Rice. It is not the food most Nova Scotians would name if theywere asked about a bountiful meal. But rice is a staple in thediets of more than half the world’s population. The availability and distribution of this critical food will beone of the focuses on Dec. 10 as Nova Scotians celebrateInternational Human Rights Day. This year marks the 56th International Human Rights Day, theanniversary of the day that the United Nations adopted andproclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “It is appropriate that this year we are marking InternationalHuman Rights Day by acknowledging that 2004 is also the UnitedNations’ International Year of Rice,” said Mayann Francis, CEO ofthe Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. “We must never forget that the Universal Declaration of HumanRights clearly challenges us to concentrate on promoting a numberof rights and freedoms, including the right to a standard ofliving that allows adequate food, housing, clothing and health-care.” As part of this year’s Human Rights Day celebrations, a UnitedNations’ flag will be flying at Province House. Regional officesof the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission have also arranged forthe flag to be raised at town halls in Sydney, New Glasgow andDigby. To further encourage debate, schools in parts of the provincehave been provided with information on both the Declaration ofHuman Rights and on the United Nations’ International Year ofRice. And, in Halifax, a Human Rights Day forum will be hosted by theNova Scotia Human Rights Commission and by Partners AgainstRacism — a coalition of concerned individuals and organizationsdedicated to promoting and protecting human rights. To be held atthe St. Antonio Olympic Community Centre — at the corner ofCunard and Hunter streets — the forum is being called MakingRoom at the Table. It will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a”sustainable” breakfast and continue until noon with panels anddiscussions on issues regarding the availability, distribution,security and sustainability of food. Remarks will also be givenby Carolyn Bolivar-Getson, Minister responsible for the Status ofWomen; Lance Hale, vice-chair of the commission; Ms. Francis; andCherise Adjodha, executive director of the Nova Scotia PublicInterest Research Group. For more information on Universal Declaration of Human Rights seethe website at www.ohchr.org . For more information on the International Year of Rice see thewebsite at www.fao.org/rice2004/ .