Efforts to improve the human rights situation in Arab countries have amounted to little more than broken promises since Sept. 11, according to the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
Arab and Western governments pledged beginning in 2004 to place greater emphasis on everything from women’s rights to religious freedom and free speech. But in succeeding years officials turned their attention more towards "democratic” and "electoral” reforms at the expense of a focus on human rights. Arab leaders convened two regional conferences, one in Yemen and the other in Egypt, but they produced little change.
"Over the last five years, the international initiatives gradually lost their momentum,
ultimately collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions and the ‘terror’ that struck Europe and the U.S. following electoral victories by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Palestine,” wrote Bahey eldin Hassan, general director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
Hassan also placed blame on the Obama administration for its weak rhetoric directed at the Arab world, citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
’s speech at the "Forum of the Future” in which she failed to mention the words "democracy” or "human rights.” Also, President Barack Obama avoided taking a clear stance on human rights issues in the Arab
region during his June speech from Cairo.
The report states that the most worrying developments in the Arab region are 1) the various governments’ widespread impunity and "flagrant lack of accountability,” 2) the increase in "failed states,” such as Somalia and Yemen, 3) "the growing tendency of regimes in some Arab countries to align themselves with Salafists (conservative Islamists)” and 4) the deteriorating status of minorities.