On the 9th of December 2020, Africa University together with its strategic partner the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and with generous support, through the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe, launched the 2020-2021 edition of the Master of Human Rights, Peace and Development, at its main campus in Mutare.
Speaking during the opening of the launch, Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa applauded and appreciated the generosity and commitment to leadership development on the continent of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute through the provision of fully funded scholarships to the 14-member cohort of the masters programme. He went on to say,
“The Raoul Wallenberg Institute has supported us in the development of this programme and we thank you for additionally providing laptops and library resources to further capacitate these students and their development. Our work is inspired by the UN Charter 1945 that states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The concepts of humans rights, peace and development are inseparable and thus our curriculum design merges the three critical pillars informed by the needs and experiences of our continent. We are confident that our graduates will rise to the occasion and become innovators and designers of new life models, becoming human rights experts and defenders who are grounded in our transformative and sustainable African realities. This 2020 intake is a unique group who enrolled during the COIVD- 19 Pandemic that has presented obstacles in the field of human rights. As a university, we remodeled our processes and embraced blended learning that has allowed us to go forth, not losing time and fulfilling our mandate to our stakeholders.”
Hailing from diverse regions across Zimbabwe, the scholars are representative of the rich experiences, voices and realities of the country comprising professionals in law, civic society, social work and environmental advocacy.
Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker Dr. Alejandro Fuentes, Senior Researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law provided context to the long relationship between Africa University and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and the powerful impact that the two partners have achieved and continue to realize.
“For the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and myself personally, it is an honor to cooperate with Africa University in the development and implementation of this Masters programme, supporting highly motivated students in having access to higher education studies. The materialization of this Masters Programme happened thanks to the vision and leadership provided by Vice Chancellor Prof. Furusa and Prof. Pamela Machakanja, Dean of the College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance, whom I deeply thank for their unconditional support to the development of this programme. I am convinced it shall be a leading human rights masters programme in Zimbabwe and beyond. The support of the development of human rights educational programmes across the world constitutes a core element of our institutional mission. The Raoul Wallenberg Institute is a research and academic institution with offices, programmes, and convening power covering more than 40 countries. Our mission is to contribute to a wider understanding of, and respect for, human rights and international humanitarian law. We combine evidence-based human rights research with direct engagement in close collaboration with our partners, such as Africa University, to bring about human rights change for all. In contributing to the realization of this mission, we have opened 8 offices in different countries and regions around the world. Our offices are located in Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Beijing, Istanbul, Amman, Lund, Stockholm, and –most recently- in Harare. A core component of our vision is that we are firmly convinced that one person, with the right capacities and skills, could make the difference in supporting the consolidation of a human rights culture at local, national, regional or international levels.”
Reflecting on the state of human rights in the grip of the COVID- 19 Pandemic, Dr Fuentes went on to add,
“Today, the COVID-19 Pandemic is not only affecting our fundamental rights and freedoms –in particular the right to have access and receiving quality and efficient health care, but also the way that we see ourselves, the manner that we imagine and conceive our societies. In fact, what is at stake during this time of emergency are our shared values as inclusive, pluralist and democratic societies. It is in moments like this, which challenges our foundational principles and values, when societies need to reinforce and uphold the respect and fulfilment of our fundamental rights and freedoms. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Furusa, mentioned in his welcome address that the motto of Africa University is “Leaders are made here”. I am convinced that “human rights champions” will be made here too. The new Master of Human Rights, Peace and Development Programme that we are launching today is –in fact- a vehicle that will pave the way of Zimbabwean and African Students to develop the necessary competences that will allow them to make a decisive professional contribution in the consolidation of a human rights culture in their own communities and beyond. We also give special mention and thanks to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for financially supporting the participation of our students in the Master programme that we are launching today, I would like to wish you the best of luck with your studies on behalf of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute.”
The Jokomo Yamada Library received from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, 72 books for the library , 42 text books for each student of the cohort, 24 text books for staff capacity building and 7 laptops to assist those students in the programme who are most in need.
Class representative of the cohort Nyasha Guta delivered remarks on behalf of the class.
“It is without doubt that this opportunity will afford us the skills and opportunity to become exceptional human rights practitioners and experts who will contribute to the development of our nation and continent. Our utmost gratitude goes to the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and Africa University for this amazing opportunity. We commit ourselves to maintaining the standard of excellence that has been set for us and that is expected.”
The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is named after Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews and other people at risk in Hungary at the end of World War II. A courageous man who interpreted the law of the time in a very innovative manner, Raoul Wallenberg created tens of thousands of “lasair passe” or free pass documents, using the diplomatic stamps of the Swedish Consulate in Budapest. Although not having full legal value, these “lasair passe” saved thousands of lives from the extermination camps in Nazi Germany.
Learn more about the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law here: https://rwi.lu.se/