This activity asks participants to compare
rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR) with those present in the US Bill of Rights
and Amendments. It challenges them to explore reasons for
the presence or absence of certain rights and to reflect
on the role of government in guaranteeing rights. (Note:
Some prior knowledge of the UDHR and Bill of Rights is needed).
1. Ask participants to complete Handout
1, Comparing Rights Documents. Have participants
refer to the UDHR and to the US Bill of Rights and Amendments
to check their answers.
- What did you discover that was a
surprise to you?
- Which rights asserted in the UDHR
or US Bill of Rights and Amendments do you believe should
or should not be universal? Give reasons.
- Do you think the Bill of Rights and
Amendments cover more issues than the UDHR? Why or why
- Did the writers of the Bill of Rights
and the writers of the UDHR have different conceptions
of what "rights" means? If so, how did their
understandings of "rights" differ?
- Do US citizens have any rights besides
those included in the Bill of Rights and Amendments, Constitution,
and other US law? Explain.
- Should the Bill of Rights and Amendments
be more inclusive? Why or why not? What rights, if any,
would you add? For example, should Americans be guaranteed
the right to food, shelter, education, and health?
- How do you explain why some social,
economic, and cultural rights found in the UDHR are not
guaranteed by the American documents?
- In your opinion, what should be the
limits and responsibilities of government in guaranteeing
their citizens certain rights? For example, is hunger
or homelessness a governments responsibility?
Source: Adapted from David Shiman, Teaching
Human Rights, (Denver: Center for Teaching International
Relations Publications, University of Denver, 1993) 4-16.
Man's capacity for justice
makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice
makes democracy necessary.