U.S. Embassy Marks International Human Rights Day 16:56, 11/12/2003
December 10, the United States joins with the United Nations and countries around the world to celebrate International Human Rights Day. The United States has always been committed to the protection and expansion of human rights in every corner of the globe. This commitment is announced in the founding document of our nation, our Declaration of Independence, and was enshrined into law in the first 10 amendments to our Constitution, which we now call our Bill of Rights. We are also proud of the role played by the United States, and particularly Eleanor Roosevelt, in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document whose 55th anniversary we mark today.
Because of our passionate belief in the importance of human rights, people in the United States are concerned about the situation in Belarus. The growing difficulties non-governmental organizations, independent trade unions, and the media face reflect poorly on Belarusian authorities, who are obliged by the Belarusian Constitution and international agreements to support and guarantee the human rights of all Belarusian citizens. Because of its tragic history, Belarus should be an example of freedom and tolerance. It should be a bridge in Europe and not an island. A good start would be implementation of the OSCE’s four requirements: transparent and fair elections; giving Parliament real power; creating a positive climate for NGOs and independent media; and launching a credible investigation of disappeared persons. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage recently underscored the United States` determination to call on Belarusian authorities for accountability in the cases of those who have disappeared, as well as our unwavering support for those who defend human rights in Belarus.
On this International Human Rights Day, the people of the United States join with all those throughout the world who celebrate those inalienable human rights we take for granted today, often won for us through struggle and hardship by generations who never lived to enjoy the fruits of their labor. And we rededicate ourselves to the goal of assuring that all people, whether at home, in Belarus, or in any other nation, actually realize these universal freedoms endowed by our Creator upon us all.