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Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa

Task Force 2015

Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa


Joe Stork

Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's MENA Division

Faculty Adviser

Denis Basic


Task Force

  • Robert Adams
  • Erica Ames
  • Blanka Bots
  • Tiffany Butler
  • Lauren Capobianco
  • Daniel Chrisman
  • Sasha Hooper
  • Auric Kaur
  • Kristine Krebsbach
  • Michael Land
  • Ottavia Lezzi
  • Jacob Morgen
  • Brandon Song
  • Skye Terebey

Within this report we attempted to reconcile the Western and Islamic understandings of human rights, aware that even within the Islamic world itself the interpretations and implementations of universal human rights vary from country to country. The question of compatibility between the Islamic and Western visions of human rights fueled our debate over how to minimize future human rights violations. We found that although there are discrepancies between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, it is politics, rather than religion, that determines the level of human rights within each individual nation. In turn, domestic policies are influenced by the political and economic interests of international state actors, creating avenues to improve human rights standards in the region.

Key Recommendations:

  • All states should implement international human rights convention obligations into domestic legislation.
  • Establish an independent monitoring agency to ensure labor regulations of migrant workers are strictly followed in Gulf Cooperation Council states.
  • To contain the movement of ISIL, urge a continued international military intervention within Iraq and Syria while encompassing recent engagements in peripheral nations, particularly the developments within Libya.
  • Members of the international community should increase financial humanitarian aid and expand domestic resettlement programs to alleviate the burden of hosting Syrian refugees.
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