About the event
All States and interested organisations were invited by the UN General Assembly in 1950 to observe the 10th of December as Human Rights Day. The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The UN’s aims are ‘to engage audiences the world over; to help promote understanding of how the Universal Declaration empowers us all; and to encourage further reflection on the ways that each of us can stand up for rights, every day’.
How to approach it
Human Rights are a crucial part of our modern world and students should be familiar with what they are and the values that underpin them. First start with the basics: ask your class if they can offer a definition of what a human right is. Human Rights are universal rights that all humans are supposedly entitled to. It’s helpful here to list specific rights such as the right to education or the right to free speech. You could get into more detail by explaining how there are rights to things such as shelter, food or water as well as rights that protect us from things such as persecution, torture or slavery.
Secondly, discuss with your class about the values and intentions behind human rights. These rights are intended to encapsulate the rules that, if followed, allow any person to live a healthy, happy life. They also make clear that it is everyone’s responsibility to uphold human rights, especially nation-states and large organisations. Ask your students: why did people want to have a Universal Declaration of Human Rights at all? What purpose does it serve? Answers may include; so that we can hold governments to account, so there is a universally recognised standard of government or so people everywhere can hope to live good lives.
Finally, for more advanced students, introduce a critical element to these discussions. Human rights describe extremely important rules, but they are often not respected. This is because it’s still difficult to enforce them at an international level or even be aware that they are happening at all. An interesting discussion to have here is: how can we have a world that respects human rights more? What needs to change? What structures need to be in place?
Human rights are laws upheld by the United Nations that make sure people can live happy, peaceful lives. Can you name any human rights? See if you can learn a new one today!