- The UN should restructure the missions of its bureaus in the region and prioritize the human rights component of their work.
- Egypt: The government should immediately release all non-violent political prisoners and end the control of the security apparatus over the Public Prosecution; the Muslim Brotherhood must cease acts of violence.
- Syria: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar must work together to secure the release of all non-combatant detainees.
- Bahrain: Saudi Arabia, the US, and Britain should work with the Bahraini government to implement the recommendations of the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry.
- Yemen: The UN should review the mission of its bureau in Yemen and examine ways to ensure implementation of the Gulf Initiative, supported by the Security Council.
- Libya: The UN office in Libya should contribute to the tasks of disarming irregular forces and protecting the population.
- Palestine: The UN Secretary-General must call on all parties to the conflict to make 2014 the year in which a just, final resolution of the Palestinian issue, based on the relevant UN resolutions.
Yesterday, January 22, 2014, Bahey eldin Hassan, the director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, sent a memo to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, including a set of proposals to promote the role of the UN in the Arab world. It was during a meeting between the two in New York on January 7 that Hassan originally promised to provide the Secretary-General with such a memo.
The memo contains recommendations for how the UN might address human rights abuses in the Arab world, as well as how it might respond to the stalled democratic transitions that have followed the Arab Spring, to the systematic repression exerted by security apparatuses in these countries, and to the increasing risk of terrorism, civil war, and political violence in the region. The memo further contains recommendations specific to several countries in the region, including Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and Palestine. The memo warned that the deterioration of the situation in the region would have repercussions for the UN’s mission of upholding international peace and security and protecting human rights.
The memo recommends that the UN Secretary-General appoint a special envoy for democratic transitions in the Arab region, form a special working group to draft proposals to address the serious, multifaceted crises occurring in the region, and reconsider the mission and nature of UN bureaus in the region. In light of unprecedented violations of the rights of peaceful protestors, the memo suggests that the Secretary-General urge the UN General Assembly to adopt a declaration establishing guidelines to promote and protect human rights in the context of peaceful protests.
The memo’s most significant recommendations regarding Egypt include that the Secretary-General push for serious negotiations to establish a regional bureau of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country and urge the Egyptian government to uphold and protect the right to peaceful protest. The memo also recommends that the Secretary-General call on the Muslim Brotherhood to reevaluate its practices that have contributed to the current crisis – both while the group was in government and after leaving power – and to cease acts of violence.
It is important to note that prior to his meeting with the Secretary-General on January 7, Hassan had conducted extensive consultations with a number of Arab and other experts working in the fields of human rights and international relations and with the United Nations regarding the content of the recommendations that would be presented to the Secretary-General.
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