Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, Polish labor leader Lech Walesa and U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar joined champions of human dignity from around the world Saturday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"States can no longer abuse their sovereignty without damaging their international image," Perez de Cuellar said during the solemn two-hour ceremony at the Chaillot Palace where the declaration was signed.The Peruvian diplomat spoke at the ceremony after flying to Paris from Oslo, where he accepted the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize Saturday on behalf of U.N. peacekeeping forces.
In a new era of glasnost, the Russian word for a program of political openness promoted by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the anniversary celebration also brought together for the first time two of the most vocal critics of communist regimes - Sakharov and Walesa.
The two Nobel Peace Prize winners, both veterans of house arrest, met privately in Walesa's hotel room Saturday and again at a luncheon organized by Danielle Mitterrand, wife of French President Francois Mitterrand.
Bronislaw Geremek, a senior aide of Walesa, said the two men agreed that reforms introduced by Gorbachev in the Soviet Union also ought to be applied in Poland.
Sakharov told Walesa, "You are the leader of a movement, and you have a whole people behind you," according to Geremek.
Yelena Bonner, Sakharov's wife and partner in the Soviet human rights struggle, flew from Moscow Friday to be reunited with her husband for the ceremony. Sakharov, barred from traveling to the West to receive his Nobel prize in 1975, traveled to Paris after a monthlong visit to the United States.
Walesa, founder of the outlawed Solidarity labor union, arrived from Warsaw on his first foreign visit since Polish authorities outlawed Solidarity under martial law in 1981.
Mitterrand praised the human rights activists, who were among several hundred guests invited to the palace, which faces the Eiffel Tower across the River Seine and has the words of the Declaration of Human Rights inscribed on its stone facade.
"All have set an example of what it means to consecrate one's life by thought and by action to the cause of liberty," the Socialist leader said.
The declaration, now published in the native languages of all countries, states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood."