Tuesday, June 3, 2008

UN human rights head decries "perpetuation of prejudice"

In a valedictory speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council today, Louise Arbour has challenged the continued oppression of women and sexual minorities.

She is to step down later this month as the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"A failure to understand or accommodate diversity has inevitably led to an erosion of the rights of minorities and vulnerable people within a country, and those of individuals who move across borders, including refugees or migrants," she told the 47-member council.

"Fears and mutual suspicions, engendered by the security environment that has prevailed in the past few years, have exposed minorities to additional risks and abuse.

"The perpetuation of prejudices continue to deny equal rights and dignity to millions worldwide on the basis of nothing more innocuous than their sexual identity or orientation, or their ancestry, in the case of caste discrimination.

"Whether these are explicitly articulated grounds of prohibited discrimination or not, it remains that they are immutable personal attributes, or, as in the case of religious adherence, they are personal choices that could only be forcibly abandoned at an unconscionable personal cost.

Read the rest here.

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