Proclamation 4705

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By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution of the United States. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In marking these anniversaries, we renew our dedication both to our own liberties and to the promotion of human rights everywhere on earth.

In our open society, a freely elected government, an independent judiciary, a free and vigorous press, and the vigilance of our citizens combine to protect our rights and liberties-civil, political, economic and social.

We can be proud of what we have achieved so far. Yet we cannot rest satisfied until the Bill of Rights is a living reality for every person in the United States. The Equal Rights Amendment would help do that by explicitly guaranteeing the basic rights of American women. I urge every state that has not yet done so to ratify this wise and necessary measure in the coming year.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets global standards that reflect the same vision that inspired our own Bill of Rights. Almost every country has endorsed the Declaration. Yet in too much of the world its promise is mocked.

Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary executions and torture, disappearances and acts of genocide still shatter the lives of millions. Fundamental human liberties are continually threatened by the silencing of political dissenters, by discrimination based on race, religion, ethnic origin and sex, by violations of the freedoms of assembly, association, expression and movement, and by the suppression of trade unions. And as the kidnapping and abuse of American Embassy employees in Iran have reminded us, the internationally protected rights of diplomatic envoys are a basic condition of civilized relations among nations.

Those who cause others anguish-whether they are the secret police of dictators, the faceless bureaucrats of totalitarian states or the chanting mobs of revolutionary zealots-must know that we will not defend them, but their victims.

Bill of Rights Day and Human Rights Day and Week should be marked by redoubled support for international efforts on behalf of the full range of human rights.

I renew my request to the Senate to give its advice and consent to the Genocide Convention, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights. I commend the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for holding hearings on these treaties, and I urge all Americans to support their ratification.

Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, president of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 10, 1979, as Human Rights Day and December 15, 1979, as Bill of Rights Day, and call on all Americans to observe Human Rights Week beginning December 10, 1979. Let us rededicate ourselves to promoting the ideals embodied in the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration so that, one day, they will be enjoyed by all peoples of the world.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourth.


[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:45 a.m., December 7, 1979]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).