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Home > News > PTI

UN announces human rights awards

Dharam Shourie at the United Nations | December 03, 2003 14:00 IST

Former top United Nations envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in a terrorist attack on the world body's headquarters in Baghdad, is among six individuals and groups who have won this year's UN awards for human rights.

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Attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad

Sergio de Mello, who was UN high commissioner for refugees, was temporarily acting as the secretary-general's special representative in Iraq when a truck bomb destroyed the headquarters, killing 22 people.

Other winners include an Argentine grandmother who tracks missing children, a Jordanian group which fights domestic violence, a West African women's peace network, an American founder of a group that tracks human rights worldwide and a Chinese who advocates rights of disabled.

The awards have been presented every five years since 1968, with the exception of 1983, under a United Nations General Assembly resolution and are meant to honour those making outstanding contribution in promotion and protection of civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.

Generally, the United Nations selects only five individuals or organisations, but this year an exception was made to honour Sergio de Mello.

The awards will be presented on December 10 at a ceremony to be held in the General Assembly hall, Assembly President Julian Hunte said on Tuesday.

The five winners will receive a commemorative plaque.

Besides Sergio de Mello, others who have won the award include Barnes de Carlotto, president of the Association Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo established in 1977 to look for hundreds of children who disappeared following the 1976 military coup in Argentina.

Pufang Deng of China, son of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and founder-director of the Chinese Disabled Persons Federation, which fights for the rights of the disabled, will also be given the award.

The Family Protection Project Management Team in Jordan which helped to promote open discussion of such taboo subjects as domestic violence, gender equality and other human rights issues is one of the winners.

In the US, Shulamith Koenig who heads the People's Movement for Human Rights Education, founded in 1988 to create a global human rights culture, has been honoured for her work with educators, social justice groups and human rights experts.

The Mano River Women's Peace Network, which brings together women's organisations in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and has initiated projects to demobilise and reintegrate child soldiers, has also been bestowed with the award.

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