Celebrate Human Rights!
2011 has been an incredible year for human rights. People worldwide, from the Arab Street to Wall Street, have taken an unprecedented stand for their basic human rights and dignity. That's why the United Nations has declared "Celebrate Human Rights" as the theme of the upcoming International Human Rights Day, commemorated this Saturday, December 10.
International Human Rights Day marks the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was passed on this date in 1948. The declaration is accepted by virtually all nations and includes 30 articles that establish a broad range of essential rights that all people are entitled to. It happens to be the most translated document in the world, written in 382 languages. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and U.N. offices throughout the world are hosting events to celebrate the anniversary.
Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement on the upcoming event, declaring that millions of individuals have "dusted off the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and demanded 'freedom from fear and freedom from want.'" Thousands of people have marched, rallied, and occupied public spaces to demand that their voices be heard, empowering themselves against governments to which they have long been powerless.
This international movement has transformed the entire world order. Pillay said, "In 2011, the very idea of 'power' shifted. During the course of this extraordinary year, it was wielded not just by mighty institutions in marble buildings, but increasingly by ordinary men, women, and even children, courageously standing up to demand their rights." Citizens have reminded regimes long-known for weak human rights records that their legitimacy is entirely derived from popular support.
The High Commissioner will host an interactive event using social media to commemorate Human Rights Day on Friday at 9:30 am EST. Participants can send questions to Pillay by attending the event on Facebook or on Twitter by using the #AskRights hashtag. This use of social media to commemorate the advances made for human rights this year is extremely fitting, since social media is largely responsible for the success of many revolutions. Pillay acknowledged social media changing the human rights landscape when she said that in 2011 "human rights went viral."
Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have become tools for social change, connecting activists and reformers to audiences throughout the world. They also strengthen the sense of global community as protestors and activists connect and inspire each other across oceans and continents. These tools have also made it increasingly difficult for governments to censor and repress their people, making it harder for images of violence to be kept under wraps.
Incredible advances for human rights have been made in the last year. Let's join together this weekend to celebrate this progress. Click here to watch the live webcast of the conversation with High Commissioner Pillay on human rights.
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