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Statement on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70

On December 4, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave opening remarks at a conference held at the United Nations in New York on “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Foundations, Achievements and Violations.” Because Archbishop Auza was in Katowice, Poland, representing the Holy See at the 24th Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, his remarks were read by Msgr. Tomasz Grysa of the Holy See. The conference, sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See and ADF International, also featured speeches by Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Professor Robert George, Professor Paolo Carozza and ADF President Michael Farris. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on December 10, 1948.

In his remarks, Archbishop Auza quoted Pope John Paul II who called the UDHR the UN’s “fundamental document,” “basic inspiration and cornerstone” and “one of the highest expressions of human conscience in our time.” He spoke about its various characteristics, emphasizing in particular how its framers presupposed the universality, objectivity and unity of the human rights it recognized. He underlined various ways in the rights it affirmed are not being upheld in the world today and drew particular attention to Pope Francis’ concern that “the interpretation of some rights has progressively changed,” leading to claims for “new rights” that are in conflict with the actual rights found in the UDHR. He said the 70th anniversary is an occasion to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity of the human person from which they flow, as well as to commit ourselves to defending and promoting those rights.

The statement can be found here.