UNESCO to host UN
DPI Conference honoring the 60th Anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
By Susan J. Zipp
For the first time in United
Nations history the annual UN Department of Public Information
conference for Non-Governmental Organizations will be held outside
of UN headquarters in New York. Long overdue renovations of the
UN building have begun, with much of the staff having already
relocated to rented offices around Manhattan.
From 3-5 September 2008 this international civil society gathering
will be hosted at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The theme for
the UN DPI/NGO Conference will honor the 60th anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed
by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) headquarters is located not far from the Trocadero,
the site of the Palias de Chaillot across the Seine from the
Eiffel Tower where the Declaration was originally adopted to
guarantee human rights to all people.
UNESCO, which encourages international peace and universal respect
by promoting collaboration among nations, is participating with
the entire UN family in the yearlong campaign launched by UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the 2007 kick-off toward the
60th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on
Human Rights Day 2008. The theme of the campaign, Dignity
and Justice for All of Us, reinforces the vision of the
Declaration as a commitment to universal dignity and justice.
UN organizations around the globe will use this year to focus
on helping people everywhere learn about their human rights.
Ban Ki-moon praised the extraordinary vision and determination
of the drafters to produce a document that for the first time
set out universal human rights for all people in an individual
context. Eleanor Roosevelt called the UDHR a Magna Carta
for all mankind. The Universal Declaration and its core
values ~inherent human dignity, justice, non-discrimination,
equality, fairness and universality ~ apply to everyone, everywhere,
Following its adoption, the General Assembly called upon all
Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and
to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded
principally in schools and other educational institutions, without
distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights now holds the record
as the most translated document in the world. Beyond the six
official UN languages ~ Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian
and Spanish ~ the Declaration is available in more than 360 languages,
a testament to its universal nature and reach. It has inspired
the constitutions of many newly independent States and new democracies
and has become a yardstick by which we measure respect for what
we deem right and wrong.
The Declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day
it was adopted. By honoring its birthday, it becomes civil societys
obligation to lead Governments to develop the political will
to implement these international norms, and to reaffirm the principles
that ensures fundamental freedoms for each one of us. Let us
reflect upon our individual and collective opportunities to stand
up against violence, racism, xenophobia, torture, repression
of unpopular views and injustices of all kinds, and with unprecedented
efforts advance human rights and the fulfillment of unlimited
human potential, a promise at the heart of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
For the full text of UDHR, please google Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, or visit the website for the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights at: http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/