28 August 2008

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"The Vienna Conference laid the foundation for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights"

Video Message on the 15th Anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 28 August 2008

VIENNA, 28 August (UN Information Service) -- The World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna marked a watershed in the way we understand human rights, and how we act on them. In the 15 years since then, the world has increasingly understood that human rights are indivisible from development and security.

In the United Nations, we have made remarkable progress in standard setting, institution building, and programme implementation. A wide body of international law has emerged to ensure fundamental protection in times of peace, war, and emergency.

The international community, led by the United Nations, has reformed our human rights machinery -- culminating in 2006 with the creation of the Human Rights Council. The Council has now set up its infrastructure, and can devote its attention to the full range of current and emerging human rights challenges. Especially crucial are the Special Measures, and ensuring that States implement the recommendations emanating from them.

The Vienna Conference also laid the foundation for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It has grown from a fledgling mechanism to a powerful engine for change. I look forward to working with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Navanethem Pillay, and am determined to give her full support.

The Vienna outcome also helped strengthen national human rights institutions around the world. Today, with civil society, these help ensure independent scrutiny, ascertain if States are on track, and determine what corrective measures are needed.

Equally important has been the strengthening of human rights education at all levels of society. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that instruments protecting these rights exist -- and that they exist for them.

How apt that we remember these achievements as we also mark the 60th anniversary of the UN General Assembly's adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this double anniversary, I call on all States and all stakeholders to redouble their efforts. Let us ensure that human rights are protected and promoted. Let us ensure that all humans enjoy their rights.

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