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Resources for Speakers on Global Issues

Human Rights for All


“From the Balkans to Africa, from Asia to the Middle East, we have witnessed the weakening or absence of effective governance leading to the ravaging of human rights and the abandonment of longstanding humanitarian principles.  We need competent and responsible states to meet the needs of "we the peoples" for whom the UN was created.  And the world's peoples will not be fully served unless peace, development and human rights, the three pillars of the UN, are advanced together with equal vigour.”

Ban Ki-moon, 2006 acceptance speech on appointment as
the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights marked a crucial turning point in human history as the first international agreement setting out freedoms, rights and entitlements for all humanity to claim. It affirmed that the force of shared ideas and a common vision of respectful and peaceful coexistence can prevail over brutality, hatred and destruction. Since then, the world may have changed a great deal, but the recognition of our inherent kinship in rights, of our common claim to a life of dignity, of our right to count and be counted irrespective of ancestry, gender and colour, status and religion applies to today’s realities as much as it did in 1948.”

Navanethem Pilay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (speaking about
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech delivered on the tenth anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)