Statement by Minister of State Tom Kitt, T.D. Human Rights Day, 10 December 2002
“Since 1950, the United Nations has invited all States and interested parties to observe the 10th of December the anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as Human Rights Day. It is appropriate, therefore, that on this day we reaffirm the principles enshrined in the Declaration which remain as relevant today as they were over half a century ago when the Declaration was proclaimed. The Declaration set out a vision of a world where all peoples are free to enjoy the same rights and freedoms without discrimination.
Ireland has places a high premium on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, recognising that they are the key to peace and prosperity.
During the past year the Government has continued to prioritise human rights through Ireland's membership of the Security Council and will continue to do so when we become members of the UN Commission of Human Rights next year.
Our human rights policy is underpinned throughout the world by the work of Irish NGO's who through their valuable work help ensure that human rights instruments become reality for many people.
The issue of human rights is not, nor should it be, the preserve of foreign policy. We must accept and respect cultural diversity within our own society, as we would wish Irish culture and identity to be respected in other countries.
On this important day we must renew our commitment to defend against violation of human rights, wherever the threat may occur, and uphold the principles of the Declaration on Human rights with greater vigilance than ever.”