EU-Egypt Task Force: Why would NGOs be excluded?
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 November 2012|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, EU-Egypt Task Force: Why would NGOs be excluded?, 14 November 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50b3827926.html [accessed 21 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Last Update 14 November 2012
On the occasion of the first EU-Egypt Task force on 13-14 November in Cairo, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly regret the cancellation of an invitation of leading Egyptian human rights NGOs, including our members and partners organisations, to participate in the civil society roundtable. This is an extremely worrying indicator for the development of a new partnership between the EU and Egypt aiming at promoting democracy and human rights. We fear that this came under pressure from the Egyptian government, which has not yet shown willingness to genuinely consult with human rights groups in the political transition process. Furthermore, the representative of EMHRN participating to the roundtable was not allowed to raise human rights issues.
Our organisations deplore the lack of strong political will from the EU to implement its public commitment to put democratisation and human rights at the centre of its relations with South Mediterranean countries and to have a full partnership not only with governments, but also with civil society organisations. The Task force is a crucial moment and our organisations were looking forward to use this platform to strengthen democracy and human rights in Egypt. As announced by the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, the Task Force is meant to act as a catalyst for collective EU support, to encourage the democratic transition and to help restore economic and investor confidence. It should require a "strong involvement of civil society".
The sidelining of Egyptian NGOs comes at a moment when their role of civil society in the democratic transition has been, up till today, essential to report and denounce human rights violations, monitor the electoral process and critically assess the lack of transparency in decision-making by the transitional government. The pressure and harassment they suffer from the transitional Egyptian authorities can only be linked to the effectiveness of their critical assessment and contribution.
In this context, the reaction of the European Union can and should only be stronger. Democratisation, human rights, gender equality and partnership with human rights and women's rights organisations should be at the forefront of the discussions in line with its revised European Neighbourhood Policy following the Arab spring. The credibility of the new ENP is at stake. Beyond economic interests in the development of the country, the EU should stand firm in reaffirming the conditionality of its support to the development of human rights, democratisation and gender equality in the Arab spring notably as restated in its Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean.
The demands for social justice, freedoms and dignity that were underlying the Revolution have not been met so far, fostering numerous protest movements over 2011 and 2012. On the contrary, Egyptian and international NGOs have been denunciating human rights violations which seem to get even more serious and systematic than they were under Mubarak. Following President Morsi's first 100 days of his term, the government has failed to address on-going human rights and gender based violations by the State authorities and take urgently needed measures to address human rights' abuses in law and practice . In this alarming context, several negative indicators cast doubt on the genuine willingness of the Egyptian government to improve respect of fundamental freedoms, human rights and gender equality, ensure accountability for past violations and comply with international human rights standards.