HRE Starter Kit

Welcome! This HRE Starter Kit is a place for students, teachers, educators and other HRE practitioners to begin incorporating human rights education into their discussions. These resources are only a beginning. Please contact us with any questions.

Basic Human Rights Vocabulary:

What are human rights? by Kenneth Roth, HRW Executive Director (Click to watch, 0:20)
  • Human Dignity: The quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.
  • Human Rights: Rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible (OHCHR). For a more in depth introduction to human rights, see Human Right Watch’s “Human Rights 101.”
  • Human Rights Education (HRE): Provides knowledge about the historical and contemporary significance of human rights and the mechanisms that protect them, and reinforces skills and values to uphold human rights (STF). Other definitions of HRE.
  • Inalienable: Incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another.
  • Universal: Applicable to or common to all members of a group or set.
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): A milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 General Assembly resolution 217 A as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected (UN).

Why Human Rights Education:

From Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East and North Africa Division Director:

“Why Should High School Students Learn About Human Rights?.” (Click to watch, 1:09)

For more information, refer to “Why HRE.”

Establishing a Baseline for Your Community:

Taking the Human Rights Temperature of Your School Survey

Example HRE Lesson Plans:




  • Teaching Tolerance: Environmental Justice
    • Grade Level: High School
    • Description: Uses maps and graphs to explore how some natural disasters like the Gulf Oil Spill disproportionately affect people of color and those who live in poverty.
  • Pulitzer Center: A Right to Water for Everyone?
    • Grade Level: High School
    • Description: Looks at the effect of the world’s population explosion on access to water.

Social Studies/History

  • University of Minnesota: The Interdependence of Rights
    • Grade Level: Middle to High School
    • Description: Explores the interdependence of rights using an Effects Cascade. This is Exercise #2 in Part IV, Section 2.
  • Choices: Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for US Policy
    • Grade Level: High School
    • Description: Uses readings, case studies, and primary sources, students examine the evolving role that human rights has played in international politics and explore the current debate on U.S. human rights policy.

Review additional human rights lesson plans.

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