This year The Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation sponsored two essay contests: one for high school students in the United States and one for high school students in other countries.  The essays were due on November 22.  115 essays were received from students from 13 high schools in the U.S. and 34 essays from students in 11 high schools in four other countries.  The tables below list the names of the students and the titles of their essays.

THE QUESTION STUDENTS IN THE U.S. WERE ASKED TO ADDRESS WAS: Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School claims “the central problem with human rights law is that it is hopelessly ambiguous” and that this ambiguity allows “governments to rationalize almost anything they do.”¹ With that thought in mind, how would you respond to the argument that in calling for banning refugees from Muslim countries from traveling to the United States, deporting undocumented immigrants, and bringing back waterboarding President Trump is ensuring that every citizen’s “right to life, liberty and security of person” is enforced?² In other words, do some rights (e.g. the right of citizens to be secure) take precedence over other rights (e.g. the right of suspects not to be tortured)?  And if so how should the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights documents be amended to specify what should be done when one right conflicts with another?

¹ The Case Against Human Rights,

² Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”  Article 5 reads:  “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

THE QUESTION STUDENTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES WERE ASKED TO ADDRESS WAS:  What is the most important human rights issue in the country where you live and/or the world and what should be done about it?



BO:  Boardman High School, Youngstown,  Ohio.  

BX:  Bronx High School of Science, New York City, New York

CA:  Catonsville High School, Baltimore, Maryland

EA:  Eastchester High School, Eastchester, New  York

HG:  Horace Greely High School, Chappaqua, New York

GR:  Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Connecticut

JB:   James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Springs, Maryland

MA: Mamaroneck High School, Mamaroneck, New York

MI:  Millburn High School, Millburn, New Jersey

PO:  Poland Seminary High School, Poland, Ohio

ST:   Staples, Westport, Connecticut

SV:   Stuyvesant High School, New York City, New York

TR:   Traip Academy, Kittery, Maine


BO Delaney Pollak Human Right or Human Flight
BX Alex Chen Debugging Human Rights
BX Janet Kyi Human Rights: The Law that Takes Priority
CA Mikaylan Diallo We Hold These Truths: Precedents for Freedom of Religion in America
EA Enzali Myint Human Rights Doesn’t mean All Rights
GR Elizabeth Biederman Human Rights as a Threat to National Security
GR Julia Blank Competing Rights of Man and Government
GR Sasha Burnett Equality in Citizens, Equality in Rules
GR Dylan Camacho The Intolerable Degradation of Human Rights Under Trump
GR Chris Keyser Terror Torture Protection, where do rights fit in?
GR Andrew McNamara What History and Rest of the World Say about Rights.
GR Michael McNulty Liberty vs Security in the Modern World
GR Lauren O’Donnell The Ambiguity of Human Rights
GR Zachary Wang Equality for All
GR Emily Warner Rights That are Precedence Over Others Given to Humans Under Certain Circumstances
HG Naomi Abe America's Human Rights Crisis
HG Natalie Acevedo Is President Trump Ensuring That Every Citizen's "Right To Life, Liberty And Security Of Person" Is Enforced?
HG Henry Asa How The Rights Of All Human Beings Precedes Those Of Certain Few
HG Natalie Bass Rights For All
HG Talia Belowich Human Rights
HG Ryan Bernbach The National Security Struggle
HG Anjali Bhattacharyya No Title
HG Davin Bhatti The Shining City Upon the Hill
HG Griffin Brown The Difficult Compromise Between Security and Human Rights
HG Spencer Brown Important Policy Changes and Their Effects
HG Elizabeth Chen Preserving American Values: The Battle Between National Security And Human Rights
HG Holly Cheng The Challenge of Establishing Peace
HG Elijah Cohen Human Rights Essay
HG Noah Falbaum The Precedence of Life Above all other Human Rights
HG Nathan Ferreira The Life, Liberty, and Security of Muslim Americans and Torture Victims
HG Remi Fisher The Impact of The  “Muslim Ban” and Other Precautions to Reduce Terrorism
HG Matt Friedman Modern American Xenophobia
HG Richard Fu The Solution of the Conflict between Rights
HG Paul Garell Are US Citizens Basic Rights Protected?
HG Kathryn Genda Our Current Government and the Repercussions of Their Legislative
HG Julia Glynn The Nation America has Become
HG Ethan Glynn The Effect of Human Rights on National Security
HG Yael Goldberg The Widespread Human Rights Violations Among the US Government
HG Georgia Goldstein Making America, Not So, Great Again
HG Nora Goodman Protecting Human Rights: Post 9/11
HG Cameron Grant The Right to Life, Liberty, and Security
HG Justin Herzner President Trump on Human Rights
HG Zain Jafar Individual Rights Versus National Security
HG Ben Johns America’s last line of defense
HG Sarah Kamal Human Rights in Regards With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
HG Arden Katz National Security Should Not Take Precedence Over Individual Rights
HG David Katz Putting the “Universal” Back in the UDHR
HG Katherine Kissane The Karmic Consequence of Waterboarding and the Muslim Ban
HG Meredith Klepper Exclusion From Freedom
HG John Laidlaw Role of Government
HG Isabella Lais Security, Travel Bans, and Deportation Uncertainties in America
HG Sophia Lee Whose and Which Rights are a Priority?
HG Melody Leibner Humanity is a Birthright, not a Privilege
HG Ellie Leibner Waterboarding Down the Slippery Slope of Security: What is the Price of our Rights?
HG Dorothy Low Human Rights in Regards to National Security
HG Max A. Maauer Freedom?
HG Helen Matthews, The Importance of Individuals
HG Dylan Marcus The United States Of Islamophobia
HG Allie Meshberg Human Rights: Not Human Wrongs Not Human Lefts Either!
HG Amanda Michael A Universal Declaration?
HG Jacob Miller History Must Not Repeat
HG Luke Mozarsky Addressing the Balance of “Human Rights” in Today’s Society
HG Emily Nobel A Shift in America
HG Bjorn Pagen Exist
HG Dyllon Preston Human Rights Versus the United States
HG Krishna Ramaswamy A Conflict Between National Security and Human Rights
HG Lily Restivo Trump’s America – Safe or Just Paranoid?
HG Zane Riemer Human Rights and the Muslim Ban
HG Hailey Rosenthal Allowing Refugees In and Not Allowing Waterboarding Will Help America
HG Emma Rosh American Rights As A Whole
HG Sophia Rutman The Effects of the Muslim Ban and Waterboarding on the Safety of America and the Rights of Citizens, as relating to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
HG Lindsay Schwartz The Enduring Importance of Individual Rights in a Post 9/11 World
HG Olivia Serpico Does the Muslim Ban really take all rights into account?
HG Isabella Smith I’m Sorry That Our Nation Has Lied to You
HG Eric Song Conflicting Rights: When Individuals’ Clash with a Nation’s
HG Sam Stewart American Citizens & American Ignorance
HG Pranay Talla Trump versus Immigrants: Resolving the Conflicting Human Rights in America Today
HG Christina Tavlarakis The Rights if a Citizen versus the Right of the Individual
HG Charlotte Templeton The Occurrence of Violations of Human Rights in the United States
HG Bailey Todtfeld A Nation of Immigrants Shutting the Door
HG Penelope Toll Inalienable Human Rights Take Precedence Over National Security
HG Ellen Tsai America: Against Human Rights
HG Casey Wachtel Exclusion and Torture: Two Despicable Violations of Human Rights
HG Mariah Walsh Waterboarding: It’s Never Okay
HG Trevor Weinstein The Issue of Conflicting Human Rights in American Society
HG Claire Weis National Security is not a Right
HG Alec Xiang The Case for Waterboarding and Deportation of Illegal Immigrants
HG Daniel Xu The Problems Undermining our Nation
HG Rebecca Zadeck Citizens’ Rights
HG Edward Zhang Looking In The Mirror
HG Luiza Zibenberg Donald Trump Denies Individual Rights to Millions
JB Sahar Siddique An Undrawn Line
MA Alex Avila The Real Problem with America!
MA James Anderson American Policy: Wrongs and Rights
MA Kerry Soropoulos The Conflict and Conundrum of Rights
MI Anshul Nayar What Injures One Injures Us All
PO Chelsea Kilgore The Rights of the People
PO Victoria Peek The Problem is Simple
ST Elana Atlas Fighting Fire with Love
ST Ruby Coleman The Inequalities of Equality
ST Maddy Edwards The Priority Problem With Human Rights
ST Hannah Even An Ever Changing World
ST Charlotte Harbottle Human Rights and the Muslim Refugee Crisis
ST Shane Gordon The Equal Importance of Human Rights
ST Anna Hill The Importance of Freedom of Speech
ST Samuel D. Kleiner The Immoral Policy of Selecting Human Rights Based on Identity
ST Poppy Livingston Human Rights Essay
ST Gary Lu UDHR Essay
ST Chloe Matteson You Only Live Once
ST Sophie Mulhern Changing the System
ST Teagan Smith The Precedence Problem With Human Rights
ST Derek Ye Being The Change I Want To See In The World
ST Sam Zuckerman The Political Letdown?
SV Hana Kim To Right the Wrongs
TR Emma Ackerman Ambiguity in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights



AF:  Africa Tikkun, Johannesburg, South Africa

AM: American International School, Johannesburg, South Africa

CG:  Collegiate Girl’s High,  19 Kestell Street, Parsons Hill, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

DS:  Diocesan School for Girls, Duxbury Road, Hillcrest, Pretoria, South Africa

ED:  EDUCAnet Praha gymnazium SOŠ, Prague, Czech Republic

GJP:  Gymnazium Jana Palacha, Pštrossova 13, Prague, Czech Republic

MA:  Maritzburg College, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

MI:   Mahdavi International Educational Complex, Tehran, Iran

NA:   Nad Alejí gymnasium, Prague, Czech Republic

WG:  Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast, Ghana

WY:  Wynberg Boys’ High School, Lovers Walk, Wynberg Cape Town, South Africa


AF Katlego Mamabolo Say no to woman and child abuse
AM Debarya Guha A Crisis Rooted in Society: Gender Inequality
AM Estelle-Erika Nkamla Nziki LGBT + RIGHTS
AM Georges-William Nkamla Nziki, Disabled Children are Denied the Right to Education
CG Soleil Botha भाईबंदी, kameraadskap, اد ن سالح ال ,comeradeship…
CG Allegra Cavallari Abolitionists
CG Erin Lovemore Unemployment as the main Human Rights issue in South Africa
CG Temba Madiba Racism as an Important Human Rights Issue
DS Amogelang Matlhaga The Voice of a Child
ED Tran Viet Anh How Fear of the Unknown Make People Care Less About Human Rights
ED Karolína Mia Bartošová The “us” and the “them”
ED Jan Srna What is the most important human rights issue in your country and/or the world and what should be done about it?
GJP Kryštof Bradáč Communism in the Czech Republic
GJP Issmat Cheikh Ibrahim The Most Important Human Rights issue
GJP Mohammad Cheikh Ibrahim The Plague of Society
GJP Kilian Marques Is Everybody Equal?
GJP Ondřej Mrázek Tendency to Totalitarianism
GJP Andrej Tobiáš Human Rights in the Czech Republic
MA Imran Oliphant No Title
MA Siphesihle Lindubuhle Tshabalala Homophobia and the Gender Spectrum in Relation to Social Teachings
MI Yaas Farzanefar A Dream Far from Reality
NA Michaela Králová Populism in Czech Republic in view of the Refugee crisis It always comes down to education
WG Lily Ofori-Amanfo Our Right to Human Dignity, Has it Been Waived?
WG Appiah-Gyimah Peniella Awurakua Freedom of Speech and Public Expression: Abuse and Infringement Upon
WG Princess Adwoa Nyinaku Asante Our Right to the Human Right to Life
WG Audrey Obuobisa-Darko An Abundance of Those Who Never Had a Childhood
WG Marcia Koampah Child Labour in Ghana and how it Infringes on the Rights of a Child
WG Issah Nadia Kuukua, The Echelons Held by Our Faith Must be Equal
WG Eunice Naana Koomson Right to Freedom from Mental Abuse, Slavery and Servitude
WG Yvette Edinam Kakra Kordjie The Menacing Menace
WG Maame Aba Arhinmah Mensah Instant Justice Or Instant Injustice
WG Lucy Atwei Tagoe What Is The Most Important Human Right Issue In Your Country and What Should be Done About It
WY Kamvalethu Sabela Why the access to quality education, depends on one’s level of wealth and privilege?
WY Mika Schubert Simultaneous Inequalities