Press Release No.2001-134
UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL'S MESSAGE FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Paris, December 7 - On the occasion of Human Rights Day, celebrated December 10, UNESCO Director-General Ko´chiro Matsuura has issued a message recalling that "respect for human rights is an indispensable condition for peace, security, stability and democracy in the world and is the ultimate goal of economic, political, social and cultural development."
Here is the full text of the Director-General's message:
"On Human Rights Day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we reconfirm our commitment to human rights and reflect together on the obstacles and threats to their implementation. In doing so, we remember that human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. Human rights are not the product of one school of thought or one culture. They are a collective achievement of various civilizations which all consider respect for human dignity as the ultimate priority; human rights, therefore, belong to all humankind.
"The tragic events of 11 September have clearly shown the danger and magnitude of the threats to human rights. The horrific attacks upon the United States were an attack on the ideals of human dignity and democracy throughout the world. The international community has expressed its resolve to prevent, combat and eradicate terrorism. It has also agreed that the struggle against terrorism should not be considered as the exclusive responsibility of State authorities. It is the common task of educators, media professionals, religious leaders and civil society as a whole, which should further entrench a culture of human rights and thereby prevent indoctrination through the spread of extremist ideologies. However, the struggle against terrorism should not be used for the creation of new prejudices and negative stereotypes, nor should it be used as a pretext to introduce new limitations on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
"The struggle against extreme poverty, which is commonly acknowledged as a denial of human dignity and human rights, is another priority for the international community. UNESCO, in its strategy for the years to come, pays particular attention to endeavours in this field, bearing in mind that education, culture, communication and information, and the natural and social sciences have great potential for generating solutions to the problems of poverty.
"Globalization constitutes a dynamic and powerful force which should be harnessed for the development and prosperity of all countries, without exception. However, while globalization creates great opportunities, its benefits are not shared in a just manner at international and national levels. It is our common duty to humanize globalization and place it at the service of humankind as a whole.
"The growing exchanges and closer contacts between diverse cultures and civilizations, made possible by globalization and the use of modern technologies, should serve to promote common human values, pluralism and respect for human rights. They should not lead to cultural homogenization but should serve to safeguard cultural diversity. The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, recently adopted by UNESCO, is an important step towards ensuring the protection of cultural diversity and cultural identity and towards strengthening mutual understanding and respect, and thereby preventing new divisions and conflicts.
"The elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is an extremely important task in increasingly multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. The World Conference against Racism held in Durban in September 2001 adopted a comprehensive, universal Programme of Action, the implementation of which has become the urgent responsibility of the international community and all those who are striving for respect for human rights for all.
"The list of priorities in the field of human rights would not be complete if we did not add efforts to ensure genuine gender equality and the protection of the rights of women, the promotion of the rights of children and of persons belonging to various vulnerable groups, and the implementation of social, economic and cultural rights, which have no less importance for the protection of human dignity than civil and political rights.
"On the occasion of Human Rights Day, I would recall that respect for human rights is an indispensable condition for peace, security, stability and democracy in the world and is the ultimate goal of economic, political, social and cultural development. We must work collectively and tirelessly to achieve this common purpose."