All Human Right (HR) efforts should take the UN declaration of Human Rights as the starting point. That is the “Road Map” laying out the direction for all nations seeking to improve their HR standards.
Earlier this month I participated along with 8500 human rights delegates coming from allover the world to attend the Human Rights World Forum in Marrakech hosted by the first Arab country – Morocco – ever.
This was a recognition that Morocco is further ahead than any other country in North Africa and the Arab Middle East when it comes to improving human rights standards.
But every country-based initiative must also take into consideration the local context, in order to succeed. Having said that, paying attention to local context must not be used as an excuse for not doing the necessary political and economic reforms in the society.
The end-goal (where people want to go) must always be kept in sight. A good example is the MENA region where the culture of democracy has started a very long journey – sometimes meeting resistance from totalitarian regimes and often radical religious-political organizations that are hindering the process of democratization. The Arab uprisings and at a time when Arab states are going through tumultuous and often tormented transitions, particularly Egypt, Libya, Irak as well as Syria.
Morocco under the leadership of King Muhammad VI who is also hold the title of commender of the faithfuls took power upon his father King Hassan II’s death in 1999, has been uniquely successful in navigating the instability of the Arab revolutions. He has not only retained power over the state, but has also launched a credible process of genuine reforms, which has enjoyed the backing of all major opposition groups. As we approach four years since the start of the Arab uprisings , the Moroccan monarch’s success is all the more impressive in a very troubled region.
In the other hand President Bashar al-Asad, who succeeded his father Hafez in 2000, has plunged the country into civil war in a desperate effort to maintain his authoritarian grasp on power.
Morocco reform program has long been a priority since 1999. The creation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission in 2004 signaled the king’s desire to settle past human rights abuses that took place under his father’s regime in the 1960s-1980s.
Furthermore, the passage of a new “modern Family Law” in 2004 granted new rights to women, in terms of both family law and personal status, in addition to institutionalizing rules for child custody and establishing a minimum age of marriage.
The Arab spring impact influenced Morocco to speed up the reform process. The new constitution of 2011 changed the power relationship between the King and the Parliament. Today it is the Parliament that enacts laws not the king.
With all these good notable achievements Driss El Yazami Chairman of the Moroccan national HR counsel agrees that Morocco still has a long way to go until all universal human rights standards are fully realized.
However one thing we can agree about, Morocco can indeed serve as a good “role-model” for other countries in the MENA region that are under the mercy of totalitarian regimes and religion fanatics.