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December 09, 2011

World Marks Human Rights Day

World powers are marking Human Rights Day with calls for an end to repression across the globe.

The annual event, which is taking place on Saturday, is based on the United Nations' more than 60-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document states all people are entitled to fundamental human rights and freedoms. It also sets guidelines for expanding human rights protections for vulnerable groups such as indigenous people and the disabled.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement has shown that human rights must be "part of the equation" for the stability and security of governments.

In a Friday news conference, she also said human rights efforts had gone "viral" in 2011.

"Over the last year in their different ways in Tunis, Cairo, Madrid, New York and hundreds of other cities and towns across the globe, the voice of ordinary people has been raised and their demands made clear. They want human beings at the center of our economic and political systems, a chance for meaningful participation in public affairs, a dignified life and freedom from fear and want."

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke marked the day by urging Beijing to uphold its commitments to the U.N.'s Universal Declaration. In a Saturday statement, he cited China's "constraints" on Tibetans, ethnic Uighurs and Christians.

The World Health Organization is marking the day by urging countries to implement "QualityRights," a project designed to end human rights violations against the mentally ill.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.