Achieving full enjoyment of human rights in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) requires investment at the level of national laws and policies, public perceptions and discourse, dialogue and cooperation. The Regional Office strives to contribute to structural and legal transformations where human rights approaches are conceptualised, discussed and enshrined in laws, institutions and practices.
The Middle East and North Africa faces significant challenges, including situations of armed conflict, the rise of violent extremism and the counter-terrorism narrative affecting civil and political rights as well as deeply rooted discrimination against groups. The region is also affected by long-standing conflicts/disputes, such as the Israeli occupation of Arab territories. Violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, and Yemen have impacted heavily the human rights situation in the region, affecting thereof countries covered by the Regional Office.
Inequalities throughout the region, in terms of economic and social rights, require effective responses. Lack of access to basic services of and discrimination against specific groups, including women, youth, and migrants, ethnic and religious minorities remain a long-standing and urgent concern necessitating changes in laws, policies and practice. Acts of intimidation, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearances of political opponents, media professionals and civil society actors by governments and security institutions continue to be justified on security grounds. The extensive use of death penalty persists, weak fair trial standards and lack of meaningful access to justice, reinforce impunity. Further, significant numbers of displaced persons, migrants and stateless persons remain in need of protection in many countries.