Upcoming UN conference to focus on Declaration of Human Rights

19 August 2008Around 2000 civil society groups are slated to attend the upcoming annual United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) conference on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which will focus this year on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a senior UN official said today. Kiyotaka Akasaka, Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, told a press briefing that the DPI-NGO conference will be held in Paris from 3 to 5 September, the first time the event is being staged outside New York since it was inaugurated 61 years ago.Mr. Akasaka added that he hoped the new venue would provide an opportunity to reach out to a new constituency of NGOs, particularly those in developing countries.The theme of this year’s conference will be “Reaffirming Human Rights for all – the Universal Declaration at 60”. Mr. Akasaka described its focus on human rights as “timely and relevant.” Key participants are expected to include former French health minister and human rights activist Simone Veil, and Ingrid Betancourt, who was recently released from six years in captivity in Colombia, and who will address the conference by video link from UN headquarters. The conference will take a different format from previous years, with expert panels and human rights defenders taking part in round-table discussions. The chair of the conference, Shamina de Gonzaga, told the briefing that while there was no pretence that the Universal Declaration has been fully implemented, conference participants were trying to recognize the work of NGOs, the UN and Member States in making it a reality. To prepare for the conference, DPI has launched a website in English and French, designed to provide useful information to NGOs which are participating in the conference.

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