"A huge amount of work remains to be done to transform human rights from abstract promises to genuine improvement in the daily lives of all people, especially those who are currently marginalized or excluded," U.N. Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay said Tuesday in opening remarks during a special day-long event commemorating Human Rights Day.
"Women continue to suffer discrimination, violence and persecution," Pillay said. "So too do ethnic, racial and religious minorities, and migrants, as well as individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This shows how far we still have to go."
To create a vision for the future, Pillay said from her headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, organizations must recognize the role information technology plays in improving communications and information sharing.
"They are also magnifying the voice of human rights defenders, shining a light on abuses and mobilizing support for various causes in many parts of the world," she said. "Of course we have also seen how new technologies are facilitating the violation of human rights, with chilling 21st century efficiency. A Tweet or a Facebook post by a human rights defender can be enough to land him or her in jail."
Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, president of the Human Rights Council and Poland's permanent representative to the U.N. unit in Geneva, honored the efforts of human rights defenders who risk their lives speaking against abuses and injustices.
"In the years to come, it is of utmost importance to preserve a safe space for the participation of civil society both at national and international level," Henczel said.
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