UN marks human rights day with social media

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2011 3:04 PM

Human rights went viral in 2011 as people around the world used social media such as Twitter to protest against dictatorships, the U.N. human rights chief said Friday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a message on the eve of Human Rights Day that power shifted in the Arab world this year as ordinary men, women and even children used Facebook and other social media platforms to stand up to long-ruling dictators.

"Today, as in the past, editorial and financial factors _ as well as access _ determine whether or not protests, and repression of protests, are televised or reported in newspapers around the world," Pillay said in a statement.

"But wherever it happens, you can now guarantee it will be tweeted on Twitter, posted on Facebook, broadcast on YouTube, and uploaded onto the Internet," she said. "In sum, in 2011, human rights went viral."

The U.N. is making broad use of social media to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Saturday.

Pillay, who is based in Geneva, was at U.N. headquarters in New York on Friday to answer some of the hundreds of questions pouring in via social media platforms about the human rights observance.

Called "30 Days and 30 Rights," the U.N. social media campaign was launched Nov. 10, with a daily posting about one specific article of the Universal Declaration's 30 articles.

The U.N. human rights office said more than 1 million people viewed the Facebook pages, with especially strong interest from cities including Tunis, Tunisia; Giza and Cairo in Egypt; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Jakarta, Indonesia; Bangkok; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Geneva; London and New York.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said human rights belong to everyone.

"But unless we know them, unless we demand they be respected, and unless we defend our right _ and the right of others _ to exercise them, they will be just words in a decades-old document," Ban said.