A Mission Like No Other
By Dialogo January 01, 2011
Founded in the Dominican Republic in 2000, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Graduate School (Escuela de Graduados en Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario, or EGDHDIH) is unique in Latin America and educates civilians and military personnel. As part of the State Secretariat of the Dominican Armed Forces, this specialized school also serves as an advisory body on human rights topics.
“In countries like the Dominican Republic, where democracy is in a process of development, it is extremely important to raise the consciousness of the population about the inherent rights of human beings,” the director of the school, Brig. Gen. Paulino Plutarco Medina Gratereaux, told Diálogo. The director has a law degree and spent a 32-year military career as a trainer in various military institutions.
He said that “it’s even more striking that the Armed Forces are not only taking up the defense of human rights, but are also serving as an organization for raising consciousness and training professionals in this field.”
In the director’s view, the country’s military forces currently face the need to confront a large number of violent acts, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, kidnapping and other crimes. The State fights against these threats “within the framework of respect for the Constitution of the Republic, and for the laws, which make up the ensemble of rights and guarantees that are fundamental for defending and protecting its citizens,” Brig. Gen. Medina Gratereaux explained.
“Currently, the Dominican Republic is in the process of modernizing its Armed Forces in order to bring them into accord with the international legislation in effect, which regulates and standardizes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,” he added. “It was with this in mind that the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Graduate School was created.”
The graduate school is distinguished in the region as the first military school in Latin America that specializes in teaching, studying and publicizing the standards and principles of these two branches of international law. Additionally, it has been the designated regional human rights training center of the Central American Armed Forces Conference since 2008.
Graduates of the specialized program in human rights and international humanitarian law are professionals trained to act as advisors, researchers and instructors, serving to spread a culture of protection and acknowledgment of rights.
To date, the school has graduated 160 specialists in human rights and international humanitarian law, and the 2010 specialization program graduated 49 participants. Of the 49, 12 were members of the military and 37 were civilians. They came from a variety of professional backgrounds, such as law, international relations, social communication, diplomacy, public relations and psychology. The school does not currently have any foreign students enrolled, although it has served students from Venezuela and Colombia.
“The education that the students receive is both theoretical and practical training to instill respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and to work with the population on how to treat citizens in different cases,” Brig. Gen. Medina Gratereaux concluded.
COURSES OF STUDY
For military and civilian professionals:
• Specialization in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (basic, intermediate and advanced courses)
• Basic Course in Human Rights and the Use of Force For military officers and national police officers who serve in specialized corps and have a greater degree of interaction with the civilian population:
• Specialized Land Border Security Corps (CESFRONT)
• “Tranquil City” Joint Task Force (CIUTRAN)
• Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA) • Specialized Port Security Corps (CESEP)
• Specialized Santo Domingo Metro Security Corps (CESMET)
• Specialized Combustible Materials Control Corps (CECCOM)
• Special Counterterrorism Unit of the Armed Forces Ministry
• National Environmental Protection Service
For more information about the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Graduate School, visit www.esdehu.mil.do