With photos of prisoner abuses in Iraq and reports of civilians under attack in Sudan's Darfur region grabbing worldwide attention, Secretary-General Kofi Annan hosted a lecture today at United Nations Headquarters in New York that looked at the various dimensions of human rights.
"Those are just the headlines," Mr. Annan said in his introductory remarks, referring to the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the attacks by militia on civilians in Darfur. "Every day, around the world, millions of people see their human rights denied or violated without even making the news."
He noted that more than 50 years after the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "it is easy to feel disillusioned, and for millions around the world to wonder if the Declaration's words will ever be more than just that: words on a page."
Speakers at today's lecture, on the theme "Who is afraid of human rights?," were Ambassador Najat Al-Hajjaji of Libya, Chair of the 2003 session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Prof. Ali Mazrui of the State University of New York at Binghamton and William Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.
The Secretary-General inaugurated the lecture series on topics at the forefront of the humanities and natural sciences in 2002 as part of a continuing effort to create a strengthened framework for dialogue and mutual understanding with the United Nations community.