CIHRS 23rd Regional Forum of the Human Rights Movement: Prospects of Reform in the Arab World in Post COVID-19 Realities

In Annual Regional Forums, Human Rights Dissiminatian Program by CIHRS

CIHRS 23rd Regional Forum of the Human Rights Movement (August / September 2020)

With growing attention given to the potential effects of COVID-19 on the increasingly eroding prospects of reform and respect for human rights across a number of Arab states, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) convened the 23rd Regional Forum for Human Rights, addressing the future of human rights and reform in several Arab states under the pandemic and its possible aftermath.

Founded in 1999 by CIHRS, the Forum is an intellectual initiative bringing together human rights defenders and academic experts from the Arab region and across the globe, to discuss themes related to the future of human rights and democracy in the region. The sessions of the Forum will be held online from Monday, August 31 until Monday, September 7.

The first session of the Forum, held on Monday, provided a holistic overview of the region and highlighted the diminishing prospects reform. Bahey eldin Hassan, the director of CIHRS, opened and moderated the session. Dr. Joost Hiltermann, program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, highlighted in his paper, presented during the session, how COVID-19 is an accelerant of challenges and crises facing the region. The storms of 2011, he cautioned, may turn into “full blown hurricanes.” Dr. Michele Dunne, director of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC commented on the paper, highlighting that while reform is not very likely, change is inevitable. Hassan added, however, that any change witnessed by Arab states would likely be through gradual – not revolutionary – reform. Participants from Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Palestine intervened, commented and submitted questions to the main speaker and discussant.

The remaining sessions of the Forum will focus on a number of different contexts, such as autocratic consolidation, civil conflicts, and democratic transitions across the region, including in Sudan, Algeria, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya. The papers of the sessions will be electronically published by CIHRS after the conclusion of the Forum and the finalization of the papers.

The sessions of the Forum will be attended by human rights defenders and academic experts from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, the US, and Europe.

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