Activity 2a: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

History shows that the human rights of some citizens, notably peasants and the working class, have not always been acknowledged in society. Following the French Revolution in 1789 the newly established National Assembly of France, as representatives of the French people, determined the rights of men and citizens. The declaration was to serve as a reminder to society and the governing bodies that everyone had equal rights and that their duty was to serve all citizens, not just the social elite.

This activity introduces the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. Students are asked to consider the effect this declaration might have had on the society described. 

Resources Required


Task 1 

Read Handout: France Before the Revolution of 1789.

Use a highlighter to identify those aspects of life in eighteenth-century France that demonstrate or imply a lack of human rights. One example has been identified for you (see italics).

Task 2

Read Handout: Extracts from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

a) Decide which of the abuses of human rights that you identified in Task 1 were addressed by the declaration. Write the particular Article below each example of abuse you have identified. For example, below ‘Society was divided into layers’, write the number ‘1’ to show that this abuse of human rights was addressed by Article 1 of the declaration.

b) How do you think each of the main groups of people in France in 1789 would have reacted to the declaration? 

c) Which of these rights would you expect to have today in your society and which are no longer relevant? List those you consider irrelevant and discuss them as a class.


Activity 2a | Activity 2b | Activity 2c

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

Overview of activities:  Focus Question 2