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U.N. official lauds 'Arab Spring'

July 1, 2011 at 6:54 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, July 1 (UPI) -- The "Arab Spring" protests in North Africa and the Middle East are an affirmation of the universality of human rights, a top U.N. official said.

That "is message of the Arab Spring," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference in Geneva.

Pillay said every person is entitled to have his or her rights observed "not partially, not sometimes, not at the whim of dictators or other repressive rulers and authorities but … all of the time, everywhere."

She said Tunisians and Egyptians, who began the protest movement that is called Arab Spring, have blown away the myth that people in the Middle East and North Africa are not particularly interested in human rights.

In places like Jordon, Morocco and Algeria, which also have had protests, governments have responded with positive reforms, she said.

Pillay said her office needs to expand its activities to other locations.

"Surely it makes sense to invest more heavily in human rights and to back those brave protesters and human rights defenders in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere with much more than praise and fine words," she said.

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