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Speech by Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO, at the 3rd World Forum of Human Rights, 30 June - 3 July 2008 Nantes, France
Speech by Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO, at the 3rd World Forum of Human Rights, 30 June - 3 July 2008 Nantes, France   “Only indivisibility can legitimize and strengthen universality.”
 
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The official deed of the international coalition of cities against racism and discrimination was signed by representatives of regional coalitions, on Monday 30 June in Nantes, within the framework of the 3rd World Forum on Human Rights organized by the city. Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences called, on that occasion, for the continuation of the struggle for the defense of human rights, wherever they are violated, as he said: "Only indivisibility can legitimize and strengthen universality”.

In memory of Martin Luther King, apostle of non-violent resistance, assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39, 20 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Pierre Sané summarized his career: "For 20 years, since his entry in the seminary until his assassination, he devoted himself to the struggle for human dignity and justice, for rights and equal opportunities, and against racial discrimination.

He also stood against the continuation of war in Vietnam and in his last action called the "campaign for poor people," he initiated the beginning of powerful mobilization against poverty and exclusion, which was abruptly interrupted by his brutal death.

40 years later: what has changed? We have no other choice but to remain mobilized against these stupid or subtle discriminations, against these wars that target civilian populations and camouflage holdups on the natural resources of the country. Mobilization should be targeting this poverty, which is the origin of these terrible human massacres, enough to make all perpetrators of genocide envious: 35.000 children per day!

Like 40 years ago, UNESCO continues to plot its path and to build peace in the minds of men. As 60 years ago, at its creation, the organization maintains that peace must be built on the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind, on respect for cultural diversity, on justice and human rights. These principles guide the work of the organization.

As proof, there is the Nantes Forum, which I had the pleasure, accompanied by Michel Forst, to propose to Jean-Marc Ayrault, Mayor of Nantes, 6 years ago and which, forum after forum, anchors itself in the international agenda of human rights. I am pleased and I am confident that the discussions and exchanges between all actors involved in the promotion and protection of human rights, in a serious and constructive manner, can contribute to building an international regime of human rights”.

With this, Pierre Sané congratulated the Mayor of Nantes, the Presidents of the region and the Regional Council for having perpetuated the Forum.

Turning to the relationship between poverty and the violation of human rights, the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO informed the meeting of the "conceptual work conducted at the international level with philosophers, political scientists, lawyers, economists and sociologists, to reflect on the connection between poverty and the violation of human rights. This is an exercise which also focuses on the moral, legal, political and economic consequences and the resulting strategies for the fight against poverty."

This initiative stems from the conviction that "only indivisibility can legitimize and strengthen universality."

Turning to the issue of international coalition of cities against racism and discrimination, Pierre Sané noted that this is the result of an "initiative developed after the World Conference on Racism held in Durban in 2001. Since then, it has been proposed to various cities around the world. To date, regional coalitions are functioning in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific, Africa and the Arab region.
I am delighted with this result. The challenge now is to mobilize the cities so that they engage in concrete actions to end the exclusion and promote citizenship”.

While welcoming the birth of this international coalition, Pierre Sané called, at this time of commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, for the continuation of "this revolution started the same day that oppression was invented”.

I invite you to take inspiration from Martin Luther King who, the day after a bomb explosion at his home, wrote that he heard an inner voice, calm and reassuring, saying: "Martin Luther, stand up to defend all that is good. Stand up to defend justice. Stand up to defend the truth”. If murderous bullets ended up taking the life of this apostle of peace, it remains that his work continues to inspire a global, local and multifaceted movement which is determined to achieve this common ideal represented by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is up to all of us to make our contribution to the construction of this declaration”.

Photo: © Phil Journe/SPIDH

Document Type Speech
Author(s) Sané, Pierre
Publisher UNESCO, Sector for Social and Human Sciences
Publication Year 2008
Keywords human rights, international coalition of cities against racism and discrimination



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