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Taking the human rights message to the Russian public

“If someone had told me 45 years ago I would be able to participate in a discussion on human rights publications at a Moscow book fair, I would have declared that person insane!” These words from veteran Russian human rights activist Ludmilla Alexeeva summed up the positive nature of the discussions at the recent roundtable organized by the UN Human Rights presence (OHCHR) in Moscow.

The UN stall at the Moscow Book Fair attracts thousands of visitors © UN photoThe roundtable was held in conjunction with Moscow’s annual International Book Fair, an event which attracts thousands of visitors eager to view the more than 200 thousand titles on display.

The UN Country Team in Russia jointly prepares a display which this year attracted interest from around 5,000 attendees at the Fair.

To coincide with the Fair, OHCHR, along with the Council of Europe organized a discussion with the theme “Human rights education and promotion” attended by representatives from human rights groups, academia and international organizations. Participants were able to learn about the OHCHR facilitated Human Rights Masters Programme, which was established and launched at three Moscow universities, with the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in the lead and with the active collaboration of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization.

OHCHR took the opportunity to launch its CD-Rom which contains a comprehensive collection of official documents, international Human Rights instruments, treaty body recommendations, as well as all OHCHR publications translated into Russian and the full record, including video footage, of the Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation at the Human Rights Council in 2009.

The UN Human Rights presence also presented its Manual on Human Rights which will be distributed to court and law enforcement agencies and other interested parties. It will support an initiative between OHCHR and the Supreme Court aimed at strengthening the application of international human rights law in national judicial practice.

The discussion featured a number of veteran human rights defenders including Alexeeva who took the floor to talk about their priorities and activities.

OHCHR’s senior human rights Adviser in Moscow, Dirk Hebecker welcomed the attention generated through the UN participation at the Fair. “OHCHR made many new contacts, including with publishers and libraries some of whom are interested in incorporating Russian versions of human rights documents and publications in their search engines,” he said.

“Speak up. Stop discrimination.” is the theme for Human Rights Day 2010 which will pay tribute to the work of human rights defenders globally.

22 October 2010