Remarks by Louise Arbour United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Launch of the United Nations Postal Administration stamp issue Human Rights Education Decade (1995-2004)

16 November 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you, Director-General, for hosting this launch and for your words of support for the work of the United Nations human rights programme. I should also like to welcome all of you here this morning, in our collective exercise of our right “to enjoy the arts”, explicitly guaranteed by Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Our profound thanks go to the United Nations Postal Administration for the historic initiative of issuing a series of United Nations postal stamps dedicated to the theme of human rights and to the decade of Human Rights Education.

On behalf of the entire UN human rights programme, very special thanks are due to the artist, Yuri Gevorgian, for creating such compelling, inspiring and exciting artwork. The United Nations has made, over the years, various attempts to portray human rights visually. Yuroz, as he is better known to the world, has managed to express on canvass, his vision of some of the most fundamental human rights, as well as the human wrongs that blight them. And he has done this in a most poignant, striking, and optimistic style, which reveals an awareness of both the obstacles to and the unstoppable drive of the human race toward the full realization of its inherent human rights. These panels are expressive and powerful carriers of the human rights message. They convey a sense of dignity and a yearning for justice.

In the past ten years of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, we have seen many creative efforts to bring the language of human rights to the public at large. These stamps, adorned with human rights images, will certainly prove to be effective carriers of the human rights message, as they find their way around the globe to homes, to schools and to places of work.

On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, the General Assembly will devote a plenary session to human rights education, to mark the end of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) and to consider the recommendation to proclaim a World Programme for Human Rights Education. The first three years of this Programme, from 2005 to 2007, would focus on human rights education within the primary and secondary school systems.

It is a difficult task, involving not merely the integration of human rights issues into the curriculum, but also changes in the educational process and teaching methods and, most importantly, in the environment within which education takes place. Yet, it is a very important task to ensure that each new generation is fully aware that, as human beings, they are born with a set of inalienable rights, among them, the right to health, to education, to food, to housing, to marry and raise a family, to participate in public life, to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and detention -- in short, all the rights one needs to enjoy freedom from fear, freedom from want.

Thank you Yuroz and thank you UNPA, for helping to communicate the human rights message so beautifully and for your support in keeping the human rights flame alive.

Thank you.