To mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan was awarded a copy of Cyrus the Great's edict Monday.
Anan, who was on an official visit to San Francisco, spoke at the Presidio Officers Club not far from where world leaders concluded talks that led to the formation of the United Nations shortly after World War II.
The award was presented by the Persian Center of northern California and the Silicon Valley chapter of the United Nations Association.
The nearly 2,500-year-old edict known as the “Cyrus Cylinder” has been called the first human rights proclamation by some scholars.
“My great army entered Babylon peacefully and I did not allow any harm to come to the land of babylonia and its people,” Cyrus' edict reads
“Babylonians' respectful manner and their places of worship touched me deeeply and I ordered that all should be free to worship their god without harm… I ordered all closed places of worship, from Babylonia to Assyria, Susa, Akkad and the lands beyond the Tigris, which were built in ancient times, to be reopened…”
The original “Cyrus Cylinder” is housed in the British Museum. The U.N. chief was awarded a gold-plated, limited-edition copy created by the Iranian artist, Nasser Ovissi.