Skip to Main Content

United Nations

105 min

Guiding Questions

  • What are the goals of the United Nations, and how is the organization structured to reach those goals?
  • How is the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights similar to and different from the U.S. Founding documents?


  • Compare the League of Nations with the United Nations.
  • List some of the international challenges of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Compare the U.S. Founding Documents with the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights with respect to specific rights asserted.

  • Adolph Hitler
  • Joseph Stalin
  • League of Nations
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Winston Churchill
  • United Nations
  • Peacekeeping
  • Veto power
  • Natural rights
  • Negative rights
  • Positive rights

Have students read United Nations Essay, underlining or highlighting to emphasize the main ideas.

Warm-up activity: Review Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Have students work in pairs, small groups, or as a large group to skim Handout A: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to get an impression of its contents and structure. They should answer these questions: What similarities and differences do you note between the UDHR and United States founding documents? Which approach to thinking about rights is more enforceable? According to the 8th paragraph of the Preamble, who is responsible for securing the rights and freedom listed in the UDHR? By what means?

The United Nations Activity: Compare the Universal Declaration of Rights to the U.S. Founding Documents

Students will use Handout A: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Handout B: Excerpts, United States Declaration of Independence (1776), Handout C: Excerpts, United States Constitution (1787), Handout D: United States Constitution, Amendments 1-27 to compare the UDHR to the U.S. Founding Documents. They should record their comparison on Handout E: Graphic Organizer Comparing the UDHR with U.S. Founding Documents.

Conclude with a class discussion of Question 4 on Handout E:

  • 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?

Watch for news reports about the United Nations. Be ready to share current events and participate in discussion of the U.N.

Student Handouts

Related Resources