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Nelson Mandela memorial provides time to reflect on human rights

Posted on December 10, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — There has never been a better time to reflect on the continuing push for global human rights as the world pauses to honour Nelson Mandela, the Liberal’s International Justice critic said on Tuesday.

Irwin Cotler said it’s fitting that leaders from many nations travelled to South Africa to honour the anti-apartheid icon, who died this week at age 95. A memorial service held with dozens of world leaders fell on Human Rights Day.

“Today, we commemorate the 65th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the Magna Carta of human rights – and reflect on the indispensable rights guaranteed to every child, woman, and man across the globe,’’ Cotter said on the website.

“While we honour this historic declaration, authored in part by Canadian John Peters Humphrey, we are given an opportunity to reflect with pride on our country’s vast contributions to the promotion of fundamental rights,” said Cotler, the MP for Mount Royal.

“As I attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial service today in South Africa, I am reminded of his life’s underlying message: that we have a responsibility to continue supporting and advancing human rights and equality for all. We must remain wholly devoted to realising these human rights and the ideals espoused in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in every corner of the world. As Mandela himself said, ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our resolute commitment to the promotion of fundamental human rights worldwide.”