World by region

A man stands in an oil slick covering a creek near Bodo City in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, June 2010.

© AP Photo/Sunday Alamba


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prepared to do so soon. Despite the celebrations, the hopes and aspirations of many people in Africa remained unfulfilled

Human rights in Africa »

Women demonstrate opposite Peru’s Palace of Justice in Lima, calling for justice for their disappeared relatives, July 2010.

© Karin Orr, 2010 Peace Fellow


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. While abuses clearly persist – particularly against vulnerable groups – the region has undeniably seen progress, albeit slow and partial. Governments can rightly claim some credit for these changes. However, it is the communities most affected by human rights abuses who have been the real driving force behind these advances. It is they who have spoken out and campaigned for change, often at great personal risk. It is their determination and persistence that have inspired millions and made it increasingly difficult for states to ignore the growing clamour for fundamental and irreversible change. The year began, however, with a sharp reminder of how fragile.

Human rights in Americas »

Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addresses supporters following her release from house arrest, Yangon, Myanmar, 13 November 2010.


Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, a few individual human rights defenders, like Binayak Sen, continued to dominate headlines and affect national and geopolitical events because of their courage in speaking truth to power.

Human rights in Asia Pacific »

A man and young boy stare at a burnedout house in an Uzbek district of Osh city, southern Kyrgyzstan, June 2010.

© AP Photo/Sergei Grits

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this however long and however hard the struggle, remained a key part of the human rights landscape across the Europe and Central Asia region throughout the year.

Human rights in Europe & Central Asia »

In Lebanon in 2010, Amineh ‘Abd al-Husri holds a picture of her son, Ahmed Zuhdi al-Sharqawi, who disappeared in 1986.

© Dalia Khamissy

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist incident. It closed with many eyes transfixed by the emergent people’s power in Tunisia and the chain reaction it was setting off elsewhere in the region. Both involved suicide – the first, an alleged suicide bomber aiming to kill passengers on a commercial jet; the second, the self-immolation by a young man in despair at his lack of work or opportunity and worn down by political repression.

Human rights in Middle East and North Africa »

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