LawNow magazine is an incredible resource for teachers. Each issue offers engaging articles about law in language suitable for students. Teachers Talk LawNow is a series of lesson plans for teachers based on these articles.
Social Studies teachers will find many different uses for the article UN’s Universal Periodic Review of Canada – What’s in it for Canadians? by Linda McKay-Panos in the latest issue of LawNow.
The UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada is a recent initiative (2006) to have UN member states evaluate the condition of human rights in selected Member States every 4 years. When Canada had its first UPR there were 68 recommendations in areas like Aboriginal issues, immigration, women’s rights, and anti-discrimination.
The article explains how the evaluation process works. It also sheds light on how NGOs play a role in identifying issues and putting pressure on resolving them after the UPR has been completed. Teacher’s can pull out some interesting highlights from this article to share with younger grades and print the article for older students to work directly with.
This article can be approached in a few different ways. Below is a list of class activities targeted at different areas of the Social Studies curriculum.
Democracy and Human Rights
In small groups students will brainstorm a list of issues in Canada that need to be fixed or improved. For example poverty, access to affordable food and housing in the North, or clean drinking water on reserves. Students will then create a report card for Canada and provide their own recommendations for improvement. This activity could be extended by having students write a letter to their MP urging them to address the issues they identified.
NGOs and Lobbying
Students will examine the influence of NGOs in Canada. The article links to a list of NGOs that participated in Canada’s first UPR. Students will be assigned an NGO to research. They will then evaluate if the NGOs were successful at bringing the issues they represent into the UPR.
Internationalism and Human Rights
Students studying the success of internationalism at addressing contemporary issues like human rights could use this article as a reference in an evaluation of the strengths and limitations of the United Nations.