MARKING FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, ASSEMBLY NOTES NEED TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES TO THEIR FULL ENJOYMENT
MARKING FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, ASSEMBLY NOTES NEED TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES TO THEIR FULL ENJOYMENT
MARKING FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, ASSEMBLY NOTES NEED TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES TO THEIR FULL ENJOYMENT19981210 Human Rights Commissioner Calls on International Community to Translate Words of Declaration into Actions, Human Rights Prizes Awarded
The General Assembly -- meeting this morning to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- declared its commitment to the Universal Declaration as a common standard for all people and nations, and as a source of inspiration for the further promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms -- political, economic, social, civil and cultural -- including the right to development.
Beginning a day of meetings during which more than 100 Member States were scheduled to address the Assembly as it marked the anniversary, the Assembly voiced concerned that human rights and fundamental freedoms continue to be violated in all parts of the world. It, thus, reaffirmed the need for the international community to continue to assess the progress made in the field of human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration and to identify obstacles and ways in which they can be overcome. The Assembly took that action by adopting, without a vote, a resolution submitted by its President, Didier Opertti (Uruguay).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948 and represents a common statement of the goals and aspirations regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms. It recognizes, among other things, the fundamental rights of all people to life, liberty and security of person; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to own property; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to education, freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Assembly that although today allowed the international community to recall rights attained over the past 50 years, it also provided an opportunity to recall rights denied; to pursue the achievement of justice for all; to defend against the abuse of human rights with greater vigilance; and to pursue the violators of human rights with
General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
greater persistence. It was a day to renew the world's commitment to globalizing justice in the age of globalization.
The Secretary-General also noted that the anniversary taught the United Nations that without human rights, no peace and no prosperity would last. The mission of the United Nations was simple: to fight every day to broaden the horizons of human rights until a day when no man was tortured, no woman was abused and no child was denied his dignity.
Opening the commemoration, the Assembly President said that with the adoption of the Declaration, human rights protection had become a concern of humankind. The principles of human rights now transcended borders, culture and ideologies. While effort had been made to transform the principle of human rights into practical law and establish a moral mandate, he said the mechanism to protect human rights remained under construction.
In a world which the rights of individuals and groups had been placed above institutions, the State had to play a fundamental role in preserving and guaranteeing those rights, the President continued. It was vital to find, within the state of law, a balance between the observance of human rights and the principles for peace and harmony.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said while the principles that human rights were universal and indivisible had been secured, the gap between human rights rhetoric and reality must be closed. Despite all the legislation, procedures and mechanisms that were in place, millions were still routinely deprived of their basic rights.
Urging the international community to join together to translate the words of the Declaration into action, she said it was not sufficient for international assistance to be given after disasters struck poorer countries. What was needed, above all, was recognition of the systemic disadvantages that so many people were burdened with, how far they were removed from the ideal proclaimed in the Declaration that they should be "free and equal in dignity and rights".
Also this morning, the Assembly presented six United Nations Human Rights Prizes. They were awarded to Sunila Abeyesekera of Sri Lanka, Angelina Acheng Atyam of Uganda, Jimmy Carter of the United States, Jose Gregori of Brazil and Anna Sabatova of the Czech Republic for their courage and determination in promoting and protecting human rights. A sixth award honoured all Human Rights Defenders throughout the world.
The Human Rights Prizes are awarded every five years to recipients who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms embodied in the Declaration and other relevant United Nations instruments. The Prize was established in 1966 by the Assembly
General Assembly Plenary - 1b - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
and the first awardees were honoured in 1968. Before the 1998 awards, 28 individuals and seven organizations had received the Human Rights Prize.
Also speaking this morning were the Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, the Minister for International Development and Human Rights of Norway and the representatives of Algeria, Canada, United States, Japan, Austria (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Syria, Jordan, Australia, Andorra, Oman and the observer for Palestine also made statements.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly meets this morning to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, represents a common statement of international goals and aspirations regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Declaration expresses the belief that there are inherent rights to be enjoyed by all human beings -- men, women and children; and all social groups -- which were not "gifts" to be granted, withheld or withdrawn. The Declaration recognizes, among other things, the fundamental rights of all people to life, liberty and security of person; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to own property; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to education, freedom of thought conscience and religion; and the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment.
During today's meeting, the Assembly will declare its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all people and nations and as a source of inspiration for the further promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms -- political, economic, social, civil and cultural -- including the right to development.
The Assembly will make that declaration by adopting a draft resolution submitted by its President, Didier Opertti (Uruguay). Concerned that human rights and fundamental freedoms continue to be violated in all parts of the world, the Assembly will reaffirm the need for the international community to continue to assess the progress made in the field of human rights since the adoption of the Declaration and to identify obstacles and ways in which they can be overcome.
DIDIER OPERTTI (Uruguay), General Assembly President, said that in the 50 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, humankind had more often taken the path of freedom. That was thanks to the creative force generated by the Declaration. The Declaration had changed the world's concept of human rights, which ceased to be the exclusive concern of individuals or the State, and had become a value that transcended borders, cultures and ideologies.
Human rights were now a matter of concern to humankind at large, he continued. Above and beyond theoretical concepts, it had to be affirmed today that human rights had to be recognized and protected. That was the expressed will of all humanity. The Declaration derived its moral and political weight from the international support it received. It was the first instrument that contained the principles regulating human conduct. Its universality remained intact, despite the changes in the world since 1948.
General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
Enjoying the rights in the Declaration was the priority task of the international community, he said. Part of that task had been fulfilled in the past 50 years. There had been a movement that transformed the ideals into practical law and established a moral mandate. There had been a process by which abstract formulas were complemented by legal texts which defined and elaborated on the rights proclaimed. The process had not lost its dynamic and now new rights had to be worked on. Numerous procedural and institutional mechanisms had been created, including international tribunals and courts.
The task was not yet complete, he continued. The protection of human rights was a mechanism under construction. In recent years, the international community had seen the birth of a second and third generation of human rights, thus creating a new social order. Some examples were the right to development and the right to a healthy environment.
Within the new order, the rights of individuals and groups had been placed above institutions and the State had to play a fundamental role in preserving and guaranteeing those rights, she said. The State had been a source of great violations of human rights, but it also remained the correct institution to guarantee the respect of human rights. Achieving a balance between individual freedoms and the State's sphere of action was a most delicate task. It was vital to find, within the state of law, harmonization between the observance of human rights and the principles for peace and harmony.
Human rights, along with justice and peace, formed the triad of values that had to guide the evolution of society as it entered the next century, he said. The full observance of human rights was of fundamental importance in the prevention of violations. Genuine respect of human rights could only be achieved if the root causes of violations were tackled. Those root causes resided in the hearts and minds of human beings. Human rights were, in essence, an educational subject to be taught by educational institutions.
The Declaration, along with the universal instruments that complimented it, was an eloquent sign of mankind's progress, he said. That was a source of celebration. It revealed that the instinct of solidarity of human beings had to transcend materialism and selfishness. During the commemoration, it must be recalled that while a great deal had been done, a great deal still remained to be done for the effective observance of human rights. In various parts of the world, people were still being unjustly deprived of their freedom. Women continued to be subject to abuse; children were being exploited; elderly people were being abandoned; and minorities excluded. Those waiting to recover their freedoms and lost rights must be protected. The commitment must be renewed to fight until the day when human rights were the heritage of each and every person in the world.
General Assembly Plenary - 4 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that, as the Assembly met today to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community also met to honour the highest of human aspirations and renew the promise to conquer the worst of human cruelty. It also met to pay tribute to the minds of those who conceived of universal human rights and to the memory of those who died for them. Today, Human Rights Day 1998, was for all those who enjoyed human rights to imagine life without them. It was a day for those who were still denied their human rights to dream again of asserting them and to know that their dream -- the dream of all human rights for all -- was shared by the international community.
Human Rights Day was the chance for the international community to recall, not only the rights attained over 50 years, but also: to recall 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 was a day to renew the world's commitment to globalizing justice in the age of globalization.
The Secretary-General said he had begun the anniversary year by reaffirming the universality of human rights, and by arguing that human rights were foreign to no culture and native to all nations, he said. Throughout the year, rights had been asserted where regimes once ruled; justice had been delivered where impunity once reigned; and memory had been honoured where crimes had gone unpunished. On Wednesday, 9 December, the General Assembly had reaffirmed that all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, must be defeated in the struggle for human rights. To the United Nations, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was more than a milestone; it was a mirror that reflected how far it had come and how far it had yet to go.
He added that marking the anniversary bore witness to the progress for parts of humanity, while revealing a history and a reality of horrors for others. Above all, the anniversary taught the United Nations that without human rights, no peace and no prosperity would ever last. The mission of the United Nations was simple: to make every day matter in the fight to broaden the horizons of human rights until that day when no man was tortured, no woman was abused and no child was denied his dignity -- when all human beings enjoyed their human rights.
MARY ROBINSON, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the most significant achievement in the human rights field during the past 50 years had been the securing of legitimacy for the principle that rights were universal and indivisible. The task now must be to implement
General Assembly Plenary - 5 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
those rights: to close the gap between rhetoric and reality. Daily, in every part of the world, there were examples of the failure to put into practice the rights so clearly set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite all the legislation, procedures and mechanisms that were in place, millions were still routinely deprived of their basic rights.
The international community's record in responding to -- let alone preventing -- gross human rights abuses did not give grounds for encouragement, she said. Genocide was the most flagrant abuse of human rights imaginable. It was vivid in the minds of those who framed the Universal Declaration, working as they had in the aftermath of the World War II. Yet, genocide and mass killing had happened again, and it had happened before the eyes of the world, in Rwanda, Cambodia, Former Yugoslavia and other parts of the globe.
She said that, not only were civil and political rights being violated, little progress had been made on economic and social rights. It was shameful that people in industrialized countries should enjoy high levels of prosperity while over a billion people were denied the most basic needs: adequate food and shelter, clean water, education and health care. It was not sufficient for the international community to provide assistance when disasters strike poorer countries. What was needed, above all, was recognition of the systemic disadvantages that so many people were burdened with, how far they were removed from the ideal proclaimed in the first article of the Declaration that they should be "free and equal in dignity and rights".
The international community should join together to translate the words of the Declaration into action, she added. There could be no greater tribute to those who had framed the Declaration than the giving of practical meaning to their ideas and vision. In that regard, all States could commit to the following objectives: sign and ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the four main conventions within the next five years; make the Declaration known to every one of their citizens, beginning by introducing it into all primary education curricula; implement the Declaration, not just formally, but in a true spirit of support for human rights defenders everywhere; and, most importantly, redouble their efforts for full implementation of the terms of 30 Articles of the Declaration.
As High Commissioner, she said, she would do everything in her power to forge a partnership with all those committed to human rights; to speak out for those who had no voice or whose voice was disregarded; to work positively with States and, at the same time, strengthen monitoring mechanisms to ensure that they were matching promises with action.
General Assembly Plenary - 6 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
Action on Draft Resolution
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without a vote.
Statements in Discussion
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria): It has been 50 years since mankind adopted an instrument to restore dignity to mankind. Under the colonial yoke, nearly half of the planet's people had waited for their liberalization. Thanks to conferences, commemorative ceremonies and, especially, the efforts of the Assembly, awareness of a human rights culture has been imprinted in people's minds. However, at a time when human rights seem to have been universally realized, humanity continued to witness freely exercised violations of such rights.
In attempting to globalize human rights, the international community must ask itself how imperfect and unjust human rights are in a world in which more than one billion people survive on less than a dollar a day. In Algeria, democracy has made extraordinary advances. But for human rights to expand and take root, programmes to build awareness about solidarity and the dignity of the human being were needed.
ROBERT R. FOWLER (Canada): The growing consensus to reject impunity for violators of human rights and humanitarian standards is especially encouraging. The adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court earlier this year in Rome was another milestone. However, the world community must not be complacent. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, millions lack the most basic needs for a decent and dignified life. Grave human rights violations of every conceivable kind continue.
The obstacles that lie in the path are numerous, he said. Overcoming them will require determined efforts on many fronts -- be it in strengthening and financing institutions or in confronting human rights abuses wherever they occur. Governments cannot, and must not, abdicate their individual and collective responsibility for protecting human rights. The success or failure of this common enterprise also has direct and far-reaching implications for the broader interests of the Organization.
PETER BURLEIGH United States: By adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world recognized that each individual is inherently dignified and worthy, and that the rights of every person must be respected. The Declaration did not simply enumerate the positive principles of human rights, it also confirmed the prohibition of practices that have stained the course of history, such as slavery, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention, exile and cruel and inhumane treatment.
General Assembly Plenary - 7 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
The advancement of democracy and human rights is a policy priority of the United States. United States President William Clinton and the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, continually seek to incorporate human rights concerns throughout the foreign policy of the United States. Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women remains an important priority. The President has also made the fight against racism and racial discrimination a major objective. The United States continues to play a major role in assisting victims of torture and it is the leading donor to the voluntary fund for the victims of torture.
CLARE SHORT (United Kingdom): The Declaration is a remarkable document. It makes very clear that human rights are not just civil and political rights, but also cultural, economic and social rights. Working to defend both sets of rights -- for full bellies and for free minds -- the framers of the Declaration sought to lay the foundations for a more peaceful and just world order. But, one of the tragedies of the last 50 years was that this vital argument got lost and fell victim both to cold war polarization and to North- South division. However, on the eve of a new millennium, the world has an opportunity to recapture the spirit of 50 years ago and to renew collective commitment to all of the principles of the Universal Declaration.
The British Government is committed to giving more emphasis to the human rights of the poor of the world. Britain pledges to work to secure the attainment of the international poverty eradication targets, with one key target being to reduce, by one half, the proportion of people living in abject poverty by 2015. The targets have been endorsed by all governments and economic experts as affordable and achievable. What's been lacking up to now is the political will to translate these fine aspirations into action. The best way to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration would be for all to commit themselves to meeting the poverty eradication targets.
HILDA JOHNSON, Minister of International Development and Human Rights of Norway: since the end of World War II, the world community had a new map to navigate, marked by new directions, new standards and new rules between people. That map is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, still urgently needed because of the "stormy weather". Violent conflict, often with ethnic overtones, threatens millions of people with destruction, while the global economic crisis forces families our of their homes and children out of their schools. In the current era, those children are trained to kill their own relatives, and people are becoming refugees in their own countries. Violence has many faces, but few voices.
Against such a landscape, the world community must stick to the map, and give voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, and freedom to those who have lost their liberty. It is also a time to consider basic rights and freedoms as building blocks for the future. For far too long, the human
General Assembly Plenary - 8 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
rights debate has been dominated by concern for civil and political rights, but those rights mean little to people in need. Poverty is one of the biggest challenges, and economic, social and cultural rights must be given their proper place alongside civil and political rights. According to the United Nations, human development is the process of expanding people's choices. Human rights is an integral part of human development, indeed, a pre-condition for it. In that respect, it is clearly not the time to reduce official development assistance.
YUKIO SATOH (Japan): Despite encouraging developments, such as the entry into force of a number of important human rights instruments, serious violations of human rights continue to occur. The rights of so many men and women and children worldwide have been violated, thereby depriving them of their dignity. In areas where absolute poverty prevails and where people die of malnutrition and preventable disease, the goal of a world free from want remains elusive. Indeed, there is a long way to go before the lofty purpose of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is fully achieved.
Respect for human rights, durable peace, and sustainable development are interrelated. Violations of human rights often precede conflicts, while respect for those rights is an integral component of the post-conflict peace- building process. Without respect for human rights, it is not possible to achieve peaceful solutions to conflicts, and without peaceful solutions, it is not possible to achieve stable economic development. On the basis of this recognition, Japan undertook several initiatives in the past year, including the adoption of the Tokyo Agenda for Action at the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development. For its part, the world community must act with a sense of utmost urgency to relieve the plight of the victims of human rights violations.
ERNST SUCHARIPA (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus: The Universal Declaration is a milestone in history, for it establishes a common understanding of human rights for mankind and is the first comprehensive declaration of basic rights of an individual. It determines clear principles of implementation of human rights everywhere. The idea of human rights helped bring down apartheid, colonialism and dictatorial regimes and end the division in Europe. Even in times of crisis, human rights are not a luxury for a few, but a necessity of all. All States have a primary responsibility for promotion and defence of human rights. Governments are and should be fully accountable.
Still, human rights continue to be violated in all parts of the world. In assessing performance of States, one distinction can be made: between the many democratic governments genuinely committed to overcoming human rights problems and authoritarian regimes, which hold on to power through oppression
General Assembly Plenary - 9 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
and persecution. The European Union is founded on the principles and values of the Universal Declaration. Today, the European Union Foreign Ministers, the Presidents of the European Parliament and of the European Commission and representatives of civil society are meeting in Vienna to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary. The Union is determined to ensure respect for human rights in all its actions, and it has adopted a special declaration, which is meant to initiate consideration of concrete measures for reinforcing the capacity of the Union in the field of human rights.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand): Human rights -- civil, cultural, economic, political and social -- are indivisible. Over the last fifty years, the international community has developed a comprehensive framework for the promotion and protection of human rights. Those rights are universal, and New Zealand calls for their full acceptance and implementation. States must take primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights, but the work does not rest solely in the hands of governments. Indeed, the very impetus behind the Universal Declaration fifty years ago began in the words and deeds of civil society.
Today, large numbers of individuals and organizations are committed to the promotion and protection of human rights at the grass roots of society. They speak for individuals and groups who have no voice. New Zealand therefore applauds the adoption by the General Assembly yesterday of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Universal Declaration was adopted with the intention of guarding against the atrocities witnessed during World War Two; however, since its adoption, the international community has witnessed genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms are still taking place in many parts of the world. That is why this day must be one not of self- congratulation, but of deep reflection and re-commitment.
CHOLPON BAYEKOVA, Kyrgyzstan: There are not sufficient grounds to proclaim the triumph of human rights in the international community. We are still seeing armed conflicts, accompanied by mass exodus of refugees, violence and flagrant violations of human rights. We see how authoritarianism stifles democracy, chokes the roots of freedom and slows development. We are witnesses to poverty and to various forms of intolerance, discrimination and debasement of human dignity. We are convinced that double standards still exist in the field of human rights. And as long as these challenges still exist, we cannot and must not rest on our laurels.
It is not by chance that the purposes and principles contained in the Declaration and in the International Covenants on human rights have been reflected in the constitutions and national legislations of many States, including the Kyrgyz Republic. Kyrgyzstan attaches great importance to the Universal Declaration and ratified it in 1991 on the twentieth day of the country's independence. In so doing, it placed human rights firmly among the
General Assembly Plenary - 10 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
highest priorities of its domestic and foreign policy. Kyrgyzstan signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court two days ago.
CARMEN MORENO DE DEL CUETO, Mexico: The Declaration has, for the past 50 years, worked to encourage diversity, plurality and creativity in human beings. The harmonious development of all peoples and the value of the individual in the community were ideas embodied by the Declaration. Mexico has incorporated into law legal concepts that follow in that spirit.
The human rights of migrant workers are a constant concern of the Government of Mexico. An alarming number of violations demanded Mexico's attention. While women's rights in Mexico have been strengthened since a conference in Mexico in 1975, that issue needed further address. The right to development is important.
MIKHAIL WEHBE, Syria: The roots of the Declaration are in the United Nations Charter. In light of this century's conclusion of human rights agreements, there is no longer a need for further protocols or their inclusion into every decision. There is no need for new mechanisms to implement those instruments and resolutions. What is required is political will and a belief in the equality of human beings before the law, regardless of colour, ethnicity, or religion.
A double standards or selectivity must be avoided. Racial laws and practices, particulary ethnic cleansing and collective expulsion, must be confronted with a strong political will. The incidence of occupation and settlements must be addressed. The world must not be silent before the "occupier" and the practices of injustice and oppression. It was also essential to concentrate on the right to development. A non-discriminatory approach must guide implementation of all fundamental human rights and freedoms, including political, social, economic and cultural. The human rights related to the civilization and cultural heritage of every society must be heightened. Finally, the United Nations must not be used politically to interfere in the internally rights of States.
HASAN ABU-NIMAH (Jordan): In the Declaration, civil and political rights are balanced with economic and cultural rights. It affirms that these rights are interdependent and intertwined, an affirmation which helps us avoid the rhetoric and arguments over which comes first at the expense of developing balanced human rights "norms". It is our responsibility today to provide the political will needed to ensure respect for human rights and develop them by adopting international norms, which are recognized, absolute, and free from double standards. That responsibility will not be fulfilled without the promotion of economic and social rights and the right to development, in view of the poverty suffered by increasing numbers.
General Assembly Plenary - 11 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
The responsibility for the respect of human rights must not only rest on the shoulders of governments, but also on the shoulders of individuals. The globalization and development of the world economy requires the elaboration of clear standards of accountability for powerful actors, including corporations. Jordan -- in spite of its sensitive position in the Middle East, its difficult economic conditions and its hosting of the largest number of Palestinian refugees -- spares no effort to provide all possible assistance to refugees and to grant them all rights without discrimination whatsoever. There is real value in making equality and observance of human rights a part of the intellectual fabric and the daily life of the average Jordanian, through practice and application.
PENELOPE ANNE WENSLEY (Australia): Australia was one of the small group of countries which drafted the United Nations Charter to ensure that respect for human rights was placed alongside the maintenance of international peace and security. Her country was also there when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 50 years ago. Today, the Declaration continues to have an enormous influence on the lives of the peoples of the world. Yesterday, Australia signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court, underscoring the fact that the body of international human rights law is not static.
The international community should not only continue developing the human rights system, but it should ensure that international instruments continue to work as effectively as possible. Australia particularly welcomes the declaration on human rights defenders. This year is also a year which marks a five-year review of the Vienna Plan of Action adopted at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, which charts the course for the international community into the next century. The celebration allows to promote the message of the Declaration and to continue work towards its implementation. On its part, Australia intends to do everything possible to ensure that the provisions of the Declaration become a reality.
JULI MINOVES-TRIQUELL (Andorra): The Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks the first time mankind established a universal guide of good and evil approved by all people. Before 1948, to kill, torture, discriminate and abuse was a reason of State. With the Declaration, a clear concept was established which separates what is noble for humankind from what is not. Even though it is valid to say that through all these centuries various cultures, philosophies or religions have promoted tolerance and respect towards others, it was not until the 1948 Declaration that the peoples of the world adopted criteria that goes beyond all cultures and traditions.
In Andorra, where the community is small, it is the Government's duty to ensure that respect for human rights is universal and present in the systems of education and justice. The third millennium will witness fairer relations
General Assembly Plenary - 12 - Press Release GA/9533 86th Meeting (AM) 10 December 1998
between human beings. The 1993 Vienna Declaration adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights indicates the path to follow in the coming years.
FUAD MUBARAK AL-HINAI (Oman): Oman is guided by the principles and objectives enshrined in the United Nations Charter. It supports the need to establish friendly relations with other States based on cooperation and coexistence. Among recent achievements in Oman, the legal system has been elevated to a higher plane, which includes a bicameral parliament. State law reaffirms the civil and fundamental rights of all people, including freedom of expression, thought, and religion. It also supports universal access to free health care and education.
Oman views the right to development as a basic human right. Nowhere is that more pertinent than in developing countries where poverty and deprivation, lack of basic health and educational services, unemployment, instability, and internal conflicts challenge the very basis of human rights. On this important occasion, it should not be forgotten that the Palestinian people have been fighting for the last 50 years for the enjoyment of the basic human rights enshrined in the Declaration. Hopefully, the Middle East peace process will enable realization of the aspirations of the Palestinian people to an independent State.
SOMAIA S. BARGHOUTI, observer for Palestine: The fundamental document which is being commemorated today holds great importance for human beings around the world and gives them incentive to fight for the principles contained in the Declaration. The commemoration reminds the international community of the necessity to implement all human rights instruments, as well as the norms of international law in general. The international community has achieved great progress in this direction, but there are still responsibilities in this regard. It is also necessary to reaffirm the individual human rights, including the rights of the poor, the human right to life, development and independence.
The Palestinian people remain a unique example of suppression of human rights. There is not a single right addressed in the Declaration of Human Rights that the Palestinian people are not deprived of, including the provisions that nobody should be subjected to torture, deprived of freedom of movement or the right to return to their country. Today's commemoration allows the international community to continue to combat all violations of human rights. It should also inspire the people and instill in them the desire to see the Declaration fully implemented in the next century.
* *** *