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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Statement at a High Level Event to mark 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, New York

High Level Event to mark 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

A Prevention Tool to Achieve Peace and Sustainable Development

Statement by Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland

New York, 26 September 2018


Mr. Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen,

This year Iceland celebrates the centenary of becoming a free and sovereign nation. We have emphasized freedom and democracy from the outset and striven to honor the fundamental values of human rights. Through the progress we have made, we have seen how increased respect for the human rights of all, and more equal participation of each and every person in our society, has underpinned prosperity and well-being.

The lessons we have drawn from our own history and from the history of the last seventy years is that only through international cooperation, by promoting human rights and democracy and working towards a more equal world, can we maintain peace and prosperity. An inclusive peace has proven to be a more lasting peace – a message that Iceland emphasises in the United Nations Human Rights Council where we have recently taken a seat.

The birth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a landmark event in this context. It is the foundation document for our efforts to promote human rights and equality for all, as well as sustainable development.

Unfortunately, we seem to be witnessing an erosion of respect for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is no coincidence that this development has brought uncertainty and anxiety – deep down we all know that without focus on human rights we will find it hard to improve our world and reach peace where there is currently none.

Only by respecting the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can we ensure a more peaceful future.

Thank you.


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