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Source: General Assembly
10 December 2008




General Assembly
GA/10795

          Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly
Plenary & Human Rights Commemoration
65th & 66th Meetings (AM & PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY MARKS 60 YEARS OF UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS DECLARATION

BY ADOPTING ITS OWN, PLEDGING TO ENHANCE DIALOGUE AMONG PEOPLES

Adoption of Optional Protocol to International Covenant
On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Caps Year-Long Worldwide Celebration


Making the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Member States reaffirmed today their commitment to the full realization of all human rights for all peoples, and pledged to enhance international cooperation and dialogue among peoples and nations on the basis of mutual respect and understanding towards that goal.

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Panel Discussions

MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN ( Nicaragua), President of the General Assembly, declared open the commemorative event devoted to the observance of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying that panellists from various regions around the world had been invited, including directors of United Nations institutions, former High Commissioners for Human Rights and civil society leaders.

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Panel I

The first panel centred on the theme “Sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  lessons learned,” involving panellists Carolyn Gomes ( Jamaica), lawyer and Executive Director of “Justice for Jamaica”, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The discussion was moderated by Julia Dolly Joiner ( Gambia), African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs. 

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Panel II

The second panel, entitled “the full implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  challenges ahead and ways forward”, was moderated by Eduardo Gonzalez ( Peru), a sociologist and Assistant Director of the Americas Programme of the International Centre for Justice.  The panellists included:  Maude Barlow (Canada), Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly and National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians; Ghassan Salamé (Lebanon), Professor of International Relations at the Institute for the Study of Public Policies; Lauri Mälksoo (Estonia), Advisor of the Office of the Ombudsman of Estonia; and Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of the Congo), an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Hospital Panzi and a recipient of a 2008 United Nations Human Rights Award. 

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Mr. SALAME ...

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The proliferation of States during the present century had led to a different reality of State intervention worldwide, he said.  The major challenge was not that States were too powerful, but that they had been made too feeble in order to accommodate their motto of a leaner State.  That conflicted with the desire for capable, strong States to feed and protect people.  He pointed to the clash between human rights and nationalism.  The Palestinian Authority might be a failed authority, but that did not negate Palestinian rights to self- determination.  Attempts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict had failed.  Freeing Palestinians from Israeli jails was a positive step, but it was not a substitute for creating a Palestinian State and giving full rights to Palestinians. 

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In the ensuing discussion, speakers from the audience shed light on efforts in their respective countries to implement the Universal Declaration.  ...

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The Observer for Palestine noted that the Universal Declaration was adopted about the same time as United Nations resolutions on the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.  But those rights continue to be violated, despite countless resolutions over the years, an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, a decades-old peace process, the creation of the Palestinian Authority, huge contributions by international organizations and donor countries, and civil society activism.  None of those steps had ended the Israeli occupation.  What was the way forward on Palestine?  Could the panellists recommend any new actions or measures to enable Palestinians to fully realize their rights and to end the occupation and all human rights violations of human rights that stemmed from it? 

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Statements

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MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, ...

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He said the pursuit of universal respect for all human and peoples’ rights would not materialize unless the international community totally divested itself of selectivity, politicization and double standards in dealing with the question of the right of the Palestinian people and other Arab peoples suffering under foreign occupation, to self-determination.  It would only materialize when the international community acted with solid determination to end incessant violations by the occupying Power of its commitments under international law, on top of which came the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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For information media • not an official record

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