In 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the decade from 1995 to 2004 The United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (Resolution 49/184). Resolution 48/127 underlines that human rights education is a comprehensive life-long process by which people of all levels of development and in all strata of society learn respect for the dignity of others and the means and methods of safeguarding that respect within a democratic society.
A 1997 US national survey of adults and high school students found that only 8 percent of the adults and 4 percent of young people were aware of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
UNESCO has drawn up and given effect to the Plan for the Development of Human Rights Teaching which is closely linked to the Development of Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace.
Human rights education and information aimed at creating a universal culture of human rights is an essential element in a long-term strategy to improve respect for human rights. This was recognized by the World Conference on Human Rights. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights attaches special importance to that part of his mandate which gives him responsibility for the coordination of relevant UN education and public information programmes in the field of human rights.
At the end of 1994, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies started providing information and education to selected target groups in order to raise awareness of and respect for basic human rights.
Human rights education is vital for the encouragement of harmonious inter-community relations, for mutual tolerance and understanding and, finally, for peace. All individuals, all groups and all people should be informed of the rights to which they can aspire and the machinery which exists to protect those rights. In educational activities, special attention should be given to those groups that are in a position to exercise an influence on the human rights of others such as primary and secondary school teachers (the "training of trainers"), magistrates, senior government officials and members of the police and the armed forces.