Introduction

A sustainable, structured partnership between Africa and the Arab region based on concerted decisions on the issues of democracy and human rights.

As it has been stressed by H. E. Mr Abdou Diouf, Leopold Sedar Senghor actually defined “Africanity” as the encounter and symbiosis between negritude and “arabité” (Arab identity). Why? Because our populations are interlinked and share a long common history through trade, movements of peoples, religion, etc. Because there is also territorial continuity: we are neighbours. Moreover, our Presidents and Ministers know each other and meet on a regular basis within the framework of various fora. Economic cooperation has been significantly strengthened and development aid continues to be generous.

But civil society organizations – Parliamentarians, journalists, human rights defenders, Human Rights Commissions – do not know each other sufficiently and have no permanent space for joint reflection and dialogue.

Democratic progress in our respective regions needs to be constantly consolidated and States must be encouraged to improve human rights regimes. But external pressure alone is not sufficient and may even be counter-productive. We have to go at our own pace, but not too slowly since our populations are asking for democracy and expect their rights to be respected. If we are to guarantee social peace and economic development, we need to liberate the creative energies of our peoples which can only blossom in an environment free of terror and misery. All these crucial reasons lead us to believe that the creation of a sustainable, structured partnership between Africa and the Arab region based on concerted decisions is more necessary than ever.

This partnership is a kind of agreed union around democracy and human rights, which could lead to a greater involvement of the different actors working on these issues.

This Permanent Forum of Arab-African Dialogue on Democracy and Human Rights, initiated by the Egyptian National Council for Human Sciences in cooperation with UNESCO, embodies a desire for encounters and exchange of ideas around a common gateway: that of democracy and human rights, understood as complementary, universal and integrated concepts.

We wish to thank H.E. Mr Abdou Diouf, Secretary-General of La Francophonie and former President of Senegal, for having accepted to act as the Forum’s Honorary President and thereby giving this initiative the importance that it deserves.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

© A. Meyssonnier / Soc. Chromogène

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Vice-President of the Forum
President of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights

Pierre Sané

© UNESCO

Pierre Sané
Executive Secretary of the Forum
Former Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO

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