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UN Gathering Commemorates 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Contact: David Burke, 610-933-4620

NEW YORK, Dec. 10 /Christian Newswire/ -- On December 2nd, 2008, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Universal Rights, more than 300 religious, political and civil rights leaders gathered at the United Nations to discussed how to best respond to the disturbing new wave of human rights violations around the world.

The public hearing, titled "Interfaith Cooperation and the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity" (http://www.upf.org/un/humanrights) was sponsored by the Permanent Missions of four nations: Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nepal, and was coordinated by the Universal Peace Federation Office of UN Relations.

On December 8th, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a resolution that took more than 3 years of intense negotiations. The resolution stands to this day, but many human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights-anniversary/issues), claim the recent upswing in religious conflict has added a major new source of human rights violations.

The Conference included representatives from numerous faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. "Interfaith dialogue is absolutely essential, relevant, and necessary," said Conference Co-Chair H.E. Anwarul Chowdhury, former UN Under-Secretary General and High Representative. "If 2009 is to truly be the Year of Interfaith Cooperation, the UN urgently needs to appoint an interfaith representative at a senior level in the Secretariat."

Also in attendance was the Hon. Scott Garrett, US Representative for the 5th Congressional District in New Jersey. Congressman Garrett urged the UN to sharpen its focus in the discussion of human rights. "All rights, including human and religious rights, derive from God, and it is the duty of the UN, and all governments, to protect those rights," he said.

An afternoon session featured compelling presentations by young people from a number of nations, representing a cross-section of different religions, expressing their heartfelt desire for the need for interfaith cooperation and the protection of human rights. To honor this historic event, UPF has created a special website portal with videos of keynote speeches, including talks by these passionate youth: (http://www.upf.org/un/humanrights).

"The Conference reflects the growing recognition at the UN that, in addition to the work of the United Nations member states, there is an important and growing role for Track II diplomacy" said Ricardo de Sena, Director of the UPF Office of UN Relations, "We must engage non-state actors, including faith leaders, NGOs, and other representatives of civil society."

Universal Peace Federation is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. A 401(C) organization. 155 White Plains Road, Suite 222, Tarrytown, NY 10591 • (914) 631-1331 • (http://www.upf.org)  


Ricardo de Sena
Director of Department of UN Relations
Universal Peace Federation
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 529
New York, NY 10017
(212) 239-6500 x 234

Joy Pople, Asst. Communications Director • jpople@upf.org • (914) 631-1331 x 111