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International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day - 10 December

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. This is a specific day every year when Citizenship teachers have a clear route to help their pupils explore many different aspects of human rights. ACT has every December provided high quality advice and guidance regarding IHRD and this year we are taking the opportunity to again draw attention to the importance of teaching about human rights issues.

Here are some of the big themes that the UN is promoting for 10 December this year:

  • Economic, social, cultural, civil, political rights and the right to development
  • Human rights and peace and security
  • Human rights treaties
  • Rule of law (International Criminal Court)
  • Right to participation
  • National human rights institutions
  • Torture and modern slavery
  • Trafficking
  • Business and human rights
  • Freedom of expression
  • Emerging rights (rights of older persons, right to the truth, right to a clean environment, right to clean water and sanitation and the right to food)
  • Upholding the rights of:
  • Women
  • People with disabilities
  • Migrants
  • LGBT
  • Indigenous peoples and minorities
  • Celebrating human rights - citizenship activities for the whole school; a downloadable unit from the ACT website that helps you plan exciting activities to celebrate Internal Human Rights day.
  • Celebrating human rights – citizenship activities for the whole school: This unit was published by QCA as part of the original citizenship curriculum but is still very useful. It illustrates how schools can use a specific annual event to support citizenship education. International Human Rights Day, on 10 December, provides an ideal opportunity for young people to focus on this important aspect of citizenship. This unit is a starting point for planning the involvement of the whole school in human rights education and for engaging pupils, teachers from a variety of subjects, and adults from outside the school in such activities. Activities can be combined to create an off-timetable day or adapted for use within the normal timetable. Why not try this out this year, or adapt some aspects for trial and plan for a full day in 2014. Remember, such a day is not a substitute for a planned, coherent scheme of work about human rights but it does allow you to think differently about how human rights issues can be promoted across the school.

    Teachit Citizenship have some interesting resources you might use.

    The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has the wonderful Right Here, Right Now resource for Key Stage 3 that ACT helped develop. They also have a CRC hub.

    Amnesty International UK will as ever be running their action campaigns. School pupils might like to take part in the campaign to protect children and families in the Syria civil war. Amnesty International have an extensive range of resources for teachers.

    International Humanitarian Law (IHL) aims to provide protection for the victims of armed conflict and to limit the means and methods of warfare.  Many of you may have previously taught IHL as part of your citizenship programme. The new programme of study for Citizenship in England at key stage 4 includes a reference to 'human rights and international law'.  This provides a continuing opportunity to teach IHL as a key area of international law. IHL enables pupils to explore contemporary issues relating to armed conflict, while helping to promote universal humanitarian values.  It gives pupils an opportunity to learn about how IHL protects the victims of armed conflict, including young people affected by the fighting.  Therefore, citizenship teachers are encouraged to continue to teach IHL.

    The British Red Cross provides a wide range of imaginative teaching tools, including assembly kits, lesson plans and an e-publication entitled "news think", which is circulated to subscribers regularly during term time. The British Red Cross helps teachers to bring important humanitarian messages into the classroom, through peer educators, school speakers and by supporting teacher training. They also have resources about the war in Syria. Teachers might also like to explore in some detail aspects of the Paris attacks in November 2015.  Fascinating activities that go to the heart of free speech as a complex right. The British Red Cross have some excellent activities at Primary level.

    The Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) supports schools across the UK to embed children’s human rights in their ethos and culture. Why not use 10 December to make a start in getting your school involved in RRSA?

    If you are a teacher of citizenship in Scotland, visit Education Scotland's website.

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