“Close to Home” - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly in 1948. It was the first attempt to create a global standard of human rights – to define what human rights are and what they encompass. As such, the UDHR is highly relevant to each and every global citizen, regardless of age and place of living.  

Despite its universality and importance for the modern history of human rights and the struggle to make the world a better, more just place, the UDHR can pose a challenge from an educational perspective, since its language can be dense, obscure, and legalized.    

This teaching guide is designed to help students understand the UDHR and its various applications to their daily lives and the world around them. It is devised to turn human rights in the mind of students from an abstract concept into concrete experiences that the students can identify and name. The guide takes inspiration from these Eleanor Roosevelt’s seminal words: 

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seek equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world (Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958)."

Under the main organizing idea of “human rights - close to home”, the teaching guide offers two tracks, one that is aimed at students at the elementary school level (grades K-4), and one that is aimed at students at the middle school level (grades 5-8). The teaching guide can be delivered in an in-person or remote setting.  

 

"Close to Home" The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Teaching Guide: (View Printable Version)

The Universal Declarion of Human Rights- An Adaptation for Children by Ruth Rocha and Otavio Roth (View UN Publication)

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The United Nations, Human Rights and You: Challenging racism, prejudice and bigotry 

The Resource Pack and teaching suggestions are related to the three mandated outreach programmes of the United Nations: history of the transatlantic slave trade, the Holocaust, and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. We hope you will find the resources find useful for your students. Please feel free to use elements that will be suitable for your students in their context.

The history of the transatlantic slave trade, the Holocaust and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, are challenging histories to teach – and students will need to be supported throughout. Included are a few suggestions about approaches that you may find will be helpful in this regard. As challenging as teaching about gross human rights violations is, they can serve to illuminate exactly the values that underpin a rights-based society. 

"The United Nations, Human Rights and You: Challenging racism, prejudice and bigotry" Resource Pack (View Printable Version)