Wednesday, February 3, 2010

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt with copy of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
This week's discussion topic for students in SOC 415 Global Social Change is Democracy and Human Rights with a focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Click HERE to view the UDHR. Also, scroll down to view a short video.

Initially conceived of and written by Eleanor Roosevelt after World War II, the UDHR was adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

It is interesting that a study conducted just before the 50-year anniversary of the UDHR found that "only 8 percent of adults and 4 percent of young people are aware of and can name the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (Landorf & Pineda 1997)

Critical Thinking About the UDHR

One of the learning outcomes of this course is: "Students will demonstrate general analytical and critical thinking skills by discussing, researching and writing about global social issues." Therefore, it is not enough just to name the UDHR and its history, but important also to think critically about and discuss in depth these universal human rights. Students are also debating the issue of how these human rights would be enforced.

Here are just a few of the questions that are guiding our discussion:

1. Which of the UDHR do you believe are most important? Least important?
2. Can you think of any rights that have not been listed, that you recommend be added? Which, if any, should be not be on the list?
3. Are universal human rights necessary, and should all nations have the same basic rights for their citizens?
4. Should universal human rights be enforced? If so, how? If no, why?
5. Is this goal attainable, practical, or just utopianism?

If you would like to view a video, this one summarizes the UDHR.

Works Cited:
Landorf, Hillary and Martha Fernanda Pineda (2007) Learning History Through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Social Education, October 2007.

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