Conflict and insecurity coupled with violations of the right to life, physical integrity, and economic and social rights continue to affect countries across the MENA region. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law are common, including violations amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity. Civilians are often the main victims. Journalists, government officials, human rights defenders, minority, ethnic and religious groups, displaced persons and refugees are frequently targeted. In some contexts, gender-based violence is prevalent.
Over the period 2019-2022, the Regional Office will embark on monitoring the human rights developments in the region. For that purpose, it will develop a monitoring network, built upon existing and expanded partnerships, bringing in a broader range of civil society groups and movements. The Regional Office will strategically engage with Member States to reduce human rights violations and integrate human rights in political decision-making and peace agreements; facilitate the participation of diverse groups, including women, in peace negotiations; and cooperate closely with regional and United Nations peace missions to ensure integration of human rights.
The Regional Office will conduct regular monitoring and verification of human rights allegations through existing standard methodologies of OHCHR; interviews, consultations and meetings with alleged victims, witnesses, interlocutors and partners. The Regional Office will produce public reports that will include trends and cases of human rights violations and abuses in the region, analysis on discriminatory laws and practices or non-compliant legislation that need to be repealed or amended in addition to engagement with relevant partners in the region for the advancement of a human rights agenda.
The Regional Office will actively engage with United Nations entities, regional bodies, and Member States to further highlight that protection and promotion of human rights contribute to more effective conflict prevention, conflict management, and post-conflict peace building. To this end, the Regional Office will monitor the implementation of relevant strategies, codes of conduct for security entities, and provide training courses, operational guidance and technical advice on how to integrate human rights operationally in prevention activities.
Transitional justice, accountability, and rule of law: Transitions in the region towards enhanced respect for human rights and the rule of law are at risk unless new governments address past violations and embark on institutional and legal reforms. Such efforts will be informed by inclusive and genuine national consultations. The Regional Office will prioritize institutional reforms for security and justice sectors, with a stronger gender participation; legal reforms with a view to repealing provisions of an array of laws that restrict freedom of expression, association, and assembly, and that discriminate against or fail to protect women and vulnerable groups, including religious and ethnic groups.