UN: 28 August 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the progress made since the holding of a landmark United Nations human rights meeting in 1993, while calling for a redoubling of efforts to ensure that everyone around world is able to enjoy their rights.
“The World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna marked a watershed in the way we understand human rights, and how we act on them,” Mr. Ban noted in a video message on the 15th anniversary of the meeting.
Some 7,000 participants, including academics, treaty bodies, national institutions and representatives of more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), participated in the gathering, held in the Austrian capital in June 1993.
The conference culminated with the adoption of a common plan for the strengthening of human rights work around the world, known as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
“In the 15 years since then, the world has increasingly understood that human rights are indivisible from development and security,” said the Secretary-General.
He also noted that the UN has made “remarkable” progress in standard-setting, institution-building, and programme implementation, and 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 UN, has reformed the world body’s human rights machinery – culminating in 2006 with the creation of the Human Rights Council, he said. “The Council has now set up its infrastructure, and can devote its attention to the full range of current and emerging human rights challenges.”
Mr. Ban remarked that the Vienna outcome also helped strengthen national human rights institutions around the world, which help ensure independent scrutiny, ascertain if States are on track, and determine what corrective measures are needed.
Noting that this year also marks the 60th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr. Ban called for redoubled efforts to ensure that human rights are protected and promoted. “Let us ensure that all humans enjoy their rights,” he stated.
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