cooperatively, participants create a list of rights and
responsibilities that set a standard of behavior for their
community and foster respect and social order.
hours or 2 class periods
or chart paper/ chalk or markers
Copy of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights
- High school
||Should be preceded
by activities that introduce rights principles and
the UDHR (e.g., Part III, Activities 1-6).
Part III, Activity 7, Mapping Human Rights, relates
rights to the local community.
Explain that everyone wants to live in a community where
she or he can enjoy peace and be treated with respect and
dignity as an individual. However, the steps necessary to
achieve this cherished dream of a community based on human
rights require everyones effort and participation:
One: Understanding Human Rights
People need to understand their rights. That is the goal
of this book and of all human rights education.
Two: Taking Responsibility for Human Rights
This step requires personal commitment. People
must understand and accept the responsibilities that go
along with human rights: to uphold the principles of the
UDHR in their daily lives and to defend those rights for
Three: Taking Action for Human Rights
The UDHR has established standards for how people and governments
should behave. It also provides a framework by which to
evaluate how individuals, institutions, and governments
are living up to human rights principles. Using these standards
people can take action to further human rights, to stop
or prevent abuse, or to defend the rights of others in their
local community, state, region, country, or anywhere in
the world. However, effective action requires effective
evaluation and planning:
the situation, getting the facts straight, identifying
the human rights framework to the situation in order to
understand what specific rights are involved
and implementing a plan of action
that this activity is intended to help people take that
second step towards a human
rights community by applying human rights principles
to their own lives.
Divide participants into groups of 4 or 5. Each group is
to draw up a list of around 10 rules for their class or
organization that they think are needed for everyone to
enjoy their human rights and live together with peace and
respect. They should write out their lists on chart paper
and hang them up when complete.
When everyone has finished, ask a representative from each
group to present their ideas. Then ask participants to try
to consolidate these ideas into a master list, combining
rules that are close in meaning. (The teacher needs to perform
this step for elementary school students, asking their approval
for combinations; high school students and adults can usually
facilitate this for themselves). Urge participants to keep
the list short (e.g., about 10 rules). (Note: in
a classroom setting, an average lesson period would end
at about this point.)
Rephrase these rules statements into rights statements (e.g.,
"People should not steal from others" might be
restated as "Everyone has the right to keep and enjoy
his or her own property"; "The teacher shouldnt
yell at kids" might be "Everyone has the right
be treated with respect"). Write out this draft list
of rights, leaving space below each statement.
Introduce the idea that every right involves a responsibility.
Ask participants, working in small groups, to write a responsibility
statement for every rights statement on the draft list (e.g.,
"Everyone has the right to keep and enjoy his or her
own property" might have the corresponding responsibility
statement "Everyone has the responsibility not to take
others property"; for "Everyone has the
right be treated with respect," the responsibility
statement might be "Everyone has the responsibility
to treat others with respect"). When the small groups
report, ask the whole group to select the version of each
responsibility statement they like best. Write it in the
space left below that rights statement.
Once the draft master list of rights and responsibilities
has been completed, ask participants to consider the following
possible refinements (this step might be done by the whole
group or divided among small groups who report back):
as all human rights are indivisible and interdependent,
all the rights on this list are equally important. However,
some are more general and provide a basis for others.
Are these rights listed in the best order?
wording of rights needs to be clear and simple. Can the
language of these rules be improved?
specific human right(s) does each item on this list represent?
After each item, write the number(s) of the UDHR article(s)
the list complete? Are the different needs (e.g., needs
arising from differences in ability, race, religion, gender,
class, etc.) of everyone in this group acknowledged? Look
through the UDHR to see if any articles suggest ideas
that need to be added to the list.
the list democratic? Has everyone who will follow these
standards had a say in their creation?
should this list of rights and responsibilities be called?
After the list is finalized, ask someone to copy it neatly
onto a poster board and place it where everyone can see
it. Explain that this list will set the standard for how
people in this group will treat each other and that they
should refer to it in cases of conflict and disorder in
just as human rights are constantly evolving as human needs
are identified and addressed, so this list is not final
either. Explain that at regular intervals the group will
check up on whether they are living up to their standards
and that anyone may suggest changes at any time. Some rights
and responsibilities might be eliminated because they are
unnecessary or amended because they are not adequate. And
situations may arise that this list does not cover; the
new rights and responsibilities may need to be added.
Educating the Community about Human Rights
Discuss what the group could do to accomplish Step One:
Understanding Human Rights. How can the group make sure
everyone in the school or community knows about their rights?
Making the School a Human Rights Community
After participants have experienced using the list of rights
and responsibilities generated in Part A, including using
it to settle disputes or disorder and revising it to meet
different situations, consider whether a list of such rights
and responsibilities could be created for the whole school
community. Before undertaking such an action that affects
the whole school, however, teachers should first discuss
it with the administration.
is included in the school community? Adults as well as
students? Faculty? Administration? Staff (e.g., secretaries,
food works, maintenance, bus drivers)?
would be the results of having rights and responsibilities
defined for the whole school community? Advantages? Disadvantages?
how to go about making such a list of (or defining) rights
and responsibiliites for the whole school community. Who
would need to be consulted? Do groups exist who might
support this efforrt (e.g, student council, PTA, student
groups, administrative groups)?
how the whole school community could participate in drawing
up a set of rights and responsibilities. Why is it important
for everyone to have a say?
the basis of these considerations, draft a plan of action
that outlines the steps necessary to establish a set of
rights and responsibilities for the whole school community.
the class is willing and engaged, implement the plan!
Rights and Values
Human rights reflect deeply held
values. Analyze the completed
list of rights and responsibilities
for the values it reflects. Discuss
and list these values. For example,
"Everyone has the right to
be treated with respect"
might represent a belief in the
inherent dignity of every individual.
Nancy Flowers, Human Rights Educators Network, Amnesty
International USA, with ideas drawn from Margot Brown, Amnesty
International UK, Ellen Dorsey, Amnesty International USA,
and Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, Partners in Human Rights Education.