Logo Human Rights Day 2011: Celebrate Human Rights

Human Rights Day 2011 - Events in New York and Geneva

Events in Geneva and New York on 9 December (PDF) will celebrate the work of human rights defenders and examine the role of social media as a crucial element in modern political and societal shifts.


  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will answer questions from social media users on 9 December from 9:30am to 10:30am New York EST. The event can be watched live on Facebook and on the UN webcast in Arabic, English and Chinese. The moderator of the event is Imran Garda from Al Jazeera television.

    If you have a question that you would like to ask the High Commissioner, send it now via Twitter using hashtag #AskRights or post it on the events section of the UN's Human Rights Facebook page. Keep your question short (140 characters or less) so that the High Commissioner can answer as many as possible. Questions may be asked in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish.

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will hold a news conference at the United Nations in New York starting at noon on 9 December. Watch the live webcast.


The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, will moderate the Geneva event, which has the theme, Social Media and Human Rights. President of the Human Rights Council, Laura Dupuy Lasserre, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, will also attend.

The guests will canvass the influence of social media, politically, culturally and socially, at the community, national and international levels.

The panellists are Wael Abbas (Egypt), Maite Azuela (Mexico), Bassem Bouguerra (Tunisia), Ednah Karamagi (Uganda), Meg Pickard (United Kingdom) and Salil Tripathi (United Kingdom).

Members of the diplomatic and UN community, civil society, the media, the general public and students from Geneva’s universities will attend the event, which will be broadcast live on the UN webcast.

Human Rights Day will be celebrated at different events in many other countries round the world.


Kyung-wha Kang (South Korea) has been Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2007. Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Kang was Ambassador for Multilateral Affaires and Director-General of International Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, with a portfolio that covered a wide range of UN issues, including human rights. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1998, Ms. Kang worked for the National Parliament of the Republic of Korea, focusing on global issues in the fields of human rights, women's advancement and parliamentary diplomacy. Earlier in her career, she worked for the Korean Broadcasting System, and lectured and researched in universities both in the Republic of Korea and the United States.

Laura Dupuy Lasserre (Uruguay) is President of the Human Rights Council, Sixth Cycle (2011 - 2012) and Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations Office at Geneva. Prior to her appointment to Geneva, Ms. Dupuy Lasserre had been serving as Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in her country. As a career diplomat, she has worked at the Directorate of Environment and as the delegate of Uruguay to the United Nations Office and International Organizations at Geneva. Ms. Dupuy Lasserre received a degree in International Relations from the University of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay in 1990.

Frank La Rue (Guatemala) is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. He is the current Director of the Centro-American Institute for Social Democracy Studies in Guatemala. He holds a degree in law from the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, and a postgraduate degree in U.S. foreign policy from Johns Hopkins University. As founding member and Director of the Centre for Legal Human Rights Action, Mr. La Rue was involved in presenting the first Guatemalan human rights case before the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. He also brought the first case of genocide against the military dictatorship in Guatemala. As a human rights activist, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.


Wael Abbas (Egypt) is an internationally renowned Egyptian journalist, blogger and human rights activist who blogs at Misr Digital (Egyptian Awareness). He has used his site over the past few years to promote political and social change. Mr. Abbas has been the recipient of many awards acknowledging his efforts as a human rights activist, including being the first blogger to win the International Journalism Award from the International Centre of Journalists in 2007 and the Human Rights Watch's Hellman/Hammett Award in 2008.

Maite Azuela (Mexico) is a journalist/blogger and activist in social networks. Besides writing for a number of media outlets, including the well-known Mexican daily El Universal, Ms. Azuela is involved in mobilizing local communities through social networks in areas such as education, political reform, transparency and access to information. She has a MA in Public Policy and Administration from Concordia University, Canada and is the founder of movements such as DHP, "On Education", and a member of the National Citizens' Assembly (ANCA).

Bassem Bouguerra (Tunisia) describes himself as a “revolutionary by nature and a software engineer by accident.” The 30 year-old Tunisian blogger works as a software architect at Yahoo. Initially, he campaigned for change in his home country from San Francisco but, for the past year, he has split his time between the United States and Tunisia using his blog to advocate for social and political reform. He continues campaigning and has set up an online news site, “The Bouguerra Post”. Mr. Bouguerra plans to return to Tunisia soon.

Ednah Karamagi (Uganda) is a blogger and human rights activist. With a background in community development, she is convinced of the importance of extending appropriate emerging technologies into rural areas. Ms. Karamagi is the Executive Director of BROSDI, a Ugandan non-governmental organization implementing the "Collecting and Exchange of Local Agricultural Content" project. Despite lack of access to the Internet in remote areas, BROSDI uses a variety of media tools - both new and traditional - to improve farmers’ access to information and enhance development and local participation.

Meg Pickard (United Kingdom) is the Head of Digital Engagement for Guardian News & Media, responsible for developing and supporting existing and new social web strategy and interactive experiences. Ms. Pickard comes from a background in social anthropology and in the mid-nineties conducted ethnographic fieldwork into community participation and cultural identity, first in Bolivia and subsequently online. Her particular areas of interest are community engagement and the emergence of new forms of collaborative and participatory media.

Salil Tripathi (United Kingdom) is Policy Director for the Institute for Human Rights and Business, a global centre of excellence and expertise on business and human rights standards. The Indian-born author was earlier a researcher at Amnesty International where he led the organization’s engagement with the Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights and the Global Compact. Mr. Tripathi writes on subjects including free speech, politics, economics, and social trends for various blogs and publications including India Today, the Far Eastern Economic Review, The Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune.

Musical performers:

OHCHR staff member Michael Wiener has composed a choir piece based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which will be performed by members of the United Nations Music Club. In the "Universal Song of Human Rights", Mr Wiener has transposed excerpts from the Declaration in different languages into music. He will accompany the choir ensemble on a piano lent by the UN Music Club.

Idalina Cappe de Baillon, a UNICEF staff member and opera singer started singing at the age of twelve, first featuring in American musicals and French operetta. In 1997, Ms Cappe de Baillon created a show entitled Opera and Cabaret that she has performed regularly for charities ever since. At the Geneva event, she will sing Vissi d’Arte from Puccini’s La Tosca and the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen, accompanied by Mr Wiener on the piano.