For Schools

High School Students: Human Rights
Teaching about Human Rights & Legal Rights


1998 marked the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After the terrible atrocities which occurred during World War II, including killing of over six million Jews, UN members from 14 nations met to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in the hope that this type of human rights abuse would never happen again. The Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.


Ask students to do a small group role play. They are to imagine that they have decided to leave the country in which they have been living to go, with others, to a new country where people have never lived before. To set up the best possible society, their group decides to make a list of the rights guaranteed everyone in the new country.

They can share and discuss individual lists with the group, then select no more than ten rights all agree are important. The group can compare their selections with the rights selected by other groups. Which rights do all groups have? Which ones do only some groups have? Make general headings and place related rights from groups together. Do any rights on the combined lists contradict one another? If so, which?

Then students can look at the Bill of Rights, to see which of their rights are reflected there, and the Universal Declaration, to see which it includes. They can consider also the differences between legal rights (rights laid down that can be defended in a country's courts of law or an international court) and human rights (universal moral rights that belong to people because they are human).

>>Teaching about Human Rights & Legal Rights
>>Handout: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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