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Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

The Massachusetts Guide to Choosing and Using Curricular Materials on Genocide and Human Rights Issues


On August 10, 1998 the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor enacted into law An Act Requiring Certain Instructions in the Public Schools of the Commonwealth.

The law reads as follows:

Chapter 276 of the Acts of 1998

An Act Requiring Certain Instructions In the Public Schools Of the Commonwealth, The Board of Education shall formulate recommendations on curricular materials on genocide and human rights issues, and guidelines for the teaching of such material. Said material and guidelines may include, but shall not be limited to, the period of the transatlantic slave trade and the middle passage, the great hunger period in Ireland, the Armenian genocide, the holocaust and the Mussolini fascist regime and other recognized human rights violations and genocides. In formulating these recommendations, the board shall consult with practicing teachers, principals, superintendents, and curricular coordinators in the commonwealth, as well as experts knowledgeable in genocide and human rights issues. Said recommendations shall be available to all school districts in the commonwealth on an advisory basis, and shall be filed with the clerk of the house of representatives, the clerk of the senate, and the house and senate chairmen of the joint committee on education, arts, and humanities not later than March 1, 1999.

Learning about genocide in history and its persistence into the present day is important for today's students. Although most students learn about the Nazi Holocaust, they may regard it as an isolated phenomenon, and do not learn that many such incidents of intentional mass killings have occurred all over the world and throughout history. Genocides in the modern era have often been sanctioned by specific governments and based on ideologies that legitimize prejudice and violence. It is important that students have factual knowledge about these issues, and that they understand how other governments, organizations, and individuals work to preserve and protect human rights. It is also important that students understand how genocides and other human rights violations have contributed to immigration patterns in history. Learning about the history of genocides can lead the Commonwealth's students to understand the histories of the families in their schools, communities, and in the nation as a whole.

This Guide to Choosing and Using Curricular Materials on Genocide and Human Rights Issues offers recommendations for locating and selecting curriculum materials on genocide and human rights issues, and guidelines for the teaching of such materials. It is to be used in conjunction with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, in particular those for History and Social Science and English Language Arts, both published in 1997. Excerpts from those frameworks appear throughout this Guide; the full text of each framework is available on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website.

Particular genocide and human rights issues are explicitly listed as areas for study in the History and Social Science Framework, which presents "academic content and skills in the four areas of History, Geography, Economics, and Civics and Government that are essential to the study of human experience past and present, and to the development of educated and responsible citizens." Academic content pertinent to these issues is excerpted in this Guide.

Background: The Education Reform Act of 1993

Since the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993, the Massachusetts Board and Department of Education, with the assistance of teachers, administrators, and scholars, have produced curriculum frameworks in the Arts, English Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Health, History and Social Science, Mathematics, and Science and Technology. These frameworks are guides for the development of coherent and sequential programs of curriculum, instruction, and assessments in public elementary, middle, and high schools, and Adult Basic Education programs.

All of the frameworks are organized in the same way. Each presents a Core Concept and Guiding Principles for the organization of effective academic programs, followed by Strands and Learning Standards that specify what students should know and be able to do at various grade levels. In addition, the History and Social Science Framework includes a Core Knowledge section. Chronologically organized, this section presents the core of major topics in world and United States history. The Core Knowledge topics are elaborated in greater detail in a section called Commonly Taught Subtopics.

The curriculum frameworks are the basis for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), a mandated annual statewide testing program for students in the Commonwealth's public elementary, middle, and high schools. Information on this testing program, including released questions and data on student performance, is available on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website.

Teaching about Genocide and Human Rights Issues: Guiding Principles selected from the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum, instruction, and classroom assessment about genocide and human rights issues should be based on factual content aligned with the material in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. These issues need to be integrated into a sequential PreK-12 academic program, planned collaboratively by teachers from elementary, middle and high schools in each district. In the interest of helping teachers incorporate this material into their work with students, this Guide quotes six Guiding Principles, three from the History and Social Science Framework, and three from the English Language Arts Framework. The text beneath the Principles explains why these are particularly pertinent to the teaching of genocide and human rights issues.

History and Social Science: Guiding Principle 4
An effective history and social science curriculum recognizes each person as an individual, encourages respect for the human and civil rights of all people, and also emphasizes students' shared heritage as citizens, residents, and future citizens of the United States.

In the study of genocide and human rights issues, students and their teachers confront some of the most difficult and dreadful aspects of human behavior: hatred, prejudice, cruelty, suffering, legalized discrimination, and mass murder. The study of episodes such as the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust often causes students and teachers to question why such atrocities occurred, whether they could occur elsewhere, and how they might be prevented. Through a balanced study of history's repeated incidents of human rights violations, students learn about questions of ethics, political and religious philosophies regarding human rights, the importance of personal responsibility, and the role of the individual in creating and sustaining democratic institutions.

Students should learn about the role of governments and international organizations in setting standards for human rights, and about the barriers to enforcing human rights legislation and voluntary compacts. Appendices A, B, and C present excerpts from some important documents that were written for the purpose of preserving and protecting human rights, and which are part of students' "shared heritage." Included here are selections from the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments dealing with human rights, the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

History and Social Science: Guiding Principle 5
An effective curriculum in history and social science draws on and integrates several disciplines and fields of study.

As students encounter events that involve human rights issues in the history curriculum, they should be taught to examine these complex issues using a variety of critical lenses and methods. They should develop the skills that will enable them to frame series of questions, such as how philosophies may have affected governmental decisions, how economic forces may have shaped consequences, and how factors of geography may have contributed to events. For example, in researching the causes and consequences of the Irish Hunger Period, students might examine the geography and natural resources of Ireland, political relations and trade between Ireland and Britain, the impact of social and economic philosophies of the period, and ways in which massive Irish emigration affected the culture and economy of the United States in the 19th century.

History and Social Science: Guiding Principle 6
The historical narrative should provide the continuous setting for learning in social science, as well as the frame of reference from which teachers choose the current events and public policy issues for student study, presentations, and classroom discussion.

The History and Social Science Framework recommends a chronological approach to the teaching of history, and encourages teachers to help students make conceptual connections by selecting significant topics from current events that relate to past events. For example, knowledge of the specific historical circumstances of the transatlantic slave trade can help students understand the consequences of slavery as a social institution, and the importance of the ongoing movements for human and civil rights in the United States and other countries around the world. Teachers need to make sure that human rights issues are taught within a logical historical sequence, rather than as isolated events.

English Language Arts: Guiding Principle 3
An effective English language arts curriculum draws on literature from many genres, time periods, and cultures, featuring works that reflect our common literary heritage.

Students' understanding of human responses to genocide and human rights issues is deepened through their reading of literature, and their exposure to other works of art that express feelings and ideas about the human condition and the human spirit. The English Language Arts Framework includes a list of recommended authors who have written eloquently about their own experiences, about instances of oppression, and about attempts to create a more just society. Among these are Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, and William Saroyan.

English Language Arts: Guiding Principle 7
An effective English language arts curriculum teaches the strategies necessary for acquiring academic knowledge, achieving common academic standards, and attaining independence in learning.

Students need to develop a repertoire of learning strategies for reading, research, and writing that they consciously practice and apply in increasingly demanding contexts. These skills and strategies are of particular use when students and their teachers deal with complex issues that call for close evaluation, critical thinking, and analysis. Curriculum units dealing with genocide and human rights issues should include opportunities for students to develop, clarify, and communicate their ideas in writing, discussion, and oral or media presentations.

English Language Arts: Guiding Principle 10
While encouraging respect for differences in home backgrounds, an effective English language arts curriculum nurtures students' sense of their common ground in order to prepare them for responsible participation in our schools and civic life.

Massachusetts public schools educate students of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups. Taking advantage of this diversity, teachers carefully choose literature and guide discussions about the variety of peoples around the world and their different beliefs, stories, and traditions. At the same time, they help students discover common ground in humanitarian issues.

Scope, Sequence, and Developmental Considerations

The History and Social Science curriculum framework, pages 51 and 52, lists the required studies across grade spans. The sequence of instruction indicated calls for introductory level instruction at the PreK-4 grade span, and more sophisticated and detailed learning as students move up through the middle and high school grades. The content, and the sequence of these topics within a grade span, must be the result of ongoing discussions and collaboration among teachers across the elementary, middle, and high school grades.

The Elementary Grades, PreK-4. Elementary education in history, social science and the humanities is introductory in nature and should be integrated with reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Elementary teachers instruct mainly in self-contained classrooms, and are responsible for teaching several core subjects. The importance of interdisciplinary curriculum construction is paramount. The role of the elementary classroom experience in the study of history and social science is directly addressed in Section VII of the framework, History and Social Science in Kindergarten and Elementary Grades, on pages 55-58:

Research findings corroborate the Framework expectation that young children can absorb and use engaging history content in their thinking and learning...History instruction in the lower grades has a distinct elementary form dictated both by considerations of children's developmental levels and by considerations of where and how study and learning in history begins...The basic work of the primary grades in history is devoted to hearing and reading about what happened in the course of human history and why, who was involved, and why they thought and acted so...Within [the study of the historical] narrative are the geographical and economic shaping forces and chosen effects in civics.

In their introductory historical studies of exploration and the immigration of individuals and family groups to and within the United States, children at this grade level can be introduced to the topic of cross-cultural encounters, such as those among Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans. As part of their family histories, children of all races and ethnicities may have personal stories about how parents, grandparents, other relatives or friends moved to escape oppression. Because of developmental and maturation concerns, more complex details and discussions about genocide and human rights issues are reserved for the older middle and high school students. Nevertheless, there are age-appropriate materials and resources designed to teach elementary-aged children historically significant information about issues such as slavery through fictional and nonfictional literature, oral stories, and visual material.

The Civics and Government Learning Standards provide opportunities for young children to engage in studying and learning about authority, responsibility, and the rights all humans share. Ideas such as how to give consideration to others, fairness, self-control and patience with oneself and others are introduced in Learning Standard 19. Young children can also be introduced to founding documents of the United States (see Appendix A) and to the concept of children's rights (see Appendix C).

The Middle School Grades, 5 - 8.
Beginning at this level, it is important that historical topics be taught chronologically. The topics that align with the scope and sequence for this grade span are U.S. History from the origins of the nation to 1880; and World History from the origins of mankind to 700 A.D. (See the Core Knowledge Section of this document, beginning on page 10, for specific topics related to genocide and human rights.) There have been many debates over whether it is appropriate for students of middle school age to engage in the serious study of topics such as genocide. Much of this debate focuses on the level of detail that should be introduced and the level of sophistication these students possess. Most middle school students are developmentally ready for more complex detail about difficult topics, and can apply concepts such as theories of causation, patterns, change and continuity more readily than younger children can. Generally, it is agreed that students in the eighth grade and above are ready to engage in reading, research, reflection, and discussion of this material. Students at this age can be introduced to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see Appendix B).

The High School Grades, 9 -12
The scope and sequence of content for grades nine and ten is World History from 500 A.D. to the present. The eleventh and twelfth grades return to U.S. History from 1865 to the present and History and Social Science electives. Older high school students can engage in meaningful study and discussion of topics such as genocide and human rights violations. Caution should be used in choosing materials, and in the methods employed in teaching with these materials, at all grade levels. The nature of these topics brings with it the possibility of misunderstanding or cynicism. These are often unexpected and unintended responses of human nature when people are exposed to powerful material that reveals the paradoxes of human behavior, especially when that behavior has resulted in genocide, slavery, forced famines, and other violations of human rights in historical and contemporary times. Teachers and students alike benefit from the assistance and expertise of individuals and organizations skilled and experienced in the access and delivery of this difficult material.

Academic Content: References to Genocide and Human Rights Issues in the History and Social Science Framework

Core Knowledge
The Core Knowledge section of the History and Social Science Framework presents the major topics in United States and World History, Geography, Economics, and Civics and Government. The Commonly Taught Subtopics section suggests specific events, issues, ideas, and historical figures for study.

For this Guide, selections from Core Knowledge and Commonly Taught Subtopics that pertain to the study of genocide, the Holocaust, and other human and civil rights issues have been combined. Core Knowledge eras and main topics are labeled by numbers and letters (following the outline format of the History and Social Science Framework); subtopics are bulleted. Because this is a selected list, there will appear to be gaps in the outlined sections below; for example, the topics under "1. Early Americas and Americans (Beginnings to 1650)" begin with "d. African geography, societies, politics...." because topics a. b., and c. are not related to the issues in this Guide.

Learning Standards
All of the twenty learning standards from the History and Social Science Framework are included in this Guide, because all can be used to plan curriculum on genocide and human rights issues. They identify what students should know and be able to do across the grade spans (PreK-4; 5-8; 9-10; and 11-12). The History and Social Science Learning Standards have been designed with three purposes in mind:

  • to acknowledge the importance of content in the History and Social Science disciplines, and the skills, strategies, and other learning processes students need in order to learn;
  • to help teachers create classroom curriculum and assessments; and
  • to serve as the basis for a statewide assessment of student learning.

United States History
Selections from Core Knowledge and Commonly Taught Subtopics Relating to Genocide and Human Rights
From the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework, pages 13-15, 24-39

1. Early America and Americans (Beginnings to 1650)
d. African geography, societies, politics; backgrounds of the slave trade

  • 15th century Portuguese enter African-Muslim slave trade

e. First encounters between Americans and Europeans; the consequences

  • Native American societies destabilized by epidemic and European conquest; weaker groups and cultures perish in wars with stronger native groups

2. Settlements, Colonies, and Emerging American Identity (1600 to 1763)
b. Coexistence and conflict between Europeans and Native Americans

  • Advances into Indian habitats and hunting grounds; rising hostility
  • Pequot War 1637; King Philip's War 1675; exchange of massacres

d. Colonial era labor and the advent of North American slavery

  • By mid-17th century, hereditary slavery of Africans established in Virginia
  • The Atlantic slave trade; the "middle passage"
  • Limited use of slaves in northern colonies; first anti-slavery societies

3. The American Revolution: Creating a New Nation (1750 to 1815)
b. First Battles in Massachusetts; the Declaration of Independence

  • The Declaration's principles "heard round the world," inspiring the quest for freedom and justice in America and elsewhere down to the present

e. Founding Documents and debates

  • The Northwest Ordinance, 1787; slavery banned in the territories
  • The United States Constitution; the Philadelphia Convention of 1787; James Madison, "Father of the Constitution"

4. Expansion, Reform, and Economic Growth (1800 to 1861)
d. The Southern economic system: land, agriculture, slavery, trade

  • Slave labor enriches some Southern landowners; slave and Northern labor's contributions to national economic growth

e. Jacksonian Democracy and Pre-Civil War reform, women's rights, and schooling

  • Garrison's The Liberator, 1831; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852
  • Frederick Douglass' Narrative,1845; the Underground Railroad; Harriet Tubman
  • Women's rights proclaimed; Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls, 1848: "all men and women are created equal"

g. New immigrants; migration patterns; nativist hostility

  • Irish famine, German revolutions, poverty in England spur waves of newcomers
  • Nativist hostility found in all socio-economic classes
  • Labor movement divided along racial, ethnic, native/newcomer, religious lines
  • The Know-Nothing party; discrimination and segregation
  • Immigrants double the free labor force for mines, factories, railroads, docks

h. Westward migration; Indian removals; war against Mexico

  • Since Louisiana Purchase, Indians forced to sell or abandon lands; Jackson defies Supreme Court, forces Cherokee "Trail of Tears"

5. The Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 to 1877)
a. Slave life; families, religion, and resistance in the American South
b. A nation divided; the failed attempts at compromise over slavery
g. Emancipation Proclamation; the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments

  • Proclamation of January 1, 1863; Lincoln uses war power to declare slaves free in areas under Confederate control
  • 13th Amendment, 1865, bans slavery everywhere in the United States
  • 14th Amendment, 1868, declares former slaves are citizens with equal rights
  • 15th Amendment, 1870, declares right of citizens to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"

h. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Second Inaugural, and assassination

  • His Second Inaugural address, March 1865, attributes the scourge of war to "the judgments of the Lord" on the nation's "offense" of slavery, and calls for healing "with malice toward none, with charity for all"

6. The Advent of Modern America (1865 to 1920)
a. Changes and constraints for African-Americans; Plessy v. Ferguson

  • Black voting blocked by force and fear; emergence of Klan; lynch law

e. New immigration and internal demographic shifts;

  • African American migration to the North and West; life in growing American cities
  • Resurgence of nativist hostility; the Chinese Exclusion Act 1882 follows upon the completion of western railroads, built by Chinese labor

f. Settlements and diversity; the West, Southwest, Pacific coast, Alaska

  • Slaughter of the buffalo; final defeat of Plains Indians, confinement to reservations

7. The United States and Two World Wars (1914 to 1945)
b. The war, the peace: short and long-term consequences for 20th century America

  • Effects of World War I bring Communists to power in Russia; opens Italy to Fascists and opens Germany to Nazis, and Europe to crises of the 1930s, WW II and Cold War

c. Campaign for women's suffrage; the 19th Amendment

  • In 1920, pro-suffragists win ratification of the 19th Amendment

k. American isolationism; Axis aggression and conquest in Asia and Europe

  • Neutrality strained; Japanese rape of Nanking; Nazi terrorism, rearmament, and threats; Italy crushes Ethiopians; Franco destroys Spanish republic

l. From Pearl Harbor to victory; the course and human costs of World War II

  • Japanese seize Philippines; Bataan Death March
  • Anti-Axis fervor; Japanese hysteria on the West coast; FDR approves internment camps for over 100,000 Japanese-Americans; their property taken

8. The Contemporary United States (1945 to the Present)
a. Postwar America: prosperity, new suburbs, education, optimism

  • Early steps to racial equality: Truman desegregates armed forces by executive order; his "Fair Deal" for national health insurance and civil rights laws is blocked

d. The 'fifties: suburbs, advent of television, domestic anti-communism; war in Korea, rising demands for desegregation; Brown v. Board of Education

  • In Brown v. Board of Education, 1954, Supreme Court unanimously rules against school segregation
  • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955; emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr.; militant non-violence, Christian and Ghandian
  • Eisenhower signs Civil Rights Act of 1957, first since Reconstruction, creating the Civil Rights Commission; he federalizes Arkansas National Guard to force the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School

e. The 'sixties and 'seventies: assassinations, civil rights struggles and laws, war in Vietnam, moon landing, the women's movement: advances and limits

  • August 1963 civil rights march on Washington; King's "I have a dream" speech
  • JFK assassination in Dallas, November 1963, first trauma of the 'sixties
  • Lyndon Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. stirs nationwide black rioting

g. The end of the Cold War; new world disorders and American responses

  • Civil wars, bombardment of civilians, "ethnic cleansing" in former Yugoslavia; Clinton administration moves slowly toward intervention; the Dayton accords
  • Relations with China; human rights vs. enlarged trade; failure to curb Chinese sales of arms to rogue nations

World History

Selections from Core Knowledge and Commonly Taught Subtopics
Relating to Genocide and Human Rights
From the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework, pages 16-17, 40-50

3. Growth of Agricultural and Commercial Civilizations (500 to 1500 A.D.)

h. Africa: cities and states; gold, salt, and slave trade; Muslim expansion

  • Economic factors: trans-Saharan camel trade; gold, salt, and slaves

4. Emergence of a Global Age (1440 to 1750).
f. European conquests, colonization, and consequences in the Americas

  • Extension of African slavery to the Western hemisphere

5. The Age of Revolutionary Change (1700 to 1914)
b. The Enlightenment in Europe and America

  • Origins, stages, and consequences of the American and French Revolutions
  • Lasting world-wide effects of the two revolutions; universal drives to national independence, liberty, political democracy, social and economic justice

g. Democratic and social reform in Europe; evolutions and revolution

  • 19th century ideologies and social movements: Liberalism, Conservatism, radical republicanism, socialism, Marxism, labor unionism, social democracy
  • Europe-wide revolutions in 1848; failed, from classes and ideologies in conflict
  • Irish famine, German revolutions, Russian pogroms, poverty in Southern and Eastern Europe press millions to emigrate to the United States and Canada
    • Universal manhood suffrage common by 1900
    • Struggle for women's rights: the suffragettes; the Pankhursts in England

k. Dawn of the 20th century; Western optimism and counter-currents

  • Optimism; Enlightenment faith in reason, education, possibility of human harmony still dominant, alongside continuing religious practice and tradition
  • The dark side: abiding destitution, disease, imperial clashes, armaments races, terrorism and assassinations; the Armenian Genocide

6. The World in the Era of Great Wars (1900 to 1945)
f. International Communism; Leninist/Stalinist totalitarianism in Russia

  • In the Soviet Union, Stalin takes power; forced industrialization; agriculture collectivized; "liquidation" of kulak farmers

g. International Fascism; Italy, Spain; Nazi totalitarianism in Germany

  • Fear of the left drives many to choose fascism as a "lesser evil"
  • Mussolini imposes one-party military dictatorship of Italy
  • Franco and army attack Spanish Republic; Civil War; Picasso's Guernica
  • German Nazism; economic controls; one-party terror; anti-Semitism, pogroms, concentration and death camps

j. World War II: geography, leaders, military factors, turning points

  • Life in Nazified Europe: deportation of Jews; resistance movements distract German military; German resistance: among some churchmen; the officers' plot

k. The human toll of 20th century wars and genocides; the Holocaust

  • The Armenian genocides, mid-1890's and 1915
  • World War I: 20 million soldier and civilian deaths; 20 million more from flu
  • World War II: new weapons and disease, scale of fighting in Russia and Asia bring soldier and civilian deaths near 40 million; first use of the atomic bomb
  • The Holocaust; Nazi racism and eugenics; the Warsaw ghetto; mass plunder and destruction of European Jews; postwar Nuremberg trials

7. The World from 1945 to the present
b. Rebuilding and Reform in postwar Europe and Japan

  • Post World War I American policies reversed: the United Nations; the Marshall Plan; NATO military alliance; military preparedness at home

h. Persistent nationalism; militarism; conflicts of race, religion, and ethnicity

  • The Middle East; religion, oil, dictatorships; the Gulf War
  • Collapse of Yugoslavia into civil wars, "ethnic cleansing"; the Dayton Accords
  • Civil wars and genocide in Rwanda and Zaire
  • New forms of terrorism; continued arms races; proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons

i. Democracy and human rights; advances and retreats since 1945

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights; role of Eleanor Roosevelt
  • A divided United Nations; economic and humanitarian achievements and their limits; peacekeeping efforts lost and won; case study of Crete
  • Expansion of women's rights and responsibilities: near-universal suffrage; women legislators and prime ministers, East and West
  • Contrasting cases: South Africa: de Klerk and Nelson Mandela; China: militarism, persecution of neighbors and dissenters; prison labor
  • Democratic gains and continuing struggles: Eastern Europe, South Asia, Russia, Central and South America, the Caribbean

Strands and Learning Standards

From the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework, pages 63 to 130

Learning Standards, Grades PreK-12
Expectations for students at specific grade spans will be found in the History and Social Science Framework.


"Historical time is the lens through which we see change and continuity in human affairs. ...Perhaps most important, the study of history - in conjunction with biography, literature, and philosophy - enriches the opportunities of students to chose their own paths in public and private life. ...Knowing the past is a precondition to making responsible choices in the present." (page 64)

1. Chronology and Cause.
Students will understand the chronological order of historical events and recognize the complexity of historical cause and effect, including the interaction of forces from different spheres of human activity, the importance of ideas, and of individual choices, actions, and character.

2. Historical Understanding.
Students will understand the meaning, implications, and import of historical events, while recognizing the contingency and unpredictability of history - how events could have taken other directions - by studying past ideas as they were thought, and past events as they were lived, by people of the time.

3. Research, Evidence, and Point of View.
Students will acquire the ability to frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research; to collect, evaluate, and employ information from primary and secondary sources, and to apply it in oral and written presentations. They will understand the many kinds and uses of evidence; and by comparing competing historical narratives, they will differentiate historical fact from historical interpretation and from fiction.

4. Society, Diversity, Commonality, and the Individual.
As a vast nation, the overwhelming majority of whose population derives from waves of immigration from many lands, the United States has a citizenry that exhibits a broad diversity in terms of race, ethnic traditions, and religious beliefs. The history of the United States exhibits perhaps the most important endeavor to establish a civilization founded on the principles that all people are created equal, that it is the purpose of government to secure the inalienable rights of all individuals, and that government derives "its just powers from the consent of the governed." It is also true, however, that federal, state, and local governments as well as the people themselves have often fallen short in practice of actualizing these high ideals, the most egregious violation being the acceptance of slavery in some states until the Civil War. Students should be expected to learn of the complex interplay that has existed from the beginning of our country between American ideals and American practice in the pursuit of realizing the goals of the Declaration of Independence for all people. While attending to the distinct contributions that immigrants from various lands and of various creeds, along with Native Americans, have made to our nationhood, students should be taught above all the importance of our common citizenship and the imperative to treat all individuals with the respect for their dignity called for by the Declaration of Independence.

5. Interdisciplinary Learning: Religion, Ethics, Philosophy, and Literature in History.
Students will describe and explain fundamental tenets of major world religions; basic ideals of ethics, including justice, consideration for others, and respect for human rights; differing conceptions of human nature; and influences over time of religion, ethics, and ideas of human nature in the arts, political and economic theories and ideologies, societal norms, education of the public, and conduct of individual lives. (See also relevant strands in the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework.)

6. Interdisciplinary Learning: Natural Science, Mathematics, and Technology in History.
Students will describe and explain major advances, discoveries, and inventions over time in natural science, mathematics, and technology; explain some of their effects and influences in the past and present on human life, thought, and health, including use of natural resources, production and distribution and consumption of goods, exploration, warfare, and communication. (See also relevant strands in the Massachusetts Mathematics and Science/Technology Curriculum Frameworks.)

"Geography, like the other social sciences, requires substantive knowledge, intellectual skills, and concepts. ... The study of geography is as much about the effects of distance, isolation, inaccessibility, and adaptation to particular circumstances as it is about proximity, connection, and commonality. ...Students examine and weigh evidence from many sources - data on trade patterns, population, migrations, epidemics, and environmental changes." (page 66)

7. Physical Spaces of the Earth.
Students will describe earth's natural features and their physical and biological characteristics; they will be able to visualize and map oceans and continents; mountain chains and rivers; forests, plain, and desert; resources both above and below ground; and conditions of climate and seasons.

8. Places and Regions of the World. Students will identify and explain the location and features of places and systems organized over time, including boundaries of nations and regions; ... fortifications; and routes of trade and invasion.

9. The Effects of Geography.
Students will learn how physical environments have influenced particular cultures, economies, and political systems, and how geographic factors have affected population distribution, human migration, and other prehistoric and historical developments, such as agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and transportation.

10. Human Alteration of Environments.
Students will describe the ways in which human activity has changed the world, such as removing natural barriers; transplanting some animal and plant species, and eliminating others; increasing or decreasing the fertility of land; and the mining of resources. They explain how science, technology and institutions of many kinds have affected human capacity to alter environments.

"In teaching history, geography, and civics and government, teachers will have many opportunities to direct students to important economic considerations, such as the nature of incentives, the resources available to people in a particular situation, the amount of capital and labor needed to exploit a resource, the nature of contemporary markets for what people can produce, the constraints of climate, transportation, storage, and security, the effects of laws, taxes, the honesty of government officials, and the reliability of courts, and the degree to which economic activity reflected private and public investment in such things as roads, canals, public order, and protection of frontiers." (page 69)

11. Fundamental Economic Concepts.
Students will understand fundamental economic concepts, including choice, ownership exchange, cooperation, competition, purposive effort, entrepreneurship, incentive, and money. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on clarity of understanding, not terminology. Instruction in fundamental economics concepts will continue through grade twelve, and will develop progressively to include mastery of more complex concepts and accurate use of important terms.

12. Economic Reasoning.
Students will demonstrate understanding of supply and demand, price, labor markets, the cost of capital, factors affecting production, distribution, and consumption, relations among such factors, the nature of goods and services, incentives, financial markets, cost-benefit (including marginal cost-benefit) analysis, fairness, and the value of trade. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on teaching children how to recognize the components of a successful project and to identify the elements of progressively more complex stories that describe work, industry, and other economic activity. Instruction in economic reasoning will continue through grade twelve and will develop to include understanding of the complex nature of economic reasoning and accurate use of important terms.

13. American and Massachusetts Economic History.
Students will describe the development of the American economy, including Massachusetts and New England, from colonial times to the present. The subjects the students will master will include the size of populations at intervals in our history; the relative concentration on agriculture, industry, and commerce; the rise and decline of particular industries; the history of labor, including organized labor; the growth of banking and finance; the record of economic expansions and recessions; and the influence of various views on how government can best serve the economic interests of the state and the nation. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on teaching children stories about American economic history. Instruction in American economic history in later grades will focus on detailed knowledge of place, event, circumstance and relation to other historical, geographic, and civic matters.

14. Today's Economy.
Students will describe the distinctive aspects of the contemporary economy of the United States and the world. The subjects the students will master will include the historically unprecedented speed of transactions, the role of quickly-disseminated information in the contemporary world economy, the growth in the size and scale of markets, the role of modern technology, the rise of service industries, and changes in the role of labor.

15. Theories of Economy.
Students will describe and compare the major theories of economy, and will identify the individuals and historical circumstances in which these theories were developed. Students will explain, for example, the theories of feudalism, mercantilism, communism, capitalism, and free-market economies, and will be able to describe and explain the differences among several instances of each.

Civics and Government
"Civics is part of political science: the study of the rights and duties of citizens and the nature of civic virtue. To exercise their rights and fulfill their duties responsibly, citizens must learn what their rights and duties are and acquire respect for the equal rights of others. ... Students need to learn then, not only the equal rights and duties of citizens, but also the purposes, form, and limited extent of their government and its authority. ...The Founding Documents of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including its Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants ...are the living foundation of the United States as an experiment in ordered liberty, vital safeguards of the rights of the public, including students, and, imperfect though their implementation may be, they are the basis of this country's never ending quest for justice." (page 72)

16. Authority, Responsibility, and Power.
Students will explain forms of authority in government and other institutions; explain purposes of authority and distinguish authority from mere power, as in " a government of laws, but not of men"; and describe responsible and irresponsible exercise of both authority and power.

17. The Founding Documents.
Students will learn in progressively greater detail the contents and the history of the Founding Documents of the United States- The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution, and selected Federalist papers (as required by the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993). They will assess the reasoning, purposes, and effectiveness of the documents; and, similarly, elements of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

18. Principles and Practices of American Government.
Students will describe how the United States government functions at the local, state, national, and international levels, with attention to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants, and the basic elements of its Frame of Government; analyze the background and evolution of constitutional and democratic government in the United States to the present day and explain the place of institutions of government in securing the rights of citizens.

19. Citizenship.
Students will learn the rights and duties of citizens and the principle of equal rights for all; consider the nature of civic virtue in a school, a community, a nation; and identify major obstacles and threats to civil rights.

20. Forms of Government.
Students will study, compare, contrast, and analyze diverse forms of government; the ways of life and opportunities they permit, promote, and prohibit; and their effects on human rights. They will evaluate forms of government in terms of justice, ordered liberty, efficiency, public safety, educational opportunity, and economic and social mobility.

Reasoning, Reflection, Research, and Content in History and Social Science

From the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework, pages 11-12

To become well grounded in history and social science, and to continue learning for themselves after they have finished school, students need to acquire both core knowledge and a firm grasp of reasoning and practice in inquiry and research. They must learn how to test and frame hypotheses, to distinguish logical from illogical reasoning, and to grasp the superiority of reflective thinking and evaluation over the impulsive and uninformed rush to judgment and decision.

...Teachers ought to give sustained, consistent attention to distinctions among the following:

  • knowledge (judgment verified, proven, demonstrated, or confirmed by evidence);
  • informed opinion (judgment supported by evidence);
  • uninformed or mere opinion (belief without evidence);
  • bias and prejudice (belief in spite of contravening evidence);
  • scapegoating and stereotyping (prejudice based on radical and unfair oversimplification);
  • open mindedness (receptiveness to new evidence);
  • narrow mindedness (receptiveness only to evidence in favor of one's opinions, special pleading); and
  • closed mindedness (unwillingness to seek, heed, or listen to evidence).

Over time, students who have become familiar with these distinctions will learn to reflect thoughtfully and conduct reliable research.

Good teachers explain such distinctions explicitly, as developmentally appropriate, but they illuminate them also by concentrating on the specific "how to" knowledge students need in order to understand subject matter content:

  • how to understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence, and correlation; long-term and short-term causal relations; and limitations on determining causes and effect;
  • how to gather, interpret, and assess evidence from multiple and sometimes conflicting sources...;
  • how to distinguish knowledge from various forms of opinion; how to minimize avoidable error; how to identify valid and fallacious arguments; how to test hypotheses; how to identify and avoid bias and prejudice; how and how not to compare present and past and infer lessons from the past; how to distinguish sound generalizations from false oversimplifications;...
  • how to distinguish intentions and intended consequences of action from unanticipated and unpredicted effects; how to recognize and appreciate the force of accident, confusion, oversight, error, and unreason in human affairs;
  • how to pay sufficient heed to the limits of our understanding and knowledge in matters of great complexity, without underestimating the extent to which we may come to know, or at least to reach, judgments supported by evidence.

Connections to English Language Arts

In addition to the History and Social Science Framework, the English Language Arts Framework presents Learning Standards that are pertinent to the study of human rights and genocide issues. There are twenty-eight Learning Standards in English Language Arts. Selected ones appear below.

Selected Strands and Learning Standards
From the Massachusetts English Language Arts Framework, pages 23 to 68

Expectations for students at specific gradespans will be found in the English Language Arts Framework.


9. Students will identify the basic facts and essential ideas in what they have read, heard, or viewed.

11. Students will identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of theme in literature and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding.

13. Students will identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the structure, elements, and meaning of non-fiction or informational material and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding.

17. Students will interpret the meaning of literary works, non-fiction, films, and media by using different critical lenses and analytic techniques.


19. Students will write compositions with a clear focus, logically related ideas to develop it, and adequate detail.

23. Students will use self-generated questions, note-taking, summarizing, précis writing, and outlining to enhance learning when reading and writing.

24. Students will use open-ended research questions, different sources of information, and appropriate research methods to gather information for their research projects.


26. Students will obtain information by using a variety of media and evaluate the quality of the media they obtain.

Selecting Literature Related to Genocide and Human Rights Issues
Appendices A and B, beginning on page 69 of the English Language Arts Framework, are lists of suggested authors, illustrators, or works reflecting the common literary and cultural heritage of the United States, as well as world literature. Appendix F, Relating Literature to Key Historical Documents, on page 84 of the English Language Arts Framework, shows possible ways to connect literature with the study of key historical documents.

School and public libraries can provide resource lists of nonfiction and fiction dealing with genocide and human rights issues. There are many organizations and journals that regularly review fiction, nonfiction, and media resources for children and adolescents. These are listed on the following page.

Choosing Instructional Materials and Programs on Genocide and Human Rights Issues

Although some information on genocide and human rights issues is contained in textbooks, teachers wishing to explore these topics in greater depth must find further information from other sources. Organizations that can serve as resources for finding these materials are listed below. Many of them provide extensive, and frequently updated bibliographies of reference and trade books, journals, articles, films, and further Internet resources.

Public Libraries
Public libraries serve as an indispensable resource for finding books and articles listed on Internet sites. Information about Massachusetts' ten public library networks, as well as academic libraries, is available from the Massachusetts Library and Information Network.

Book/Film/Media Review Resources
The following resources are also useful in selecting fiction and nonfiction for the classroom.
Booklist and Book Links, Connecting Books, Libraries, and Classrooms, a bimonthly magazine, reviews books that have been grouped into thematic areas. Published by the American Library Association, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
American Library Association

The Horn Book Magazine annually reviews nearly 4,000 books written for children and young adults and publishes articles about literature for children. Published by The Horn Book, Incorporated, 11 Beacon Street, Suite 1000, Boston MA 02108. The Horn Book Guide, published in spring and fall, summarizes the reviews.
Horn Book Guide

New York Times Book Review reviews both adult and children's books. New York Times Company, 229 W. 43rd Street, NY, NY 10036
Books - The New York Times

School Library Journal reviews professional reading, books for children and young adults, audiovisual materials and computer software.
School Library Journal

Social Education is the flagship magazine of the National Council for the Social Studies, 3501 Newark Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
National Council for the Social Studies

Selection Criteria for Choosing Materials

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not endorse or mandate any curriculum materials, but offers the guidelines below.

Nonfiction literature, documentaries, and informational materials related to genocide and human rights issues should provide:

  • Historically accurate and complete information based on primary sources;
  • Coherent arguments and differing points of view on controversial issues;
  • Well-written and organized texts, with rich and challenging vocabulary, skillful use of language,

clear charts and diagrams, and pertinent, historically appropriate period illustrations such as engravings, photographs, film footage, or cartoons;

  • Explanatory text that is free of racial, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and gender bias;
  • Citations for sources of texts, interviews, illustrations, film footage, and other visual or aural materials; and
  • Descriptions of research methods used.

Fiction, poetry, personal essays, and live or filmed drama dealing with genocide and human rights issues should provide:

  • Themes that provoke thinking and give insight into universal human emotions and dilemmas;
  • Authenticity in the depiction of human emotions and experiences of diverse cultures;
  • Excellence in use of language (rich and challenging vocabulary, style, skillful use of literary devices); and
  • Exploration of the complexity and ambiguity of the human condition.

Support and background materials for teachers should provide:

  • Sufficient material for in-depth investigations of major historical events;
  • Suggestions for creating learning environments and multiple forms of assessment for students at a variety of reading levels;
  • Interdisciplinary connections;
  • An emphasis on critical thinking about historical sources and events; and
  • A bibliography of primary sources, materials, and resources.

The Internet as a Tool for Researching Genocide and Human Rights Issues

While the Internet has become a valuable tool for research, it is a resource without "filters." In the classroom, materials must be evaluated for authenticity, accuracy, and bias. Students need to have tools to analyze the validity of sources they find on the Net, particularly when they research controversial issues and current events.

The questions below can help Internet users make decisions about the nature of the information they find on various websites.

  • Who sponsors the site? Who writes the material that appears on it?
    • does an individual or an organization sponsor the site?
    • Is the author or organization a recognized authority?
    • Had you heard of the organization or author before you found the site on the Internet?
    • Are the author's credentials mentioned on the site?
    • does the author/publisher provide an email address?
  • How reliable is the information posted on the site?
    • does the site give links to other recognized sites?
    • Is the information factual?
    • Is the text well written?
    • does the page cite a bibliography or references to confirm accuracy?
    • Is there author bias?
    • Are the topics included explored in depth?
    • Are the articles or other posted materials dated?
  • What is the source of this information?
    • Educational institutions: .edu
    • Government: .gov
    • Military: .mil
    • Professional organization: .org
    • Commercial sites: .com
    • Internet providers: .net
  • When was the site created?
    • Has the site been updated recently?
    • does the site need to be current?
    • Do the links work? Do they lead to other useful material?

American Civil Liberties Union
99 Chauncey Street
Boston, MA 02111

Armenian Studies and Research Association
395 Concord Avenue
Belmont, MA 02478-3049
(617) 489 -1610

The Children's Museum
300 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210-1034

Community Change, Inc.
14 Beacon Street, Room 605
Boston, MA 02108

Council for Native American Solidarity
62 Pleasant Street
Winthrop, MA 02152

Educators for Social Responsibility
23 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Irish Studies Program
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02167

Harvard University
Ukraine Research Institute
1583 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
FAX 617-495-8097

Museum of Afro-American History
138 Mountfort Street
Brookline, MA 02446-4039
(Interim address until year 2000)

Museum of the National Center of
African American Artists
300 Walnut Avenue
Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119

National Park Service (The Underground Railroad)
14 Beacon Street, Suite 506
Boston, MA 02108

North American Indian Center of Boston
105 South Huntington Avenue
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Primary Source
125 Walnut Street
Watertown, MA 02472

United American Indians of New England
PO Box 7501
Quincy, MA 02269

World Affairs Council
1 Milk Street
Boston, MA 02109

National and International Organizations

Amnesty International
322 Ace Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Armenian National Institute
122 C Street NW Suite 360
Washington, DC 20001
Fax 202-383-9012

Holocaust Resource Center and Archives
Queensborough Community College
The City University of New York
Bayside, New York 11364
Fax 718-631-6306

Human Rights Watch
485 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
FAX: 212-371-0124

Indian Law Resource Center
601 E. Street SE.
Washington, DC. 20003

International Human Rights Law Group
1800 18th Street NW Suite 602
Washington, DC 20036
FAX 202-822-4606

International Maya League
Weston Priory
Weston, VT 05161
FAX 802-824-3193

Irish Famine Curriculum Committee and Education Fund, Inc.
757 Paddock Path, Moorestown, NJ 08057

Leo Baeck Institute
129 East 73rd Street
New York, NY
FAX: 212-988-1305

National Council for the Social Studies
3501Newark Street NW
Washington, DC 20016

Network of Educators on the Americas
PO Box 73038
Washington, DC 20056
202-238-2379 FAX 202-238-2378

Refugees International
2001 S Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009

Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture
135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801

Simon Wiesenthal Center
9760 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035-4792

Southern Poverty Law Center
Teaching Tolerance Project
Post Office Box 548
Montgomery, AL 36101

United Nations
New York, New York, 10017
212-963-4475, 212-963-9246
FAX 212-963-0071
United Nations Publications

United States Committee for Refugees
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 920
Washington, DC
FAX 202-347-3418

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC. 20024
FAX 202-488-2690

Additional Websites

Armenian Embassy, Washington, DC

Armenian Research Center
University of Michigan, Dearborn

The Cambodian Genocide Program

Human Rights USA

Irish Embassy, Washington, DC

Romani Union

Appendix A: Human Rights in the Founding Documents of the United States

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with Certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty , and the pursuit of Happiness. That, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Constitution of the United States

Article I

Section 9...The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Section 10No State shall...pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

Article IIISection 2...The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at the Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Article IVSection 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the United States.

Article VI religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office of public Trust under the United States. United States Bill of Rights, the First Ten Amendments to the Constitution

Amendment 1 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2 A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment 3 No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment 4 The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 5 No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment 6 In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment 7 In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law.

Amendment 8 Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 9 The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10 The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Later Amendments Related to Human Rights

Amendment 13 Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Amendment 14 Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person or life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any personwithin its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Amendment 15 Section 1. The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Amendment 19 The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Amendment 24 Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Appendix B: The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights(Adopted by the United Nations December 10, 1948)


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore, The General Assembly proclaims

This Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2 Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6 Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7 All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8 Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10 Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11 Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission, which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

  1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

  1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of this property.

Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

  1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22 Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24 Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28 Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

  1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30 Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Appendix C: The Convention on the Rights of the Child(Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, November 20, 1989)

The Convention defines as a child every human being under 18, unless national laws recognize the age of majority earlier.

The Convention sets minimum legal and moral standards for the protection of children's rights. Nothing in the Convention affects any provisions that contribute more to the realization of child rights and that may be found in the law of the State Party or in other international laws in force in that State-the higher standard shall always apply.

States parties to the Convention have a legal and moral obligation to advance the cause of child rights, through administrative, legislative, judicial and other measures in implementation of this Convention.

The Convention stipulates the following general principles:

  • States shall ensure each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinctions of any kind;

The child's best interests shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children whether undertaken by public or private social institutions, courts, administrative authorities or legislative bodies;

  • Every child has an inherent right to life and States shall ensure, to the maximum extent possible, child survival and development;
  • Children have the right to be heard.

The Convention stipulates the following substantive provisions:

  1. Civil rights and freedoms
    Every child has a right to a name and nationality from birth, and States have an obligation to preserve the child's identity. Children have the right to freedom of expression, and the State shall respect their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, subject to appropriate parental guidance. Children also have the right to freedom of association and to be protected against interference with their privacy. Furthermore, no child shall be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Both capital punishment and life imprisonment without the possibility of release are prohibited for offences committed by persons below 18 years.
  2. Family environment and parental guidance
    The Convention stipulates that States must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and extended family members to provide guidance for children that is appropriate to the child's evolving capacities. The Convention gives parents a joint and primary responsibility for raising their children and stipulates that the State should support them in child-raising. Children should not be separated from their parents, unless this is deemed to be in the child's best interests by competent authorities and in accordance with applicable laws. Children also have the right to maintain contact with both parents if separated from one or both. Children and their parents have the right to leave any country and to enter their own for purposes of reunion or maintenance of the child-parent relationship. Parents are responsible to ensure that children enjoy an adequate standard of living while the State has the duty to ensure that this responsibility can be fulfilled.
    The Convention obliges the State to provide special protection for children deprived of a family environment. Where applicable, adoption is to be carried out in the best interests of children and with the authorization of the competent authorities.
    The State also has the obligation to prevent and remedy the kidnapping or retention of children abroad by a parent or third party; and to protect children from all forms of abuse and neglect. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure-in cases of children victims of armed conflict, torture, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation-that they receive appropriate rehabilitative care and treatment to facilitate their recovery and social integration into society. Furthermore, a child placed by the State for reasons of care, protection or treatment is entitled to have that placement evaluated regularly.
  3. Basic health and welfare of children
    Every child has a right to life, and States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. States shall place special emphasis on the provision of primary and preventive health care, public health education and reduction of infant mortality. They shall encourage international cooperation in this regard and strive to see that no child is deprived of access to effective health services.
    Disabled children have the right to special treatment, education and care. Children also have the right to benefit from social security. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.
    States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
  4. Education, leisure and recreation
    Children have a right to education, and it is the State's responsibility to ensure that primary education shall be free and compulsory, that discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; and that the aims of education are geared towards developing children's personalities as well as their mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent. Education should foster respect for parents, cultural identity, language and values and should prepare the child for a responsible life in society, in a spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and friendship among all people. Children also have a right to enjoy leisure, recreation and cultural activities.
  5. Special protection measures
    1. In situations of armed conflict States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that children under 15 years of age take no direct part in hostilities and that no child below 15 is recruited into the armed forces. In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law-particularly the Geneva Conventions to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts - States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflict. The State has an obligation to ensure that child victims of armed conflicts, torture, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation receive appropriate treatment for their recovery and social reintegration.
      Special protection shall be granted to a refugee child or to a child seeing refugee status. It is the State's obligation to cooperate with competent organizations that provide such protection and assistance.
    2. In situations where children are in conflict with the law
      Regarding the administration of juvenile justice, children who come in conflict with the law have the right to treatment that promotes their dignity and self-worth, and also takes the child's age into account and aims at his or her reintegration into society. Children in such cases are entitled to basic guarantees as well as legal or other assistance for their defense and judicial proceedings and institutional placements shall be avoided wherever possible.
      Any child deprived of liberty shall be kept apart from adults unless it is in the child's best interests not to do so. Furthermore, a child who is detained shall have legal and other assistance as well as contact with his or her family.
    3. In situations of exploitation
      Children have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and from work that threatens their health, education or development. States shall set minimum ages for employment and regulating working conditions-particularly in line with standards set forth by the International Labour Organization, particularly in the Minimum Age Convention 1973 (No. 138).
      Children have the right to protection from the use of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, as well as from being involved in their production or distribution.
      The State shall protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and involvement in pornography. The Convention stipulates that it is the State's obligation to make every effort to prevent the sale, trafficking and abduction of children.
    4. In situations of children belonging to a minority or an indigenous group
      Children of minority communities and indigenous populations have the right to enjoy their own culture and to practice their own religion and language.

Monitoring Implementation

The Committee on the Rights of the Child-composed of 10 international experts-is charged with the task of monitoring the implementation of the Convention. Ratifying the Convention obligates States Parties-as a first step-to review their national legislation to make sure it is in line with the provisions of the treaty. Each ratifying nation must submit a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, two years after ratification and then every five years, on measures it has taken to implement the provisions of the Convention in a practical way, and the difficulties and constraints faced in the process.

Last Updated: June 1, 1999
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