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Human Rights in the Post-Uprisings Middle East: Emerging Discourses and Practices in Egypt and Tunisia

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HURIME (Human Rights in the Post-Uprisings Middle East: Emerging Discourses and Practices inEgypt and Tunisia)

Período documentado: 2017-05-01 hasta 2019-04-30

Human rights in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region since the uprisings constitutes one of the most significant issues that could shape the future of the region. Following the uprisings the question how the uprisings did impact human rights in the post-uprising transitional countries which have been suspected of being incapable of adjusting international human rights norms, became a pressing one. Since the human rights discourses have emancipatory potential and can influence the processes of genuine political change, identifying the characteristics and dynamics of these discourses has not only a great significance to researchers but also to policy makers.

HURIME is an in-depth, interdisciplinary and comparative study, aiming to significantly contribute to current knowledge about human rights in the MENA region. HURIME dealt with human rights discourses and practices in the MENA region as they undergo transition stemming from the Arab uprisings in 2011.

The project had three key Research Objectives. First it aimed at discovering the main patterns of human rights discourses and practices in the MENA region undergoing transition through the course of the Arab Spring, to provide an in-depth knowledge of the characteristics and developments of human rights in the region. Second it sought to explore and explain the main political, legal and social conditions underlying both change and persistence within human rights discourse, to identify human rights dynamics in the region leading to the political change. Third it aimed to exploring the impact of the shift and persistence in human rights discourses on the actual practice of human rights in the region, with the ultimate aim of identifying the best ways for improving human rights practice in the region.
In order to achieve the main objectives HURIME conducted qualitative case studies focusing on Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. For each case study, first a historical, cultural and political framework of human rights have been established which was then followed by in-depth analyses of the primary and secondary sources, such as legal texts, organizational reports, party programs, books, periodicals, speeches and media coverage. The main focus of the analysis was on significant political, legal and social events such as the uprisings, elections process, process of forming a new government and constitution making process. Intensive field research trips in the selected countries and semi structured interviews with the political elites formed the basis of the research. The field research in Tunisia was conducted in October-November 2017 and field research in Morocco was conducted in November 2018. The interviews for the case study Egypt was conducted with the Egyptian political actors living abroad including in Turkey, United Kingdom, USA and Canada between February-August 2018.

The final results of HURIME illustrates new evidence with regards to human rights developments in the transitional countries. The conclusions of HURIME were numerous but specifically they demonstrate that demands for the protection of basic rights were not only one of the main catalysators of the uprisings in the MENA region but they played also a key role during the transitional period of the post-uprising countries. The actors referred to the human rights more frequently and used the human rights as a legitimizing tool following the uprisings, employing mainly a language of international human rights norms. However, this increase and change in the discourses were not reflected in the actual practice of human rights. The results show that one of the most important conditions for the promotion of human rights is the establishment of the institutional framework necessary for the protection of the rights. In addition to capacity of the state to establish the institutional framework, the willingness of the relevant political actors to establish and to keep the established institutions in tact is vital for the promotion of human rights in transitional countries. HURIME illustrates that the ability and willingness for consensus when accommodating conflicting interests in the legal and institutional framework impact the development of human rights positively. Moreover, the research demonstrates that a prioritisation of rights in transitional countries occurs, not only because of lacking financial resources but also due to the political interests of key actors. While institutional framework, strong civil society and financial resources play a significant role in the success of promotion of human rights, the transitional process with regard to human rights is endangered without the engagement, assistance and support of international community.

The research outcomes have been widely communicated to the scientific community and wider public via publications in peer reviewed journals; presentations at international renowned conferences; panel discussions; presentations and invited talks at several universities. One peer reviewed article is published in 2019 and two journal articles have been submitted to the international peer-reviewed journals. Furthermore, the research results have been presented in four conferences (ISA Annual Convention 2018, BRISMES 2018, WOCMES 2018, Tricontinental Conference 2019) and five seminars/lectures in 2018 and 2019 at various universities and institutions. The research results were disseminated to wider audiences beyond academia, via two public events with speakers from academia and civil society in 2018 and 2019. A talk to the early career researchers and PhD students from various universities about the project and experience with Marie Curie fellowship was also given in 2018 organised by London Higher Europe in Brussel.
HURIME is the first detailed empirical analyses of human rights discourses and practices in the MENA region as they undergo transition stemming from the Arab uprisings in 2011. It enriches the literature on human rights with new knowledge in an area that largely lacks in-depth analyses of the human rights developments in the transitional countries in the MENA region. The research results reached also wider audience beyond academia in order to increase the awareness about the value of human rights in the transitional countries in region.
The research will make ongoing contributions to the developments of human rights in the MENA region through academic and non-academic dissemination activities. A book manuscript entitled ‘Human Rights after the Uprisings: Challenges and Opportunities in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco’ is in progress.
panel in 2018 at SOAS