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U.N. site covers human rights

The United Nations launches its Human Rights Web site to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The United Nations launched its Human Rights Web site today to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration is the umbrella document for the U.N.'s human rights principles, and is available on the site along with other resources, copies of treaties, conference schedules, and updates on situations the U.N. is monitoring.

"We believe that knowledge about human rights is very important because when people know their human rights, they're in a better position to defend them," said Bill Hass, a spokesman for U.N. information center in New York. "We use a variety of different media. We have radio programs, print publications, and television programs. The Web site is just another outlet."

During Human Rights Day, which is being observed by the U.N. on December 12, panels, rallies, and even concerts are held to educate people about their rights and draw attention to worldwide violations. In New York, panels will discuss war crimes, racism, sexual exploitation of children, and whether or not poverty is an abuse of human rights.

The United Nations' home page also has information about peace and security, economic and social development, international law, and humanitarian affairs.

The Web site was created by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Currently, the site is only available in English, but versions in French and Spanish are coming soon. A full-text search engine is also under development, the site says.