Unit 6: International Law and Human Rights

In this final unit, students grapple with the tensions that exist around the definition and universal character of human rights. Building on their understanding of how the legal landscape works within the United States, students consider how the creation and enforcement of international laws and policies compares to the rule of law within a single country. Students consider whether and how the rule of law should apply across borders, and what it means to balance national values and differences in social, political, and economic priorities with the responsibility to protect all human beings. As they conduct independent research on organizations and people working in the field of human rights, students critically examine U.S. policy and the role of all countries in promoting and protecting the rights of humans.

Unit Project

As one component of a larger campaign on a current human rights issue, students draft a storyboard for a public service announcement (PSA) that identifies a current international law, policy, or treaty created in response to the issue and that advocates in support of or against it. Students may also suggest the creation of a law or policy that does not currently exist but should. To create the PSA, students research a current human rights issue, including personal stories from those whose lives have been affected by it. Students write a policy brief describing the issue, past and present efforts to investigate the issue, existing domestic and international laws and policies, successes and challenges in enforcing existing laws and policies, and a position for or against the law or policy. After analyzing sample human rights PSAs developed by organizations around the world, students choose elements of their research to highlight in a PSA of their own that will inspire others to take action in support of or against a specific law or policy.

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