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Lesson plans for ages 12-14 in Human Rights and Refugees: Rights, Responsibilities and Refugees

Teaching Tools, 8 May 2007

© UNHCR/G.M.B.Akash
Young Biharis attend informal school.

LESSON 3: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Preparation

Either have ready a class set of the Student Resource Sheet: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (abbreviated), or have it prepared on an overhead transparency.

Have available copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its full form.

Link to previous lesson

Ask around the class what rules the students invented for managing the global community?

Build up a blackboard summary of the most frequently mentioned rules.

As each student offers a rule, ask for the reasons behind the suggestion.

Introduction

The students are asked in the light of the discussion from the previous lessons and of their homework to give their interpretation of the meaning of the words "rights" and "responsibilities".

Lead the children to see that while every person in the world has basic rights, these rights need to be guaranteed through the maintenance of a framework of rules. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is such a framework of rules.

Development

Individual copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (abbreviated) can be handed out, or display it on an overhead transparency. If possible, copies of the Declaration in its full form should be made available to the students.

Convey the following information to the students:

Human rights could be generally defined as those rights which are inherent in our nature and without which we cannot live as human beings.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms allow us to develop fully and use our human qualities, our intelligence, our talents and our conscience to satisfy our needs. They are based on mankind's increasing demand for a life in which the inherent dignity and worth of each human being will receive respect and protection.

The denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms is not only an individual and personal tragedy, but it also creates conditions of social and political unrest, sowing the seeds of violence and conflict within and between societies and nations. As the first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, respect for human rights and human dignity "is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world".

In 1945, after the horrors of World War II, an international organization was established, known as the United Nations, dedicated to maintaining peace and security and to seek co-operation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. In 1948, a code of conduct for the protection of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, to which all men and women, everywhere in the world, are entitled without any discrimination, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. This was called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration is not legally binding, but its content has been incorporated into many national constitutions, and it has become a standard measure of human rights.

Ask the students to explain the most important articles of the Declaration to the rest of the class (articles 1-5, 13-14, 17-21, 25-26). Some are reasonably straightforward; others will require some interpretation by the teacher. Be sure to ask the students to give concrete examples from everyday life, or from history or current events, of the rights which are more difficult to grasp.

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