Seeking Justice and Accountability: Rights Abuses and the Arab Uprisings
The upheavals and transformations in the Middle East and North Africa today offer an unprecedented opportunity to press for human rights and democratization across a region of great diversity. From Tunisia to Bahrain, the popular impulse for greater freedom and democracy offers the chance to end many years of authoritarian rule and press regimes lacking legitimacy or support to reform or die. One important way to make respect for rights central to the process of political transformation is to demand that state officials are held accountable for violations such as torture, arbitrary arrest and killings against their own populations. In order to demonstrate that human rights will be central to the new political order, it will be equally important to hold new regimes across the region and opposition movements accountable for violations they may commit in the future or have already committed.
SETA’s public seminar “Seeking Justice And Accountability: Rights Abuses And The Arab Uprisings” brought together Joe Stork and Jan Egeland of Human Rights Watch to discuss human rights in foreign policy making, and efforts to advocate for human rights and influence regimes like that in Syria which has turned a deaf ear to calls to end the brutal clampdown on demonstrators. In this context distinguished speakers addressed the following questions: What is the meaning of accountability for a country that violates human rights law or humanitarian law? How can we enable people to respect for human rights during the process of political transformation or in the new political order? How can Turkey play a role for the development of human rights in Middle East?