The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an occasion to highlight the unambiguous and absolute prohibition on torture and all forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It is also an opportunity to express solidarity with the suffering of torture victims and their families, and to reaffirm the need for a global commitment to rehabilitate all victims of all such abuse.
This day is special in other ways as well. It marks the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention against Torture. Yet even after two decades, this instrument falls well short of universal ratification. Today, I urge all UN Member States who have not yet done so to accede to the Convention, and to consider joining the Optional Protocol to this Convention. This "optional" protocol contains several compelling norms, including a vital check on torture by a system of international and national visits to places of detention.
This is also the first year that the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance - another milestone in the struggle to eliminate torture - has been open for signature. I hope that all UN Member States will sign and ratify this convention as early as possible. Joining this new instrument will prove an unequivocal expression of the international community's determination to address not only torture but also its most egregious enabling conditions.
As we join hands against torture, and adhere unequivocally to the notion that torture is unacceptable, we must never forget its victims. The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture supports organizations assisting victims of torture and their families. Let me use this occasion to thank all donors to the Fund, and to encourage even more giving to this worthy cause.
On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture let us speak with one voice against the perpetrators of torture, and for all who suffer at their hands. And let us build a better, more humane world for all people everywhere.