Human Rights and the Arab Awakening: Assessing the United Nations Response
As unprecedented demands for human rights sweep across the Arab world, the United Nations has mobilized its many agencies to respond to various human rights, humanitarian, and security needs. For states like Syria, Yemen, and Libya, the UN Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have played particularly important roles by convening special sessions, dispatching fact-finding missions, and providing technical assistance. In other cases, such as Bahrain and Egypt, the Council has been noticeably silent.
On November 4, the Managing Global Order project at Brookings hosted a discussion on how the UN Human Rights Council and the OHCHR have responded to the tumult of the Arab awakening and the potential for further action as the region embarks into uncharted waters. Kyung-wha Kang, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, provided opening remarks detailing the UN’s response to the human rights dimensions of the Arab awakening. Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, explained the U.S. role in these efforts. Senior Fellow Ted Piccone, deputy director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
After the program, panelists took audience questions.
“The 21st century has revalued these small geographies. That’s what the 21st century demands,” Katz said, noting that these days, “[w]e aren’t innovating in isolated business parks” in the suburbs.