Human Rights: UDHR vs. Constitutions of the US and Japan (for International Relations or Human Rights class)

Published: Oct 29, 2021
Contributor: Shawna Brandle
License: CC BY NC SA 4.0 license – Allows revisions and additions but forbids commercial use.

This is a worksheet/activity I developed for having students look at the different ways different rights are/are not guaranteed in the UDHR, US Constitution, and Japanese Constitution. I think it would be easy to adapt for a variety of courses- you could change the case study countries (or have different students do different countries!), change the rights being looked at, or change the human rights source document (ICCPR and ICESCR instead of/in addition to UDHR maybe?). I’ve done versions in person and online (synchronously), where we work for 8-10 minutes and then discuss, versions where students work as groups in person, and I’ve used it as a pure out-of-class/substitute-for-class assignment, with pretty positive results each time, so play around. Student observations can be used to discuss the vagueness of language and definitions, the time and political context of the writing of each document, the question of how older documents can apply to the 21st century world, negative and positive rights, and the different protections for economic, social, and cultural rights as opposed to civil and political rights.

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