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Poverty Globalisation Social rights
Summary of activities
Human Rights calendar

Key date

17 October
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty


49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human Rights Education > Horoscope of poverty

Conventions - Safeguards of Human Rights

This activity is available on-line only
Themes General human rights, Education , Social rights
Complexity Level 3
Group size Any (preferably 12 or more)
Time 90 minutes
Overview This activity uses group work and diamond ranking to promote discussion about the ICCPR and the ICESCR, including the issues of: Human rights under the two Covenants
  • Duties and responsibilities under the Covenants
  • How to claim the rights
Related rights
  • Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural human right
  • To provide knowledge about the ICCPR (The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and the ICESCR (The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
  • To develop skills to review information critically and relate it to everyday experience
  • To explore the relevance of the Covenants and similar mechanisms for protection of human rights
  • To stimulate feelings of responsibility, solidarity, justice and equality
  • Statement cards - one set per small groupHandout – summary of the statements for every participant
  • A large sheet of paper to make a wall chart
  • Markers
  • Enough space for small groups to work independently
  • Enough space for presentations in plenary
Note: If possible, facilitators for each "double" working group
  • Review the abridged versions of the two Covenants (available in form of statement cards at the end of this exercise) and consult the full-text versions of the Covenants (look at the end of the exercise for a web-site). List the articles on the large sheet of paper to make a wall chart.
  • Choose which articles will promote the most interesting discussion with your particular group. Consider which issues are most relevant to the group members and which will be the most controversial.
  • Prepare one set of cards for each small group. Put each set in an envelope so that they don't get mixed up!
  • For all participants prepare a handout - summary of all statements from the Covenant they work on. Consider that not all participants will work on the same Covenant, hence they need to receive different handouts (some groups will receive ICCPR, and the others ICESCR).


  1. Start with a brief review of the different generations of human rights. Ask what people know about it. Ask them if they could differentiate between the rights and the main characteristics of each covenant. Point out the wall chart and go over the main articles. This brief introduction should not take longer than 5-10 minutes.
  2. Ask participants to get into small groups of three to five people. Hand out the envelopes with the statement cards to each small group and the handouts to each participant.
  3. Some of the small groups should receive the statement cards with ICCPR, and the rest the statement cards with ICESPR.
    Note: Due to the design of the exercise and the need to create "double" groups at later stage, it is recommended to have even number of small groups that will work on each Covenant. If this is not possible, one solution is to have three groups joining together and comparing their diamond (see step 5).
  4. Explain the diamond ranking procedure - Each participant should individually look at the statements – summarised articles of the Covenants, and consider how relevant each of those is to the participant’s own life. Participants could make their own priority lists, if that coincides with their own thinking and learning approach. Afterwards, each small group is to discuss the given statements and explore the different perceptions, realities and order of relevance and importance for each of the statements. They should then arrange the statements in a diamond pattern in order of importance according to participants’ realities / social environments. The decision about the order in the diamond ranking should be made by consensus as much as possible in the small groups. The most important statement should be at the top of the diamond. Underneath it, the group members should lay, side by side with equal importance, the two next most important statements. Underneath these, they should lay out the next three statements of moderate importance. The fourth row should have four cards. The fifth row should have three cards, the sixth two and the seventh row one card, the statement that they thought was the least important. In this way, the cards will lie in the shape of a diamond (see the Diamond here).
  5. Give the groups 25 minutes to discuss and decide the order of ranking. Participants in each group, whenever possible, should arrive to a consensus in making the diamond ranking. Each group should prepare their diamond on a big flip-chart paper.
  6. Once the small groups finish their work, gather groups two by two into "double" facilitated groups (small groups working on the same document). In each facilitated group, participants from two small groups present and compare their own diamonds and share the outcomes of their group discussion (diamond rankings). At the end of the discussions, both groups should prepare a presentation at a joint stand in main working room where all diamond rankings will be exhibited. All participants should be ready to explain and present the arguments behind the diamond ranking of their small groups. Give 20 minutes to the discussions in the "double" facilitated groups. Note that these groups are for participants to exchange the different points of view and analyse the differences and similarities of each other’s ranking; and not to arrive to a consensus in these groups.
  7. Organise the space in the main working room (plenary room) so as to have sufficient "exhibition spaces", as many as the number of "double-groups". In each of those spaces, one "double" group will display their diamond rankings (2 from each of the small groups) resentations are to be organised in an "exhibition" style, so no verbal presentation in plenary!
  8. To start the exhibition, invite each small group to divide in half. Half of its members should go in the middle of the room while the rest should stay next to their stands (diamond rankings). In the first 10-15 minutes, the group in the middle will be visitors going to all the stands and getting to know the results of the other groups, while the other half will stay next to the stands and be hosts who will provide the inputs and information to all visitors. After 10-15 minutes participants swap roles, visitors become hosts and vice versa. Then call everyone into plenary for the debriefing.

Debriefing and evaluation

    Review how participants enjoyed the activity and what they learned.
  • How do the results of the different groups' discussions compare? What are the similarities and differences?
  • Why do different people have different priorities?
  • As a result of listening to others, do any of the groups wish to reconsider their own decisions about the ranking of the cards? Which arguments were the most persuasive?
  • In general, which rights are not respected in your community, and why?
  • Are there any main differences noticed between the civil and political rights on one hand and economic, social and cultural rights on the other hand?
  • Are there any human rights that are not present in the Covenants that you suppose should be included?
  • How do people in general claim their rights?
  • If participation in the democratic process is one way for people to claim their rights, what can the participants do now to begin to "claim their rights" in their home country?
  • To whom, in your society, can people turn to, if they suffer from serious violations of their rights?
    What other instruments are there in the world (or in Europe) aiming at protection of human rights?
  • What else (other materials, other methods) can serve to inform participants on the history and background of HR, and its most important instruments?

Tips for facilitators

There is more information about diamond ranking in chapter 1 "How to use the manual". Point out to the groups that there are no right and wrong ways in which to order the cards. They should recognise that different people have different experiences and therefore different priorities and these should be respected. Nonetheless, they should try, in each of their small groups, to come to a consensus about the order. After all, in real life, issues have to be prioritised and decisions made in the best interests of all!
It is important, whenever not obvious to participants, to stress the interdependence of rights and ask them to avoid ranking the importance of rights when making the diamond ranking.
It is very useful that there are facilitators in the "double" groups (if not enough team members, more experienced participants could take up this role). That will ensure efficient use of the time and comparable level of discussion in all "double" groups.
For the presentations in plenary, it is useful to prepare small post-it notes in two different colours for each participant. One should write "Visitor", while on the other "Host". The participants should put, on a visible place on themselves, one or the other post-it note depending on their function at the moment: "host" or "visitor".
One can do this exercise also with fewer participants. In this case, there are two alternatives: to use only one Covenant or to skip the double facilitated groups and immediately proceed with the exhibition in plenary.



Instead of providing fifteen Articles to be ranked, you can provide 1-4 less and leave card(s) blank for the groups to identify the missing statements ( articles of the Covenants). Another alternative is to decrease the size of the diamond and ask participants to choose in total nine statements.
This exercise could be used for discussion and analysis of any other Convention or Declaration. Consider using it for

Note: This exercise derives from the exercise "Children Rights" in Compass. Consult that exercise for more ideas for variations and tips.

Suggestions for follow-up

Invite someone who is familiar with the two Covenants, UN representative, student or professor of human rights of international relations (emphasis on UN), human rights activist or trainer in human rights education to talk to the group. The lecturer could, among other issues, define the different generations of human rights, present the International Bill of Human Rights or explain the mechanisms for reinforcement of these two Covenants (see Compass chapter 4.1 Understanding Human Rights for description of the different generations).
Ask your participants to make a small research in their hometown or country and see which of the human rights defined in ICCPR and/or ICESPR are respected / violated most. Another interesting assignment for them is to check the national laws and see which of the rights as defined in the two Covenants are present (part of) in their national legislation.
These two human rights instruments require states to submit reports. The states compile these reports following directions of supervisory bodies. The public, and in particular NGOs examine these reports. The ICCPR, ICESCR, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) are examples of instruments requiring the submission of reports. Participants could examine and discuss some of these reports that are submitted to the relevant Committees: UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Further information

For the full text of the ICCPR (The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and the ICESCR (The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Convention consult
Other useful UN resources are web-site of the UN Commission of Human Rights
All relevant UN documents are available in the Official UN Documents UN System.
For Council of Europe documents and conventions on the same subject area consult: the European Social Charter and the HUDOC Human Rights Documentation of the European Court of Human Rights.

Chapter 4 in Compass contains background information on human rights. The sub-chapters: 5.5 Education, 5.14 Social Rights and 5.13 Poverty deal more in depth with the specific subjects related to the social, cultural and economic rights.

Statement cards
ICCPR (The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)

The right to equality between men and women in the enjoyment of their civil and political rights.


The freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment


The right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention.


The right to liberty and freedom of movement


The freedom from prison due to debt.


The freedom of opinion and expression.


The right to legal recourse when their rights have been violated, even if the violator was acting in an official capacity.


The freedom from slavery and servitude.


The right to life and survival.


The right to freedom of association.


Prohibition of propaganda advocating war or national, racial or religious hatred.


The freedom of thought, conscience and religion.


The right privacy and its protection by the law.


The right to peaceful assembly.

Statement cards
ICESCR (The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)

Everyone has the right to take part in cultural life; enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.


No person, group or government has the right to destroy any of these rights.


Everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.


Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing. Everyone has the right to be free from hunger.


Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions, the right to strike.


Everyone has the right to just conditions of work; fair wages ensuring a decent living for himself and his family; equal pay for equal work; safe and healthy working conditions; equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted; rest and leisure.


Everyone has the right to social security, including social insurance.


Those States where compulsory, free primary education is not available to all should work out a plan to provide such education.


Protection and assistance should be accorded to the family. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of both spouses. Special protection should be provided to mothers. Special measures should be taken on behalf of children, without discrimination. Children and youth should be protected from economic exploitation. Their employment in dangerous or harmful work should be prohibited. There should be age limits below which child labour should be prohibited.


Each State Party undertakes to take steps to the maximum of its available resources to achieve progressively the full realization of the rights in this treaty. Everyone is entitled to the same rights without discrimination of any kind..


Everyone has the right to work, including the right to gain one's living at work that is freely chosen and accepted.


The States undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all rights in this treaty.


Limitations may be placed on these rights only if compatible with the nature of these rights and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society.

All peoples have the right of self-determination, including the right to determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Everyone has the right to education. Primary education should be compulsory and free to all.


Statement cards
The Framework Convention for the protection of National Minorities

Right freely to choose to be treated or not to be treated as a minority


Right to enjoy the rights outlined in this Convention individually or in community with others


Promotion of effective equality and prohibition of discrimination based on a belonging to a national minority.


Right to trans border contacts and co-operation


Freedom of expression in the minority language


Free use of minority language in private and public, orally and in writing.


Right to learn their own language


Freedom of peaceful assembly


Prohibition of forced assimilation


Freedom to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion


Right to manifest religion or belief and to establish religious institutions, organisations and associations


Right to set up and to manage own private educational and training establishments


Promotion and preservation of culture, religion, language and traditions


Right to effective participation in economic, cultural, social life and in public affairs

Freedom of association
The right to access to and use of the media.
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