Blog Archives

Celebrate the 63rd Birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!!

Tomorrow, December 10th 2011, global citizens around the world will celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 10th, 1948. We have come a long way since 1948 in regards to human rights and this year we have a new player in the game to thanks: social media!

In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “many of the people seeking their legitimate aspirations were linked through social media. Gone are the days when repressive governments could totally control the flow of information. Today, within their existing obligation to respect the rights of freedom of assembly and expression, governments must not block access to the internet and various forms of social media as a way to prevent criticism and public debate”.

From Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York, citizens across the globe have been standing up for their rights as humans through peaceful protest movements using social media tools. Even the High Commissioner for Human Rights hosted a global conversation on human rights this morning, December 9th, through social media. Missed the conversation or interested in learning more? Click here!

Continuing with the celebrations, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to three amazing women, all leaders in the worldwide struggle for women’s rights. Liberian
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Leymah Gbowee, a social worker and peace campaigner from the same country, will share the prize with Tawakkul Karman, an activist and journalist who this year played a key opposition role in Yemen. These three inspiring women, who were chosen “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work,” will be honored with a weekend full of festivities in Oslo, Norway. Click here to learn more about the laureates and the weekend’s events!

In the Boston community, the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School held a celebration on December 1 to celebrate not only Human Rights Day but also the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International. For more information on this event, click here!

Want to get involved?! With social media being a crucial tool in this year’s accomplishments, you can participate in this years celebrations by utilizing your favorite social media. Click here to learn more about your rights and spread the word by making a wish for universal human rights!

Help us celebrate universal human rights and the brave global citizens who stand up for them!

Check out other Human Rights Day celebrations happening around the world!

Fun Fact: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is THE most universal document in the world! The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been awarded the Guinness World Record for having collected, translated and disseminated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into more than 380 languages and dialects: from Abkhaz to Zulu. The Universal Declaration is thus the most translated document – indeed, the most “universal” one in the world.

-Jen Jones

From Reports to Tweets: Week of 7/4 News Roundup

The week started off with one of our national holidays, as we celebrated our Independence on July 4th. This holiday is both filled with a lot of history and celebrated each year with fireworks and events throughout the country.

As we reflected on our 225 years of independence, we also look towards the pending and/or newfound independence of other countries. Following in the footsteps of a variety of countries around the world that declared their own independence, comes a new addition. Southern Sudan will officially declare and celebrate it’s independence tomorrow, July 9th.

In between our Independence Day and the independence of Southern Sudan, a lot has and continues to happen. Two major reports were released this week focusing on key goals/priorities of the United Nations. UN Women released a report this week titled: “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice”.

This report discussed the progress of women’s rights and gender equality around the world. The UN also released a report this week, “MDG Report 2011” analyzing the progress being made toward the MDG Goals for 2015. There has been a lot of progress specifically related to poverty through these goals, but there is still a lot to be done to make the 2015 deadline, including more support of equality of all genders and ages and helping those in need throughout the world.

For our technology-savvy future leaders, our leaders starting from tomorrow to 2015 and beyond, this week brought about a lot of opportunity. Twitter had a “Townhall @ The White House” which featured President Obama answering a variety of questions that were “tweeted” by the public. Next, came Facebook‘s “Open for Questions: Youth and International Development”, featuring USAID‘s Administrator Dr. Raj Shah discussing how the youth specifically can get involvement in international development.

With technology the way of the future, this week also brought about the development of an agreement between The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Asian standards developers that will allow the opportunity for technology to be developed quicker and at a lower cost.

With this in mind, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also opened a new United Nations information and telecommunications facility in Valenica, Spain with hopes that this facility will increase communications and the services of The United Nations around the world.

Stay posted to see what impact technology will continue to have and how we can continue to advance the rights of women, as well as democracy for all peoples.

-Cara

Egypt’s Unrest and the Impact of Social Media

Photo: Alex Teague 2009

On January 25th, protests in Egypt began after a call for a “Day of Rage” was generated on Facebook to coincide with the national holiday of Police Day throughout Egypt.  The ousting of  Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and following unrest in Tunisia is credited to have helped spark the protests in Egypt.  Egypt has been under the authoritarian rule of President Hosni Mubarak for the past thirty years.  Since the day that Mubarak became President, Egypt has been under a constant state of emergency that suspended the civil liberties of Egyptian citizens.

The Egyptian Emergency Law is a significant law that the state uses to control and manage opposition demonstrations and protests.  The law suspends the constitutional rights of citizens and grants wider powers of arrest, allowing protesters to be imprisoned for any period of time without reason.  Human rights groups have been after the Egyptian government to repeal this law for years, most recently in May 2010.  Political parties exist within the Egyptian parliament, however their freedoms of expression have historically been very limited under the Mubarak regime.  Although demonstrations and protests have continued to occur in spite of the emergency law, it has still contributed to widespread fear of police brutality and public apathy.  On January 28th, the UN Human Rights Chief Commisioner Navi Pillary again called for the end of the emergency law.

Social media is not new to the protesting game in Egypt.  It was used for the first time in a major way in the April 6th Youth Movement in 2008 when they organized activities using Facebook that supported a general strike north of Cairo, in Mahalla, that shutdown daily activity in Cairo and other parts of Egypt.  In 2009, the group attempted to plan a follow-up strike, however the state cracked down on demonstrators and organizers in such a fierce way that the follow-up attempt failed.  Only a small percentage of people own their own computers, and the government tightened regulations of internet cafes.  Despite the failure of the follow-up strike, the attempt was significant because it demonstrated a new and substantial tool that could be used to disrupt the regime.

Egypt protests: the country's internet has been offline since last night. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Initially, the regime made a move to shutdown access to Facebook and Twitter.  Although it was successful at first, Google and Twitter joined together to enable Egyptians to tweet using the phone.   Now, the internet has been shut down in its entirety.  You can view Bill Gates’ remarks to Katie Couric about the move here.

Stay tuned for more protest updates!

-Alex.