Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Egypt: Resolve Towards Equity, Justice and Human Rights

Baha'i rep. Dr. Basma Moussa (front-right) seated next to Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Two days ago, Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) began its convention addressing the crisis of "citizenship." Invited were representatives of the Christian (Coptic), Muslim and Baha'i religions, as well as all government ministries, agencies and civil authorities. On opening the convention, NCHR's president, Dr. Bouros Boutros-Ghali, called for the formation of a permanent national anti-discrimination league. The league would be charged with the elimination of any form of discrimination based on religion, gender or ethnic origin. It would be similar to other international agencies such as the ones in Morocco, France and the United States of America.

Today, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper published an article in which it announced that the Human Rights Committee of Egypt's Parliament [Maghlis Al-Shaab] has decided to invite the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the president of the National Council for Human Rights to work on proposed corrective legislation in response to the various reports released by regional, national and international human rights organizations.

This parliamentarian committee will study and implement the recommendations put forth by the National Council for Human Rights. It will also examine and respond to the many complaints filed by Egyptian citizens residing in and outside the country. The committee will adhere to international human rights standards, in particular those of the African and Arab region. It will also share the outcome of its deliberations with the members of the parliament so that the parliament's opinion can be promoted among the public, both nationally and internationally.

Clearly, this development appears to be a very positive one. It implies that the findings and recommendations of the National Council for Human Rights--a government-appointed advisory council--are indeed enforceable through actions of the parliament. Also, equally important is that the parliament is seriously considering and addressing the findings of other regional, national and international human rights organizations. Egypt is to be congratulated on this very significant and progressive milestone towards a stable and equitable civil society.


  1. Given a chance, ordinary people are extraordinarily wise. Even in the war tormemted countries they sense that only with justice and equality for all can peace be achieved. If only the governments would listen to their people!!! Through this convention, the Egyptian authorities seem well on their way to do just that and have to be commended for it

  2. Even that has to be done with caution. I might qualify your comment by saying: "if only the governments would listen to their well-adjusted people!"

  3. This sounds potentially a very positive development. Let us hope that the authorities do listen. I'm afraid I tend to be somewhat sceptical though. Governments not infrequently take quite perverse decisions, whatever the people say.

    We have to keep working for justice and to promote human rights and to persuade governments to listen to these messages.

  4. Excellent news. Nice to see that the spirit of love and justice is still alive in the hearts of the people of that blessed and ancient land!

    Now if we could just deal with this pesky race problem in the United States...

  5. A realistic interpretation of these events would anticipate a long-term and exceptionally challenging evolution towards achievement of the proposed objectives. With the emergence of bodies determined to see the true establishment of human rights in Egypt, conditions indicate a polarization with entities ambivalent to or in opposition to such measures. As noted, the lead entity is the NCHR, a government appointed consultative body, that has to date, not been appointed the capacity to exercise any form of authority or executive control. The call is for the formation of an anti-discrimination league; an additional entity that, if approved, has yet to be formed and have qualified (and impartial) members appointed, and with no definition as to its capacity to exercise reform, and likely, to hold yet another consultative status to the parliament. Another government body, the Human Rights Committee of Egypt’s parliament – one questions the purpose and achievement of their presence to date - is to invite various ministries to study and implement corrective measures and promote the ministries’ opinion, rather vague and non-committal phrasing that does not address the identity of a final, singular, and independent authority. If proposals are to find resolution through a parliamentary vote, then failure is certain. This does not factor the probabilities of efficiency, competence, integrity, the appointment of objective, just and committed individuals, or the anonymous inclusion of persons controlled or under influence of adversarial elements. Simply put, if approval and ultimate implementation is to be exercised by government ministries, then no number of committees or advisory bodies can be of use. This would be back to square one, despite inspiring rhetoric. If one holds to the assumption that these procedures are to be efficient and effective, then there is the obvious issue of time; it is a lengthy process. How long can one go without employment, without a bank account, credit card, drivers license, education, passport, pension..., while established and unquestionable human rights are being revisited by an already sluggish and antagonistic authority? To those who have not experienced such conditions, consider the extension of time and latitude that has just been granted to achieve what is basic to human survival.

  6. R.A.,
    Thank you for your comment. Acknowledging what you have said, it is also worthwhile to point out that, at least, the mere thought of contemplating action on the recommendations of human rights organizations is an important step forward. Dialogue is indeed a progress considering where we were before.


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