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Department Spokesman Richard Boucher: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is an on-the-record briefing. The subject is the World Conference on Human Rights that's about to be held in Vienna. The briefers today are Counselor of the Department Timothy Wirth, who will be heading our delegation, and John Shattuck, the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, who also will be a prominent member of our delegation. I think Timothy Wirth has a short statement for you at the beginning to tell you a little bit about the conference.
Counselor Wirth: Richard, thank you very much, and thank you all for coming over. This is the first public event that we're having for this extremely important human rights conference which, as all of you know, will take place in a little less than 2 weeks in Vienna.
This is the first global human rights conference to be held in the post-Cold War period. The Administration views the world conference as a major opportunity to show U.S. support for the popular movements for freedom and democracy that are emerging all over the world.
These movements, as you know, have played a central role in ending the Cold War. Indeed, they've helped to change the political map, not just of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe but parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well.
This worldwide effort comes from the courageous men and women committed to advancing the cause of human rights and democracy, often at great sacrifice and risk. In re-committing itself to the goals and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United States honors the work of human rights advocates and non-governmental organizations from all cultures and continents who are helping to build a freer, safer, and more peaceful world.
We have two major goals for the human rights conference: first, the reaffirmation of the bedrock principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration enshrines what we believe are timeless principles. The gains for human rights that we see worldwide--the massive referendum for democracy in Russia, or the ballots just cast in Cambodia, the very strong changes in South Africa--these all, to us, reaffirm the universal human desire and right to live in freedom and dignity regardless of cultural differences.
Our second goal is to do everything that we can to strengthen the United Nations' ability to promote human rights. We have developed an action plan--and a copy of that is in your packets, the U.S. Draft Human Rights Action Plan--we have developed an action plan that, if adopted in the months ahead, would go far to improve the United Nations' effectiveness in addressing and resolving human rights problems. And there are a number of highlights of that which I'll go over with you and then stop:
First, ensuring greater effectiveness for the UN Human Rights Center and its advisory services and reporting activities;
Second, targeting UN assistance toward helping nations establish the rule of law, eliminate torture, and resolve ethnic, religious, and racial conflict;
Third, helping to integrate the rights of women and children into efforts throughout the UN system and supporting the appointment of a special rapporteur on violence against women;
Fourth, increasing the capacity of the United Nations to promote democracy by assisting in the conduct of elections and improving the administration of justice;
Fifth, integrating human rights considerations into UN activities, such as peace-keeping, refugee protection, conflict resolution, and development and humanitarian programs; and
Finally, creating the office of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a means of helping to accomplish all of these goals.
We have been working especially closely with non-governmental organizations across the United States in the development of the U.S. Draft Human Rights Action Plan and look forward to engaging them even more deeply in activities in …