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Handout E: Comparing the UDHR with U.S. Founding Documents

Handout E: Graphic Organizer Comparing the UDHR with U.S. Founding Documents

Directions: Analyze the passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and compare/ contrast with United States Founding Documents shown on Handouts B, C, and D. If the same/ similar concept listed in the UDHR is also addressed in a U.S. Founding Document, show where it is located. Some items are done for you as examples. If a concept is not listed in a U.S. founding documents, leave the cell(s) blank.

After completing the table, answer the questions that follow.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights U.S. Declaration of Independence U.S. Constitution, Articles I-VII Amendments 1-27 of the U.S. Constitution

…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights…

Paragraph 2 “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”
…freedom of speech and belief… Amendment 1
…if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression… Paragraph 2 “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”
…promote the development of friendly relations between nations…  



…fundamental human rights… and in the equal rights of men and women…  



…common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge…
Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…

Article 3

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

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude…

Article 5

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

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law…

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

…public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense… No one shall be held guilty of any [act which was not a crime] at the time when it was committed.

Article 13

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence … the right to leave… and to return to his country.

Article 17

Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others

Article 19

…the right to freedom of opinion and expression; … and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

…the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21

…the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives… The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government…

Article 22

…social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

…the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment…

Article 25

…the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, … security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control… Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.

Article 26

Everyone has the right to education…

Article 29

Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible…


  1. One of the foundational principles of the U.S. Constitution is the principle of limited government, that people are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers which protect their life, liberty, and property. Based on your study of the UDHR, to what extent, if at all, is this document based on the same premise?
  2. You previously noted that UDHR requires 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.” To what extent, if at all, is this expectation enforceable?
  3. The U.S. Founding Documents set certain limits on government power in order to promote the rights and liberties of the people. To what extent, if at all, are these limits on government power enforceable?
  4. In general, what kinds of rights are listed in the UDHR, but not listed in the U.S. Founding Documents? To what extent, if at all, does the absence of those rights from the U.S. Founding Documents mean that those rights are less important to Americans?