How the Arab world can prevent another Qaddafi: share a regional bill of rights
To protect citizens from future autocrats, Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab nations working toward democratic reforms should adopt a single, regional bill of rights among other agreements. The US helped Europe adopt such pacts after World War II, and it should help Arabs do the same now.
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Arabs must protect against future abuses
These institutions and legal instruments do not yet exist in the Arab world. But they have started attracting the growing attention of Arab diplomats who can play a leading role in the democratic transitions of their countries.Skip to next paragraph
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Last October in Cairo, members of the European Commission presented the Euratom approach to interested Arab diplomats. There I also presented a draft of what an updated Euratom Treaty might look like for the Middle East.
Since then, important leaders like Hans Blix, chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, and Ruud Lubbers, a former prime minister of the Netherlands, have given their blessings to this approach.
With leaders experienced in the art of multilateralism, like Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the Arab League, being called by their people to fulfill important functions, there is real hope that these ideas might be turned into tomorrow's reality.
Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and other countries should discuss similar international treaties now, as a process of constitutional reform is starting.
As new bills of rights will be written in future constitutions in the Arab world, democratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt should invite their counterparts to write a regional bill of rights that will incorporate new thinking, regional legal traditions, and use previous international bills of rights as reference.
The US should aid and facilitate these discussions, just as it helped Europeans stabilize their democracies.
Grégoire Mallard is an assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern University.