Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to be observed on 10 December:
Human Rights Day 1998 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, we celebrate the half-century of a United Nations milestone. We honour the highest of human aspirations and renew our promise to conquer the worst of human cruelty.
We pay tribute to the minds of those who conceived of these human rights, and to the memory of those who died for them. And knowing the power of human wrong, we reaffirm our faith in human right -- that faith which ultimately will sustain humanity through its darkest hours and help us defend our human rights where they are most imperiled.
Human Rights Day 1998 is a day for all of us who enjoy human rights to imagine life without them -- and to think how hard we would fight to retain them. It is a day for those who are still denied their human rights to dream again of asserting them, and to know that their dream is our dream -- the dream of all human rights for all.
It is a day for us to recall not only the rights attained over 50 years, but also the rights denied; to pursue the achievement of justice by all and for all; to defend against the abuse of human rights with greater vigilance than ever, and to pursue the violators of human rights with greater persistence than ever. It is the day to renew our commitment to globalizing justice in the age of globalization.
I began this anniversary year by reaffirming the universality of human rights, and by arguing that human rights are foreign to no culture and native
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to all nations. From the streets of Asia to the towns of Africa to the courts of Europe, this past year has been a year of protest and progress.
Rights have been asserted where regimes once ruled; justice has been delivered where impunity once reigned; and memory has been honoured where the powerful once enjoyed immunity. If only every year were to offer such hope, and prove to all that human rights cannot be denied where human beings live and breathe.
But that is our challenge. To make it so. To make every day matter in the fight to broaden the horizons of human rights until that day when no man is tortured, no woman is abused and no child is denied his dignity -- when all human beings enjoy their human rights.
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