Citizenship - Rights and Responsibilities

Rights And Responsibilities

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Human Rights

Everyone in the world should be entitled to these rights.

The Right to..

  • a life
  • food and clean drinking water
  • free speech
  • vote
  • freedom of movement
  • a fair trial
  • freedom from tortore
  • freedom from hunger
  • an education
  • be free of discrimination
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United Nations

During the Second World War the human rights of numerous amounts of people were violated and they suffered terribly.

Due to this after the war a group of 48 countries got together to create an organisation called the Unite Nations.

The United Nations was to give countries a place to go to sort out their conflicts peacefully. 

This was done by setting up some rules called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has 30 statements or articles which describe rights of every person and it starts of by saying:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights"

Unfortunately many countries will ignore this, as it is a bit weak, because it is only a declaration and isn't law.

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United Nations

What does the United Nations organisation do and when does it take action?

The United Nations will act when there is a crisis anywhere in the world. Recently they have sent planes into Libya to stop the rulee, Colonel Gaddafi, from killing his own people because some of them want to choose a different ruler. 

The United Nations planes have come from member countries such as; Britain, France and the USA, and have flown to Libya to destroy Colonel Gaddafi's planes and military airports so that he can't get his planes into the air to bomb his people.

Colonel Gaddafi is a dictator.

The United Nations and the Environment

The United Nation Countries are also committed to caring for the environment and are trying to reduce global warming by cutting carbon emissions.

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The European Convention of Human Rights

In Europe now we have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

European Convention of Human Rights

This was put together in 1953 for people in the European Economic Community (later known as the EU - European Union). Britain didn't join until 1973. This is a place where European Citizens can go to complain if they feel that their human rights are being violated.

UK = United Kingdom
UN = United Nations 

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Protecting Human Rights

Amnesty and Liberty are two organisations which try to protect Human Rights around the world. 
Ways the protect Human Rights: 

  • Educate People - people are then less likely to violate human rights if they have been taught to respect each other.
  • Raise Awareness - tell people when human right abuse takes place around the world.
  • Send observers to watch that elections are fair - Dictators can sometimes stop people from voting or can run fake and corrupt elections.
  • Strengthen the Law - Strong laws are harder for people to break as they will be easily caught and punished.
  • Enforce Human Rights internationally - Capturing a dictator and putting him/her in prison or on trial.
  • Military intervention and regime change - When armed forces are sent over seas.
  • The International Criminal Court - The Hague in the Netherlands can be taken and put on trial if they have violated human rights.
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Human Rights and International Law

Human Rights can affect the way countries deal with each other.

It might not be good for a country which respects Human Rights to sell guns to a country which does not respect those rights, because they could be helping the disrespectful country to violate the rights of its citizens.

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Responsibilities is a Duty to be Responsible

People don't all share the same responsibilities, e.g. a parent has the responsibility to keep a child safe, but a child does not have that responsibility.

Sometimes our responsibilties clash and we have to decide which one we'll carry out and which we will let go.

Example of This: 
The BNP (British National Party) which people may consider to be racist. We have a responsibility to allow freedom of speech, which allow the BNP to put out racist views, but we have a responsibility to protect people's rights to be treated equally, which means people of any race should be allowed to join the BNP if they wish to.  

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Responsibilities Change With Age

Our responsibilities change and grow as we get older and understand more complicated ideas.

Sometimes our responsibilities are moral, or legal.

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Disability Rights and Responsibilities

Unfortunately, some people have disabilities which affect their lives. They have a right to take part in society but it is our responsibility to see that they are not discriminated against.

Some clothes shop owners might not have a changing room big enough to fit a wheelchair in, so someone who can't walk cannot go and try on new clothes. This is discrimination which denies the disabled person his or her rights.

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Conflict Between Different Rights and Responsibili

What happens if someone has a mental illness which might cause them to hurt someone if they were able to go wherever they pleased?

Do you protect the mentally ill person's right to freedom of movement, or do we have a responsibility to see that everyone is kept safe by restraining the mentally ill person?

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Parental Responsibilities

Parents (this includes guardians, step-parents and anyone who is looking after a child on a regular basis) have lots of responsibilities towards their children. 
These include: -

  • feeding them
  • clothing them
  • looking after them
  • agreeing to medical treatment
  • deciding where they should live
  • sending them to school

A parent's responsibilites will change according to a child's age.

For example; you might let a teenager use the cooker but you would not be carrying out your responsibilities if you let a small child as they could get hurt. 

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Society's Responsibilities Towards Young People

All adults have responsibilities to see that young people are kept safe and this includes: - 

  • shopkeepers seeing that they don't sell cigarettes to youngsters under 18.
  • shops and pubs making sure they don't sell alcohol to people under 18.
  • seeing that people under 18 don't gamble.
  • helping young people to avoid having sex under the age of 16.
  • seeing that young people don't have tattoos under the age of 18.
  • seeing that young people don't get married under the age of 16.
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School Community

Our school is very careful to make sure that we all carry out our responsibilities and that our rights are respected.

We are all included in discussions about the way the school runs and we are aware of problems caused by bad behaviour.

We have student council were students choose the people they want to represent them on the body. This is exactly what happens when we vote for MPs to represent us in Parliament or councillors to represent us in local government.

We can put our views forward to these people, who then put them forward to decision makers on our behalf.

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Rights and Responsibilities in the Economy and Wel

The economy is all about the money system of a country and includes:-

  • the way money is collected by taxes and other means
  • the way the government manages the country's money
  • the way the banks lend money
  • people's salaries and wages
  • the way people save and spend
  • the way some people are supported by the welfare system (benefits)

To take part in the economy you have to have money, which usually means you have a job or business: - 

  • if you work for someone else you are an employee
  • if you pay people to work for you, you are an employer
  • if you have your own business you are self-employed

The more qualifications you have the better career you will get, which means the more you earn, so you'll have a better house, holidays and lifestyle.

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Rights and Responsibilities of Employers and Emplo

Anyone who employs other people must obey a number of laws about the way those people must be treated. These include: -

  • Minimum wage - £4.83 per hour for those aged 16-20 and £5.93 per hour for those aged 21+.
  • People have a right to a Contract of Employment which is a document which sets out what the terms and conditions are for any job.
  • Employers must make sure that all their employees have paid holidays every year. Minimum is 5.6 weeks, if you are full time it can include bank and public holidays.
  • Employees have a responsibility to do the job that they are getting paid for, this includes turning up on time every day, else they could get the sack.
  • Employees must be capable of doing the job they are being paid for, else they could get the sack
  • Employers are not allowed to discriminate against the grounds of age, gender or disability 
  • Men and women must have equal pay for doing an equal job.
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Full Time and Part Time

Some people work every day and this is called Full-Time

Some people work part of the week and this is called Part-Time. This may be because of family commitments or because they choose to work this way. Some people work from home to save time on travel or to free up space in an office.

Some have what is called flex-time. This is when they can start and finish work at different times to suit them and their employer. Flexi-time is very useful for people who have to look after children or other family members.

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Trade Unions

A trade union is a group of people which represent employees when they get into difficulty at work. Members pay a little bit of money each month each month so that they can build up a fund to pay for lawyers and other trainer people to help them.

This could include helping members who get sacked from a job, members to fight for better pay and conditions and members when they are badly treated or bullied by their bosses.

Employers can join a trade union as well to protect themselves from bad employees trying to cause trouble in a workplace,

Sometimes employers and employees have different needs which clash so they often have to be worked out by negotiating. Unions sometimes help with this. If the negotiations don't work them might go to a kind of court called an Employment Tribunal and both sides of the argument are put to a judge.

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Responsibilities to Those Around Us

Our responsibilities are not only limited to those who are members of our families or who might be in our friendship groups. We're responsible for our behaviour in society, such as seeing that we obey the law when we go shopping by paying for our goods and not stealing them.

If we don't carry out our responsibilities we affect other people. Stealing, for example, means that prices have to go up and we all have to pay more because of the irresponsible behaviour of a few selfish people.

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Tax is money which the government deducts from our salaries before we are paid. This money is used to help pay for services such as hospitals, schools, and the benefit system and many other things.

We have to pay our taxes and we would be committing a criminal offence if we didn't pay them.

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National Insurance

This is also money which the government takes from our salaries before we are paid. This covers the cost of pensions. 

A pension is the money we receive to allow us to have some income when we are too old to work any longer.

The age at which people are given their pensions will soon go up because we are all living longer and we are costing the country too much.

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Consumers and Businesses

Those who buy and use services and good are called consumers. We buy from businesses such as shops and online retailers and all those who buy and sell have rights and responsibilities. These include: -

  • Businesses have to make sure that people get what they pay for. They must make sure they describe their goods accurately. They would be breaking the law if they didn't, Trades Description Act protects the customer.
  • Must make sure food isn't out of date.
  • Make sure perishable goods are stored properly and at the right temperature.
  • Have to obey the Health & Safety laws to keep everyone involved safe.
  • Have to replace faulty goods.
  • Customers have to buy the goods and not steal them.
  • The law protects customers against businesses who try to swindle them by selling the goods or services which are not fit for purpose. This is an Act of Parliament called the Sales of Goods Act 1979 which protects consumers in this way.
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Sales of Goods Act

Under this law you can:- 

  • Return faulty goods to the trader not the manufacturer.
  • You don't have to have a receipt to change faulty goods, but might need to prove that you brought them from that trader.
  • If goods are faulty you are entitled to a refund, not a credit note.
  • Sometimes refunds can be given on sale goods.

You cannot have a refund if you damage goods yourself.

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Interdependence (We Depend on Each Other)

Different countries work together in all sorts of ways because of the very advanced communications we have in the world. Goods are transported all around the globe to be bought and sold and people of lots of different nations might work on something like a car or food product.

  • Items might be grown in one country then packaged in another.
  • Bits of machinery might be manufactured in different countries then sent to another country to be assembled.
  • Clothes might be sewn in one country and sold in another.

This sort of thing goes on all the time and it means we can have access to all sorts of good which are not made or grown in our own country.
There are problems though, because we like to buy things at low prices and this means that someone has to do the work for very low wages.
In some countries such as India and Pakistan there are factories where very young children work for long hours to produce cheap clothes for richer countries such as Britain. Often these children are kept in dreadful conditions and are paid very badly. 

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There are poor people in all countries, but sometimes poverty is so bad that people starve and die because they can't get enough food to eat.
In our own country we have so much food that we often throw it away. What cause serious poverty and how could we change things for the better?

  • Education. Most of the children in the world can't afford to go to school. If they could, they would be able to contribute to their economies.
  • Health care. Most people int he world can't afford to go to doctors, even if there are any doctors where they live, if people weren't ill they could support their families.
  • Stop dealing with corrupt governments. Governments are not always honest, but sometimes countries like Britain deal with them even though we know they are letting their people suffer.
  • Climate Change. People are suffering terribly from the effects of global warming.
  • International trade fairer.
  • Make big companies pay proper taxes. 
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Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenan

Landlords and tenants are protected by the law and by tenancy agreements which lay down certain rules. 

  • The landlord has to ensure that the property is safe. This includes making sure that all appliances are in good working order and that heating systems aren't dangerous.
  • The landlord has a right to have the rent paid every month.
  • The tenant has a responsibility to pay the rent every month.
  • The tenant has a responsibility to make sure that they do not damage the property or contents in any way.
  • The tenant has a right to a period of notice before the landlord can make them move out. This time will have been agreed in the tenancy agreement.
  • Landlords often insist that tenants pay a deposit before moving in. This is a sum of money to help the landlord pay costs if the tenant damages the property. Some bad landlords try to keep this when they shouldn't do.
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Our Rights ans Responsibilities as Global Citizens


We all know that the world's resources are being used up very quickly and that at some point, if we are not careful, they will run out.

Countries which have supplies of oil, such as some of the Arab nations, are very rich because western countries, such as Britain and the USA, depend on oil to make petrol and diesel for their transport systems.

People in third world countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, often don't have a chance to buy and run cars because they don't earn enough money. Sometimes they don't even have enough money to feed themselves and their families, let alone have a car.

LEDC = less economically developed country

MEDC = more economically developed country

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Sustainable Development

This is when people think about the environment before cutting down forests and building roads or putting up loads of buildings etc.

They might plant trees to replace everyone they cut down and they might use building materials which last a long time and don't harm the environment when they are manufactured.

Sustainable development, is development which won't harm the environment, these could include: - 

  • Wind Farms
  • Protecting natural resources by planting tree to replace those we cut down.
  • Development without causing other species to become extinct.
  • Using less water.
  • Trying to halt climate change.
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There has recently been a big earthquake in Japan and the world is very worried about four nuclear plants in which, if they blow up, will put a lot of radiation into the atmosphere. 

The Japanese seem to have got things under control now but there was a real danger for some days and people were very worried.

The human race cause a lot of pollution on land and in the sea.
How can we lessen the impact we have on the plant?

  • Turning the down in our houses
  • Recycling our rubbish
  • Re-using shopping bags
  • Using our clothes for longer
  • Avoid throwing food away by only buying what we need 
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Life Expectancy

Poorer people often don't live as long as those who have access to education and health care. Life expectancy is higher in more economically developed countries like Britain. It is lower in less economically developed countries like Africa.

The length of people's lives can be affected by: - 

  • Good sewage and sanitation and good hygiene.
  • Access to medicine and doctors to treat physical and mental health issues.
  • Better technology which allows secure water and food supplies, as well as fast communication.
  • Good diet and working conditions. 
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War occurs when people in one country decide to fight people in another country. Wars can be fought over land, power, control of resources and other things. It can take many years for war-torn countries to get back on their feet after the conflicts have finished. This is because: - 

  • A lot of people are killed, injure and traumatised and may not be able to care for themselves or their families.
  • Buildings, roads and communications are badly damaged and can take years to repair. Some are never repaired.
  • Governments may not be stable after wars and there may still be different groups of people wanting to gain power.
  • There may be large numbers of guns and landmines which can continue to hurt and injure people after the wars have finished.
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Terrorism occurs when groups of people such as some religious or political groups use force to try and make people give them what they want. The might plant bombs in shopping centres and other places where the can injure a lot of people. This causes great fear or terror.

People who are on their side think they are good because they are often willing to die for what they believe in but other people feel that they are terrorists because they cause fear and death to innocent people.

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The Arms Race

This happens when one country decides to increase its military equipment and the size of its armed force. Other countries start to get worried so they do they same.

More and more countries join in and people get nervous about possible wars. This has happened between India and Pakistan, as well as China and Japan at different times in the last ten years.

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Weapons of Mass Destruction

These are weapons which can kill thousands of people and destroy large numbers of buildings. They cause so much damage that they are very rarely used. If one country used a weapon of mass destruction, other countries would probably do the same to that country and so the risk is great for anyone to use them now.

They include: - 

  • Biological weapons which can infect people with deadly germs.
  • Nuclear weapons which cause huge fireballs which kill many people and which contaminates an area with radioactivity for many years so that nobody can live there. America dropped two atom bombs on Japan in the Second World War
  • Chemical weapons. These are weapons which use chemicals to kill and disable people. A chemical weapon called mustard gas was used in the First World War. These weapons are now banned. 
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This is very helpful, thanks.

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