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Nobel Peace Prize award to UN on Human Rights Day has 'special meaning' - Annan

Nobel Peace Prize award to UN on Human Rights Day has 'special meaning' - Annan

Human Rights Day 2001, to be marked on 10 December, will have special meaning this year as it falls on the very day the United Nations receives the Nobel Peace Prize, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message released in advance of the observance.

"Peace and human rights belong together - as the founders of the United Nations knew," said Mr. Annan, who was scheduled to leave today for the Nobel ceremonies in Oslo, Norway, where he will be awarded the Prize, along with the UN. "They were determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights."

The Secretary-General stressed that in today's interconnected world, where conflict in one country could have repercussions for another, the world community must keep in mind the lesson that widespread human rights violations in any country were a danger signal.

"As we unite to take action against terrorism, let us remember that the human rights we're defending are universal," he says.

Echoing this sentiment, Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said today that this year's observance of the Day was taking place in the context of "worrying times" for the promotion and protection of human rights. Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, she noted that while the attention was being focused on Afghanistan, she was also concerned about measures being taken, "very understandably and very rightly, to combat terrorism, but in doing so possibly eroding human rights and longstanding liberties, and even aspects of the rule of law."

Mrs. Robinson, who issued a Human Rights Day message yesterday urging stronger international commitment to the eradication of racism and intolerance, stressed that one of her Office's priorities in Afghanistan was working with other UN colleagues to prepare for that country's reconstruction and "putting strong emphasis on human rights."

"There are many acute human rights concerns in Afghanistan, starting with the very serious humanitarian situation which was there before 11 September and was not getting adequate attention," she said.