Action Activity 4
Strategizing for Action


Time: Variable
Materials: Copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the US Bill of Rights
Setting: All Ages
Links: An appropriate follow up for most activities in Part III

Note: This activity links the local and the global. For educational institutions, it might become a service-learning project. Such a project would exemplify an institutional commitment to the achievement of human rights. Furthermore it would make a statement to students and community about the importance of integrating theory and practice.

In a school setting, this activity can be directly tied to the development of academic skills: conducting research, interviewing, recording, analyzing data, sharing information, and writing reports. Art, video, music, and drama can also be effective vehicles for action projects.


1. Begin by having participants identify local or global problems that concern them (e.g., homelessness, hunger, child abuse, land mines, violence against women). List these and then try to define the issues in terms of specific human rights (e.g., homelessness and hunger involve UDHR Article 25, which guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living). Note: This activity might be an extension of previous study or a totally new activity.

2. Have the group select 3 or 4 of these human rights issues to focus on. Divide participants into teams to research an issue.

3. Have each team draw on the research questions presented below in addition to generating their own:

    a) What is the problem as you see it? Try to define it in your own words.

    b) How does the problem manifest itself locally? Nationally? Globally?

    c) What specific rights are involved? Identify the relevant articles of the US Bill of Rights and the UDHR.

    d) Where does responsibility lie for the perpetration and perpetuation of this violation?

    e) Who benefits directly or indirectly as a result of this violation?

    f) Who suffers as directly or indirectly as a result of this violation?

    g) Are other individuals or groups working on this issue?

    h) What is being done locally, nationally, and globally to address this issue?

    i) Where does responsibility lie for addressing this issue?

    j) What might participants do to help in their community or in a larger context?

4. Each team will then research its human rights issue. Some team members will survey the community to determine the extent of the problem locally and what governmental and nongovernmental organizations are doing to address it; others will gather the same sorts of data on the global conditions using a variety of resources, including libraries and the World Wide Web.

5. After discussing their findings, participants decide which human rights problem(s) they wish to adopt as an action project. The whole group might work on one issue or small groups may develop their separate projects.

6. During the remainder of the school year or project period, participants develop and implement an action plan that addresses the human rights problem through activities such as educating school and community via posters, plays, assemblies, public access television, newspaper articles, demonstrations, letter-writing campaigns. Fund raising, offering volunteer services, and lobbying government officials and elected representatives are also effective strategies.

Source: Adapted from David Shiman, Teaching Human Rights (Denver: Center for Teaching International Relations Publications, U of Denver, 1993) p.17.

copyright information


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