Human rights

Where can I find information about human rights?

Entry last updated: 14/07/21


Human rights are simply basic rights that every human is entitled to regardless of their nationality, age, ethnic origin, gender, religion or language. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. The UDHR is the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace.

Human rights

It is the duty of every country to promote and protect the human rights and freedom of its people regardless of the country's political, social or economic or cultural system. Some countries have human rights written into their constitutions and are part of the law of that country.

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is about protecting the basic rights of human beings around the world. This site has a definition of human rights, news on issues being dealt with currently, reports, databases and publications etc.

  • To find information on human rights, click on the What are human rights? link at the top of the page.
  • The tab Human Rights By Country will tell you the kind of work, stories, issues and reports on the work carried out in targeted countries.

United Nations 

Founded in 1945, the United Nations is currently made up of 193 Member States. Their main purpose is to maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, deliver humanitarian aid, promote sustainable development and uphold international law.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About the UN link on the website.That will tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Global Issues in Context

This is part of the EPIC databases. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • You can type in the keywords 'human rights' into the search box or select the Browse Issues tab and choose Human Rights.

World History in Context

This is another EPIC database that we would recommend for the topic human rights.

  • You can enter in the keywords 'human rights' into the search box or select the Browse Topics tab and choose Human Rights Movements.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Youth for Human Rights

Established in 2001 by Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is about teaching youth about human rights so that they can become advocates for tolerance and peace.

  • Look down the page and view videos on human rights and how they apply to children and youth.
Tips: A lot of nonprofit organisations have .org in the address. Check the About us link on the website to read about their purpose and values.

International agreements

The United Nations created a number of conventions, treaties and protocols between 1945 and 2015 relating to human rights. A country that has signed a treaty or an agreement is under obligation to the United Nations to see that it is carried out in the country.

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner 

There are ten human rights treaty bodies. Each has a committee of independent experts who oversee the carrying out of the core international human rights treaties.

  • Treaty Bodies under Human Rights Bodies has links to these ten human rights bodies and the treaties they monitor.

Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata

The Human Rights Commission was set up in 1977 in New Zealand. The organisation is funded by the Ministry of Justice but operates independently as a Crown Entity.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Database of UN Human Rights Agreements

Created by Jana Von Stein, this website was designed for researchers or any member of the public with interest in human rights law. It has information about the design and legal status of each of the 55 agreements identified.

  • To view a list of the agreements, select the Agreements tab. 
  • The agreements on this page are listed according to date.

Human rights in New Zealand

The following sites have information about human rights in New Zealand including how they are shown in the law.

This site is from the New Zealand Government and their aim is to make it easier for people to find and use government information and services online. It has information about human rights in New Zealand.

  • Search for 'human rights'.
  • Go to Human rights and freedoms.
  • Read the transcript for the video What are human rights?
  • Also find links to information about New Zealand's international obligations and human rights laws.

New Zealand Legislation

This site is owned by New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office/Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata. You will find here official versions of Acts, Bills, Legislative Instruments, Supplementary Order Papers etc.

  • Enter the keywords Human Rights Act 1993 to find the original version of this act.
  • Select the tab Versions and amendments to check on changes or additions to documents and the time they were made.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About or Contact pages.

Children's Commissioner: Manaakitia a Tātou Tamariki

This is the official site of the Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC). Their focus is on making sure New Zealand is a place where children can develop and grow. They have information about children's rights in New Zealand.

  • Go to the tab 4YOUth.
  • Select Your Rights to find out about the rights of young people.
  • Choose Info 4 You for links to information about children in New Zealand, child poverty, and what the OCC does.
  • Or go to the tab Rights & advice and select UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Then select Children's Convention - the basics to see explanations of the 54 articles.

Advocacy organisations

There are many organisations that promote and support human rights in different ways. Most of these organisations operate in New Zealand and overseas.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a not for profit organisation. Its vision is for every person in the world to enjoy all the human rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UNICEF New Zealand

UNICEF believes that wonder, happiness and learning is the fundamental human right of every child. They work in 194 countries to protect children so that they can reach their full potential.

  • Enter the keywords 'Human Rights' to find information about this topic including this page on Child rights.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g [human rights]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

World Vision

World Vision is about putting the needs and rights of children first. They do this through community development, humanitarian and emergency relief, education and advocacy.

  • Find out about the work they do by selecting the What we do tab.


There have been many books written about human rights - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some recommended titles are:

SCIS no: 1887013

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