To take on a more ambitious role that responds to Arab peoples’ aspirations for more rights and liberties, the Arab League and civil society need to rethink and deepen their relations

In League of Arab States, Thematic Reports by CIHRS

EnFollowing the Arab uprisings, the League of Arab States seemed poised to play a much-needed role on many regional issues, including promoting human rights and increasing member states’ compliance with international conventions. However, the League’s approach in this regard has been far from consistent. This, coupled with waning revolutionary euphoria, has dampened civil society’s aspirations that the League could assume such a role. But a closer look at the organization reveals a slow shift in its positioning. Only through deeper understanding of the League can civil society engage with it to advance human rights in the region.

Today, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) jointly launched The League of Arab States: A Manual for Practitioners. This essential guide provides civil society organizations with a solid understanding of the League’s structures, standards and mechanisms relating to human rights to allow them to engage better with this important organization for a stronger impact on its decision-making mechanisms.

The Arab League works on a range of human rights issues, including women’s, children’s and refugees’ rights as well as freedom of expression. The report argues that the League’s full potential in the pursuit of human rights can only be achieved through a better relationship with civil society.

The League of Arab states has taken important steps in the field of human rights recently, but reform is needed to allow genuine consultation with civil society,” said Mervat Rishmawi, Senior Policy Analyst at the OSF Arab Regional Office. “This practical manual will help civil society organizations and the League work better together.”

Only through genuine transparency, democratic consultation and engagement with civil society can the Arab League assume a stronger and more democratic role in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region,” said Ziad Abdel Tawab, CIHRS Deputy Director. “Arab civil society should reach out to the League and help it fulfill this potential.

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