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press release

Human Rights Commissioner calls for the defence of basic human rights

09.12.2008

In honour of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December, Günter Nooke, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (9 December):

"On 10 December we will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Against the background of heinous human rights violations, the Declaration was drafted as the Magna Charta of international human rights protection and was later given further substance through numerous international agreements.

And yet even the most basic human rights continue to be blatantly disregarded in many parts of the world. On this day of commemoration our thoughts are therefore with the victims of gross human rights violations, be they in Darfur, Zimbabwe, eastern Congo or in other parts of the world. Those responsible must be brought to justice. It is mistaken to believe that justice could stand in the way of peace. Rather, human rights violations are what threatens peace. We owe it to our credibility and to the victims to prosecute these crimes.

Deciding how to handle autocratic regimes is one of the biggest challenges facing international human rights policy. We must seek dialogue with them, yet at the same time stand firmly by our convictions. Dictatorships are capable of taking more criticism than we sometimes believe. Only in this way we will be able to defend the universal validity of human rights inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

The Commissioner will take part in the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Geneva on 12 December.

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