Cablegate: Embassy Conference Highlights Latin American and Catholic

P 021216Z JUL 08


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary. Ambassador Glendon recently hosted a substantive
and well-attended conference commemorating the 60th Anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the
critical contributions of Latin American countries and Catholic
social teachings to the creation of that document. In addition
to Ambassador Glendon, WHA Assistant Secretary Shannon and
Professor Paolo Carozza -- the newly elected chairman of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -- addressed the
conference. There was also a moving presentation by Pablo
Perez-Cisneros, the son of Guy Perez-Cisneros, who as Cuba's UN
delegate in 1940s played an important role in the creation of
the UDHR. More than 140 diplomats, academics, journalists, and
students attended the conference. Media coverage was extensive:
Ambassador Glendon's remarks were reprinted in their entirety in
the Vatican's daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, and
additional reports appeared in a wide variety of national and
international outlets. This conference is the first in a series
Embassy Vatican has planned on the theme of Human Rights. End

Honoring the Past, Committing to the Future

2. The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, together with the Chilean
and Costa Rican Embassies to the Holy See, sponsored a
conference entitled "The Latin American Human Rights Project:
Past, Present, and Future." The conference took place on May 2,
2008, at the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum. Speakers
at the conference included Assistant Secretary Thomas A.
Shannon, Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Prof. Paolo Carozza, Prof.
Maria Sara Rodriguez Pinto, Mr. Pablo Perez-Cisneros, Dr. Guzman
Carriquiry of the Holy See, as well as the Ambassadors of Chile,
Costa Rica, Panama, and Brazil to the Holy See. Financial
support for the conference was provided by the Knights of

3. The conference highlighted the oft-forgotten contributions
of Latin American countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, and Cuba
to the drafting and implementation of the UDHR, and underscored
the region's continuing contribution to the human rights
dialogue. Assistant Secretary Shannon examined the continuing
vitality of the human rights project in the Americas, while
Ambassador Glendon delivered a speech that highlighted the many
contributions of Latin American countries to the creation of the
UDHR. The background to those contributions was explored in a
speech by Professor Paolo Carozza in which he examined the
origins of the human rights tradition in Latin America. One
strong influence throughout the Latin American human rights
tradition was Catholic social thought, the subject of two
afternoon lectures by Dr. Guzman Carriquiry and Prof. Maria Sara
Rodriguez Pinto.

4. The important individual role played by Latin American
delegates at the time of the UDHR's drafting was the subject of
moving tributes. The principal leader of the Latin American
group in 1948 was a charismatic young Cuban representative named
Guy Perez Cisneros. His son, Pablo Perez-Cisneros, attended the
conference and recounted his father's contributions to the UDHR,
noting the gap between the Cuba of his father's day and the
deplorable state of human rights under the present regime. The
work of Guy Perez-Cisneros and other delegates was captured in a
12-minute video presentation featuring archival footage of
Eleanor Roosevelt and Guy Perez-Cisneros' UN speech in support
of the UDHR. The Chilean and Panamanian Ambassadors to the Holy
See also spoke about the contributions of their UN delegates to
the formation of the UDHR.

Media Coverage Highlights Human Rights

5. The conference themes reached an audience far beyond those
in attendance through wide-ranging press coverage in the
national and international media. In addition to full coverage
in the Vatican's daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano,
Ambassador Glendon also conducted interviews with ZENIT and
Catholic News Service, both of which are distributed
internationally in multiple languages, as well as with the
regional Italian daily La Sicilia. In addition, the
international TV and production company Rome Reports recorded
the entire conference for use in reports broadcast throughout
Central and South America. The conference was also was recorded
by Embassy personnel for use on Embassy Vatican's website, where
the speakers' remarks will be featured and published in their

Looking Ahead

6. The conference was the first in a series of planned
conferences designed to celebrate the 60th Anniversaries of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide
Convention by highlighting the shared commitment of the United
States and the Holy See to human rights and human dignity. The
next conference will take place on October 16, 2008, and will
examine the question of the universality of human rights in a
multi-cultural world.


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