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Monday, 30 June in Nantes: Human rights take centre stage
  The hall of the International Convention Centre in Nantes is somewhat animated on this sunny Monday morning, 30 June 2008. Men and women wearing dresses of different styles and national traditions, communicating in many and diverse languages are busy getting their accreditations in the beautiful building that will house from 30 June to 3 July 2008 the Third World Forum on Human Rights.
Pierre Sané, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, will sign this afternoon the official deed of the International Coalition of Cities against Racism, in the presence of representatives of six regional coalitions, during the opening ceremony of this important event, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, the exhibitions decking the hall set the tone, introducing the participants to pressing issues in the defense of human rights throughout the world. Drawings by local 9 to 12 year-old children illustrate the slogan: "Commit oneself to making everybody free and equal". Other drawings by Cambodian children demonstrate their priorities: "Commit oneself to feeding the world". Both slogans draw attention to the flaws and wounds of the world: exclusion, discrimination, gender disparity, poverty.

Contributing to historic continuity, the exhibition at the Nantes Convention Centre offers a glimpse at renowned men and women who dedicated their lives to the defense of human dignity. There are posters dedicated to Rigoberta Menchu, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, representative of the struggle against discrimination towards Indians and Ladinos (people of mixed race) of the American continent. At the beginning of the 21st century, she embodies, together with Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, women committed to the cause of human dignity. There is Ngawang Sang Drol, born in 1977, who fights for her native Tibet. Other martyrs are celebrated: Martin Luther King, Nobel Peace Prize, assassinated in 1968, the leader of the non-violent protest of the black American community. His fellow citizen Rosa Parks who said "No" in December 1955 when told to move to the back of the bus in conformity with regulations in force at that time in the Southern states of the USA. Gandhi, murdered in 1948, campaigned to put an end to caste discrimination. The portrait gallery also reveals men and women who fought for the abolition of slavery, reminiscent of the city’s history of slavery. There is a portrait of Abbé Grégoire (18th century) who fought against slavery, Jules Vallès from Nantes who, in 1848, participated in a mass demonstration by the city’s high schools for the abolition of slavery.

Like a vigil, the exhibition in the lobby of the Nantes International Convention Centre will accompany four days of debates in the city of Nantes devoted to human rights, fundamental freedoms, the struggle against racism and all forms of discrimination around the world. So that nobody forgets.

Author(s) Nfaly « Vieux » Savané
Publication date July 2008
Publisher UNESCO
Keywords human rights

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