Logo Human Rights Day 2012: My voice counts

Inclusion and the right to participate in public life

"Where we come from does not determine who we can become. What we look like places no limits on what we can achieve. We should all have the right to express ourselves, all have the right to be heard, all have the right to be what we can be: To reach for the sky and touch the stars. No matter who we are, no matter whether we are man or woman, or rich or poor:

My voice, my right. My voice counts."

—Desmond Tutu, a key figure in the defeat of apartheid in South Africa, Nobel Prize Laureate, first black Archbishop of South Africa.

Everybody has the right to have their voice heard and to have a role in making the decisions that shape their communities. Each one of us should be able to choose those people who will represent us in all governance institutions, to stand for public office, and to vote on the fundamental questions that shape our individual and collective destines.

The return on that investment is a society tuned to the needs and aspirations of its constituents. Where this fundamental right is respected, each and every one of us is offered the opportunity to join in the debate, to offer ideas, to campaign for change – to participate.

Fulfillment of the right to participate in public life is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society and an effective human rights protection system. Inclusion of ALL in decision-making processes is an essential precondition to the achievement of both.


Events - New York and Geneva
Events in Geneva and New York on Monday, 10 December will focus on this year’s theme of inclusion and the right to participate in public life.

Statements and messages
Statements by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Social media
Use social media to make your voice count! Join the conversation and participate in our Google+ Hangout series.

Visual designs
Promoting Human Rights Day is easy with our collection of visual designs in all six official UN languages. Choose from downloadable images in colour or black and white.

The videos found here are available for use on Human Rights Day.

Feature articles on the right of inclusion and participation in public life are often featured on our website. We have searched our archives and many of their stories can be found here.

Information Note
The Information Note offers an overview of Inclusion and the right to participate in public life and the legal foundations underpinning this fundamental right.