29 June 2018

A drafting committee of the Human Rights Guiding Principles on private schools, composed of ten human rights experts, was recently constituted and met for the first time in Geneva on 11 June 2018.

Since 2015, various education stakeholders have been working together to facilitate the process for development by experts of human rights Guiding Principles (referred to as “the Guiding Principles” or “GPs”) that will compile and clarify States’ existing obligations as it relates to private actors in education and provide guidance on how to implement the right to education in the context of the rapid expansion of private sector involvement in education.

The Guiding Principles have been developed through an open, transparent, and broadly consultative process with a view to including a variety of perspectives and to reflect different contextual realities. From 2016 to 2018, a series of regional, national, and thematic consultations have been convened around the world. The Secretariat of the Guiding Principles (Amnesty International, Equal Education Law Centre, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, and Right to Education Initiative)  has synthesised the inputs and feedback from the various consultations as background information for the experts.

A group of experts led by a drafting committee composed of ten human rights experts is now developing a draft text  until a final review for adoption in early 2019 by a broader group of experts. The drafting committee met in June for the first time partly in person in Geneva, to review the current draft and comments from the consultations, and prepare the forthcoming public consultation in July and August 2018.

The drafting committee membership reflects diversity in many respects, including in terms of background, geography, expertise, legal system experience, language, personal views, and gender. The drafting committee members are some of the current best legal experts on the right to education and economic, social and cultural rights worldwide, and include current or former UN and regional human rights bodies’ mandate holders, acting in their individual capacities. The group is chaired by Ann Skelton, who is a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UNESCO Chair in education law in Africa at the University of Pretoria.

The drafting Committee comprises only legal experts as their task is to work on all the comments and inputs received throughout the consultation process to guarantee that the final draft be a rigorous interpretation of existing legally binding human rights law. They will work with a group of non-legal experts who will ensure that the text responds to reality.

The experts act in their individual capacity. The institutions listed with the names of the authors are for the purpose of identification rather than endorsement of the content of the Commentary by these institutions. They are:

  • Professor Ann Skelton [chair of the Committee] (South Africa, UNESCO Chair for Education Law in Africa; Director, Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria; Member UN, Committee on the Rights of the Child)
  • Professor Aoife Nolan (United Kingdom, Professor of International Human Rights Law, University of Nottingham; Member, Council of Europe European Committee of Social Rights; Member, Scottish First Minister's Human Rights Leadership Advisory Group)
  • Professor Benyam Mezmur (Ethiopia; Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Vice-chairperson, African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child; Associate Professor of Law at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape)
  • Dr Jacqueline Mowbray (Australia; Associate Professor, University of Sydney Law School; external legal adviser, Australian Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights)
  • Jayna Kothari (India; independent; Co-founder and Executive Director, Centre for Law and Policy Research; Counsel, Karnataka High Court & Supreme Court of India)
  • Dr Magdalena Sepulveda (Chile; independent; former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty; member of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation)
  • Dr Maria Smirnova (Russia; independent; Honorary Research Fellow, Manchester International Law Centre, University of Manchester)
  • Roman Zinigrad (Israel; J.S.D. candidate, University of Yale; Visiting Fellow, Sciences Po Law School)
  • Professor Sandra Fredman (South Africa; Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the USA, University of Oxford; Director, Oxford Human Rights Hub; Honorary Queen's Counsel)
  • Sandra Epal Ratjen (France; independent; International Advocacy Director, Franciscans International)

Amnesty International, the Equal Education Law Centre, the Global initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Initiative for Economic and Social Rights, and the Right to Education Initiative will continue to act as a secretariat, facilitating the meetings and overall process, under the leadership of the Drafting Committee. For more information, you can refer to the dedicated page on the process.