|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ART JUST AS UNIVERSAL AS DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
SAYS AT OPENING OF EXHIBITION COMMEMORATING DOCUMENT’S SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY
Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks as delivered at the opening of “Sketching Human Rights” exhibition, in New York, yesterday, 10 December:
As Kiyo mentioned, the entire UN family will take part in a campaign throughout the upcoming year to promote the Universal Declaration’s ideals and principles of justice and equality for everyone. I am honoured to be taking part in the launch of the anniversary year here at UN Headquarters.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
In a message issued to mark Human Rights Day, the Secretary-General states that: “The Declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted. But the fundamental freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality for everyone. Too often, Governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted.”
The Secretary-General is now travelling to Bali, where world leaders and scientists have gathered to find ways to address climate change. It is well known that climate change represents a serious threat to the environment. Less discussed, however, is that climate change can also adversely affect the fundamental human rights of present and future generations. Marginalized groups, from small-scale farmers to refugees to indigenous peoples, whether in industrialized or developing countries and across all cultures and boundaries, are particularly vulnerable to the dire consequences of climate change and suffer disproportionately the consequences of global warming.
The anniversary year is an ideal opportunity for the UN system and its partners to demonstrate their commitment to the universal value of human rights as a common purpose and moral foundation for all our work.
2008 marks not only the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also the fifteenth anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, at which countries reaffirmed their commitment to human rights by requesting the creation of a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights mandate. I am told that the curator of this exhibit, Mr. Jerry Robinson, was also involved in a similar exhibition in Vienna 15 years ago, and I am pleased to be sharing the floor with such a distinguished artist.
Just like the Declaration, art is universal. Even if you don’t speak the language of the artist, his or her work speaks in a way that the written word cannot. I am sure that the cartoons assembled here will inspire everyone who passes by to reflect on the state of human rights around the globe and to increase their efforts to bring about the kind of world the Declaration’s drafters envisioned 59 years ago.
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