Human Rights
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Vaclav Havel
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1989 - 2003
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Human Rights 
'The axis of this newly emerging consciousness, and at the same time, the thing to be cultivated, encouraged and expanded, is a new type of human responsibility for the world. Along with all its natural responsibilities - by which I mean responsibility for family, community, national or cultural society, for company or country - humanity, which is to say every individual, should become increasingly aware that it bears a responsibility for the whole world. All the other responsibilities, which are naturally closer to us as individuals, yet only partial responsibilities all the same, must be reflected against this wider background. '
Chulalungkorn University, Bangkok, February 12, 1994

Editor´s comment

Concern for human rights and global responsibility for their observance have always been a central theme of Václav Havel’s personal philosophy and it is therefore reflected prominently in his literary oeuvre. The theme was a cardinal feature of his work during the period of resistance to Communist rule in both Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. It continued to be no less an urgent issue after the establishment of a democratic state, and as President he devoted many speeches to it both at home and abroad. The underlying tenor of his thinking is the responsibility of every individual for the observance of human rights in every part of the world, mutual understanding and tolerance among all world civilisations, mutual respect for different traditions and religions, and active struggle against all manifestations of xenophobia and racism. Václav Havel has vigorously stressed the necessity of respect for the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, in his words, “constituted a global obligation from the very outset”. Within the framework of his international contacts he has contributed towards the release of prisoners of conscience, while also supporting the activities of Amnesty International, the People in Need Foundation and its One World Festival, and the work of international PEN. In the Czech Republic he has been prominently involved with the Romani issue and the Holocaust Phenomenon project. He also brought his authority to bear in establishing the offices of government Human Rights Commissioner and Ombudsman. Since leaving the office of President he has been involved in promoting respect of human rights, especially in Cuba, Belarus, Burma and North Korea.