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UN Announces Human Rights Prizes - 2003-12-02

The United Nations has awarded a human rights prize to the late Special Envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in the bomb attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. Mr. Vieira De Mello had previously served as High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mr. Vieira De Mello was one of six recipients of the award.

The U.N. human rights prizes, issued once every five years, went this time to recipients from Argentina, West Africa, Jordan, China and the United States. The selection committee headed by General Assembly president Julian Hunte of St. Lucia added a special award to the Brazilian, Mr. Vieira De Mello.

"The special committee has decided that the special posthumous award will be given to the late U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil, who held many other high level positions within the United Nations, including most recently the Special Representative of the Secretary General in Iraq," said Mr. Hunte. "He served the U.N. cause relentlessly for more than 30 years."

Other recipients include Enriqueta Estela Barnes de Carlotto of Argentina. She is president of the Association of Plaza de Mayo grandmothers. The association was established in 1977 in response to the forced or involuntary disappearance of hundreds of children following Argentina's military coup in 1976.

Another honoree is the Mano river Women's Peace Network of West Africa. The network links women's organizations from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Among their projects is the demobilization of child soldiers and their reintegration into society.

Also honored was the Family Protection Project Management Team from Jordan. The team of seven men and five women is credited with helping to lift taboos on the subject of domestic violence.

Another of the recipients is Deng Pufang, director of China's Disabled Persons Federation. Mr. Deng, himself disabled with a spinal injury, founded the group in 1988 to act as an international advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Shulamith Koenig of the United States also was named for her work in creating what was termed a "global human rights culture." Ms. Koenig is founder and executive director of the People's Movement for Human Rights. The group, whose aim is to create a corps of human rights educators, has offices in each of the five U.S. geographic regions.

The awards are to be presented in a ceremony in New York marking U.N. Human Rights Day, December 10.