UN Marks Rights Declaration's 60th Birthday

Holy See: Anniversary Puts Man at Center of World Community

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NEW YORK, DEC. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a celebration that puts man at the center of the international community and its laws, says a Holy See representative.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, affirmed this today in his address before the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly, which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"By this declaration," he said, "people, states, international institutions can even today rediscover the true significance of the person, his concrete humanity, the individual and communitarian dimensions of his rights, and in particular the universal value of human dignity."

The Holy See representative pointed out that human rights are not only an expression of legality, "but find their source and ends in ethics and natural reason common to all men."

Archbishop Migliore recalled Benedict XVI's visit to U.N. headquarters on April 18, and his words linking human rights to the promotion of the common good and the safeguarding of human freedom.

He affirmed, "[W]e see how much the idea of the common good is the essential condition to adopt effective decisions in the realm of security, of cooperation for development, as well as special humanitarian action that the organization is all the more called to carry out in the face of events and situations that gravely affect the person, his dignity and therefore his rights."

Freedom's preconditions

The archbishop went on to speak about protecting human freedom, in particular faced to the modern day's "evident negations of rights that violate the order of creation, contradict the sacred character of life, deprive the human person, the family, [and] communities of their natural identity."

He added: "Protecting rights means, therefore, to respect ethical imperatives that are the necessary precondition for freedom.

"Human rights express the unity of the human creature, of his aspiration at satisfying his essential needs while attaining at the same time freedom, human relations and spiritual values."

Archbishop Migliore pointed out that rights are an "instrument through which the person manifests his relationship with the truth, protects his conscience, his dimension of faith and his most profound convictions."

Speaking in particular on religious liberty, he underlined the fact that the declaration "does not set the dimension of the citizen against that of the believer, recognizing instead the full freedom of the relationship between the person and his Creator."
He added: "No principle, no national or international law can cancel or limit this relationship if it wants to recognize with coherence the rights proclaimed 60 years ago. The free relationship between the person and his Creator, today as then, should not be limited to the exercise of religious belief, but open to the public expression of religious worship through the channels of formation, instruction and full participation in all decision making within a given country."

The archbishop concluded by affirming that human rights are "the result of the responsible deeds of everyone." He mentioned in particular the need to focus these deeds on ending hunger and poverty, providing security to all, and safeguarding life.

"To celebrate this day," he said, "means to place the person in the heart of the international community and of its law and to overcome present obstacles on the path of humanity."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24514?l=english