An overview of the basic course sequences
In addition to this, the main subject group of Human Rights encompasses a didactic section for teachers, which addresses the fundamental aspects of human rights education (teachers' section). You will also find concrete ideas and stimuli for lessons on human rights issues in schools (tips).
Basic course 1: What does "human rights" mean?
"We are born free and equal in dignity and rights” – this is how article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins. This means that we all possess certain rights that have been with us since our birth; these rights are called human rights. Every person is entitled to these rights purely because they are human and they may not be forfeited. This means that they cannot be taken away. The texts that follow are taken from different dictionaries and provide two typical definitions of human rights.
term human rights is used to describe an individual’s rights to protection
against encroachment by the state. These rights are given purely because an
individual is human; they remain intact and cannot be restricted by the state.
Referral to them as rights “acquired at birth” and “inalienable” rights
stems from the period during the fight against absolutism.
2) "The term ‘human rights’ is used in everyday political speech to describe those freedoms to which each and every individual is entitled purely because he/she is human. They must be secured within a community’s legal system for ethical reasons. To this end, these rights are also described as being ‘natural’, ‘inherent’, ‘inalienable’ or ‘absolute’ and when respected and secured legitimise a political community (...)."[Taken and translated from: Bertelsmann Discovery Lexikon]
In the sections that follow, we will be addressing the question as to where the idea of human rights comes from and how it has developed. We will learn that the notion of human rights has been discussed for over 2000 years, and that many important documents stand as milestones along the road to human rights endorsement (Basic course 2: How have human rights developed?). We will also have the opportunity to read extracts from the most important documents. Within the scope of the advanced subjects on world ethics and the term human dignity, we will learn that the idea of unrestricted human rights is not accepted everywhere. The universality of these inalienable rights is constantly being questioned.
Following this, we will be taking a closer look at the rights which we all possess. What are the individual rights? What exactly is being talked about when human rights are referred to? Here we will be addressing the question as to the difference between human rights and basic rights (Basic course 3: Which human rights exist?). Within the scope of comprehensive advanced subjects, we will be considering children’s rights in detail: What are children's rights and why do we need them?
If we are robbed on the streets, we turn to the police for help. The police find the thief and place him/her before the courts, where he/she is punished for committing the crime. We are given our property back. Yet who is responsible for offences committed against our human rights? And who is responsible for monitoring my rights? These are tricky questions indeed. In answering these questions we will come up against the United Nations, a union made up of almost all the world’s nations (Basic course 4), and the so-called INGOs (international non-governmental organizations) who work globally for the protection of human rights.
[Sculpture in front of the United Nations building in New York]
The need for arbitrators such as the United Nations will become clear during the last section of this basic course, as we take a closer look at some selected examples of human rights violations (Basic course 5). Violations against human rights occur across the world. This demonstrates that while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has served in formulating the rights of each and every person, this was just a beginning. Now the emphasis is on implementation – everywhere and permanently.