Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Charge’ d’affaires, a.i. of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the General Assembly, Agenda Item 46 (a): Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1998:

Mr. President,

We meet here in the United Nations on this international day of human rights and to commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This fundamental document holds great importance for human beings all over the world, and commemoration of the 50th anniversary has special meaning, which should give us all an incentive to continue to work and struggle to achieve all that is set forth in the Declaration, not just in a specific place or for a few people, but for all peoples throughout the world. This commemoration reminds us also of the importance of working and struggling to guarantee the implementation and respect of the Declaration and of all other human rights instruments, international humanitarian law and international law in general.

Mr. President,

The first paragraph of the Declaration states that "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."

The international community has, without a doubt, achieved great advancements in that direction. At the same time, we all realize that there are still urgent responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order to reach our goals and objectives in this regard. Accordingly, as we reaffirm individual human rights, we must also reaffirm collective human rights, including the rights of the deprived and poor, the right of people to life, the right to development, and the right to freedom and independence.

Mr. President,

The General Assembly divided Palestine only a few days before the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since that day, and until now, the Palestinian people remain a unique example in their subjugation to violations of their human rights. There is not a single article of the Declaration that the Palestinian people are not deprived of, nor is there a single article which Israel, the occupying Power, does not violate. Here, I would like to refer to Article 3, regarding the right of everyone to life, liberty and security, to Article 5, where no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, and to Article 13, which stipulates the right to freedom of movement and the right to return to his country.

Mr. President,

We hope that this commemoration will provide an occasion for the international community to renew its commitments and to meet its obligations to combat all violations of human rights. The 50th Anniversary of the Declaration should also serve as a forum for the development of more innovative ways and means to monitor and guarantee the implementation of the objectives and principles set forth in the Declaration and in all relevant international human rights instruments. Fifty years ago, the Declaration provided us with basic principles and goals in the struggle for basic human rights and dignity. Its anniversary, which coincides with the dawning of the new millennium, should inspire in us the desire and vision to see that its principles are fully implemented and respected as we enter the 21st century. Thank you, Mr. President.