THE EARTH TIMES
APRIL 22, 1993
Kheel named special advisor by UN
Lawyer will widen public interest in global parleys
By Ashali Varma
UNITED NATIONS—-The UN has names Theodore W. Kheel as Special Advisor to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, scheduled to be held in Vienna from June 14 to 25. Under the aegis of the Earth Pledge Foundation which he heads—-Kheel, an internationally known lawyer and mediator, and publisher of The Earth times, has enlisted a panel of distinguished lawyers to promote public interest in the Vienna Conference.
Kheel was named Special Advisor to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights by Ibrahima Fall, the Secretary General of the Conference, and Assistant Secretary General of the UN.
Fall said that he was honored that Kheel had agreed to assist the UN in widening public awareness of “one of the most significant conferences” the world body had ever planned.
Kheel announced last week that the Earth Pledge Foundation –which sponsors The Earth Times was initiating an essay contest on human rights. Essays of up to 500 words in the five official UN languages –English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian –were being solicited from readers of the newspaper. The first prize will be an original signed print, titled “Last Turn, Your Turn, “by Robert Rauschenberg, the internationally acclaimed artist. The print is based on a painting that Rauschenberg did last year for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and is valued at more than $5,000 per print, and is rapidly becoming a collector’s item. The second and third prizes will consist of other Rauschenberg prints.
Prize -winning entries will be announced in a subsequent edition of The Earth Times, Kheel said. The winners will be honored at the Vienna Conference.
In addition to the essay contest, Kheel is planning to hold seminars in New York to draw public attention to the Vienna Conference. Eminent lawyers and public figures concerned with human rights would be asked to participate, Kheel said. He emphasized that his own role in promoting the Vienna Conference was on an honorary basis.
“Human rights are directly linked with sustainable development,” Kheel said last week. “It is meaningless to talk about development unless there are genuinely democratic conditions in a society. And democracy explicitly means a society free of human rights abuses. Human rights is a concept applicable to rich and poor countries alike.”
Kheel said that he had invited the president of the Bar Association of the City of New York, John D. Feerick –Dean of Fordham Law School– to be on the panel of judges for the human rights essay contest.
Therese Gastaut, chief spokesperson for the World Conference on Human Rights, said that the UN was delighted to be able to enlist Kheel’s participation. She noted that Kheel’s long and distinguished career as a lawyer and mediator was characterized by involvement in social and philanthropic issues. Among other things, Kheel served as president of the National Urban League, and has long been active in the civil rights movement.
Kheel founded the Earth Pledge Foundation in 1991 after he was invited by Maurice F. Strong, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to form and head the Earth Summit Committee to Promote the Pledge. The foundation has a tax-exempt status.