BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE OCCASION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2003
is Human Rights Day. Yet on this Day when we celebrate our
entitlement to human rights and fundamental freedoms, countless
incidence of human right abuses will occur around the world.
Rights Day, civilians will continue to be targeted in war
and conflict; refugees and displaced persons will continue
to number in the millions; violence against women and children
will remain pervasive; human beings will continue to be
trafficked into prostitution and slavery; people will continue
to be subjected to torture and arbitrary detention; religious
intolerance will continue to be a fact of life for many;
countries and regions will continue to be ravaged by deadly
disease such as HIV/AIDS; and inequalities in the global
economic system will continue to subject hundreds of millions
to poverty and misery, particularly in the developing world.
human rights problems, however, must not hinder us, on this
Human Rights Day, from celebrating the progress we have
made. For indeed it is a day of special significance for
the people of the world. On this day in 1948, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed the rights of all
humankind, and became the centerpiece of our human rights
endeavours. It was, then as now, a noble vision and beacon
of hope, calling nations, societies and individuals to work
towards the common goal of enjoyment of civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights, by all.
as a firm foundation the rights enshrined in the Declaration,
the obligations arising from the Human Rights Covenants,
other international and regional human rights instruments
and institutions and mechanisms, we have made important
progress in the field of human rights. The inalienable right
of all peoples to the full range of human rights, including
freedom, equality, dignity, social justice, self-determination
and the right to be democratically governed, is today unquestionable.
Anyone that violate these rights must know that they cannot
expect to do so with impunity.
is a group to which I would make particular reference on
this Human Rights Day, it is children, our future and our
best hope for a world in which human rights and fundamental
freedoms will be fully respected, and protected. Children's
rights are set out in the International Convention on the
Rights of the Child. We must live up to these standards
to provide decent life-chances for every child, even as
we promote among children the ideals of human rights and
If we are to build a universal culture of human rights -
and I believe that we must - we must begin with children.
Human rights education must be an integral part of children's
education. Learning, however, is a lifetime process, including
learning to live together in peace. The time has come, therefore,
to include human rights education in the curricula of our
primary and secondary schools, and in all our institutions
of learning. For it is through human rights education that
we will inculcate and reinforce the respect, tolerance and
friendship that will ensure the realization and protection
of human rights across the globe.
up to the commitments to promote and protect human rights
and fundamental freedoms, however, requires us to do much
more. We must commit ourselves to upholding the ideals of
the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. We must implement human rights instruments
and standards through our parliaments, the courts, and national
human rights institutions.
we must act decisively on the full range of issues impacting
the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms today.
The United Nations and the international community as a
whole are challenged to devise solutions to seemingly intractable
conflicts and war, which always result massive violations
of human rights. We must strive for a more equitable global
economic system, so as to eradicate poverty and hunger.
We must cooperate in confronting grave pandemics such as
HIV/AIDS. And we must be particularly vigilant in respect
of the rights of vulnerable groups, including women, children,
older persons and people with disabilities.
exemplary persons and organizations who are today's Awardees
of the 2003 Human Rights Awards, given on the occasion of
the fifty-fifth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, are strong advocates for international
cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights.
But today's six Awardees, among them the very respected
and late Sergio Viera de Mello, have been much more. They
have been people of action, and strong defenders of the
rights of humankind, whether it relates to disabilities,
peace and security or the equality of men and women. They
come from all parts of the world. They encourage and inspire
us, both with their worlds and deeds.
is my pleasure to commend and pay tribute to the Awardees
on this Human Rights Day, the Day that affords us the opportunity
to recommit ourselves to building a world in accord with
the vision Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We must
embrace this opportunity for the mobilization of conscience
around the Declaration and the international human rights
instruments; to renewing our pledge to fight injustices
and gross violations of human rights, wherever they occur;
and to strengthen our resolve to intensify international
cooperation for the universal enjoyment of human rights
and fundamental freedoms.