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UN Kuwait team marks Human Rights Day

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 9: On behalf of the United Nations Country Team in the State of Kuwait, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Resident Representative, Dr Mubashar Riaz Sheikh, is pleased to mark the occasion of the 65th anniversary of International Human Rights Day. On this date in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) came into effect following its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly. The result of an international consultation process to identify the basic rights and fundamental freedoms that resonate through all cultures and belief systems, the UDHR quickly became a hugely influential text, laying the foundations for the development of a modern and universally relevant international law of human rights. Today, many of its provisions have entered into customary international law, due to their ubiquity in the practice of the family of nations. In Kuwait, the UN Country Team is working to support the implementation of fundamental human rights through development activities designed to, inter alia, promote women’s economic and legal empowerment, facilitate access to education for children with learning disabilities, ensure a cleaner and safer natural and urban environment for future generations and protect cultural heritage for the benefit of all Kuwaitis.

20th anniversary
This year provides a double anniversary: the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June 1993 that called for the establishment of an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The High Commissioner reports to the United Nations Secretary- General on all matters related to supporting human rights promotion and protection by UN members States. This appointment marked a significant step forward in the UN’s work to fulfill the commitment of the UN Charter “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and ... to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” Most importantly this year, we give pause to remember the towering contribution to the cause of human rights by the anti-apartheid revolutionary and former President of the Republic of South Africa Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Although saddened by his passing, we celebrate his life and the outstanding example he offered to all human beings to work together in the spirit of cooperation and solidarity to achieve a free and equitable society, in which all individuals will benefit from an ever-vigilant protection of their fundamental human rights. On Dec 5, the winners of the prestigious United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights for 2013 were announced as follows: Mr Biram Dah Abeid (antislavery campaigner, Mauritania). Ms Hiljmnijeta Apuk (activist for rights of people with disproportional restricted growth — short stature, Kosovo), Ms Liisa Kauppinen (President emeritus of the World Federation of the Deaf, Finland), Ms Khadija Ryadi (former President of the Morocco Association for Human Rights, Morocco), the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico and Ms Malala Yousafzai (student activist, Pakistan). The committee consisting of the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council, President of the Human Rights Council, Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council, was tasked by the General Assembly with selecting the winners. The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights. The Prize was established by the General Assembly in 1966 and awarded for the first time on Dec 10, 1068. The Prize has been awarded every five years since 1968 and previous laureates have included Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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