10 December 1999
Text: Albright Human Rights Day Statement
(Embraces human rights spread, new democracies emergence) (760)
The United States embraces the spread of human rights around the world
and celebrates the emergence of new democracies, says Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, but "there are still too many places where
human rights and democracy are still elusive."
Albright noted trouble spots throughout the world in a statement she
issued December 10 commemorating Human Rights Day and the 51st
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The United States remains determined to work with all those who love
freedom to ensure that the next century will see continued progress in
the promotion of democracy and respect for human dignity and rights,"
the secretary said.
Following is the State Department text of Albright's statement:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
December 10, 1999
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
U.S. COMMEMORATES HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Today, December 10, is Human Rights Day, the 51st Anniversary of the
Proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. We mark this, the last Human Rights Day
of the century, knowing that it is a better day, in large part because
we have learned so many important lessons.
In Kosovo, we learned that the international community can come
together to prevent wholesale human rights abuses. In East Timor, we
learned that concerted action by the United Nations can prevent
military units from overturning the will of a people. In Indonesia,
Nigeria, and elsewhere, we learned that no nation, no religion, no
culture is immune to democratic values. We have confirmed that
international consensus is possible on worker rights issues when the
United States is prepared to assume a leadership role, as it did in
pressing for unanimous passage of the ILO Convention on the Worst
Forms of Child Labor in June of this year.
There have been other lessons as well. We have learned that while
there is no single model for democracy, basic human rights are
universal. What a country does to people within its own borders is not
solely its own business. Everyone, whether they are Baha'i, Buddhist,
Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, or of another faith, suffer equally
when they are made to disappear, killed, or locked away for their
So while we embrace the spread of human rights around the world and
celebrate the emergence of new democracies, there are still too many
places where human rights and democracy are still elusive. In Belarus,
the Lukashenko regime has headed deeper into authoritarianism,
restricting its citizens' right to freedom of opinion, assembly, and
expression. In Burma and Cuba, failing regimes bent on self-preservation
continue to subject their citizens to arbitrary arrest and detention for
daring to speak openly of the shortcomings of despotic rule. The tragic
events in Kosovo and East Timor again demonstrate the need to protect
life, liberty, and security by preventing mass atrocities.
In China, crackdowns on the China Democracy Party and Falun Gong, and
continuing repression of Tibetan Buddhists and
non-Government-sanctioned religious groups, have demonstrated that the
Government still fails to recognize that everyone has the right to
freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the right to
freedom of peaceful assembly and association. In Iraq, Saddam
Hussein's regime continues to deny the Iraqi people virtually every
right guaranteed by the Declaration. In Sudan, the Government and
rebels continue to pursue without remorse an endless civil war that
has claimed the lives of nearly two million Sudanese and internally
displaced four million others. In Afghanistan, the Taliban continue
their oppression of women, denying them all the rights and freedoms
set forth in the Declaration solely because of gender.
And in Chechnya, Russia, innocent people face bombardment as a result
of military actions by all parties to the conflict. We remain deeply
disturbed by the Russian Government's threat to engage in
indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment of Groznyy, which
reflects a fundamental disregard for the Declaration's promise that
everyone has the right to dignity, to security, and to life and
So even as this December 10th marks a better day, we know that there
is still much to do. The United States remains determined to work with
all those who love freedom to ensure that the next century will see
continued progress in the promotion of democracy and respect for human
dignity and rights.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State)