Ladies and Gentlemen,
In collaboration with our students in the Integrated Human Rights Education program, or IHRE, we aim to address the multi-faceted and polarizing issue of migration, with a particular focus on migrants and refugees in the Netherlands. While it's easy for this topic to become mired in divisive political debates, our classroom discussions consistently underscore that at the heart of this issue are human beings—individuals with compelling narratives of resilience, love, aspiration, and perseverance.
A critical challenge that migrants and refugees confront is the disparity between the universal human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the selective application of these rights by sovereign nations. Within IHRE, we grapple with this ethical conundrum: How do we harmonize universal human rights principles with the policies of individual states that may choose to restrict these rights for migrants and refugees?
IHRE is not merely an academic exercise; it functions as an empowering tool. This educational model positions migrants as active participants in shaping their own destinies, rather than as passive beneficiaries of charitable actions or rights. It acknowledges the transnational commitments and contributions of migrants, thereby enriching our understanding of their intricate roles in society.
A fundamental element of IHRE is the concept of Agency. Our goal is to centralize you, the migrants and refugees, in the narrative. Through IHRE, we gain insights into your unique challenges and triumphs, and by sharing your stories, we counteract the limiting stereotypes that often saturate public discourse.
Another essential aspect is Transnational Connections. IHRE illuminates the fact that migrants are not isolated entities but individuals maintaining robust relationships with their countries of origin, even as they make meaningful contributions to their host societies. Far from being a liability, these connections serve as assets—assets that diversify our cultural fabric, broaden our perspectives, and enhance our economy.
Integrated Human Rights at Foundation Academy is not merely an academic exercise; it functions as an empowering tool. This educational model positions migrants as active participants in shaping their own destinies, rather than as passive beneficiaries of charitable actions or rights...
Ultimately, IHRE aims to equip its participants with the tools needed to articulate and negotiate their human rights, whether that pertains to healthcare access, labor rights, or education. Your personal narratives serve not only as a testimony but also as a potent form of human rights education for the host community, thereby challenging prevailing stereotypes and facilitating a path toward genuine inclusion and understanding.
In conclusion, the Netherlands, like many other nations, finds itself at a crossroads. We face a choice: either erect barriers, driven by mistrust and xenophobia, or foster an inclusive society that appreciates the diversity and contributions of its migrant population. IHRE urges us to opt for the latter, advocating a human rights-based, humane approach to migration.
The road ahead is challenging but certainly not unconquerable. IHRE provides us with a viable framework that can profoundly influence our treatment of migration issues, steering the focus toward individual dignity and rights rather than divisive politics.
As students of IHRE, you've already made a choice. It is my hope that you continue to act as catalysts, not merely as observers in the ever-evolving story of human migration, but as engaged actors committed to shaping a more inclusive and equitable society. Thank you for your attention. Let us collectively choose to make a difference.
Dean of the School of Integrated Human Rights