Lesson 1 of 11

Examining the Immediate Historical Context

From the Unit:

Overview

The activities below will help students understand how the events of World War II and the Holocaust influenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Students will also use a timeline to learn about key moments that influenced the development of human rights.

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 to engage students in a conversation about the context in which the UDHR was passed.
 

Materials

Activities

  1. Examine the Immediate Historical Context

    Brainstorm about the context in which the UDHR was negotiated. What had just happened in the world? What specific words, images, people, and ideas were a part of this experience? Review the reading Introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for more historical background.

    Beyond the devastation of war, Eleanor Roosevelt explained that:

    You can measure the extent of physical damage done to cities but how to gauge what has happened to human beings-that is incalculable.1

    She later added:

    . . . if the atomic bomb did nothing more, it scared people to the point where they realized that they either must do something about preventing war or there is a chance that there might be a morning when we would not wake up.

    Before the end of World War II, diplomats and political leaders began thinking about what they might do to prevent such violations of human rights and mass violence from being repeated. Think creatively about what would need to happen to prevent these horrible abuses. Who would need to be involved? What role might art, education, and the law play? What role, if any, could a concerned individual play?

  2. Investigating Long-Term Historical Context in a Timeline

    Review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Timeline. First, look at it generally and make observations and inquiries: What can be observed in the timeline? What are the different approaches that people have used to articulate human rights? Use the timeline included on this poster to identify key moments in the development of human rights. Which of these events seem most significant to you? Why? Which violations of human rights were included here? How might these violations have shaped the history leading up to the UDHR? What questions about human rights does this timeline raise?

Citations

Unit

Lesson 1 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Examining the Immediate Historical Context

Through a timeline activity, students learn how World War II and the Holocaust shaped the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Lesson 2 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Universe of Obligation

To prepare for a deep study of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, students explore the idea of the “the universe of obligation.”

Lesson 3 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

A Negotiated Document

By comparing multiple versions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, students gain insight into the motives of those who crafted it.

Lesson 4 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

What is a Right?

Through a close reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, students analyze the rights and responsibilities the document lays out for people around the world.

Lesson 5 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Fulfilling the Dream

Students explore the challenges and logistics of enforcing the articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Lesson 6 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Legacy, Judgment, and Memory

Students consider the legacies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the world today and discuss how they think its success should be measured.

Lesson 7 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Universal Rights

Students question whether the rights laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are truly universal, and how time, geography, language, and culture impact this.

Lesson 8 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Human Rights and Educating Global Citizens

Students question how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights impacts the way they see themselves as citizens of the global community.

Lesson 9 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Teaching Youth the Values of the UDHR

Students challenge their comprehension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by rewriting the document for a younger audience.

Lesson 10 of 11
Justice & Human Rights

Creating a Better World

Students devise a creative way to present their plan for pursuing the dream of universal human rights today.

Lesson 11 of 11
Holocaust

A World Made New: Human Rights After the Holocaust

Students explore the historical basis for the modern human rights movement by examining the codes of ancient societies.

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