to meet this need.

The CHRD will continue to offer the International Operational Law Course. Classroom lessons focus on the UN’s Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, the UN’s Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, as well as several other important international documents.

Additionally, CHRD will offer Human Rights and Democracy electives to the Command & General Staff Officer Course. It will continue to execute WHINSEC’s classes on Democracy and the Armed Forces, Human Rights and Ethics, which are key components of all its courses. The International Committee of the Red Cross, human rights NGOs in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and civilian institutions will now better influence WHINSEC’s human rights and democracy curriculum.

The Field Studies Program, a U.S. Army Training & Doctrine Command program that uses field trips to expose international students to U.S. democratic institutions and to teach students about the basis of U.S. democracy and its democratic customs and traditions, will also be a CHRD responsibility, ensuring all partner-nation students learn from these educational experiences.

CHRD is the next step for WHINSEC in taking on its mission to promote human rights and democracy in the Western Hemisphere.

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