In a partnership with Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) in Tunis, Réseau Euromed France (REF) in Paris and La Ligue de l’Enseignement des Bouches-du-Rhône in Marseille, we are beginning a 2 years project which aims to Empower and engage young MENA change-makers to take action and lead constructive change to improve the human rights situation in their country.
The project « Empowering a New Generation of Human Rights Advocates in the Arab Region » is funded by UNDEF (United Nation Democracy Fund)
The deterioration of the political climate in Arab Region has had a detrimental effect on human rights defenders and formal civil society organisations. Many CSOs have collapsed or greatly weakened. There is a need for a new generation of civil society leaders, to foster reform from the ground. At the same time, young civil society actors, who grew up in a period of extreme instability and turmoil, are trying to find avenues to express themselves and influence the future of their countries. These youths often lack the skills, structuration and networks to endorse leadership responsibilities and sustain impact.
Additionally, issues faced by young citizens in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are in many ways similar to the challenges faced by European youth (precariousness, obstacles to mobility, discriminations, political marginalisation, disillusionment).
There is however very little interaction between local grassroots activists in the Euro Mediterranean region, further increasing their isolation.
In a generalised context of shrinking freedoms and political disengagement on both shores, it’s urgent to create spaces for experience-sharing and cultural exchange to build ties between both sides.
Empowering a New Generation of Human Rights Advocates in the Arab Region
Between June 2020 and May 2022, this new generation of civil society leaders and change-makers from the Middle East and North Africa, will be supported to develop specific human rights initiatives in their countries, through a program of exchanges and capacity building training.
40 beneficiaries, from 12 countries for the region (Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Irak, Jordan, lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Soudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen) will follow a theoretical training in Tunis to develop their skills in the field of human rights, role of civil societies, citizenship engagement…
They will be coached in the development of local initiatives (i.e. video, publication, artistic production, campaigning action, etc.), putting the training into practice.
And then, a field exchange program will help them develop a more concrete vision of civil society work in Marseille.
At the end of the project, 4 to 6 of the most promising initiatives will be showcased during a public event, raising awareness on specific human rights issues throughout the region.