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Comment on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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The Independent Culture
THE UNIVERSAL Declaration of Human Rights is rightly praised for its role in focusing the world's attention on crimes against human dignity. It has been used to oppose apartheid in South Africa, Communist repression in Eastern Europe and many other human rights violations. Why, then, has the UN failed to make Sudan the focus of world condemnation even though its dictatorship is arguably the worst human rights violator in the world? In presenting the Declaration, Ambassador Charles Malik of Lebanon expressed confidence that it would "serve as a potent critic of existing practices and help to transform reality". To an extent, those hopes have been realized. With American leadership, they could also be realized in Sudan. What better way to mark the anniversary of a document born of the determination that mass suffering should not have be in vain?

The New York Times, US

AMERICAN WOMEN are still victims of violence and discrimination. Black women suffer from racism in addition to gender discrimination. In 39 states homosexuals can be dismissed from work because of their sexual proclivities. Federal and state laws guarantee many rights. They ban discrimination based on race or gender in work, housing, and education. They guarantee freedom of speech, religion, the establishment of societies, and the right to a fair trial. Despite all these guarantees, serious violations of human rights continue to take place regularly. Why is the American eye jaundiced, only seeing what takes place in other countries?

Al Ayam, Bahrain

IN 50 years, human rights have entered the mainstream of international discourse. Even the harshest tyrant uses the language of rights if only to distort its universal meaning. In a world where abuses are a daily problem there can be no blind spots. Nelson Mandela saw the Declaration as "a ray of hope at one of our darkest hours". Mrs Roosevelt deserves our thanks for her role in drafting a blueprint for a better future. But the job was not finished that December: it is a work still in progress.

Canberra Times, Australia

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