Dorothy Stang, an American nun murdered in Brazil three years ago and the slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto are among the recipients of a United Nations prize, awarded for outstanding work in the field of human rights, the General Assembly President has just announced.
Sister Stang of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur defended the human rights of the poor, landless and indigenous populations of the Anapu region of Brazil, in the northern state of Pará, for nearly 40 years, despite numerous death threats.
She worked with farmers to help rebuild their livelihoods, cultivate their land and defend their rights from loggers and ranchers, becoming a symbol of the fight to preserve the rainforest before being murdered in 2005.
Previous recipients of the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights have included Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Amnesty International in recognition of their contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This year's winners are Louise Arbour, Ramsey Clark, Carolyn Gomes, Denis Mukwege, and Human Rights Watch, as well as Benazir Bhutto and Dorothy Stang, who are being honored posthumously.
"As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we acknowledge the tireless work and invaluable contribution of these individuals and organizations that have fought to see the rights and freedoms embodied in this historic document become a reality for people in all corners of the world," said Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto.
"These awardees constitute symbols of persistence, valor and tenacity in their resistance to public and private authorities that violate human rights. They constitute a moral force to put an end to systematic human rights violations," Mr. D'Escoto said in a press release issued today.
The human rights prize was first awarded on 10 December 1968 on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is awarded every five years to coincide with the date. This year's award winners will receive their prize at a plenary meeting of the General Assembly 60 years after the landmark document was signed.