In the Eleventh Training Course: Universities Students Propose a New Constitution Calling for a Parliamentary Republic and Two Periods for the President

In Human Rights Education Program, Trainings and Workshops by

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies held, over the period from the 8th through the 24th of August 2004, the eleventh training course on human rights for the students of the universities and high institutes at the headquarter of Al-Sa&#146eed society for development and bringing up.

73 students from a number of Egyptian and Arab Universities with their different faculties such as the faculty of economics and political sciences, arts, law, commerce and languages with their different departments in the universities of Ein Shams, Cairo, Helwan, Al-Azhar and Asuit, in addition to a number of the Arab students studying in Egypt and the refugees from Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea and Muritania participated in this course.

The program of the course included a number of the basic themes; the first of whom focused on the theoretical and legal topics related to surveying the most important principles, concepts, international human rights treaties and the rights of women and children. The second theme centered on a number of empirical topics that discuss and analyze the human rights mechanism in the Arab world and the problematics facing such a mechanism when put to action in the Arab world, e. g. the freedom of opinion and expression, the freedoms of organization, of the press and of mass media, the values of democracy and human rights in the Arab world and the societal and family collaboration on violence against women. The last theme focused on the political reform in the Arab world related issues, and deals also with the situation in Iraq, Palestine and Sudan, the issue of renewing the religious address, the initiatives for political reform and the Arab position on them and the role of the civil society in the reform process.

The working group concerned with the issue of “reform and political reform in the Egypt” came up with a proposal for a new constitution and the students participated in its manipulation. The proposal stipulated that:” Parliamentary republic should be the form of government in Egypt. The duration of the president should be limited to successive rounds at maximum, each being 6 years.” The majority of the members of the working group voted for the necessity of amending the articles (29-37) of the current constitution concerned with the economic system of the state in accordance with the variations in the global and local realities. The majority also foreseen the necessity of refraining from determining an official religion for the state in the proposal; yet, with reference to the fact that Islam is the religion of the majority of the citizens and ensuring that the constitution guarantees the freedom of belief.

The course witnessed for the first time a presentation by the participating students for the experiences of some of the Egyptian universities (Helwan-Asuit-Al-Azhar) in the field of political participation and the freedom of expression and opinion and they formulated a document involving their vision for reforming the educational in Egypt. Students from different universities in Arab and African countries (Cameron- Djibouti-Sudan-Chad- Mauritania) joined their colleagues in that presentation.

The rest of the working groups discussed the most important urgent issues in the Arab world such as the issue of political reform, the issue of torture, the rights of women, the rights of refugees, the calls of universalism and specifity, and the role of arts in publicizing for the culture of human rights.

36 lecturers from among the intellectuals, university professors, and human rights issues experts participated in the training course. This is in addition to a number of trainers working in the field of human rights and development. Moreover, the students themselves participated in organizing and administering the working groups over the period of the course.

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