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Release No: 671-97
December 10, 1997

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen - Message to all Soldiers

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen sent a message to all soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines on December 10th thanking them for their contributions to the goals of the international Human Rights Day. The text of the message was as follows:

"I would like to take this opportunity to recognize International Human Rights Day, December 10th, and to express my thanks to the men and women of our Armed Forces, who do so much to protect and uphold these rights every day, worldwide.

"Almost fifty years ago, on this date, the United States and most of the international community signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among the rights listed in this document are: freedom from torture; the right to life, liberty, and personal security; freedom from arbitrary arrest or exile; the right to free movement in and out of any country; and the right to participate in free elections. The presence of American troops in Haiti, Bosnia, and other places has helped ensure such rights for tens of thousands of people. There is no question that countless violations of human rights have been prevented by our presence in these troubled countries. In a broader sense, our missions of protecting regional stability and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction also contribute to the objectives of this day.

"The United States has a responsibility to display not only political leadership in the world, but moral leadership as well. Our Armed Forces take this responsibility seriously. All American military personnel receive instruction in the Law of War, so that our troops will uphold the highest standards of respect for human rights in their treatment of civilian populations and captured combatants. These standards are also an important guide in our relations with military personnel from other countries with which we train and operate.

"In recognizing international Human Rights Day, I thank you and your families for your contributions."

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