On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) held a two day conference in Paris on December 11 and 12, 2008 to celebrate and rededicate the Association to the principles articulated in the Declaration.
The IADL first paid tribute to the work of Rene Cassin, a principal author of the Declaration and first president of IADL, who had the foresight to recognize the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of the rights contained in the declaration.
During the conference, some speakers emphasized the important reality that for many people in the world the promises of the Universal Declaration remain a distant reality as poverty disease, hunger and the ravages of war preoccupy many people with the struggle for daily survival.
Other speakers emphasized the need to address crimes against humanity and the impact that impunity for violations of these rights as well as war crimes have in undermining the rule of law. Special mention was made of the ongoing dangers of nuclear weapons and the violations of human rights such as the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Other speakers addressed efforts by IADL to improve the conditions of workers, both nationals and migrant, and the need for IADL to continue its work to promote the right to peace. Others referred to the need to supplement the declaration with rights addressing the reality of the economic system which promotes production of arms and the roles of the international financial institutions having subjected many countries with crippling debt preventing many states from addressing the basic needs of the peoples.
Many speakers addressed the need for enforceable rights and the role of lawyers to take steps to require governments to act consistently to enforce these rights stated in the declaration. The lawyers in these struggles must be protected and judges who assert the independence of the judiciary must not be attacked.
Regardless of the perspective or emphasis of the speakers there were common themes which this conference affirms and declares:
We affirm as truth that the rights contained in the Universal Declaration that freedom justice and peace require the recognition of the inherent dignity and equal protection of the inalienable rights of all members of the human family
We affirm that all organs of society must strive to promote respect for the human rights contained in the declaration so that they may be secured
We call on the United Nations to re-double its efforts to enforce the Universal declaration of Human Rights and other conventions and covenants and ensure that its specialized human rights bodies to act in the spirit and letter of the UN charter, and avoid being used to achieve the political objectives of only certain powers.
We rededicate ourselves as a democratic lawyers organization to take all steps necessary to promote the implementation of these universal, indivisible interdependent and rights .