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Secondary Instructional Plan: Human Rights

Part Three

Main Activities

The Canadian Charter of Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights:This set of activities provides an overview of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This concludes with a case study of a new Canadian who ?

  1. Check your evidence so far. Do each of the human rights that are listed in the “Brain Drain – Human Rights” chart appear in either or both of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNUDHR) and/or in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (CCRF)? For the human rights you have listed in Brain Drain– Human Rights
    1. Check to see if each is part of the Canadian Rights “R” and Freedoms “F” . For each, label and check off in the Canada ü column where they are equivalent.
    2. In the column labelled U. N. in the chart (preceding) check if human right would be included for all people of the world as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    3. Refer to the online documents identified below to see if you were accurate with your predictions.

Canada Justice has developed activities relating to human rights and to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their website at <canada.justice.gc.ca> provides a source for selection. For a student activity online, the Pursuit of Justice quiz seems to work quite well and it is self scoring.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is at <laws.justice.gc.ca> - contents are:
  1. Fundamental Freedoms
  2. Democratic Rights
  3. Mobility Rights
  4. Legal Rights
  5. Equality Rights
  6. Official Languages of Canada
  7. Minority Language Educational Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is on the support website of the United Nations
< .un.org/cyberschoolbus>
The Human Rights main page offers these links:

  1. Interactive Declaration
  2. Resources and Links
  3. About
  4. Questions and Answers
  5. Stories

The next activity focuses upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Most of the activities originate with the cyberschoolbus section which is in the educational portion of the United Nations site. The United Nations has a large site dedicated to discussion and resources which relate to human rights as seen through that perspective, and also have examples of human rights issues told in the first person.

  1. What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
    1. Read the text of the Declaration.
    2. Discuss: What is this document? What is a Declaration? Who wrote it? Who signed it? Where did they sign it? Where is it? What is done with it?
    3. Activity: Each student can pick one of 30 articles to read out loud. You can refer to our student FAQ or the official FAQ for more answers.

  2. What are Human Rights?: Article 1 of the Declaration sets the stage. It introduces the words dignity, justice and equality.
    1. Discuss: What do these three words signify in your own lives? How are they related? What is a human right? What is not a human right? Do we have them naturally, just as we have toes and eyes? What is universal about them? What are our responsibilities towards our rights? Is it the same as our responsibilities towards the rights of others? How can we make sure our rights are respected?
    2. Activity: Discuss these issues and send your questions to us to be answered by our panel of experts. You can use the section entitled, ‘Understanding Human Rights’ to help you in discussions.
    3. For more details see the ‘Questions and Answers’ document.

  3. Teaching the Universal Declaration: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the principle document enshrining the rights of humankind around the world. The Interactive Declaration, produced for this project, is for educators and students. Each article is discussed and a classroom activity is proposed for each. There is a subject index which allows you to find articles related to specific issues such as women’s rights or labour rights. A "plain language" version of each article along with a glossary complete the Interactive Declaration.
    • Activity: As mentioned, each article in the Interactive Declaration has an activity related to it.
      • Focus on one or a few articles in depth by: choosing an issue (say, racial discrimination or refugees or freedom of speech), finding the related article through the subject index, carrying out the activities suggested under those articles in the Interactive Declaration
      • Go through 10 or 20 of the articles in the Interactive Declaration, by doing one activity a day or a week for a period of time. This can be made fun by putting numbers in a hat and having students pick an article randomly.

  4. Human Rights in Action
    This is the main activity, carried out in two parts. Its main goal is to get students involved in their communities.
    1. We Have Rights The first part of the Human Rights in Action project will focus on the positive: human rights that are already well-respected in your community. Through the activity, students will answer these questions:
      • Which human rights are well-respected in your own community?
      • Which article of the UDHR do they relate to?
      • How are these rights monitored, enforced or legitimised?
      • How and when did these rights come to be protected by law in your community?

    2. Activities
      Review the student rights list produced at the beginning of these activities, compare and comment on whether the student rights are the same as their rights in the larger community.
      • Is this right enshrined in a local, municipal or national law? If so, when did it become law?
      • Who is in charge of making sure that the right is respected for all?
      • Is there a governmental department that deals with issues related to this right?
      • Are there non-governmental organizations that monitor or deal with issues related to this right?
      • Was there a struggle or a conflict that led to the enforcement of this right?
    3. Taking Action
      In this part of the project, students will carry out a human rights action project in their own communities. A human rights action project can encompass a wide range of activities:
      • a food drive for the homeless;
      • creating freedom of expression posters to put up in the community;
      • identifying goods produced by child labour and telling the stores and others in the community about them;
      • defending the rights of migrant, or other, workers whose rights may be violated;
      • organizing a letter-writing campaign about a specific issue...

    4. Through this activity, students will learn that:
      • they are part of their community;
      • they can have an impact on the world around them;
      • their own community and local groups within it are vibrant and active;
      • human rights are not always respected equally for everyone.

      Begin with a classroom discussion of human rights focusing on rights that the students think might not be fully respected for everyone in the community. For example, students might see that some people in the community are living in extreme poverty such that they do not have enough to eat or that their health is in danger. Make a list of these. Using the above, example, the list could read: “hunger” or “inadequate food for some” and “inadequate medical care”.
      • Explain that the students will have to pick one of these and plan an action around the issue. Before picking, they might want to think ahead and/or explore the issue a little more.
      • Once they pick one of these issues, ask students to find out which article in the Universal Declaration it corresponds to.
      • Now, is the time for action. Choose a name for your project and plan an action, then carry it out.

      As simple as that? Well, yes. But what can students do about such issues? In addition, you might want to contact local civil rights groups, labour unions, advocacy groups or other organizations that deal with human rights issues in order to explore ideas. But what is important is that students come up with their own ideas and plan their own action.

(preceding exercise adapted from the Cyberschoolbus – An educational supplement to the United Nations web site)

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