Assessing Human Rights
—Essential protections for every person
All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms. These are your rights. How well are these essential rights being protected around the world? What can be done to advance human rights worldwide?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
The objectives of this course are to:
- Better understand the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
- Begin to assess human rights as they are protected and practiced in specific countries,
- Increase your skills in researching human rights and evaluating sources of human rights information,
- Increase the visibly of human rights, worldwide,
- Identify opportunities for improving human rights protections,
- Advance protection of human rights, worldwide.
There are no prerequisites to this course; however students may benefit from studying the Wikiversity course on Dignity.
This course is part of the Applied Wisdom curriculum.
Human rights are essential for every person; let’s work to advance them worldwide.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of what many people believe to be the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The full text is published by the United Nations on its website.
The Declaration consists of thirty articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, economic transfers, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions, and other laws.
The Preamble begins:
“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, … The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration Of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
Completing this course is one of the progressive measures mentioned above.
- Obtain a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights text.
- Read and study the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Read and study this Questionnaire format of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Assessing Human Rights
Perhaps by assessing progress toward protecting human rights, and making objective assessments of human rights conditions visible, we can encourage leaders and activists in countries around the world to work toward advancing human rights.
- Read the essay Beyond Olympic Gold. Imagine the possibilities for advancing human rights, worldwide.
- Choose one of the rights, described in one of the 30 articles of the UDHR, to study for this assignment. You may choose the particular right for any reason, such as your belief in the importance of that right, your experience with that right, or opportunities to better protect that right. Please reflect on the question: why did you choose to focus on that particular right?
- Choose one country to study for this assignment.
- If you are unfamiliar with writing research papers, consider:
- completing the Wikiversity course Writing discipline specific research papers
- completing other relevant Wikiversity writing courses
- using the resources provided by the Wikiversity Writing Center
- using resources on Writing a Research Paper provided by the Purdue Online Writing Lab or
- using other writing services that may be available to you.
- Browse the available status reports and use these as a guide to writing your own status report.
- Research the status of the Human Right you chose to study in the country you chose to study.
- Draw on a wide variety of resources to accurately determine the status of that human right in that country. Consider the resources listed below, and also draw on other resources to get a complete and accurate assessment.
- Compare what you are learning about that right in that country to the definition of the right provided by the UDHR.
- Write a detailed report describing the status of the chosen right in the chosen country. Take care to accurately represent the best, the worst, and the typical examples of protecting and exercising the right. Seek out systematic, reliable, and representative evidence. Cite reliable sources to support each claim made in the report.
- Use the scoring guidelines to assign a score from 0 through 10 to the status of the chosen right in the chosen country. Discuss the basis used to obtain the assigned score.
- In a separate section of the report:
- Identify what is done well to support the chosen right in the chosen country. Identify policies, cultural norms, customs, traditions, institutions and other structures that help to support the chosen right in the chosen country.
- Suggest actions that can be taken to improve the protection and preservation of that right in that country.
- Share the status report you wrote.
- If you are willing to release the status report you wrote into the public domain, then please publish it as a Wikiversity page, in the directory under the status reports links page. Follow the example of the existing report titled: Article 18 and the United States—Status Report. Your status report will then become part of this course.
- If you are not willing to release the status report into the public domain, then please find some enduring on-line repository for the report.
- Edit the status reports link page and add a link to the status report you wrote.
- Edit the assessment grid; find the cell corresponding to the Article number and country your status report pertains to. Insert the numerical score assigned by your report into the corresponding cell of the assessment grid. Link that numeric score to the status report you wrote. Follow the example of the Article 18, United States cell of the assessment grid.
Draw on a variety of reliable sources to ensure your report is complete and accurate. Consider using these resources and others:
- International laws, resolutions, treaties, conventions, or other pertinent agreements protecting human rights, especially pertinent International human rights instruments.
- The constitution governing the country being studied,
- Official policy statements, legislation, regional and local laws,
- State-sponsored websites of the country being studied,
- State-sponsored policy statements, reports, speeches, press releases, and assessments,
- The U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Reports.
- And the official United States Government website for human rights related information.
- Advocacy groups, dissenters, activists, and protest groups promoting change pertaining to the country being studied,
- Wikipedia articles pertaining to the country being studied,
- United Nations Reports pertaining to the country being studied,
- Reports from the United Nations Human Rights Council,
- The World Factbook
- And the sources it is based on.
- The Institutional Profiles Database and other publications of CEPII,
- Findings from Human Rights Watch,
- Findings from Amnesty International,
- Findings from Freedom House,
- Findings from the Freedom of Thought Report,
- Rankings of the Global Peace Index,
- Scores on the Political Terror Scale,
- Findings of the Human Freedom Index,
- Ratings of the Democracy Index,
- Ratings of other freedom indices,
- World health reports,
- Findings of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, including their annual report,
- Progress reports on the Sustainable Development Goals,
- News reports, especially those researched in-country,
- Correspondence with citizens and officials within the country being studied,
- Questionnaire responses from a well-selected sample of people within the country being studied,
- Visits with, and interviews of, people within the country being studied.
Students who are interested in learning more about human rights may wish to read these books:
- See for example, the Wikiversity course on Dignity
- "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights".
- Writing a Research Paper
- Purdue Online Writing
- For example, Monmouth University provides writing services to their students. See: http://www.monmouth.edu/university/writing-services.aspx Many other universities provide similar resources.
- Institutional Profiles Database, Cepii
- The Freedom of Thought Report
- Human Freedom Index, CATO Institute
- United States Commission on International Religious Freedom