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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2004 > December

Human Rights Week

Statement by Secretary Colin L. Powell
Brussels, Belgium
December 8, 2004

This year the government of the United States joins the global community in commemorating the 56th Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Wrought from the horrors of the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly to enshrine the principles of equality and justice in law.

In honor of this important event President George W. Bush has officially declared the week of December 10-17, 2004, to be Human Rights Week and December 10, 2004, to be Human Rights Day. In commemorating this week, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles which have come to characterize our nation. [See Presidential Proclamation.]

The United States values the sanctity of the individual and is committed to preventing human rights abuses. Our country is one in which all citizens regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religious faith or other characteristics, are entitled to enjoy equal opportunities and mutual peace.

Today, millions of people across the globe are denied basic human rights, and so on every continent we make important immediate and long-term investments in democracy and human rights. We are working with other countries to establish governments that are chosen by their own people through democratic processes. We are currently working hand-in-hand with the Afghan and Iraqi governments so that human rights and democratic freedoms will be fully restored to people who have suffered years of oppression. Additionally, I will be in Morocco for the first ever "Forum for the Future," which is an extraordinary gathering of nations offering us the opportunity to promote democracy and freedom to the Broader Middle East and North Africa.

Our fight for human rights will continue so long as tyrannical regimes infringe upon the freedom of citizens. Though this challenge remains formidable in the 21st century, we are committed to upholding the principle and practice of democracy. Meeting this challenge will require an unprecedented amount of cooperation among nations, and we stand united with those countries that respect human dignity. We hold our allies in the war on terror and ourselves to these standards. The struggle for freedom requires scrupulous adherence to human rights, not a relaxation of standards.

Please join the United States Department of State in celebrating Human Rights Week by learning more about international human rights from the website of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/. Together, we can pave the road towards equality and freedom for all persons around the world.

2004/1335


Released on December 8, 2004

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