PDF version of the Model Curriculum


  1. Human Rights Education in the Commonwealth: An Overview
  2. Constructing a Course in Human Rights – Some Considerations
  3. A Model Commonwealth Human Rights Curriculum
  4. Further course materials, links and research resources

Model International Human Rights Curriculum

The CLEA have published a Commonwealth Model International Human Rights Curriculum for use in educational establishments across the Commonwealth.

Introduction: Objectives of the Curriculum

The commitments made and expressed by all member countries of the Commonwealth reaffirm that we all enjoy some basic rights. But not everyone is equally aware of the extent of their rights, or how to articulate or access these. And not everyone is equally enabled to understand the nature of their duty to provide for the protection and upliftment of others. In keeping with its mandate to assist Commonwealth countries to promote awareness and understanding of human rights, the Human Rights Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat (HRU) undertakes a range of capacity-building programmes. The basis of this work is that while there is a right to education. There is also a pressing need for ‘education about rights’.

The objective of this teaching resource is to provide a model for Commonwealth law schools, law colleges and other faculties interested in offering a course on human rights to their undergraduate students (or in developing and strengthening existing courses). It is hoped that this will facilitate the establishment and development of such courses throughout the Commonwealth and in this way contribute to making a detailed grasp of human rights standards, mechanisms, debates and issues more widely available to students. It is also hoped that, in addition to the establishment of specific courses in human rights, the curriculum will assist in integrating human rights components, perspectives and principles into other subject courses.

It is most important to note that this resource is a model only. It is intended as a teacher’s planning resource, to suggest and describe what might be possible components of a notional course in human rights. It provides a recommended structure and offers some teaching methodology ideas, but it remains for the teacher to plan and provide the substance and content. Thus while it contains references and links to many useful instruments, treaties, cases, materials and resources, the model curriculum is not intended as a textbook or a comprehensive research and learning resource on human rights.

The HRU intends to update the model course from time to time. It is partly for this reason that the resource is designed primarily to be hosted and accessed electronically via a website. It has been designed in a simple format to ensure it is readily accessible. It can be used to form the template document of a course outline. It is also available in CD-ROM. We will welcome comments and input from tertiary educators in Commonwealth countries.

The HRU thanks Professor John Hatchard of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) who undertook for it the task of compiling a model curriculum in 1999. The revision of the model curriculum was undertaken for HRU by Jolyon Ford (then of the Australian National University) with Max du Plessis (University of KwaZulu-Natal).

Rabab Fatima
Head of Human Rights Commonwealth Secretariat
December 2006

Please download the Commonwealth Model International Human Rights Curriculum for full details.

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