Dáil Éireann - Volume 487 - 19 February, 1998
Written Answers - UN Declaration on Human Rights.
Mr. Bradford Mr. Bradford
29. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the plans, if any, the Government has to mark the 50 anniversary of the UN universal declaration on human rights. [4277/98]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews) David Andrews
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): As the Deputy is aware, 1998 is a most significant year in the international human rights calendar because of the 50th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Accordingly, all UN member states have been called upon to commemorate the anniversary in a fitting manner. The human rights unit within the Department of Foreign Affairs is co-ordinating, through the standing interdepartmental committee on human rights and in co-operation with the joint Department of Foreign Affairs-NGO standing committee on human rights, a number of events to mark this anniversary.
On a national level, a number of possibilities are being examined. Some of them fall within the remit of the Department of Foreign Affairs but the majority would be the responsibility of other Departments; for example, raising awareness of the declaration in schools would fall to the Department of Education and Science. The following are among the activities being considered: to hold a debate in the House on human rights at a suitable date in the course of the year; the human rights and democratisation programme administered by the development co-operation division in the Department of Foreign Affairs may be in a position to fund projects with a link  to the anniversary; an NGO forum on human rights, sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs is scheduled for 7 March, 1998 — this forum is open to all NGOs active in the field of human rights and is being held in advance of the next session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva; the NGOs will, therefore, have an opportunity to put forward their views on the agenda of this major international human rights meeting to Government representatives: a project linking the 1798 commemoration and the 50th anniversary which is being explored with the Department of the Taoiseach; An Post has agreed to issue a commemorative postage stamp; the question of a mail-shot to school is being examined; representatives of the human rights unit have met the curriculum development unit to look at the question of education and human rights awareness in general — we hope to advance these discussions to a decision-making point in the course of 1998.
There will, of course, also be Irish participation in events at UN level, particularly during the aforementioned UN Commission on Human Rights, which begins its 54th session in Geneva on 16 March next, and during the 53rd session of the UN Third Committee in New York.
The anniversary will also be commemorated at EU level. Indeed, to mark the beginning of the anniversary year on 10 December last, the European Council issued a statement which confirmed the commitment of the European Union to respect and defend the rights of all human beings as set out in the text of the universal declaration. The statement was very much a reaffirmation of the Union's dedication to human rights in which the Council stressed the universal nature of human rights and reiterated the obligation incumbent on all states to develop and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, regardless of race, gender, language or religion. While noting the progress made in this area since the adoption of the declaration, the Council deplored the continuing flagrant violations of human rights in all parts of the world and called on all states to set up their efforts to promote and protect these rights.
Dáil Éireann 487 Written Answers UN Declaration on Human Rights.