A week to rethink the relations between the EU and the Arab World

A delegation of human rights and development non governmental organizations from seven Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Morocco) is visiting European Union (EU) institutions in Brussels this week, with the aim of deepen the dialogue on the relations between both regions with policy makers and civil society representatives. The mission is organized by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), in cooperation with EuroStep and CNCD-11.11.11 (Centre national de coopération au développement, Belgium).

Members of the delegation perceive that the quest for democratization in Arab countries necessitate rethinking economic and social policies at the national level. It also necessitates a rethinking of the content and mechanisms of cooperation and partnership between Arab countries and their partners, including the EU.

ANND brings together 30 NGOs and nine national networks from 11 Arab countries and is active in the protection of social and economic rights.

Article 208 of the Lisbon Treaty establishes that policy coherence is an obligation for the EU, necessitating that all EU external policies must be in support of developing countries' development needs. Indeed, seeking policy coherence is essential among the various levels of cooperation between the EU and Arab countries, specifically among development cooperation and the economic partnership, including the trade and investment relations.

Abdeljelil Bedoui, from the Tunisian Economic and Social Rights Forum, notes that: “peoples revolutions in the Arab countries are not simply the result of corruption, lack of freedoms, and good governance, but are also the result of the failure of implemented economic policies. A different pattern of growth rooted in developing productive capacities and enhancing redistribution and decent job generation are essential to serve the right to development of peoples in Arab countries”.

Abdel-Mawla Ismail, from the Egyptian Organization for Collective Rights, highlights that: “the implementation of the trade and investment agenda since the launch of the Barcelona process have resulted in significant stress on productive capacities in Arab countries, the private sector including small and medium enterprises, employment and wages, as well as public expenditure on public social services. Trade and investment arrangements, including the proposed ‘Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements’, should not be undertaken without a previous impact assessment on human rights, development, and biodiversity in the countries involved, which should inform the negotiations and be effectively open to civil society contributions”.

Allam Jarrar from the Palestinian NGO Network, stresses that: “the Palestinians’ rights to democratic and development are central to development processes in the Arab region, while the lack of genuine constructive efforts on the Palestinian- Israeli peace process and the continued domination of the interests of security in dealing with the region contributes to undermining the credibility of EU policy there. The EU is invited to revise its cooperation and partnership relations with Israel, in order to reflect the principles of justice, rights, and peace that the EU had declared”.

El-Kabir El-Miloudi, from Espace Associatif in Morocco, highlights that: “cultural diversity and respect and acceptance of the other could be a source of richness and support for process of progress and development in the Euro-Mediterranean region, if respected. Migration is core to the relations between the EU and Southern Mediterranean countries and should be discussed within the development objectives of the EU-Arab cooperation and partnership relations and not based on a securityfocused approach”.

Joumana Merhi, from the Forum of Democratic Women in Lebanon points out that “equality and women’s rights must be integrated and operationalized in all aspects of the EU cooperation and partnership with Arab countries, including policies of economic, financial, trade, and investment relations, ensuring that these policies promote opportunities for women to participate in the economic cycles and decision making, and in access to social policies and services”.

Sharaf Al-Mosawi, from Bahrain Transparency Society, notes that “the EU is urged to pressure for an end of human rights violations in Bahrain and to support civil society and human rights defenders and to protect labor unions from government’s acts and restrictions weakening the labor movement.”

Ziad Abdel-Samad, from the Arab NGO Network for Development, stresses that: “there is a need for a more consistent and institutionalized process of engagement with civil society organizations, including participation in various aspects of policy design, program definition, implementation, and evaluation of various aspects of EU cooperation with Arab countries. Enhancing access to information on all these fronts is essential to allow civil society groups to undertake a constructive contribution”.

A whole-day forum in the Residence Place will include this Tuesday a roundtable discussion with Mrs. Madeleine Majorenko (Head of Division, European Neighborhood Policy Sector coordination, European External Action Service) entitled “Seeking Coherence in the EU-Arab Cooperation; between Economic Cooperation and Policies for Development and Social Justice” and a dialogue with Mr. Angelo Baglio (Head of Unit, Directorate General for Development and Cooperation) on mechanisms of EU engagement with civil society organizations.

Participants in the delegation

● ANND’s central representatives

■ Lebanese Kinda Mohamadieh is the Programs Director at the ANND, where she works on social and economic rights, development policies, trade and investment agreements, and other globalization and governance issues. Mohamadieh serves on the international coordination committees of the Social Watch, Our World is not for Sale Network, and Global Call to Action against Poverty. Kinda has an academic background in International and European Economic Law, international development and nonprofit management, and economics.

■ Ziad Abdel Samad, also a Lebanese citizen, is the Executive Director of ANND. He is Co-Founder of the Euro-Mediterranean NGO Platform and member of the UNDP CSO Advisory Committee to the Administrator, Advisory board of the Asia Pacific Research Network and of the Advisory board of the Reality of Aid Network.

● Bahrain

■ Sayed Sharaf Mohsen al-Mosawi is a member of Bahrain Transparency Society and currently is a manager of Internal Audit Division of Bahrain Training Institute. He is also board member of ANND. Mr. Al-Mosawi completed several vocational training courses covering economics and business journalism, transitional justice, elections, fight against corruption among others. He has active roles in several civil society organizations, including Vice-Chairman of Arab Organization for integrity and transparency and Gulf Development Forum.

● Egypt

■ Dr. Magdy Abdel-Hamid heads the Egyptian Association for Enhancement of Civic Engagement. He is also board member of the Arab NGO Network for Development. He holds a PhD in construction economics, organization and management. Mr. Abdel Hamid worked as a consultant with UN organizations, i.e. ESCWA, and other international organizations as IDEA, DRI, EPD, and the EU. He had participated in founding several networks and coalitions in the field of human rights and democracy development on the national and regional levels i.e. Egyptian Euromed Civil Platform EEMCP, Egyptian Independent Coalition for Monitoring Elections, Egyptian Coalition on Child’s Rights in Egypt CCR, and the Arab Network for Monitoring Elections.

■ Mr. Abdelmawla Ismail Mohamed is the Chairman for Egyptian Association for Collective Rights. He is a member of the Right to Water Forum in the Arab Region. He has collaborated with several non-governmental organizations as a freelance researcher. Mr. Ismail holds a BSc in Commerce, Development of Business Management and post-graduate diploma on Civil Society and Human Rights from Cairo University and post-graduate diploma on Environmental Science and Economics from Ain Shams University.

■ Khaled Ali is a prominent Egyptian lawyer and activist. He is known for his advocacy for reform of government and private sector corruption and for promoting social justice and labor rights. Ali is the former head of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights and co-founder of the Front for Defending Egypt's Protesters and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center. He has been involved in several prominent court cases against the government, including a 2001 ruling that gave syndicates more freedoms, a 2010 case he won that mandated a higher minimum wage for workers, and a case leading to the nationalization of three large companies that had been privatized. He was a candidate for the Egyptian Presidential Elections in 2012.

● Jordan

■ Hala Ahed Deeb works as a Legal consultant in Jordanian Women's union, a local nongovernmental organization dedicated to the abolition of gender discrimination and the promotion of human rights. She provides legal advice to women. Mrs. Deeb is a member of various committees including ‘The regional coalition to amend Personal Status Law (Family Law)’, ‘the Expert Committee drafting Election Law’, ‘the Committee drafting the National Strategy for Elderly, and ‘the Women Committee of Jordanian Bar Association’.

● Lebanon

■ Joumana Merhi is a Lebanese feminist activist since 1995 advocating for the rights of women as human rights. She is the President of the Rassemblement des Femmes Democratiques du Liban. She became the Coordinator of Arab Women’s Forum AISHA in 2008. Working with regional and international organizations, she also trains on human rights and international conventions, combating violence against women, as well as on gender mainstreaming.

■ Samer Abdallah is the General Coordinator of Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (Towards Citizenship) since 2010, a non-profit organization that promotes citizenship education, participation and policy reform. Mr. Abdallah’s professional experience covers issues of development, humanitarian aid, community engagement, and reform. He Studied Graphic Design in the American University Beirut from 1993 to 1995, and Information Technology and Computing at the Arab Open University, from 2001 to 2003, and is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from the Arab Open University in Beirut.

● Morocco

■ El Kabir el Miloudi is a member of the Espace Associatif. He is also a member of the Executive Office of the Amazigh Network for Citizenship. Mr. El Miloudi has been actively engaged with treaty bodies work relevant to Morocco, including the CERD, CESCR and other relevant human rights monitoring mechanisms i.e. Universal Periodic Review. He is member in various human rights committees in Morocco, including Central Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

● Palestine

■ Dr. Allam Jarar is the Steering Committee member of the Palestinian NGO Network and board member with ANND. He holds Doctor degree of Medicine and a diploma in Management Methods for International Health. Dr. Jarrar has over 25 years of experience in working with the NGO sector in Palestine and has been active in civil society as members of Palestinian networks and forums. He has several publications including “NGO sector in Palestine Perspectives for future development”.

● Tunisia

■ Yosra Frawez is a member of Tunisian Association for Democratic Women. She is also Program Director in the Arab Institute for Human Rights. She is a member in the Committee of Experts that follows the goals of the Tunisian revolution, political reform and democratic transition. Mrs. Frawez gives trainings on women’s rights issues and electoral law.

■ Dr. Abdeljelil Bedoui is the advisor to the General Union of Tunisian Workers and consultant to various international and national institutions. He has Ph.D. in Economics and collaborates with University of Tunis as a Professor of Economics. He is a specialist and expert in development economics and economics of international relations.

More information
Preliminary agenda: http://bit.ly/Qx1T4l

ANND: http://bit.ly/LAkdTE
Eurostep: http://bit.ly/O76737
CNCD-11.11.11 (in French): http://bit.ly/UayrB2