Using Human Rights Here and Now

Human Rights Here and Now is intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and to further human rights education in the United States. It can be used by educators in classrooms, by human rights advocates in informal settings, and by individuals for their own self-learning.

Part I, "Human Rights Fundamentals," provides basic background information about human rights concepts, documents, history, and the process by which international human rights law is created and defended. Each section of Part I can serve as an individual reading or as a handout to supplement the activities in Part III.

Part II, "The Right to Know Your Rights," offers an introduction to the growing field of human rights education. Intended mainly for educators, it defines the field, addresses typical questions and concerns, and sets out general principles and methodologies for effective learning about human rights.

Part III, "Activities for Introducing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," is a collection of lively, innovative activities to further learning. Most activities are suitable for middle school through adult groups, though many provide adaptations for pre-school and elementary school. They are arranged from general introductory activities that assume no prior experience with human rights (e.g., Activity 1, "Human Being/Human Rights") through activities that involve close analysis of the UDHR (e.g., Activity 8, "Comparing Rights Documents"). Some are intended to extend human rights thinking into a variety of areas such as creative expression (e.g., Activity 11, "Giving Human Rights a Human Face"), the media (e.g., Activity 6, "Human Right in the News"), and science (Activity 15, "Science, Technology, the Environment and Human Rights").

Every activity includes information about the time and materials required and the recommended setting for use. Although each activity can be used independently, a sequence of activities is often suggested. Many activities conclude with a section called "Going Further," which offers ways to extend the activity or adapt it for specialized use. Every activity in Part III is based on the assumption that human rights learning does not stop with information but leads to some kind of action.

Part IV, "Taking Action for Human Rights," supplements Part III with guidelines and ideas, as well as activities that examine models of human rights advocacy, help participants strategize about taking action, and develop advocacy skills such as letter writing.

Part V, "Appendices," supplies support materials such as a glossary, a list of human rights organizations, a resource list, and the text of human rights documents that are referred to throughout the book.

A survey released by Human Rights USA in December 1997 shows that 92% of people in the United States have never heard about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This book was written to address such lack of information. Everyone who uses Human Rights Here and Now is encouraged to reproduce this material and pass it on, to adapt it to suit community needs, and to continue to further understanding of human rights in every part of our society.


    In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms.

    The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.

    The second is the freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.

    The third is the freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understanding which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

    The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world. It is a definite bias for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
State of the Union Address
January 6, 1941



copyright information


  Human Rights Fundamentals The Right to Know Your Rights Activities Taking Action for Human Rights Appendices