Secretary Clinton will deliver two major speeches in the coming days on Women, Peace and Security.
Beginning in 1947, delegates from six continents devoted themselves to drafting a declaration that would enshrine the fundamental rights and freedoms of people everywhere. In the aftermath of World War II, many nations pressed for a statement of this kind to help ensure that we would prevent future atrocities and protect the inherent humanity and dignity of all people. And so the delegates went to work. They discussed, they wrote, they revisited, revised, rewrote, for thousands of hours. And they incorporated suggestions and revisions from governments, organizations, and individuals around the world.
At three o’clock in the morning on December 10th, 1948, after nearly two years of drafting and one last long night of debate, the president of the UN General Assembly called for a vote on the final text. Forty-eight nations voted in favor; eight abstained; none dissented. And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.
In the 63 years since the declaration was adopted, many nations have made great progress in making human rights a human reality. Step by step, barriers that once prevented people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, and the full benefits of humanity have fallen away. In many places, racist laws have been repealed, legal and social practices that relegated women to second-class status have been abolished, the ability of religious minorities to practice their faith freely has been secured.
In most cases, this progress was not easily won. People fought and organized and campaigned in public squares and private spaces to change not only laws, but hearts and minds. And thanks to that work of generations, for millions of individuals whose lives were once narrowed by injustice, they are now able to live more freely and to participate more fully in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities.
Now, there is still, as you all know, much more to be done to secure that commitment, that reality, and progress for all people. Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm.
Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will join World Food Program USA in honoring Howard G. Buffett and Bill Gates for their contributions to reducing global hunger on Monday, October 24, 2011 at the Department of State.
Vice President Biden will deliver keynote remarks at The Global Hunger Conference.
Following this address, there will be a panel discussion highlighting private sector efforts to address global hunger. Panel participants include former Secretary of Agriculture, the Honorable Dan Glickman, Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Cargill Greg Page, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and Bloomberg Television anchor Betty Liu who will moderate the discussion.
Secretary Clinton will present the George McGovern Leadership Award to Howard G. Buffett and Bill Gates, in recognition of their leadership in addressing food security among small scale farmers. The conference will conclude with a conversation between Secretary Clinton, Howard G. Buffett, Bill Gates, and Josette Sheeran, World Food Program Executive Director, focusing on efforts to address global hunger and create economic opportunity by helping small scale farmers through programs like Purchase for Progress.
Secretary Clinton was awarded the George McGovern Leadership Award in 2010 in recognition of the Obama Administration’s commitment and visionary approach to fighting global hunger and promoting food security worldwide.
The event will take place in the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin Franklin Room from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. It will be open to credentialed members of the media.