13 January 2023 - Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, at the award ceremony of the 2nd Stella Souliotis Human Rights Award

I have the honor to welcome you all to today’s ceremony for the 2nd annual award for Human Rights “Stella Souliotis”.

On December 10, we commemorated the 74th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration is a milestone in the history of humankind’s effort regarding this most sacred good and remains a shining beacon for progress and justice.

However, we express grave concern as we witness an ever-increasing pressure on human rights. The COVID pandemic, the environmental crisis together with the tremendous impact of the war in Ukraine, are proof that we need to redouble our efforts in order to safeguard and promote Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Therefore, there is still a great deal of work to be done in order to achieve the standards of the Declaration.

The international human rights agenda has always ranked high amongst the priorities of Cyprus. On a wide range of issues such as gender equality and the fight against human trafficking our firm commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights is imperative.

As staunch proponents of multilateralism and international cooperation, the Republic of Cyprus has decided to present its candidature for the first time, to the Human Rights Council for the period 2025-2027. We are confident that Cyprus, if elected, will make a meaningful contribution as a member of the Council.

With a view to encourage and highlight the impact of human rights activists and defenders in Cyprus we have established the ‘Stella Souliotis’ award.

In assessing the numerous candidates for the year 2022, the Committee of the ‘Stella Souliotis’ award has decided to grant it to Ms Androulla Christofidou Henriques, honouring her long-standing, tireless and impactful work against human trafficking.

Ms. Christofidou Henriques, as an activist and founder of the NGO “Cyprus Stop Trafficking” is one of those rare personalities that has significantly contributed towards alleviating human suffering and fighting against the violation of human dignity.

15 years later, the “Cyprus STOP Trafficking” Organization continues her legacy by supporting victims of human trafficking, as well as by forging a zero-tolerance approach towards this scourge in Cyprus.

I have the honour to present this award to Ms. Christofidou Henriques and to the Cyprus Stop Trafficking NGO, for their remarkable work and their daily struggle to improve the lives of victims of trafficking.

In closing, I would like to quote these words of wisdom by Eleanor Roosevelt, a champion of human rights and the inspiration behind the Universal Declaration:
“We must want our fellow human beings to have rights and freedoms which give them dignity and which will give them a sense that they are human beings that can walk the earth with their heads high and look all people in the face. If we observe these rights, for ourselves and for others, I think we will find that it is easier in the world to build peace because war destroys all human rights and freedoms, so in fighting for those we fight for peace”