Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East

Heba Moses

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Following the Arab uprisings people of upraised states are trying to establish democracy out of the ruins of a brutal dictatorship. The upraised people have been more vocal in expressing distrust in a government where there is no transparency and accountability. They are seeking real democratic governments that equally treat the citizens without preference of ethnicity or religion or sect, states believe in law of rule.

“The basis of a democratic state is liberty” (Aristotle), people of upraised states were seeking liberty and equality when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

Schnabel argues that democratization in the Middle East must come from both below and above, given that pressure from below will be pointless if the political leadership is opposed to reform, while top-down reform is not a fruitful endeavour if the political culture in society is not developed; (Schnabel 35)

Real democracy can be attained through strengthening political pluralisms based on functioning political parties within a democratic state; and creating dialogue mechanisms between political parties and civil society, including media. Furthermore, the role of the community-based leaders shall be utilized, those leaders have a great influence on their peers especially if they are alike sharing the same problems and living under the same circumstances.

Enhancing Governance: Inclusiveness and Accountability

“Democratic governance and human rights are critical components of sustainable development and lasting peace. Countries that have ineffective government institutions, rampant corruption and weak rule of law have higher risk of civil war and higher risk of extreme criminal violence.” (USAID) Therefore, building integrity and restoring trust in the system of governance is vital.

According to the World Bank “Good Governance is exercising that authority in ways that respect the integrity, rights, and needs of everyone within the state”

Adopting New Peace-Building Initiative in the Middle East

“Great anger and violence can never build a nation.” Nelson Mandela

The Middle East region is, now more than ever, in need of a shift of narrative and dialogue in order to reinforce the dialogue and cooperation between the Middle Eastern countries, which can be attained through the following measures:

 Dialogue, Neutrality, Trust-building, and Common ground.
 Conveying a counter-narrative and unbiased discourse by emphasizing the diversified culture of the region.
 Redefining the region without interpreting it with labels (Pan-Arabism, Wahhabism, Pan-Shiism, Non-Aligned, Terrorism, Interference, etc.)
 Reinforcement of mutual understanding and peace building.
 Strengthening of a new narrative.
 Highlighting a counter-narrative on the Middle East region concerning the existing dynamics between the countries in order to modify the perception of the region- being a region where conflicts and instability prevail.
 Repositioning the youth as both the center of challenges and agent of change.
 Reinforcing the Human capital of the region through cultural and political dialogue.
 Transforming the dialectics of intellectual production by reinforcing the role of young intelligentsia (Think-tank phase ).
 Working on common values and aspirations whilst overcoming the cultural and sectarian obstacles that are used to minimize what could the Middle East genuinely bring to the global political strategies.
 Reemerging « forgotten frontlines » (e.g. Role of Women in Conflicts and Stability; Youth & Countering the Foreign Terrorist Fighters)
 Changing the dynamics from the predominance of perception of violence to understanding and trust.

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