20 June 2011
Pope John Paul II and the Promotion of Human Rights
Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
“The Promotion of Human Rights and John Paul II”
Palais des Nations, Assembly Hall, Door 15 (Conference)
Hall XIV (Exhibit and Reception)
Monday, 20 June 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a huge pleasure to welcome you all for this very special event, held to commemorate the life and work of Pope John Paul II. I particularly thank the Permanent Missions of the Holy See and of the Republic of Poland for organizing the unique programme which recognizes the contributions of John Paul II in the area of human rights.
Pope John Paul II was really a great man. He was a consistent promoter of peace and human rights who belonged to the whole of mankind regardless of religious affiliations. He frequently acknowledged that solid and lasting foundations for building peace could only be established through the promotion of the dignity of the individual person – a centrepiece of his teaching. He highlighted that when human rights are ignored, the seeds of instability and violence are inevitably sown.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
The respect for human rights forms one of the core principles of the work of the United Nations. It is enshrined in international law through the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Additionally, a host of international treaties and other universal instruments protect these rights. Without safeguarding human rights, the important work of the United Nations in international peace and security and development would not be possible. Here in Geneva, which is the world’s human rights capital, and across the globe, the United Nations family works together with Governments to help them promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
I had the honour to be one of those who organized the visit of Pope John Paul II to Kazakhstan in 2001 and accompanied him during his unforgettable and extremely impressive event.
Let the quest of Pope John Paul II for peace and universal human rights inspire us all. As he once said, “What unites us is so much more than what separates and divides us: it is our common humanity”.
Thank you very much.