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Human Rights in Action, Part 1

The first part of the Human Rights in Action project will focus on the positive: human rights that are already well-respected in your community.

Through the activity, students will answer these questions:
  1. Which human rights are well-respected in your own community?
  2. Which article of the UDHR do they relate to?
  3. How are these rights monitored, enforced or legitimised?
  4. How and when did these rights come to be protected by law in your community?
Students will find out about their rights, pick one and send a brief report to the United Nations CyberSchoolBus based on the information requested in the 'submission form'—which can be sent in via the World Wide Web right here. Each report will become part of a global atlas gathered from classrooms around the world. Note that there can only be one submission per class or homeschool. Individual submissions are not accepted.

Suggestions for the classroom
  1. Begin with a discussion of what rights students feel they actually do have within the school and then within the broader community. Note two important points here:
    1. these should be rights that students feel they already have and that are properly enforced or respected.
    2. At this point, it should simply be the views and feelings of students, not a formal correlation with an article in the Universal Declaration. It is important that they articulate in their own words what they feel are rights that they actually have.
    3. Make a list of these rights. Ask them to look at the list and differentiate between what they feel are human rights.
  2. Discuss the list with students in terms of whether these human rights are actually respected for all members of the community.
  3. From the list, ask students to pick one of the ones identified as a human right. You can use various criteria: the most important one to the students; the most widely-respected one; the one that students vote on. See if that right corresponds to any of the articles in the Universal Declaration. If it does, note it in the submission form. If not, pick another one.
  4. Now comes the investigative part. Students will use all the resources inside and outside the classroom to answer as many of these questions as possible:
    • Is this right enshrined in a local, municipal or national law? If so, when did it become law?
    • Who is in charge of making sure that the right is respected for all?
    • Is there a governmental department that deals with issues related to this right?
    • Are there non-governmental organizations that monitor or deal with issues related to this right?
    • Was there a struggle or a conflict that led to the enforcement of this right?
    Once the class has answered these questions, it is ready to fill out the submission form by summarizing the findings and completing the submission form.
Note: Let us assume that students pick, as a properly enforced or respected right in their school, the equal right of girls to attend school. Now, in some places this may be taken for granted and not immediately seen as a right that entailed a long struggle and one that, in many places, might only have been legislated recently. This exercise will put such things in perspective not only for the students in that class, but for all other students who will later see the submissions from around the world.

Hint: You can try contacting local human and civil rights organizations in order to get the information you need. You can also try municipal offices.

Click here to submit your report for part 1

Or here to go to Human Rights in Action, part 2: Taking Action!

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