Egypt is poised to launch its first integrated and long-term National Human Rights Strategy, to promote fundamental rights and freedoms.
The announcement came on Saturday evening, during a meeting of the Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights’ (SSCHR) advisory board at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and SSCHR head, Sameh Shoukry, highlighted the national efforts made to advance human rights; economic, social, cultural, civil, and political, as part of the country’s comprehensive development plan.
Human rights are an essential component of the modern civil state, Shoukry said, adding that the committee has accordingly gathered the nation’s brightest minds, public figures, and representatives from civil society on the advisory board.
The minister said that this approach is consistent with the participatory planning process pursued by the state, through community dialogue. It takes into consideration the visions, proposals and aspirations of the Egyptian people.
Towards this goal Egypt will not start from scratch, as the country has well-established national institutions, a progressive constitution and unique legal heritage, the minister explained.
Accordingly, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights ambassador Ahmed Ehab Gamal El Din told Daily News Egypt that the SSCHR will launch hearings in several governorates.
“These hearings will start in Cairo, and will then also be held in Alexandria, Ismailia, Minya, Luxor, and Mansoura,” Gamal El-Din said.
He also said that building a strong, positive human rights culture is essential, with education playing an integral role to ensure that people in Egypt understand their human rights and feel empowered.
Advisory board: Who is Who and its goals
The 25-member advisory body is made up of public figures and experts across a diverse spectrum of specialisations, and who will contribute opinions to the draft national strategy for human rights.
Members are: former Minister of Higher Education and Legal Expert Mofeed Shehab; former Minister of Supply Gouda Abdel-Khalek; former Minister of Trade and Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour; former Minister of Information Doria Sharaf Al-Din; President of Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) Maya Morsi; Former Assistant to the Minister of Justice for Human Rights Councillor Sanaa Khalil; and former Vice President of the Constitutional Court and former assistant Minister of Justice Hassan El Badrawi.
It will also include: political science scholar and Chairperson of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper Abdel Moneim Said; former vice president of the Constitutional Court Maher Sami Yossef; Vice President of the Court of Cessation Ahmed Aboelenien; Member of Parliament (MP) Heba Hagrass; prominent physician and a well known politician Hossam Badrawi; Member of the National Council Human Rights (NCHR) Mona Zulfikar; Professor of Political Science and NCHR member Niveen Mossad; NCHR member Mohsen Awad; veteran economist and founder and managing director of the Egypt Network for Integrated Development (ENID) Heba Handoussa; Professor of Sociology and former director of the Egyptian National Center for Social and Criminal Research Soheir Lotfi; and Egyptian Author Medhat El Adl.
Members of the advisory body praised the SSCHR’s initiative to prepare the strategy according to a disciplined scientific approach that identifies the strengths, opportunities, and challenges related to several human rights issues.
The committee will also prepare the first action plan which will include a large set of main and subsidiary objectives. The plan will determine the bodies responsible for their implementation according to a clear timetable, and include a number of performance indicators that will be subject to periodic monitoring and evaluation.
Professor Niveen Mossad told Daily News Egypt that the strategy aims to reflect the real conditions of human rights in Egypt, and showcase the efforts being undertaken on those issues.
The country has achieved a lot in the economic, health, social, and women rights, however, these achievements were not highlighted. The strategy offers a chance to include the insights of everyone who wants to participate to advance human rights.
“No country is able to do that only through state institutions, it must be done through partnership with civil society organisations, public figures, and scholars to advance human rights,” she added.
She explained that the strategy is divided into several pillars including, political and civil rights; economic rights, women and youth empowerment. Each pillar includes opportunities and challenges, determining what the state has achieved in each of these topics, and what is left to be done to improve them.
“It is a long-term process, some of these issues can be resolved with decisions, but some other are also dependent on factors such as allocation of resources,” Mossad said, “Regarding female empowerment, Egypt has achieved a lot recently, however one of the main goals in the strategy is to push it even further, especially in the judiciary.”
She added that the strategy aims to open up the way for women to enter into Egypt’s Courts of Administrative Justice, for example, stressing that over the last years, women have been appointed to high-level positions, including at the ministerial level, such as the Ministries of Planning, Health, and International Cooperation.