13-18 years

What are human rights?

Themes: Human Rights

Duration: 2-4 hours
Nobel Peace Center

The first Nobel Peace Prize for human rights work was awarded in 1960. That year, Albert Luthuli received the prize for his leadership in the struggle against the racist apartheid system. Since then, many peace prizes has been awarded for human rights work.

This lesson is an introduction to human rights, where students will discuss, reflect, and create their way to a good basic understanding of human rights.


Task duration: 60 min

Ask the students what they already know about human rights, then watch the video.

  • Who do human rights apply to? Can they name any of the rights? What does the video say about the history of human rights? Who or what is responsible for upholding human rights?

Ask the students to discuss, in pairs or in groups, what they think should be a human right. Ask the groups to share some of their answers with the rest of the class.

  • Now distribute the summary of the Declaration of Human Rights.

Give the groups some time to cross-check their suggestions with the Declaration. Do they overlap? Were there any rights they wished for that are not in the Declaration? Were there any surprising rights?

Now, for the final point of discussion, ask the groups to discuss if their own human rights are taken care of. Encourage them to use the document, and think through whether their rights are protected. This can open many interesting points of debate for the class.

Task duration:

Imagine you have been asked to create a comic or cartoon about someone whose human rights are being violated. You can come up with a person or situation. Your cartoon will be distributed to every school in your country, so that all students can learn about human rights.

It is a good idea to write your story before you begin drawing the comic strips. The name of your comic should be “Tell the world about us!”

Task duration:

How is the human rights situation in your country? Are certain groups discriminated against? Is everyone protected by the law? Does everyone enjoy peace and security? Looking at the summary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – are all of your human rights being protected?

Talk to your parents, teachers, or use the internet. Find at least one example of a human rights violation in your country.

  • Which human right is being broken?
  • Has the government tried to improve the situation?
  • What do you think the government should do about it?

Write a brief summary of the case you investigated, and present your findings to the class. Did everyone know about these issues? Was anything surprising?

Task duration:

Many peace prizes have been awarded for human rights work. Go to the Peace Prize Laureate website, and browse the timeline, or search for human rights in the search box.

Find three peace prizes awarded for human rights work. Write down the following:

1. Their names.

2. Why they received the peace prize.

3. Which human rights (from the summary) that their work relates to. For example, Malala Yousafzai, who fought for girls' right to go to school, is linked to "the right to go to school".