Libraries for Human Rights: insights from Zimbabwe
20 July 2021
The Zimbabwe Library Association and IFLA have prepared a joint submission for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the country. Drawing on the experiences of the library field, the submission flags important trends and ways in which libraries work to support the fundamental rights to education, work, and access to science in Zimbabwe, and sets out recommendations on how more could be done.
The Universal Periodic Review is an opportunity for UN Member States to track and assess their progress on key human rights commitments and obligations once every 5 years. Since interested stakeholders can submit inputs as part of the review process, this offers libraries a good opportunity to take stock of the ways their work impacts and supports fundamental human rights, and what key trends and developments shape the landscape in which this work takes place.
The joint ZimLA-IFLA submission highights the following points:
- A focus on access and equity is a key priority for delivering on the right to education in Zimbabwe. Libraries and library organisations around the country are working to help support equitable access to educational, reading and learning materials, particularly in more remote and rural areas.
- In 2019, Zimbabwe has acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. We encourage the domestic implementation and interpretation of the Treaty (as well as further implementation of practical measures) to support as wide as possible access to information, knowledge, and education for people with disabilities.
- Over the past years, library organisations and libraries have worked to champion Open Access in Zimbabwe, as part of the fundamental right to access and benefit from scientific progress. They have also promoted the use of open data to support the enforcement of rights, especially for women and girls.
- Supporting informal workers, out-of-school youth, and other vulnerable economically active community members is a key task for delivering on the right to work. There are existing library initiatives in Zimbabwe working to support income-generating projects, which illustrate how community-based learning opportunities can help boost employability or gainful activities.
Joint ZimLA-IFLA submission for the Universal Periodic Review in Zimbabwe: [PDF – English]
To learn more about the work of libraries to protect and promote human rights, you can also take a look the stakeholder UPR submissions to Italy, Croatia, the United States, Australia, Georgia, Myanmar, Belgium, Eswatini, Greece, Ireland, and Uganda.