“This year, England marks a significant anniversary that is felt here in Cyprus, as much as in the UK, and in over 100 other countries. It will be 800 years since the Magna Carta was sealed in Runnymede, a meadow by the Thames, in June 1215.
Anyone who is interested in seeing the document that has been described as England’s greatest export need only visit the British Library, where not one but two copies are on display in a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition.
The Magna Carta established for the first time that everyone, even the king, had to obey the law. This had significance going beyond England. It became embodied in the Rule of Law in over 100 countries, including Cyprus.
The document’s inspiration spread outside Europe, for example those who left England to settle in America; its principles are echoed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It has been used to argue for freedom of the press and for extending the vote to ordinary people and to women.
It is also the foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Written after the atrocities of World War II, this declaration states that people around the world are protected by fundamental human rights, regardless of their citizenship, race, gender or beliefs. Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that the Declaration may well become ‘the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere’.
Events are taking place around the UK to celebrate the anniversary of the Great Seal being placed on the document at Runnymede in June 1215, not least because the UK’s own stable and prosperous democracy is among the legacies of the Magna Carta”.
Ric Todd, British High Commissioner