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    UNIS/SG/2461
    1 December1999
    In Human Rights Day Message, Secretary-General Calls for Renewal
    Of Efforts to Defeat Racism in all its Forms

     

    NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message for Human Rights Day 1999, which will be observed on 10 December:
     

     Human Rights Day 1999 is a day for remembrance and a day for renewal.  Today, we recall the many victims of human rights abuses throughout this century.  Today, we rededicate ourselves to making human rights a fact of life  -- and not a distant hope -- for all humanity.

     On this last Human Rights Day of the twentieth century, let us renew our efforts to defeat racism in all its forms.  Racism, discrimination, bigotry and intolerance have been at the root of the greatest crimes and bloodiest wars of this century.  At the same time, our century has seen real progress towards human rights and equal dignity for all, regardless of race or ethnicity.

     But our work is far from done.  For every child liberated from racism, another suffers its most vicious consequences.

     For every man or woman able to live without fear of persecution, too many have been murdered for no other reason than that they were born into a particular group.

     The scars of the past decade -- Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo -- remind us how racism can destroy the very fabric of humanity.  On this Human Rights Day, let us rededicate ourselves to the ideal of a multicultural world where all races and ethnic groups coexist peacefully.

     We know it can be done.  And we know that diversity and tolerance make every nation, every people, better, stronger and richer in human spirit.

     As we cross into the new century, let us all do our part to advance understanding and defeat racism:  by embracing diversity, by teaching tolerance, and by treating every human being with the dignity he or she deserves.  It is simple, and it is possible.  It only requires humanity to live up to its name.

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