UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo underscores growing concern around the world to improve human rights, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.
In a carefully worded statement issued by his press office, Ban said he hoped any disagreement over the award, which has infuriated Beijing, would not damage the global rights cause.
Awarding the 2010 prize to Liu "is a recognition of the growing international consensus for improving human rights practices and culture around the world," the statement said.
But it sought to balance the comment with praise for China which, it said, "has achieved remarkable economic advances, lifted millions out of poverty, broadened political participation and steadily joined the international mainstream in its adherence to recognized human rights instruments and practices."
Ban "expresses his sincere hope that any differences on this decision will not detract from advancement of the human rights agenda globally or the high prestige and inspirational power of the award," it added.
Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Vicki Allen