Navanethem Pillay

Statement on 2011 International Human Rights Day

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What an extraordinary year 2011 has been for human rights.

Millions of people decided the time had come to claim their rights. They took to the streets and squares and demanded change.

Many found their voices through social media. They used the Internet and instant messaging to inform, inspire and mobilize supporters to seek the basic human rights to which we are all entitled.

Like never before, they drove human rights issues into the conventional media headlines as well as on to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media. The world has been transfixed and transformed by the example of these ordinary but committed men, women, and children in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.

Their peaceful activism has spread in other forms and other ways -- to Madrid, New York, London and other towns and cities across the globe. Their bravery in the face of violence and repression has made people all over the world who take these rights for granted identify and support the cause of all human rights for all people.

This is one of those moments in history when we have an unprecedented opportunity to bring closer to reality mankindís acclaimed goal of gaining respect for human rights for everyone, everywhere. Let us seize the moment.

Our human rights belong equally to each of us, without exception -- knowing no borders or boundaries.

As a global community of seven billion people with equal rights, we all share one day in common: Human Rights Day on 10th December. On this day we celebrate the creation, 63 years ago, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is, in a sense, our common birth right, our common birthday. We celebrate that we are all born free and equal. We celebrate that human rights exist to protect us all.

But we should also remember that millions of people are still not able to enjoy their rights. And we must pay tribute to the thousands of people who, in 2011, have given their lives in the struggle to obtain those basic freedoms -- the freedom from fear and the freedom from want -- that are rightfully theirs.

So on this Human Rights Day, I ask you to support the global human rights movement. Become a human rights defender. Do whatever you can to promote understanding and take some action, however small, to strengthen human rights.

Help us all to celebrate our -- our human rights, and, in so doing, reaffirm your own.


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