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Tasks: How Universal Are Human Rights?


Work together in pairs.
In the text box below you will find a list of articles from the UDHR. Take turns and choose the human rights article which you think is most important for you, personally. You are not allowed to pick an article which your partner has already chosen. Every time you make a selection, explain to your partner:

  • why you have chosen this particular article.
  • what you think your life would be like without this human right.
  • where in the world this particular human rights article is under pressure.

List of Articles from the UDHR

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile

Article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty

Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation

Article 14: Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

Article 15: Everyone has the right to a nationality.

Article 16: Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses

Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Article 20: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association

Article 21: Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

Article 23: Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

Article 25: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…

Article 26 a): Everyone has the right to education…

Article 26 b): Education shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups


First, watch this short video from Freedom House, then discuss the questions below.

  1. The film points out some negative trends that we are seeing in the world right know. What are they? Why is this happening?
  2. Do we see the same development in Norway or in any of our neighbouring countries? If so, give examples.
  3. The film mentions several violations of human rights. Which ones?
  4. The film states that “We are not alone in this struggle”. How can the violation of human rights in one country negatively affect another country? Give examples.


Human rights can sometimes be provocative and lead to conflicts and discussions among people.

In groups, discuss the statements below. Do you agree or disagree? Explain your point of view, but also try to see the other side's argument.

  1. Article 3 of the UDHR states that "Everybody has the right to life". Abortion should therefore be banned.
  2. It is a human right to love whoever you like. No state can therefore deny same-sex marriage.
  3. Freedom of speech is unlimited. I am therefore allowed to express my dislike for ethnic and religious groups in any way I like.
  4. Article 18 states that "Everybody has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion". No state should therefore be allowed to ban religious artifacts or clothing.
  5. Neo-Nazism is a very dangerous political movement and should be banned in a democracy.


Choose one of the statements in the discussion task above. Write an argumentative essay in which you discuss the statement, presenting both sides of the issue. Remember to include:

  • An introduction where you introduce your thesis statement.

  • A main body where arguments on both sides are presented (3-4 paragraphs).

  • A conclusion where you rephrase the thesis statement, call attention to important points and include a concluding remark.


Choose one of the following tasks, use various internet sources, and study in depth. Present your findings in the form of an oral presentation or a film.

Task 1.

Choose one example where local- /regional cultures and traditions are in direct conflict with the UDHR. Use various internet sources to find out more about this conflict.

Focus on:

  • where it takes place and who the perpetrators are
  • how it affects the victims and society in general
  • which articles from the UDHR are violated
  • how the international community reacts to this practice

(Possible case studies could be child marriage, honour killings, violence against LGBT, bride kidnapping, female genital mutilation...)

Task 2.

For many years, Norway has ranked high on the Human Rights Index lists. However, over the past few years, the Norwegian child services have faced criticism from other countries for not complying with human rights. Use various internet sources to find out more about:

  • the background to this criticism
  • which articles of the UDHR Norway is accused of breaking
  • the role of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg
  • examples of cases in which Norway has lost in the ECHR

Task 3.

Western countries often see themselves as defenders of human rights. Yet, many of them have serious human rights problems of their own. Choose a Western country and find out more about the state of human rights in that country. Find out:

  • which articles of the UDHR are violated
  • what criticism this country is facing
  • how this country responds to the criticism

Relatert innhold

CC BY-SASkrevet av Karin Søvik.
Sist faglig oppdatert 02.10.2020


Democracy and Human Rights