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Inspired by global events, UN launches social media campaign to celebrate rights

Article / Review by on December 1, 2011 – 8:28 pmNo Comments

Inspired by global events, UN launches social media campaign to celebrate rights

High Commissionner Navi Pillay at press conference on the launch of social media campaign on human rightsHigh Commissionner Navi Pillay at press conference on the launch of social media campaign on human rights

1 December 2011 –

The United Nations has launched a social media campaign to encourage people to get involved in the global human rights movement, inspired by the role played by tools such as Facebook and Twitter in the awakening that transformed parts of the Arab world this year.

“Our social media human rights campaign focuses on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and aims to help more people know, demand and defend human rights,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

She noted that the popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East illustrated the power and reach of social media, as millions of people demanding greater rights and freedoms harnessed Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other tools.

“The message of this unexpected global awakening was carried in the first instance not by the satellites of major media conglomerates, or conferences, or other traditional means – although these all played a role – but by the dynamic and irrepressible surge of social media,” Ms. Pillay said, adding that the results have been “startling.”

The so-called Arab awakening has already led to the toppling of long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and to ongoing protests in a number of other countries.

“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,” said Ms. Pillay.

“But, wherever it happens, you can now guarantee it will be tweeted on Twitter, posted on Facebook, broadcast on YouTube, and uploaded on to the Internet. Governments no longer hold the ability to monopolize the dissemination of information and censor what it says.

“Instead we are seeing real lives in real struggle, broadcast in real time – and it is in many ways an exhilarating sight,” she said. “In sum, in 2011, human rights went viral.”

The campaign launched by the High Commissioner’s Office (OHCHR) comes ahead of Human Rights Day, observed annually on 10 December – the birthday of the Declaration.

OHCHR already started an online discussion on Facebook and Twitter on 10 November called “30 Days and 30 Rights,” which counts down to Human Rights Day with a daily posting about one specific article of the Declaration.

Meanwhile, questions are pouring in via different social media platforms for a global human rights dialogue the High Commissioner is hosting on the eve of Human Rights Day that will be webcast and streamed live.


1 December 2011

“Celebrate Human Rights” Press conference with Navi Pillay, UN Human Rights Chief, on the 2011 Human Rights Day campaign

GENEVA – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will today host a press conference in Geneva to introduce the Human Rights Day campaign for 2011 – a celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“2011 has been an extraordinary year for human rights,” Pillay said. “This year millions of people decided the time had come to claim their rights. They took to the streets and squares, to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and demanded change.”

“This year, in the lead up to 10 December, the day that the international community of states adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 63 years ago, we will celebrate this global human rights movement.”

The press conference will be held at 15h00 Geneva time in Press Room III at the Palais de Nations in Geneva. It will also be webcast live at

With the High Commissioner at the press conference will be Tony Wright, Chairman of Lowe and Partners, a global advertising agency that provided the creative concept and helped develop the elements of the social media campaign that will be revealed today.

Follow the live tweet of the High Commissioner’s press conference: #CelebrateRights at

For more information on the Human Rights Day campaign:


About Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 

Who we are

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.


The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations. The High Commissioner heads OHCHR and spearheads the United Nations’ human rights efforts. We offer leadership, work objectively, educate and take action to empower individuals and assist States in upholding human rights. We are a part of the United Nations Secretariat with our headquarters in Geneva.

The Office’s priorities are set out in two key strategic documents: the OHCHR Plan of Action and its Strategic Management Plan 2010-2011. These priorities include greater country engagement, working closely with our partners at the country and local levels, in order to ensure that international human rights standards are implemented on the ground; a stronger leadership role for the High Commissioner; and closer partnerships with civil society and United Nations agencies.

United Nations human rights system

We also support the work of the United Nations human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council and the core treaty bodies set up for monitoring State Parties’ compliance with international human rights treaties, promote the right to development, coordinate United Nations human rights education and public information activities, and strengthens human rights across the United Nations system. We work to ensure the enforcement of universally recognized human rights norms, including through promoting both the universal ratification and implementation of the major human rights treaties and respect for the rule of law.

Our structure

We have an office at United Nations headquarters in New York and offices in numerous countries and regions. In addition to the Executive Office of the High Commissioner and a number of units that report to the Deputy High Commissioner, OHCHR has two major divisions and four branches.

To implement our comprehensive mandate, we employ more than 850 staff (last update in April 2007), based in Geneva and New York and in 11 country offices and seven regional offices around the world, including a workforce of some 240 international human rights officers serving in UN peace missions.  We are funded from the United Nations regular budget and from voluntary contributions from Member States, intergovernmental organizations, foundations and individuals.


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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