Human rights

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Everyone has the right to education.

On Monday, December 10, 1948, as the world recovered from the horrors of the Second World War, the United Nations (UN) came together in Paris and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Read the text in full.

Now, 70 years later, the document is as relevant as ever. Its 30 declarations may be recognised around the world, but they are far from universally followed. The Global Slavery Index estimates that there are 40 million people living as slaves around the world. Around 263 million children under 18 are not in school. Earlier this year, UN and human rights experts warned against rising racism and xenophobia around the world.

“The UDHR hasn’t changed,” said James Fisher of the Human Rights Watch earlier this year. “It’s withstood the test of time. But has our commitment to its values?”

What do you think? Should the UN update the UDHR for the 21st century? And will its vision of the world ever come true?

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A short, animated introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


  1. As a class, take it in turns to read the declarations of human rights found in the UDHR. Discuss whether there were any that surprised you, and whether you would add any new rights for the 70th anniversary.
  2. In a single sentence, explain why human rights are important and what they mean to you.
  3. Choose one of the declarations of human rights that particularly interests you and research a country where those rights are being violated. Create a short report explaining how, why and where.