Step 2

Stimulating thinking and ideas about human rights


  • To build upon the understanding gained from Step 1.
  • To discuss individual rights and ‘groupings’ of rights.
  • To discuss why rights exist and what they seek to protect and promote.
  • To explore the idea of rights in conflict.

Activity 4: Groups of Rights

  • Introduce the idea of ‘groups’ of rights. Information Sheet 1 will help you to do this. The objective in this activity is not to develop a detailed knowledge, rather, to begin to recognise that there are different groups or categories of rights.
  • Encourage the group to discuss and debate the idea of ‘grouping’ rights. Use the information from Activity 3 to generate a list of groups of rights in some order of priority.

Outcome: to provide an initial understanding on the idea of ‘grouping’ rights and to introduce the idea that different people give priority to different rights, e.g., the right to work, the right to free speech, women’s rights, etc.

Activity 5: 3 Core Principles

There are 3 core principals associated with Human Rights – Universality, Inalienability and Indivisibility. Information Sheet 2 can assist you with this activity.

Ask the group to discuss the following questions to illustrate the ‘universality’ of Human Rights:

  • Do Human Rights apply to everyone, everywhere?
  • Are there groups or individuals to whom they do not apply? Why?
  • Can you think of any groups in Ireland and internationally to which they do not apply or to whom they only partially apply?
  • To illustrate the principle of ‘inalienability’ – ask the group to think about whether there are situations where individuals can ‘give up’ their rights. For example: in school? prison? when unemployed? in marriage? in a war situation? when arrested and accused of a crime? etc.
  • In determining the ‘indivisibility’ of Human Rights, invite the group to discuss whether some rights are more important than others. For example, the right to work versus the right to free speech? Are women’s rights more important than men’s rights? Etc.

Activity 6: Rights in Conflict

Divide the group into smaller groups of 3 or 4 and ask participants to think of situations where one person’s right may conflict with another’s, for e.g., women’s rights versus men’s rights, children’s rights versus parents rights, freedom of expression when someone preaches racial and religious hatred versus freedom from racial and religious discrimination.

Try this simple exercise to illustrate the above:

  • Invite everyone to stand close to each other in a circle and wave their arms around. Do you hit or avoid the person next to you? What is your right here? What about the other person’s rights?
  • Ask each small group to discuss their ideas with another group. Note the feedback.
  • Organise a full group discussion of the answers and note the examples from the group.

Outcome: To recognise that rights are not absolute but are mediated by other rights and issues, i.e., the situation is not always clear-cut and that some people’s rights may be someone else’s wrongs, etc.

Activity 7: Rights under threat

  • Ask participants to identify and discuss situations where rights may be jeopardised. Encourage participants to include in their discussion how individual/group rights are compromised in each situation.
  • Some examples can include: lack of available affordable housing, discrimination against Travellers, racism against refugees/asylum seekers, abortion, homelessness, poverty, child soldiers, etc. issues could include, etc.

Outcome: To enable participants to identify incidences of human rights abuses both locally and internationally.