Human rights "went viral" in 2011 thanks to the exponential growth of social media on the Internet, the UN rights commissioner said Friday.
"2011 has been an extraordinary year for human rights (thanks to) the dynamic and irrepressible surge of social media," Navi Pillay said.
"Although we must mourn the lives of many ... we also have cause to celebrate," Pillay said in a statement ahead of International Human Rights Day, observed Saturday.
"In Tunis and Cairo, Benghazi (Libya) and Dara'a (Syria), and later on -- albeit in a very different context -- in Madrid, New York, London, Santiago and elsewhere, millions of people from all walks of life have mobilised to make their own demands for human dignity," she said.
"In sum, in 2011, human rights went viral," Pillay said.
"The results have been startling.... We have already seen peaceful and successful elections in Tunisia and, earlier this week, in Egypt -- where the turnout for the first truly democratic elections there for decades has exceeded everybody's expectations, despite the shocking upsurge in violence in Tahrir Square," she said.
"Governments no longer hold the ability to monopolise the dissemination of information and censor what it says.... Wherever it happens, you can now guarantee it will be tweeted on Twitter, posted on Facebook, broadcast on YouTube, and uploaded onto the Internet," Pillay said.
For International Human Rights Day she exhorted "everyone, everywhere" to join the Commission's social media campaign "to help more people know, demand and defend their human rights.
The campaign on Facebook/Twitter and their Chinese equivalent Weibo is aimed at making people aware of the articles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As of Friday, these pages had received eight million visits, including more than six million on Weibo, according to the United Nations.