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Annan urges greater efforts to protect human rights worldwide

[JURIST] Outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] has called for greater efforts to protect human rights worldwide in a speech [text; recorded video] marking International Human Rights Day [official website]. Annan on Friday acknowledged that the UN has often failed to live up to its own responsibility in the area, and expressed disappointment that his hope of establishing human rights as a "third pillar" of the institution, complementing peace and security, has not materialized as he would have liked. Pointing out several persisting challenges, he called on states to accept responsibility for taking preventive action before genocide occurs. Referring to disasters in Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, Annan noted, "Sixty years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, and 30 years after the Cambodian killing fields, the promise of 'never again' is ringing hollow." He said the establishment of the International Criminal Court [JURIST news archive] and special tribunals has helped to put an end to impunity, but the failure to apprehend criminals such as Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, and the leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army [JURIST news archives] still thwarted the realization of that goal. Annan also challenged the international community to follow anti-terrorism strategies that did not violate human rights and to help countries install mechanisms that protect human rights domestically.

The speech marks one of the last for Annan, whose ten-year term expires next month. In January, incoming Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [BBC report] will assume the mandate. The UN News Service has more.

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