UN human rights prize to be awarded next week

GA President Julian Hunte

2 December 2003 – An Argentine advocate for the disappeared, a Jordanian taboo-lifting family protection team, the handicapped son of a former Chinese leader turned disability defender, a human rights educator in the United States and a West African women’s peace-building network are the winners of this year’s United Nations human rights awards.

The UN Human Rights prizes, awarded every five years for outstanding promotion and protection of civil liberties and fundamental freedoms, will be presented to five winners next week, UN General Assembly President Julian Hunte said today.

At a news conference, Mr. Hunte named the winners as Enriqueta Estela Barnes de Carlotto of Argentina; the Family Protection Project Management Team of Jordan; Pufang Deng of China; Shulamith Koenig of the United States and the Mano River Women's Peace Network in three West African countries.

A special posthumous award would honour Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who was killed in August in a bombing in Baghdad while serving as Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Iraq, he said.

The five winners will receive a commemorative plaque at a special Assembly plenary meeting on 10 December to mark international Human Rights Day and will attend other celebratory events, Mr. Hunte said.

The prize was created by a General Assembly resolution in 1966 and was awarded in the International Year for Human Rights in 1968 and then in 1973, 1978, 1988, 1993 and 1998, Mr. Hunte's spokesperson, Michele Montas, said.

Ms. Barnes de Carlotto won for her work as the president of the Asociación Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Association of Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers), established in 1977 to find hundreds of children who disappeared following the 1976 military coup in Argentina.

Mr. Deng, the elder son of the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, was attacked by some members of the Red Guard during China’s Cultural Revolution. He jumped from a high floor and injured his spine. A paraplegic, he is the founder-director of the 15-year-old China Disabled Persons’ Federation.

The Family Protection Project Management Team helped to promote open discussion of such taboo subjects as domestic violence, gender equality and other human rights issues.

Ms. Koenig heads the People's Movement for Human Rights Education, which she founded in 1988 to create a global human rights culture. It has organized workshops in more than 60 countries.

The Mano River Women's Peace Network groups women's organizations in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to prevent conflict and build peace. It helped bring the Heads of State of the three countries back to the negotiating table in 2001 and was a signatory to the Liberian peace talks in August 2003.

Video of press briefing

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