7 December 2009

Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination: Human Rights Day Celebrated in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia

VIENNA, 8 December (UN Information Service) - "Embrace diversity, end discrimination" is the theme of this year's Human Rights Day, observed around the world on 10 December. "No country is free of discrimination. We see it everywhere, in many forms: old and new, covert and blatant, public and private. It may appear as institutionalized racism, as ethnic strife, as episodes of intolerance and rejection, or as an official national version of history that denies the identity of others," says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the occasion of Human Rights Day.

Discrimination targets individuals and groups that are vulnerable to attack: the disabled, women and girls, the poor, migrants, minorities, and all those who are perceived as different. "Abstract commitments are not enough. We must continue to confront inequality and intolerance wherever they are found," the Secretary-General emphasizes in his message.

All States and interested organizations were invited by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day (resolution 423 (V)). The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


UNIS Vienna will mark Human Rights Day by hosting a students forum and an art workshop at the United Nations in Vienna, and with a guest lecture at a nearby school.

A group of international students studying at different universities in Hungary will visit the United Nations in Vienna on 10 December for a students forum on human rights, focusing on this year's theme of Human Rights Day and on the role of the United Nations and Vienna-based organizations in promoting human rights. Following interactive briefings and a guided tour of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, the students will meet with Austrian artist Oskar Stocker for an art workshop.

"Facing Nations" artist Oskar Stocker will conduct workshops on the theme of "human rights - universal rights - individual rights" for students of the Vienna International School and the participants of the UNIS students forum. Participants will reflect on what human rights mean to them as individuals, and create a work of art based around the notion of a shared culture of humanity, regardless of nationality, gender, skin colour, ethnic, religious or social background. The world culture project "Facing Nations - culture of humanity" is on display in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre until 18 December 2009 and can be seen during a special guided tour daily Monday-Friday at 12:00 and at 15:00 hours.

UNIS Vienna Director Maher Nasser will give a guest lecture at Vienna International School, where he will brief a class of students who have studied human rights issues in the current semester.


UNIS Vienna, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Representation for Central Europe, will hold a presentation and tour of the exhibition "Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Central Europe" for students studying at different Hungarian universities at the UNHCR Regional Office in Budapest on 10 December.


The high school of economy in Levice, with the support of UNIS Vienna, will mark Human Rights Day with an all-day programme on 10 December, including human rights workshops for students, a video conference with high-level officials, a theatre performance "Me - a racist?", a photo exhibition and an information stand set up by students in the centre of Levice.


The United Nations Association of Slovenia, with the support of UNIS Vienna, will hold its traditional annual celebration of Human Rights Day on 9 December, at 18:00 hours at the University of Ljubljana. Following a keynote speech by Miro Cerar, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, awards and recognition will be given to the winners of the UNA Slovenia primary and secondary school drawing, photos and essay competitions on human rights, this year on the topic of non-violence. The celebration will be concluded with classical music and a reception. For further information visit: http://www.unaslovenia.org.

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For further information please contact:

Sonja Wintersberger
Deputy to the Director, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-3430
Email: sonja.wintersberger@unvienna.org

Website: www.unis.unvienna.org