The Role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights- The Strategic Priorities in the Current Phase


Dr. Rashmawi illustrated the role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in light of strategic changes that are taking place in the Middle East, with emphasis on the Arab Spring or what she called the “Arab awakening”. She started the session with speaking of the Tunisian revolution which was triggered by Mohammed Bo Azizi who burned himself in response to the demands of dignity and justice in Tunisia. She considered the “Arab awakening” came in three stages; the first stage is manifested in removing the ottoman regime, the second is overthrowing colonialism in Arab countries which still exists, and finally the last stage is removing dictatorial regimes.

Later on  Dr. Rashmawi asserted that the High-Commissioner for Human rights was founded in 1994, due to the importance of having a side from the UN that gives a voice to victims. She also indicated to the main strategies which the OHCHR works on, that is preventing discrimination, and promoting minorities’ rights, fighting racism and maneuvering from punishment, reinforcing accountability, achieving social and economic rights, protecting human rights especially in issues related to  migration and strategic development of law.

In the context of the Arab spring, Dr. Rashmawi enumerated a number of factors which, according to her, had an impact on the outcome of these revolutions. Such as the method of protesting, in which the peaceful nature of the protest facilitated in process of upcoming phases. The Arab armies played a crucial role in these revolutions, in addition to the level of education and the strategic location of these countries. She then spoke about the ways the OHCHR dealt with these revolutions. For instance, in Tunisian when Ben-Ali’s regime was overthrown, the OHCHR was there within a week after being banned for many years of entering the country, and it established its first office in the region of north Africa. After the triumph of the Egyptian revolution the same thing happened and the OHCHR had an office in Egypt and later on in Libya. Dr. Rashmawi emphasized that the Arabs were not asleep despite the dreadful attacks of dictatorial regimes, also the absence of freedoms and social justice was a reason in igniting the Arab revolutions.

Saturday, June 9, 2012 - 12