Fifty-Fourth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Talking Points for the Intervention of the SRS Gat Kabul University

President Karzai, Ms. Siam Samar, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen

On this 10th December – the International Human Rights Day – I wish first of all, to congratulate the Afghan people, the Afghan human rights community and, in particular, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, on their courageous efforts for the advancement of human rights.

In another event dedicated to human rights, less than a year ago, I said that no one knew better than Afghans what human rights were and what they were not, that we, the international community, should listen and support, not preach. I still firmly believe in that idea.

The year that elapsed since the signature of the Bonn agreements was rich in achievements and in lessons learned.

Something great must have happened in this country to inspire confidence and hope to those Afghans who returned to their homeland – 7 million

The parents of those three million children who returned to school must be convinced that a better and safer life is now attainable and that their sons and daughters will be able to enjoy what they themselves were denied: peace, security and a freedom from hunger and fear.

The main lesson learned is that the road is very long and that the cause of human rights can never be considered as won. Unfortunately, abuses continue to be perpetrated by powerful individuals and groups who still need to understand that the rule of the gun belongs to the past.

In many parts of the country, defending one’s basic civil and political or economic and cultural rights still requires not only faith and perseverance, but also courage.

The other important lesson learned is that the cause of human rights cannot be isolated and addressed separately from the basic issues of security and the rule of law.

The great majority of Afghans who come to see us on a human rights issue, and particularly those from the interior of the country, point to the lack of security as the major obstacle to the attainment of their rights: security to organize themselves and defend their rights collectively, to resist arbitrary decisions of local commanders, to set up and strengthen institutions and promote the rule of law.

Afghans know that security in their country is a basic human rights issue. Again, we, the international community, should listen and endeavor to help them overcome this obstacle. A few days ago, President Karzai signed decree on the creation of the Afghan National Army. The implementation of this decree and, more generally, the security sector reform which is under way will go a long way towards ensuring that security which is so severely missed in far too many places in Afghanistan today.

We are glad to note that the Transitional Authorities remains committed tithe promotion of human rights.

We are pleased to see that the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission is being strengthened and prepared to respond to the immense expectations of the men and women of Afghanistan.

On this day, the people of Afghanistan should know that they have friends allover the world. They should know that there are men and women all over the world who follow with sympathy their struggle to strengthen the peace process, to defend their rights, to achieve national reconciliation and to rebuild their country. Human rights are about the dignity of every man and woman in this country and as such. They are and will always be at the center of the struggle of the people of Afghanistan.

We at UNAMA strongly support the struggle of the people of Afghanistan and shall continue to carry out with determination and perseverance all aspects of our human rights mandate in Afghanistan: we will investigate violations, analyze their root causes and propose constructive measures and policies to overcome the problems and improve the overall human rights situation. We will offer our continuous support and expertise to Afghan national human rights institutions and primarily to the Independent Human Rights Commission.

In doing so, we shall always listen carefully to our Afghan colleagues and friends, follow their leadership and try to help them as much as we can in the implementation of their challenging human rights agenda.