Press Releases

9 December 2004

Secretary-General, in Message to Mark International Human Rights Day, Says Human Rights Equip People to Live in Security, Dignity

NEW YORK (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on International Human Rights Day, observed on 10 December 2004:

Every year, International Human Rights Day reminds us of persisting human rights problems in our communities and in the world, and of the enormous efforts still required to make human rights a reality for all.

Human rights education is a vital part of such efforts, designed to equip new generations with the knowledge of their inalienable rights, and the means to exercise and defend them. These rights include rights to health, to education, to food, to housing, to marry and found a family, to participate in public life, to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and detention -- in short, the rights needed to be free from want and fear.

Today, the General Assembly marks the conclusion of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) with a plenary session, in which the recommendation to proclaim a World Programme for Human Rights Education will be considered.  The first three years of such a Programme, from 2005 to 2007, would focus on primary and secondary education, through integrating human rights issues into curricula, changing educational processes and teaching methods and, most importantly, improving the environment in which education takes place.

Human rights education is much more than a lesson in schools or a theme for a day; it is a process to equip people with the tools they need to live lives of security and dignity.  On this International Human Rights Day, let us continue to work together to develop and nurture in future generations a culture of human rights, to promote freedom, security and peace in all nations.

* *** *