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Release: Immediate

Last living Universal Declaration of Human Rights signee to speak at UI Oct. 30

IOWA CITY, Iowa ­ Fereydoun Hoveyda, said to be the last living signee of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, will present an oral history of the Declaration and advancements in human rights at a University of Iowa lecture at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 at Buchannan Auditorium in the Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

Hoveyda will speak about his work as a contributor to Les Cahiers du Cinema, a magazine that has influenced contemporary cinematic theory and technique at a showing of the Iranian film Gabbeh, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 at Becker Communications Studies Building.

Hoveyda was an Iranian ambassador to the United Nations from 1971-79 and was one of a 60-member delegation who voted to adopt the Declaration on Dec. 10, 1948.

The UI is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration with various Global Focus: HR'98 events featuring Nobel Prize winning speakers, events, and conferences on the topic.

Hoveyda is the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations. His brother was the Shah of Iran, who was assassinated in 1979.

"He is, for obvious reasons, a natural selection as a featured speaker," says Burns Weston, UI professor of law and lead organizer of the UI's yearlong Human Rights commemoration.

"And what a wonderful opportunity it will be for us to compare 1948 expectations with 1998 realities," Weston says.

In an interview earlier this year with the Diplomatic World Bulletin, Hoveyda said he was told to remain silent while the document was being negotiated because the Declaration was merely a non-binding declaration that contained only recommendations and goals to be reached with no timetable for implementation.

"Although I did as I was instructed, I found myself, by a quirk of fate, actively involved in the finalization of the text," he said in the Bulletin interview.

"Over the past 50 years, both as a diplomat and writer, I have witnessed the ever growing influence of the Declaration around the world. It has been used more and more in the defense and advancement of people's rights. It's principles have been included in and continue to inspire national legislation of many states," Hoveyda said.

Hoveyda is a film producer and writer and a promoter of Iranian cinema, which he says can be used to advance human rights and promote national and international discourse on human rights issues. He received the Leopold Senghor Literary Prize from the French Language Cultural and Technical Society in 1973 for the Snows of Sinai and was named a Planetary Citizen by the United Nations for his work on global disarmament.

He organized the first conference on international literacy for the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and has written 12 works of fiction and non-fiction, which includes "The Fall of the Shah."

His visit is sponsored by the International and Comparative Law Program of the College of Law, the Institute for Cinema and Culture and The Stanley Foundation.