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Human Right Course
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What are human rights?
The history of human rights
What right do we have?
The protection of Human Rights
Human rights in everyday life
Human Rights
What can I do?

Did you know

Did you know that if no one acts, nothing gets done?




During this course you have learnt that human rights are primarily the responsibility of states. It was states that produced the Universal Declaration, it is states that ratify conventions, it is states that have to put rights in effect, and it is only states which can violate them. You may therefore be thinking that your contribution is not needed.

It is important to be aware of the fact that states also consist of many individual people that together add up to a greater whole. Individuals can always make a difference. During this course we have learnt that it was individuals who first began to philosophise about human rights. It was individuals who formulated concepts in speeches, writings and books. It was individuals and groups who over hundreds of years appealed, protested, inspired and finally demanded that states incorporate human rights into law. If it had not been for all these individuals, there would never have been a Universal Declaration.

You have also learnt that the world still has a long way to go and that injustices occur every single day. It is still individuals who together make the greatest and most important contribution. One of the UN's constitutions puts it nicely when it says, "since it is in people's minds that wars arise, it is in people's minds that peace must be created". This means that the most important work for human rights takes place in ordinary people's thoughts, through ordinary people's actions and ordinary people's lives.

This means that your contribution to human rights is important. These are some of the things you can do:

  • Be aware and have the courage to speak out when you think someone is being treated unfairly at school, at home in the family, when training and among friends
  • Make sure you do not treat anyone unfairly
  • Read and learn more on your own. There are many books, magazines and websites that discuss and debate human rights
  • Tell your teachers that you want to learn more about human rights at your school. Write essays, do group work or create campaigns that deal with issues that you think are important: bullying and racism
  • Write a letter to your local authority or an article for you local newspaper
  • Organise collections and jumble sales, and donate the money to human rights work
  • Travel and get to know people from other cultures
  • Join a voluntary organisation that works for human rights. Most organisations have membership schemes through which you can support their work by paying a fixed membership fee each year.
  • It often costs a bit less if you are a young person/student. Some also have active membership schemes, which enable you to get involved in campaigns, actions and other activities
  • Join a political party and work for human rights in your local municipality or county
  • Get an education. Many people work for human rights on a daily basis, both in organisations and the public sector. They may have studied human rights as a separate subject at university, but most have other qualifications. Choose an education or a combination of subjects that you think are interesting The human rights field needs lawyers, linguists, social scientists, publicists, good writers (authors, journalists), teachers, managers, accountants, health workers and so on.
  • If you have some spare time, there are organisations which occasionally need voluntary help.



- 15 year old Benjamin Hermansen was murdered by neo-Nazis in Holmlia on 26th January 2001. A few days later the people of Oslo marched in a torchlight demonstration against racism. The march was the largest in Norway since WWII.

Fact box

- Simon Flem Devold receives 10,000 letters a year in response to his newspaper column in Aftenposten in which he answers questions and comments from children and youngsters.


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