The RFK Training Institute is a core program of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center). To realize his dream of a more just and peaceful world, Robert Kennedy’s family and friends founded a living memorial in 1968. Today, the RFK Center is one of the foremost international human rights organizations.
The RFK Training Institute was established in 2011 to complement the RFK Center’s existing programs – RFK Partners in Human Rights (PHR), RFK Speak Truth to Power (STTP), and RFK Compass – and to intensify and multiply the Center’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of human rights advocates as a key strategy to advance human rights globally. The RFK Training Institute is based at the European branch of the Center, the RFK Center Europe in Florence, Italy.
The mission of the RFK Training Institute is to strengthen cultures and practices of human rights globally by providing premier quality training and education to enhance operational knowledge and skills of individuals and organizations, inspired by Robert F. Kennedy”s idea that each single individual can make a difference, based at the former Florence prison “Le Murate”.
The RFK Training Institute provides training to:
- Human rights activists;
- Corporate executives;
- Government officials;
- University students.
The RFK Training Institute organizes human rights educational events targeted specifically at the citizens of Florence and Tuscany, including the students of the University of Florence and the U.S. universities and colleges in Florence.
Activities of the RFK Training Institute include the following:
- Public debates and presentations;
- Training sessions, seminars, workshops;
The working method of the RFK Training Institute has the following characteristics:
- Consultation with target groups in the design and development of training programs;
- Active involvement of participants in the training sessions;
- Integration with other RFK Center programs (e.g. PHR, STTP, Compass) in terms of programming and participation of laureates, staff, etc.;
- Cooperation and partnerships with key human rights organizations, other non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and international organizations that offer specific aspects of human rights training.
The RFK Training Institute is based at the RFK International House of Human Rights in Florence, Italy and is located at the “Le Murate” complex.
“Le Murate” has a long history and has served a variety of purposes. Built in 1424, it accommodated the Benedictine nuns who had chosen a cloistered religious life and were said to be “murate” (walled up) because of their small cells, giving the name to the structure. In 1845 “Le Murate” was turned into the jail of Florence. In the 1940s, “Le Murate” was used as hub for persons to be deported to concentration camps. In 1985 the prison was moved to a new building on the outskirts of Florence. At the end of the 1990s, Italian architect Renzo Piano started working on a design to turn “Le Murate” into a cultural and recreational space, hosting NGOs, high-tech start-ups, public housing, stores, restaurants, bars, open spaces and fully equipped conference rooms for the Florentine citizenry.
The City of Florence and the RFK Center entered into a partnership to develop programs, projects, and activities that would use the unique structure to its full potential in order to advance global human rights. The partnership also seeks to use the vast and deep experience of Florence and Tuscany in promoting human rights; the Grand Ducato di Toscana was the first state that abolished the death penalty. A key element of the agreement is that through the “smart dissidents” project, the RFK Training Institute will host and train human rights activists who extensively use social media in their advocacy.
The RFK Center is proud to be offered the opportunity to develop its human rights activities from this unique and highly symbolic site. The activities of the RFK Training Institute will generally take place at “Le Murate,” but may take place at other venues in Florence, Tuscany, Italy, Europe, and elsewhere.
Santiago A. Canton, RFK PHR Director
Andrea Galindo, RFK Training Institute Director
Valeria D’Agostino, Communication Coordinator