VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2008 ( Ignoring the ethical basis for human rights implies that their protection and respect is always on fragile ground, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today in an event organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Holy Father called the declaration "a very high point of reference in the intercultural dialogue on liberty and the rights of man."

He said that man's dignity is "guaranteed only when all his fundamental rights are recognized, protected and promoted."

The Pontiff went on to affirm that these human rights are "a universal fact" because they are inscribed in human nature itself.

"The natural law, written by God in the human conscience, is a common denominator for all men and for all peoples; a universal guide that all can know and on the basis of which all can understand one another," he said. "The rights of man are, therefore, ultimately founded in God the Creator . […] If one ignores this solid ethical base, human rights remain fragile because [they are] deprived of a solid foundation."

Benedict XVI said that today's 60th anniversary is therefore an "occasion to verify in what measure the ideals, accepted by the greater part of the community of nations in 1948, are respected today in the different national legislations and, even more so, in the conscience of individuals and of the collectivity."

"Undoubtedly," he contended, "a long road has already been traveled, but a long track remains to be completed: Hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters still see their rights to life, liberty and security threatened; the equality of all and the dignity of each is not always respected, while new barriers are raised for reasons linked to race, religion, political opinions or other convictions."

Thus, the Pope said, the need to promote and better define human rights is still current.

He concluded voicing his prayer that "God, Father of all men, will enable us to build a world where every human being feels accepted with full dignity, and where relations between individuals and peoples are governed by respect, dialogue and solidarity."