Human Rights

Deep Dive Toolkit

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…”

This is the opening sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a historic document passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The UDHR affirms all individual’s inalienable and indivisible human rights (including the right to life, right to freedom of religion, and right to healthcare).

This document was the first to establish the global norm that every human deserves fundamental rights, regardless of their gender, race, nationality or any other identity marker. It also served as the foundation for the International Bill of Human Rights, which codified the UDHR’s values in international law.

The International Bill of Human Rights truly gets to the essence of interdependence, as it establishes a legal order based on inherent moral value that transcends the sovereignty of individual states, implies joint responsibility to uphold human rights, and ultimately reinforces our one shared humanity.

Take a deeper dive into human rights by exploring the resources below.

Answer the question posed at the end:

Do you think the UDHR is missing anything?

If so, what universal human rights should be added to the UDHR?

Discuss with those around you.

Explore these resources and guiding questions

Take Action!

“No one is illegal” photo by Miko Guziuk on Unsplash

Examine the universality of human rights

  • What does morality mean to you?
  • Do you believe that there are any moral facts?
  • Do you think human rights are universal? In other words, is it possible to create a moral code of human rights that every culture or person in the world will agree with?
  • Should any society be able to reject international human rights norms if they do not agree with them?
    • Is it ok to be intolerant of another culture’s beliefs or values?
  • Does the UDHR maintain the same meaning in every language?
  • Human Rights, by Encyclopedia Britannica
  • “International Human Rights Norms and Muslim Experiences,” by Mahmood Monshipouri
  • The Universalism of Human Rights, by Rainier Arnold
  • In Defense of Universal Human Rights, by Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

Explore the efficacy of the international humanitarian regime

Much international human rights work is carried out by the UNHCR and by INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organizations). INGOs, like Amnesty International and the Red Cross, engage in both advocacy and operational relief efforts. Do the UNHCR and INGOs work as they should?
  • Is the portrayal of refugee camps in Welcome to Refugeestan what you expected? Had you had a glimpse of these tragedies before this video?
  • Do you think refugees are actually being afforded the human rights protections they deserve?
  • How can humanitarian groups provide effective support to vulnerable populations?
  • Help or Harm: The Human Security Effects of International NGOs, by Amanda Murdie
  • Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights, by Wendy H. Wong
  • In Defense of Universal Human Rights, by Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

Evaluate the relationship between government, society, and international law

  • Where should the line be drawn between state sovereignty and defending human rights as a global community?
  • Why are governments hesitant about providing support to those who need it?
  • What do you make of the international response to the Rwandan genocide? In an ideal world, what should the response have been?
  • Why does genocide denial exist? How can an international community hold governments accountable for this denial?


Emphasize our shared humanity and shared responsibility to intervene in human rights issues

  • How does the present pandemic underscore the importance of joint global action?
  • How can people across nations work together to build a better world?

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