February 8th, 2010 by Editor
“Freedom of assembly and organization : A road map for the future”
[Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen – February 2010]
Under the auspices of Mr. Amr Moussa, Secretary-General “of the League of Arab States”, 100 representatives of Arab civil society organizations and governments, representatives of the European Union and a number of international institutions come together in the headquarters of Arab League in Cairo from 10-12 February 2010 in an attempt to discuss the current situation for the freedom of assembly and organization in the Arab world and to set a road map for the future.
In the framework of this international conference, the project of the freedom of assembly and organization is concluded which continued for over 3 years(2007-2010), and the goal of this project is to strengthen the legal framework of the right to assembly and organization in the Arab world through national dialogue and empowerment of civil society organization.
This project, coordinated by Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, supported by the European Union and carried out with partnership of Arab organizations and under the auspice of the Arab League, its goals are to contribute to support reform efforts by working to make the laws of NGOs, parties and trade unions compatible with international standards for freedom of assembly and organization.
Among the major outputs of the project was the book entitled “The guide principles of the right to assembly and organization in the Arab world” and 3 codes of conduct for Arab civil society.
In October 2009, and in the framework of the project activities, the Arab activists came together in Broumana – Lebanon and initiated the establishment of “Arab Council for the freedom of assembly and organization.” The main goal of this council is to reform laws which organize the work of political parties, trade unions and NGOs and work to promote the image and performance of civil society organizations.
During the next conference which will be held in Cairo, the council will issue a report to analyze the current status for the freedom of assembly and organization in 9 Arab countries.
While the project during the past years focused on Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria, the organizers of this conference will try to access to other countries which are not covered by the program for
delivering project outputs to the Northwest Arab countries and the Gulf, Yemen, Somalia, Mauritania and other countries. It is expected that this conference will include representatives of these countries to take advantage and benefit from the experiences accumulated in the region.
Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, Secretary-General of EOHR, confirmed that the right to assembly and organization is a fundamental and a main core for democratic structure for any civilized society. This right is guaranteed under the Arab constitutions and international covenants concerned with human rights. However, some Arab legislative provisions are not compatible in some respects with this level of constitutional protection and also with conventions and international covenants.
As for the Egyptian experiment, Abu Seada pointed out that civil society organizations (parties, trade unions and NGO’s) have reached a bill for NGOs replacing law No. 84 /2002, code of conducts stated the declaration of what so called “the Egyptian coalition for the integrity of civil society” which its meetings are being held till the end of February at EOHR -the general coordinator for the coalition – to prepare a founding document including its goals, mechanisms and its future plans.
In describing this conference, Mr. Ralf Erbel, permanent representative of Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, said that his foundation learned several lessons along fulfilling the project over three years.
Ms. Abab Murad, director of the project, said that “We are not alone in the field. There are many initiatives in the region that would modernize the Arab legislations such as: Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and the Euro-Mediterranean for Human Rights and other initiatives which have successes and failures. “we will meet in Cairo so as to share successful experiences and learn from our mistakes and draw a map for the future”.
The project, which will be ended in February 2010 created a distinctive dynamics in the region and it is considered the first project that gathered all elements of civil society to work on the issue of common concern, namely the right to assembly and organization.
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