Civil rights teachings resonate with UN’s goals, Migiro says on anniversary

4 April 2008

The ideas espoused by Martin Luther King Jr., including racial harmony, poverty eradication and human rights for all, resonate with the aims of the United Nations, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today, paying tribute to the life of the United States civil rights leader who was slain 40 years ago.

Addressing students and faculty at New York state’s Syracuse University, Ms. Migiro recalled Dr. King’s appeal for countries to work together for the greater common good, as he exhorted every nation to ‘develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.’

“This is the central purpose of the United Nations, which brings all States together in a forum where they can rise above national interests, so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts,” stated Ms. Migiro.

Noting that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Deputy Secretary-General said that document and Dr. King’s legacy are both “profound and timeless statements on the civil rights – the human rights – of all people.”

In addition, Dr. King’s call for an end to poverty still resounds at the UN, and is reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – pledges made by world leaders in 2000 to cut poverty, illiteracy and other social ills, all by 2015.

“The aim was to forge a great partnership of countries working to help each other in the interests of humanity as a whole,” Ms. Migiro said.

And in doing so, “we must learn from each other in a world that is more interdependent than ever,” she added, noting that in a world where problems – including terrorism, AIDS, poverty, racism and climate change – transcend borders, “the only effective response is global.”

She emphasized that Dr. King’s message rings more true today than when he delivered it in his lifetime. “The best and only tribute we can pay to this towering individual, who gave so much to the world and paid with his life for his belief in peace and non-violence, is to abide by his words, to transform them into actions, and to ‘develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole.’”

 

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