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30th anniversary of the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights (APDH)

Letter to the Presidents of the APDH and members of the Board and Presidium

15 December 2005

Letter to the presidents of the APDH, Bishop Aldo Etchegoyen, Mons. Miguel Hesayne, Dr Alberto Pedroncini and members of the Board and Presidium


Dear Friends,

We send you our warmest greetings from Geneva.

We are delighted to join you in celebrating the 30 years of existence of APDH.

Throughout these years APDH has demonstrated an unswerving commitment
to human rights in their widest sense. APDH was set up in response to the violence
and violations of human rights, especially civil and political rights, under
the military dictatorship in Argentina. From the outset it has been a courageous
network cutting across sectorial lines to unite the efforts of different social, political,
religious and popular circles for the defence of human rights and dignity.

After the dictatorship, APDH was able to open up its spectrum of action to include
economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.

I would like to emphasize two aspects of APDH over these three decades which
have seemed to us particularly significant: its ethical commitment and its ecumenical
character. The first of these meant adopting a holistic approach to the
subject of human rights, tackling the struggle for justice on a wide variety of
fronts, ranging from work with adults, education, women, children and young
people, health care, to legal aspects, peace-building, the right to development
and international relations. The different committees in various provinces in
Argentina focused their work on serious local problems.

The second aspect is obviously specially close to the vision we hold in World
Council of Churches. APDH for its part has reached beyond the Christian churches
and included representatives of other religious traditions in its governing bodies.

This has made APDH an outstanding witness to the commitment of the different
religious organizations to the cause of justice, peace and democracy, not
only in Argentina but, I would go so far as to say, in the region and, indeed, the
world.

The World Council of Churches has always been close to APDH, supporting
its work in different ways from the beginning. Members of its Board and Presidium
belong to our Central Committee, to the Churches' Commission on International
Affairs (CCIA) or honour us with a visit, notably when their work with the different
UN agencies for the defence of human rights brings them to Geneva. On
behalf of our General Secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, the Director of the Churches'
Commission on International Affairs (CCIA), Mr Peter Weiderud, the Coordinator
of the Latin America and Caribbean Desk, Ms Marta Palma and myself, please
accept our respectful and fraternal greetings.

We would very much like to be able to raise our glasses with you this evening
to mark the thirty years of ADPH's activities. Despite the distance that separates
us, our hearts are with you at this important landmark. May we, symbolically,
raise our glasses and drink a toast not so much to the thirty years that have gone,
but to the years that are to come, that APDH may continue its mission in defence
of life, justice, peace and democracy.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Guillermo Kerber
WCC programme executive