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Friday, July 17, 2009

Fiftieth Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - \"All Human Rights For All\" 1948-1988

Some 50 years have elapsed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Declaration was one of the first major achievements of the United Nations and after 50 years remains a powerful instrument which continues to exert an enormous effect on people\'s lives all over the world. This was the first time in history that a document considered to have universal value was adopted by an international organization. It was also the first time that human rights and fundamental freedoms were set forth in such detail. It opened a new era in relations between nations, groups and individuals. The foundation for the international promotion and protection of human rights was established by the United Nations Charter. The Universal Declaration solemnly proclaimed a broad vision of human rights standards which continue to provide inspiration to all those striving to realize its message today.
The adoption of the Universal Declaration stems in large part from the strong desire for peace in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although the 58 Member States which formed the United Nations at that time varied in their ideologies, political systems and religious and cultural backgrounds and had different patterns of socio-economic development, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a common statement of goals and aspirations - a vision of the world was the international community would want it to become.
The Universal Declaration serves as the cornerstone of the international community\'s fifty-year commitment to a truly human quality of life for all people. The opening words of the Declaration\'s Preamble provide the moral basis for that commitment: \"recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.\"
1998 is a crucial year for human rights. Throughout the year the international community will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of its first ever proclamation of the rights an d freedoms of every human being. The year 1998 is also of great importance as the time of the Five-Year Implementation Review of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) which has been inked to the 50th anniversary of the universal Declaration by the World Conference on Human Rights. Thus,, \"1998\" events would provide the opportunity to:
strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide;
review and assess the progress that has been made in the field of human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration and in the implementation of the VDPA; and envisage ways and means to further develop the United Nations human rights programme to meet current and future challenges.
\'1998: Human Rights Year\" began on 10 December 1997 and culminate on 10 December 1998, the date on which fifty years ago, the Universal Declaration was adopted. Activities throughout the year would:
serve as an important vehicle for advancing the role of all human rights along with peace, democracy and development as the guiding principles for harmonious international relations and strong community life in all nations in the next century;
enhance the implementation of human rights and prevention of their violations, as well as promote good practices;
focus on reaching people everywhere, in particular at the grass-roots level; and strengthen the partnership for human rights within and outside the United Nations system. The Universal Declaration proclaims the fundamental freedoms of. thought, opinion, expression and belief and enshrines the core right of participatory and representative government. But just as firmly and with equal emphasis it proclaims economic, social and cultural rights to equal opportunity. It was to be \"a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations\", and the rights and freedoms set forth therein were to be enjoyed by all without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, Twenty years after its adoption the basic tenets of the Declaration were endorsed in the Teheran Proclamation of 1968. These rights and freedoms were developed in greater detail in two United Nations Covenants, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which entered into force in 1976.
The Universal Declaration is a living document. To commemorate it in the closing years of this millennium, the debate must give more priority to current complex human rights issues: the right to development, the recognition of the rights of indigenous people, the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities, gender main streaming and issues of bench-marks and accountability in furtherance of these and other rights. There are now many more participating Governments than were present on 10 December 1948 and also many more voices from the wider civil society. The challenge will be to engender a similar commitment to a shared vision that these rights are encompassed in the opening words of the preamble to the Universal Declaration: \"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world....\" And that they form part of a renewal in our time of that vision. The theme of the fiftieth anniversary -- All Human rights -- highlights the universality, the indivisibility and the inter-relationship of all human rights. It reinforces the idea that human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social --should be taken in their totality and not disassociated form one another.
Courtesy: United Nations Information Centre, Islamabad.
To commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights \'ALL HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL\" Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs. 6/- denomination on December 10, 1998.