Today we will be considering the ways in which particular problems transcend national boundaries and the ways in which national interests prevent the UN from responding to those problems. In no other international problem or challenge is this tension reflected more than the occurrence of genocide. Students will watch very brief video on the Rwandan genocide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z-UKvDK6Zg
Students will then read an article by Raphael Lemkin, the polish scholar who coined the term “genocide” and consider the Covenant on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (and the limits and reaches of the Covenant).
Raphael Lemkin–Genocide Questions
EDLF 5500 Genocide; Lemkin
Lemkin Lesson Plan
Earlier this week we have learned the history of the United Nations and why the world felt it was so important to create a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” However, a declaration does not guarantee anything, so the United Nations created treaties or covenants. These treaties would then become actual law in the countries that ratified them. There was a small problem though. The democratic western countries strongly supported civil and political rights like the right to vote, own property, and to a fair trial. The authoritarian countries of the east were not as comfortable with civil and political rights so they focused more on social, economic, and cultural rights. Thus, two separate covenants were created.
Today in class we will be discussing the differences between the two covenants and the many problems, consequences, and difficulties that arise.
- We will start by splitting into groups and writing down what the group thinks are the five most important rights that every person should have.
- We will then watch videos describing the two covenants to understand the situation and differences. After we watch, we will split into groups to discuss the following questions ( Video 1 and Video 2)
- Look at your five rights that you said were the most important. Which type of right would each of them be- Civil, Political, Social, Economic, or Cultural right? Do the rights that you specified as most important line up with the UN’s?
- Why do you think that Western countries felt that it was so important to specify our political and civil rights, while Eastern countries wanted more ESC rights?
- Which type of rights do you feel are the most important?
- What is the best way to secure and protect these rights? Is the UN the solution?
- Do you think these rights are really universal? Can rights be different in different countries?
- Is protecting these rights for every single citizen in the world attainable?
For some additional reading or insight:
-Recent articles about Human Rights around the world!