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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

North Africa: Human Rights Conference

North Africa: Human Rights Conference
Date distributed (ymd): 990411
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: North Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains an announcement of "The First International Conference of the Arab Human Rights Movement," to be held in Casablanca on 23-25 April. For more information contact the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS; e-mail: The posting also contains selected other links relevant to human rights in North Africa.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

The First International Conference of the Arab Human Rights Movement:

Prospects for the Future

23 - 25 April 1999, Casablanca

In the context of the role and duty of the CIHRS toward the human rights movement in the Arab world, and in standing up to the urgent tasks facing the movement on the threshold of the twenty first century, the CIHRS with the collaboration of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights is holding a conference bringing together the leaders of the Arab human rights NGOs and the outstanding experts in the field.

The conference will take place in Casablanca, Morocco during the period 23 - 25 April 1999. Special concern will be given to the representation of the three generations in the movement (the founding, intermediary and the youth generations), and to the participation of representatives of international human rights NGOs and funding agencies as an observers.

The Objectives of the Conference

First: Defining the progress and shortcomings in the realm of human rights in the Arab world on the level of the condition of human rights; the response of the Arab human rights organizations; and the cooperation of the international community

Second: Defining the common tasks of the Arab human rights organizations and the ways to deal with them

Third: Defining ways to enhance the effectiveness of the human rights organizations in the current Arab context, activating the Arab human rights movement. Also ways of consolidating cooperation among the human rights organizations in the Arab world

Fourth: Reviewing the principal elements of the discourse of the Arab human rights movement in addressing the Arab governments, the Arab civil society and the international community on the fringe of the twenty first century, thus defining the movement's positions on the major issues on both the Arab regional and the international levels

The Topics of the Conference:-

1 - Re-evaluation of the progress achieved in the realm of human rights' conditions in the Arab world

2 - Universalism and particularism: Human rights discourse and the Arab culture

3 - The strategies for human rights education and promotion

4 - -Internal challenges facing the Arab human rights movement (funding, institutional structure, professionalism and voluntarism), and the prospects for the development of the Arab human rights movement

5 - The protection of human rights defenders and the legal status of the human rights NGOS, etc)

6 - New approaches to strengthen the cooperation with international NGOs

7 - Refugee rights

8 - The right to development and social and economic rights

9 - Arab women rights

10 - Terrorism and freedom of belief

11 - Peace and human rights

12 - Economic sanctions and human rights

13 - Manipulating human rights issues in the international community

14 - Rights of Arab immigrants and anti-foreigners campaign in hosting countries

15 - Freedom of the press, opinion and expression

Mechanism and Schedule of the Conference:

The goal of this mechanism is to ensure maximum active participation by the greatest number of human rights actors (organizations and individuals) through dynamic consultations. It would run as follows:

1 - In mid-January 1999, a consultative committee is to be formed of the outstanding Arab experts in human rights (23 members), with due consideration given to the relative weight of the movement in the different countries. The consultative committee is to give the CIHRS advice on the intellectual issues of the conference, its themes, draft of its recommendations, and the final declaration to be adopted.

2 - On January 25th, fifteen working groups are to be formed around the fifteen themes of the conference. On the first of February 1999, the coordinator of each group should start the discussion (by fax or e-mail) by presenting a working paper (first draft) on the theme of the group in addition to specific recommendations to be adopted by the conference. After the deliberations of the working groups (within five weeks), the coordinators should submit the second draft (on March 7th, 1999).

3 - In mid March, the CIHRS staff in charge of the preparations for the conference will have prepared a draft "Casablanca Declaration" (first draft) after receiving the second draft of the working papers from the fifteen coordinators. The draft Declaration will be presented for discussion to the consultative committee, and based on the discussions a second draft will be formulated.

4 - The conference is to be convened on April 23rd in plenary sessions and parallel working groups. The fifteen working groups will discuss the second draft prepared by the coordinators of the working groups, and will prepare a third draft.

5 - The plenary sessions are to review the third draft of the working groups' recommendations, and adopt the recommendations.

6 - The final session of the conference on April 25th is to review the third draft of the "Casablanca Declaration" which will have been prepared in the light of the changes to the second draft according to the working groups' recommendations.

7 - On April 25th the final recommendations and the "Casablanca Declaration" will be adopted; the declaration will set out the principal, ethical standards and human rights perspective that provide guidance to the Arab human rights movement. Also a follow-up committee will be formed. The deliberations of the conference will be published as a book in Arabic, English and French.

CIHRS and the Arab Human Rights Movement

This conference crowns a number of activities undertaken by the CIHRS in the last four years, and shifts to a higher level the discussions in the circles of the Arab human rights movement on the different aspects of its activities. The CIHRS publications, such as the bulletin Sawasiah, the quarterly journal Rowaq Arabi and the book series, have always served as a podium for such discussions.

The advancement of the Arab human rights movement and the development of its strategies have been constant concerns of the CIHRS; and for this reason it has organized a number of workshops and seminars that were attended by some of the most prominent leaders and experts of the movement. In cooperation with the Palestinian Institution for Democracy Studies (Muwaten) and the International Politics journal, the CIHRS organized a major conference on the "Problematics of the Hampered Democratic Transformation in the Arab World" from February 29th to March 3rd 1996. Around 200 intellectuals attended the conference; academicians and human rights activists form twelve Arab countries. Sixteen research papers and thirteen written comments on the issues under discussion were submitted. The deliberations of the conference were published in book form.

From 13 to 16 March 1997, the CIHRS, in cooperation with the four major Palestinian human rights groups, organized a workshop titled: "Strategies of the Palestinian Human Rights Movement." In July 1997, the CIHRS held a workshop under the title: "Toward Strategies for the Advancement of the Arab Human Rights Movement," which concluded with the establishment of an "Arab Regional Working Group for Human Rights." The CIHRS carried out the secretarial work and hosted the activities of the Working Group from its founding in July 1997 until mid-1998 when it was capable of securing its own resources and office. In August 1997, the CIHRS organized a training course on the "Strategies of the Human Rights Movement" for the young leaders of the Arab organizations. Moreover, a number of joint activities were carried out with Arab human rights organizations and defenders in Palestine, Sudan, Tunis, Yemen. Yet, some of them were published.

Furthermore, the CIHRS published a book by a group of authors who are among the most prominent leaders and experts of the Arab human rights movement called: "Challenges facing the Arab Human Rights Movement." Also, it organized a number of workshops on "The Peace Process" and "The Renovation of the Arab Political Thought." The discussions of these workshops were published, the first book titled "The peace process implications for democracy and human rights", and the second: "revitalization of political thought through democracy and human rights" focusing on political Islam, Marxism and pan-Arab nationalism. In addition, some of the issues of the monthly bulletin Sawasiah and the quarterly Rowaq Arabi were related particularly to issues of the Arab movement.

In March 1998, the CIHRS organized a workshop attended by thirteen Arab experts to evaluate the preliminary draft of the UNESCO manual for teaching human rights. CIHRS had already participated in the preparation of the manual representing the Arab world along with other organizations that represented other areas of the world. This workshop came in the context of a series of activities carried out by CIHRS in preparation for the issuance of this manual.


About 100 human rights defenders, and experts in human rights from 15 Arab countries and those residing in Europe and the United States are scheduled to take part in the conference. In addition, representatives from major international human rights NGOs and donors working in this field are also expected to participate as observers.

The Consultative Committee

An ad-hoc consultative committee was formed from 23 members belonging to 10 Arab countries.


1 - Abdel Aziz El Banani: President of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights net work (EMHRN), President of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (OMDH)

2 - Abdellrahman Ben Amr: President of the Moroccan Society for Human Rights

3 - Amina Lamrini: Democratic Association for Moroccan Women

4 - Idrees Yazmi: Assistant Secretary General of the French League for the Human Rights, Member of the Executive Committee of EMHRN


5 - Mustafa Boshashi: Lawyer, & Professor of Law - University of Algeria


6 - Kamel Jandoubi: Spokesperson of the Committee of the Work for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia - Paris, Member of the Executive Committee of EMHRN

7 - Khadija El Sharif: Former Vice- President of the Tunisian League for Human Rights

8 - Moncef Al Marzouk: Spokesperson of the National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia

9 - Salah El Gorshy: Vice- President of the Tunisian League for Human Rights


10 - Abdullahi An Naim: Professor of Law, Emory University - USA

11 - Amin Makky Madani: President of the Sudanese Human Rights Organization


12 - Fatma Embay: Vice President of Mauritanian Association for Human Rights


13 - Aktham Na'eesa: Spokesperson of Committees for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights


14 - Waeel Kheir: Director for Association of Human Rights and Humanitarian Rights


15 - Khider Shukairat: Director of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and Environment (Law) - Jerusalem, Treasure of the EMHRN

16 - Maha Abu Deia: Director Women Center for Legal Guidance - Jerusalem

17 - Mohaammed Zeidan: Director The Arab Institution for Human Rights, Nazareth - Israel

18 - Raji Al Sourany: Director The Palestinian Center for Human Rights-Gaza


19 - Abd Al Hussein Shaaban: President of the Arab Organization for Human Rights - U.K


20 - Abd Al Aziz Mohammed: President of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, EOHR.

21 - Amal Abdel Hadi: Coordinator of the Women's Program at Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies - CIHRS

22 - George Ajaieby: Committee for Peace and Justice

23 - Hanny Megally: Executive Director, Human Rights Watch - Middle East

Executive Team of the conference

  • Bahey El Din Hassan, CIHRS director (Egypt)
  • Driss Ben Zikri, Vice-President of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (Morocco)
  • Magdi El Na'im, Conference Coordinator (Sudan)
  • Mohammed El Sayed Said, CIHRS Academic Advisor (Egypt)
  • Mohemmed Hussien El Sayed, Program officer at CIHRS (Egypt)
  • Mohammed L'ghtas, The Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (Morocco)
  • Sara Hassan, Assistant Conference Coordinator (Sudan)

For more information please contact

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
PO Box 117 Maglis El Shaab, Cairo
Fax: (202) 3554200 / Tel: (202) 3551112 / 3543715

Selected Other Links

Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR)

Center for Human Rights Legal Aid (Cairo) Links Page

1999 Report from Human Rights Watch / Middle East and North Africa

For additional links on North African countries, see the Africa Policy regional page:

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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