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Ambassador Donahoe Welcomes Performance of ‘Human Writes’ at UN
February 27, 2012

Remarks at the Opening of the Human Writes Performance
Palais des Nations, Geneva

A dancing woman
A Forsythe Company dancer performs at the UN event


First and foremost, I wanted to thank you all for coming this evening.

It is with great pleasure that the U.S. Mission is supporting tonight’s performance; a cooperation between the Geneva-based Contemporary Dance Association and the Frankfurt-based Forsythe Company. “Human Writes” is choreographed by William Forsythe, the acclaimed American choreographer; a piece he conceived in collaboration with Columbia Law School Professor Kendall Thomas, who is also present.

The performance was made possible with extensive support from the Swiss Government and I’d like to thank my colleague Ambassador Martinelli at the Swiss Mission as well as my German colleague Ambassador Schumacher.

Tonight we are in for an awakening with this innovative performance highlighting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The idea is to allow spectators to reflect upon the history of human rights and the obstacles that prevent their full implementation.

Tonight’s performance will bring to life the document that has guided the commitment of the United States and the international community to protect human rights since its adoption on December 10, 1948: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In December for Human Rights Day, Secretary Clinton spoke to the international community in Geneva and reminded us that “This Declaration proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. With the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them. We are called on time and again in our work in Geneva to make real the words of the Universal Declaration. Let us answer that call for our people, our nations, and future generations, whose lives will be shaped by the work we do today.”

We reaffirm the high principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which continue to illuminate and inspire our work in the cause of human rights in the 21st century.

I’m very much looking forward to the performance tonight as previous performances of ‘Human Writes’ were met with critical acclaim in Istanbul, London, Dresden, Zurich and Brussels.  Thank you again for being here.

I’d now like to turn it over to Professor Kendall Thomas who will enlighten us on the development of Human Writes.