Creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was part of a larger goal after the end of World War II: promoting human dignity. The activities below will help students understand that larger goal and reflect on how we can work toward promoting human dignity in today’s world. Students will think critically about the changes that have occurred in the world since the UDHR was passed, and will creatively present their ideas about how to pursue the dream of universal human rights today.
This lesson is part of Facing History and Ourselves' Universal Declaration of Human Rights collection and part of a series of lessons about the declaration. Use this lesson at the end of a study of the UDHR to engage students in a conversation about we can still work towards the goal of promoting human dignity today.
Eleanor Roosevelt and others on the United Nations Committee that drafted the UDHR saw it as one step toward achieving a larger goal-the pursuit of human dignity. Their work was motivated by the atrocities they had witnessed during World War II, including the horrors of the Holocaust and the collective shock at the destructive power of the atomic bomb.
- How do the values and principles expressed in the UDHR relate your everyday life and the way you treat others?
- Is this about the basic values and principles of being a good citizen, and if so, where do these principles come from?
- How do you learn a code of conduct?
- How do you learn what it means to be a good citizen?
Looking at the goals of the UDHR-to create a better world that preserves and promotes human dignity-what steps might you take today to pursue the same dream? What is different today? What have we learned in the past 60 years about the benefits and limitations of the United Nations and the UDHR? What other strategies might you consider?
Find a creative way to express your conception for the present day: write a song, sculpt a monument or memorial, paint a picture, concoct a recipe, choreograph a dance, etc. Find a way to show your work and be prepared to explain your artistic choices.