The Arab Spring was reported in the Western media as a spontaneous upsurge of popular sentiment in search of democracy and the realisation of human rights. Yet in the immediate aftermath, the status of human rights in post-uprising regimes was a question rather than a fait accompli. How would the newly empowered Islamist parties (Ennahda in Tunisia, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt), and indeed the largely secular forces of counter-revolution, relate to the nascent human rights agenda? Are human rights just a codified form of neo-colonialism, or do they represent something more indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa? Are the sorts of institutions and the type of civil society presupposed by human rights even possible in the unique socio economic and religious environments of the region? After the return to power of the military under President Abdal Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has been accused of massive human rights violations. But what are the prospects for human rights in Tunisia, often considered the sole “success story” of the Arab Spring?
To address these questions and lead the Majlis’s robust discussion, we will be joined by Dr Amna Guellali, a researcher on Tunisia and Algeria with Human Rights Watch. Dr Guellali produces detailed reports, news releases, and op-eds based on her findings and conducts local and international advocacy. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Guellali worked as analyst at the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and as Senior Researcher at the department of international law at the Asser Institute. She has also served as legal officer at the regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tunis. Guellali holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence. She is a native speaker of Arabic and also fluent in French, English, and Italian.