What are human rights?
On 10 December 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration set out 30 articles or statements about human rights and freedoms. As a member of the United Nations New Zealand adopted this declaration. In 1950 the assembly passed a resolution inviting all states and interested organisations to adopt 10 December as Human Rights Day.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets down 30 rights that humans everywhere are entitled to.
2. Human rights in New Zealand
3. Protecting human rights
It is one thing to say that all humans have certain 'inalienable rights', but we are all aware that, at any one time, the lives of millions of people are dominated by the struggle to secure these rights. How can we protect human rights on a national and global level?
Get the students in your class to prepare individual presentations that they could give to either small groups of five or the rest of the class. If you have made Human Rights Day a school-wide focus you could consider a school or syndicate assembly where students could make their presentation to a wider audience.
4. Promoting human rights
After the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 all member nations were called upon to publicise the declaration to ensure that it was widely known. It would be interesting to find out how many schools, workplaces, etc., display copies of the declaration or how widely known it is in various institutions like churches, councils, etc.
The purpose of this activity is to raise awareness of either the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and/or Human Rights Day.
The following activities will help you do this:
5. Human Rights and poverty
Poverty is a cause and a product of human rights violations and is probably the gravest human rights challenge in the world. In 2006 the focus of Human Rights Day was 'Fighting poverty: a matter of obligation, not charity'.
Article 25 (1), Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
More than one in six people in the world live in poverty. They lack the materials and resources needed to fulfil their basic needs. Without access to such things as employment, basic health care, education and essentials like food, clothing and water, many poor people lack the means to change their lives for the better and are condemned to live a life of poverty.
New Zealand has recognised these issues and responded through contributions to the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund and other funds and programmes.
These questions could be used as the basis of a personal writing exercise or as part of a class discussion.
To prepare for the debate, divide your class into groups of four and select a topic.
Alternatively, consider applying Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats to either (or both) of the following statements. Six Thinking Hats is a good technique for looking at the effects of a decision from a number of different points of view.