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Learning about human rights

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Learning about human rights

Materials to help teachers and students explore human rights together

In 2008, the United Nations initiated a year of human rights learning to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the UK, UNA-UK teamed up with UNESCO Associated Schools to produce materials to help secondary school teachers and students explore human rights together.

Why teach about human rights?

Human rights are fundamental rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. They represent protection of our basic needs, as well as the conditions we need to flourish as human beings. These rights have corresponding responsibilities, of governments to their citizens, and of individuals to each other and to their wider communities. It is important that young people understand these rights and responsibilities. This will help to protect them, empower them and enable them to become responsible and active citizens.

Human rights are also part of British history, from the Magna Carta to the suffragettes. The Second World War was fought on these principles and since then, the UK has played a leading role in drafting and promoting human rights standards. It has chosen to ratify a number of international human rights instruments and human rights will continue to play an important role in the UK’s constitutional and domestic legal arrangements, whether it is through the Human Rights Act or a Bill of Rights. Moreover, as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the UK is legally obliged to teach about children’s rights.

Our teaching materials

Entitled Learning about human rights, our secondary school resource aims to:

  • bring human rights to life by demonstrating how they are relevant to young people in the UK 
  • create a better understanding of what human rights are and how they are protected 
  • highlight the links between human rights and peace, development and the environment 
  • improve key skills such as communication, team work and problem-solving 
  • foster a culture of mutual respect, diversity and inclusivity in and beyond the classroom
  • raise awareness of current affairs and Britain’s role in the world, including in protecting human rights at home and abroad
  • promote participation in local, national and global politics

The resource contains a teacher's handbook with slide presentations and corresponding factsheets for students. The five topics covered are:

  • the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • child rights and armed conflict
  • child rights and climate change
  • human rights and international development

You can also download all the materials below: