Arab Spring, the Year the Idea of Power Shifted

 Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – “In 2011, the very idea of ‘power’ shifted,” High Commissioner for Human Rights said on the occasion of this year’s Human Rights Day on December 10. “We know there is still too much repression in our world, still too much impunity, still too many people for whom rights are not yet a reality,” Navi Pillay said.

Credit: UN

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,” she said. This year’s Day is building on the pro-reform movements witnessed across North Africa and the Middle East, and social media’s contribution to them, to encourage more people to get involved in the global human rights movement.

Know Your Rights!

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,” noted Pillay.

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

Pillay noted that the events were built around the idea that, even though much time is spent focusing on human rights violations, there is also much to celebrate in terms of what has been achieved thanks to the vision laid out in the Declaration.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the Day, noted that human rights belong to everyone, without exception.

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,” he stated.

Still Too Much Repression

Many of these peaceful demonstrators persevered despite being met with violence and further repression. In some countries, the struggle continues; in others, important concessions were gained or dictators were toppled as the will of the people prevailed…

… We know there is still too much repression in our world, still too much impunity, still too many people for whom rights are not yet a reality,” said Ban.

Yet at the end of an extraordinary year for human rights, let us take strength from the achievements of 2011: new democratic transitions set in motion, new steps to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, new and ever-spreading awareness of rights themselves.”


Also read:

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Egypt: Military Junta, More Repressive Than Mubarak

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Give Them Water, Toilets!

Africa’s Boat People, Victims of Abduction, Extortion, Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

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Pakistan: Girls Tormented by Stigma After Rape

For Most U.S. Politicians “the Promotion of Wars Is More Sacred Than God Himself!”

Small Farmers, Victims of Food Marketing Companies

2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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