Canada Marks Human Rights Day

(No. 378 - December 10, 2009 - 12:20 p.m. EST) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement marking Human Rights Day and the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Today, with countries around the world, we celebrate Human Rights Day, which honours the United Nations’ 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reminds us that we need to constantly promote and protect human rights around the world.

“Canada is proud of its long-standing commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Our government is fully committed to promoting freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

“For example, Canada remains concerned about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, and together with other like-minded governments, has maintained pressure on key members of the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the rights of the citizens of that country.

“Canada has imposed the toughest sanctions in the world against Burma, in condemnation of the regime’s complete disregard for human rights and its repression of the democratic movement.

“Canada continues its leadership in the world by serving as the lead coordinator for a co-sponsored UN human rights resolution on Iran, which expresses serious concern about the systemic human rights violations committed by Iran.

“Human Rights Day is an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifices made by the many individuals worldwide who have risked their life and liberty to defend the rights of others. Canada will continue to advocate for the full realization of the promise set out in the Universal Declaration: ‘that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’

“We should also never forget that Canadians have paid a high price to support the Government of Afghanistan and Afghan organizations in building up their capacity to ensure respect for human rights and to meet Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, including for women and girls.

“As Prime Minister Stephen Harper emphasized in his recent visit to China, fundamental values like freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law go hand in hand with economic progress. To Canadians, these attributes are inseparable. Canada will continue to raise issues of freedom and human rights, and to be a vocal advocate and an effective partner for human rights reform.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874