THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Human Rights Day 1998 and Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
President Clinton today commemorates Human Rights Day and marks the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the U.N. General Assembly declaration affirming fundamental freedoms and human rights for all people. On the historic anniversary of the UDHR, President Clinton announces several policy initiatives to advance human rights at home and abroad. He also honors four distinguished American human rights leaders as the inaugural recipients of the newly-created Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.
Human Rights Policy Initiatives
Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force behind the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To honor her commitment to the principles of the Declaration the President established the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.
For the inaugural recipients of this new award, the Secretary of State recommended, and the President approved, four distinguished American human rights leaders.
Robert L. Bernstein, founder of the Fund for Free Expression as well as Human Rights Watch and retired chairman of Random House.
Representative John Lewis, life-long civil rights leader.
Bette Bao Lord, human rights activist, China scholar and novelist.
Dorothy Q. Thomas, women's rights activist responsible for groundbreaking research and advocacy on human rights violations against women around the world.
1998 ELEANOR ROOSEVELT AWARD CITATIONS:
ROBERT L. BERNSTEIN
Robert Bernstein has dedicated his life to giving voice to the voiceless, from publishing banned books to founding the groups that led to the creation of Human Rights Watch. His ceaseless efforts have increased both our determination and ability to oppose human rights violations wherever they occur. We honor him today for a life devoted to the active defense of freedom and dignity throughout the world.
For 40 years John Lewis has been at the vanguard of the civil rights struggle. From Freedom Rides to the House of Representatives, he has educated and mobilized generations of Americans in the crusade against injustice. He often did so at great personal risk, yet he never deviated from his commitment to peaceful change through nonviolent means. We honor him today for his uncompromising heroism in the face of bigotry and his unswerving commitment to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
BETTE BAO LORD
Born in China, raised in the United States, Bette Bao Lord has dedicated her life to the defense of liberty, particularly through her inspired leadership of Freedom House. One of her books on China includes the story of a boy who flies a kite each day outside a prison so that his captive father will see the kite and not lose hope. Her work has similarly sustained hope in countless others. We honor her today for her own activism and for setting a high standard for human rights and democracy activists around the world.
DOROTHY Q. THOMAS
Dorothy Thomas has played a leading role in efforts to define and defend women's rights around the world. Through her work at Human Rights Watch, she has raised global awareness of state-sponsored violence and discrimination against women and helped reshape international law to fight these abuses. We honor her today for her courageous advocacy of women's rights as basic human rights.