Human Rights (Presentation on International Issues I)

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The concept of human rights has a relatively short history. Many of us today may think that the idea is natural to human beings. However, history shows that for much of human existence, taking other people's lives or freedom have been considered normal. Since about 200 years ago, however, people began to think that we should have rules of behavior that apply to all human beings, no matter their social position or power.


In this class we try to understand what "human rights" mean and how they apply to human behavior in today's world. Students will choose a topic in any area concerned with human rights to give a presentation on that topic at the end of the semester. All students must read the materials presented below and understand the concepts, as well as the vocabulary in the list.

What are "Human Rights" ? (film)

Wikipedia Summary of Human Rights (click for the complete article)

A list of commonly accepted human rights (not all of these are accepted by everyone, though.) and a related human rights abuse.

  • Right to privacy (illegal phone-tapping by police)
  • Right to live, exist (murder)
  • Right to have a family (forcibly separating families)
  • To own property (taking someone's property without their consent)
  • Free Speech (putting people in jail for making a speech)
  • Safety from violence (causing innocent people to be injured or killed in a war)
  • Equality of both males and females; women's rights (denying a woman a job or the right to vote because she's a woman)
  • Fair trial (not giving a fair trial)
  • To be considered innocent until proven guilty (assuming that when someone is arrested, they are guilty)
  • To be a citizen of a country (not allowing someone to gain ciizenship)
  • To be recognized as a person (being treated like a piece of property, such as a slave)
  • The right to express his or her sexual orientation (not allowing gay people to show their orientation)
  • To vote (denying people the vote)
  • To seek asylum if a country treats you badly (not allowing asylum seekers to enter your country)
  • To think freely (trying to "re-educate" someone to think differently or calling someone a "communist" because they have a different opinion)
  • To believe and practice the religion a person wants (denying someone the right to practice their religion)
  • To peacefully protest (speak against) a government or group (arresting people who are protesting soemthing)
  • Health care (medical care) (not allowing people to have health care)
  • Education (denying people an education, such as women or poor people)
  • To communicate through a language (taking away someone's language and forcing them to speak another)
  • Not be forced into marriage (forcing young girls or boys to marry someone chosen by their parents)
  • The right to love (not allowing some to love someone else, such as gay people)
  • The right to work (not making sure there are jobs for everyone)
  • The right to express oneself (not allowing different opinions)

©2012 Michael K. Snyder