The very fact that we share a common human dignity provides the indispensable base that sustains the inter-relatedness and indivisibility of human rights, social, civil and political, cultural and economic

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, spoke on 10 December before the ordinary session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which throughout 2008 is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed in Paris on 10 December 1948).

Speaking English, Archbishop Tomasi indicated that the declaration “remains the single most important reference point for cross-cultural discussion of human freedom and dignity in the world and represents the customary-law base for any discussion about human rights”.

The rights presented in the declaration “are not conferred by States or other institutions but they are acknowledged as inherent to every person, independent of, and in many ways the result of ethical, social, cultural and religious traditions.

“Human dignity concerns democracy and sovereignty, but goes at the same time beyond them”, he said. It requires everyone concerned “to work for freedom, equality, social justice for all human beings, while respecting the world’s cultural and religious mosaic. The very fact that we share a common human dignity provides the indispensable base that sustains the inter-relatedness and indivisibility of human rights, social, civil and political, cultural and economic”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “recognises that the respect of all human rights is the source of peace. … Peace is not only conceived as an absence of violence but includes also co-operation and solidarity, at the local and international levels, as a necessary way in order to promote and to defend the common good of all people.

“Sixty years after the declaration”, the archbishop added, “many members of the human family are still far from the enjoyment of their rights and basic needs. Human security is still not ensured”. This sixtieth anniversary, he concluded, may serve to show “that every person, as an individual or as a member of a community, has the right and the responsibility to defend and implement all human rights”.