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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 16:00 GMT

Violent century spurs debate on human rights

Anniversaries are usually a time for celebration. But Thursday December 10 - the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - is more a time for reflection. The last half century has seen genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. The proposed extradition of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet shows that a "universal" view of human rights has not yet arrived.

BBC News Online provides a guide to the Declaration and asks two experts whether they believe it has made a difference.

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The greatest achievement of our century
Amnesty International's Neil Durkin says impunity for crimes against humanity is becoming all but impossible in a world that has absorbed the values of the Universal Declaration.

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Not without difficulties
London School of Economics Professor Chaloka Beyani argues that the weaknesses of international law sometimes make implementing the Declaration impossible.

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Fast facts: The UN Declaration of Human Rights
BBC News Online guide to the Declaration and its implementation.

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BBC correspondent despatches
What's happening on the ground in: Rwanda, Turkey, Indonesia and Russia

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In this section

Violent century spurs debate on human rights

Our century's greatest achievement

Not without difficulties

Fast facts: The Declaration of Human Rights

Human rights in Indonesia: Exorcising the past