Activity 2c: Culture and Human Rights

Human rights are defined in different ways depending on their perceived value. For example, not all countries share the Western view of the importance of individual rights and place. Rather, some countries place a greater emphasis on maintaining social cohesion through family and community obligation. In 1948, the United Nations was a predominantly Western organisation. At this time, many Asian and African countries were Western colonies, or were very weak economically and not very influential. Therefore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) may not accurately reflect the values of all people. This activity allows students to observe and reflect on the values of human rights from a non-Western perspective. 

Resources Required


e Resources


  • digital cameras
  • digital video cameras



Read the Handout: Confucianism.

  1. How do the rules listed above agree or conflict with the United Nations list of rights? How might a belief in Confucianism affect a person's attitude to some of the individual rights claimed by the Western tradition?

  2. Go to Activity 1a of Focus Question 1: What Are Human Rights? How does the society in Hanic reflect Confucian values? Do you think Western values and human rights standards would be accepted by a Confucian society?

  3. Write a set of family relationships that you think would be good to live by, which involve rights and obligations in relationships. 

Assessment Task

Nominate one of the United Nation’s universal human rights and promote it through a photographic essay or short digital movie. A photographic essay is a series of photographs that tell a story or evoke emotion. Examples of photographic essays can be viewed on the Human Rights Watch website.

Make comparisons between people in different parts of the world who experience the right as part of their everyday life and those people for whom that right is denied. Include statistics about how many of the world’s people are denied that particular right and explain why that right is important.

Assessment Criteria

Your work will be assessed on your ability to:

  • tell a story or evoke an emotion in relation to a universal human right

  • compare the lives of two people or groups of people – one that has the right confirmed and the other denied

  • formulate a compelling argument that explains why the universal right is important and details the effect on people’s lives when it is denied.


Activity 2aActivity 2b | Activity 2c

For the teacher | Human Rights Introduction2: Where Do Human Rights Come From? 

Overview of activities:  Focus Question 2