Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton commemorated Human Rights Day by presenting the Eleanor Roosevelt Award to four American human rights defenders for their contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights both in the United States and abroad. This year's honorees -- Professor Louis Henkin, Alice Hartman Henkin, Wade Henderson, and Sarah Cleto Rial -- were selected for the extraordinary work they have done to improve human rights, both at home and abroad. During the awards ceremony, Secretary Clinton said:
"I also want to begin by recognizing the brave men and women around the world who are being persecuted, jailed, or tortured today as we speak for promoting human rights and freedom. We remember them every single day and among them is the Chinese writer, Liu Xiaobo, who has now been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Liu was not there, as you know, to accept the prize, and nor was his wife nor anyone related or connected to him because he is serving an 11-year prison sentence on charges related to his peaceful advocacy for human rights and democracy. And we continue to call for his release, and today, we call for the release of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
"In Cuba, the determined women of Damas de Blanco have endured harassment, beatings, and arrest as they march every week, as they once again did yesterday, in support of their husbands and sons who are longtime political prisoners. In Zimbabwe, activists have been arrested, abducted, or beaten after calling attention to human rights abuses and the plight of the poor. And unfortunately, I could go on and on. And there are so many places where we don't yet see the realization of the rule of law and the recognition of the basic freedoms that are universal.
"These rights that are being denied people are written plainly and simply in the Universal Declaration, because Eleanor Roosevelt stood for a basic principle. The language of a document intended to be universal had to be so clear that anyone could understand it. And if you read, as I do, international treaties and agreements -- you know that the fact Eleanor succeeded was nothing short of a miracle. So I hope that people around the world, including those of us in our government, will celebrate this day by rereading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and reconfirming our commitment to work in any way we can to make good on its promise, which includes the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.
"In the past two years, I have traveled literally hundreds of thousands of miles, visited 77 countries, and have advocated for human rights everywhere from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan. And the array of issues that we are working on seems to broaden as we grapple with problems that were not on people's minds when the declaration was drafted.
"Now of course, Eleanor Roosevelt and the other drafters understood that human rights means much more than just political freedom. She wanted to honor the inherent dignity and value of the human being, which to her meant equal rights for every man, woman and child; freedom from want and fear; the opportunity for every person to develop his or her full God-given potential. And it is up to us to harness these ideas to meet the challenges that we now face. So therefore, we must speak out when people are not free to vote or practice their religion; when girls are trafficked or married against their will; when boys are forced to become child soldiers.
"This year, our diplomats have worked on food security and the need to nourish all babies in the first vital 1,000 days of life. We've worked on internet freedom, international disability rights, ending sexual violence as a tool of warfare, diffusing ethnic tensions, and so much more. And we are particularly focused on helping those who are on the front lines in their own countries. And we try to think very hard about what strategy will help and not just get us a headline or get us attention, because that's not the goal. The goal is to make it possible for people who are very brave, in ways that many of us cannot even imagine, actually realize their full freedoms."