The 2011 uprisings in the Middle East are heralding a new era in the Arab world. Never has the indivisibility and interdependence of civil and political rights with economic and social rights been more apparent. Prior to the unrest, Syria had the longest-standing state of emergency in the world. This was finally lifted in April 2011 after a staggering 48 years. The government has employed a climate of securitization and secrecy in order to undermine the pro-democratic calls. A lack of accountability has further restricted the procedural rights needed in order to fully gain political, economic, social and cultural rights.
The international community’s calls for greater political transformation and civil liberties have only been met by escalating repression, intolerance of dissent, state brutality and arbitrary arrests. The root of the unrest is largely due to longstanding, unmet demands for greater social justice and improvements in standards of living. The Syrian leadership has so far failed to heed the political and economic aspirations of its people. This has been particularly felt by vulnerable and marginalized groups such as women, refugees and ethnic minorities who continue to face considerable formal and societal discrimination in all spheres of life.
The Center for Economic and Social Rights is making effective use of international human rights mechanisms in order to render the state accountable to its obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of its people. The Syrian Arab Republic will present for the first time before the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in October 2011. As events continue to dramatically unfold, the UPR will provide a unique and much needed opportunity for international examination to condemn grave human rights abuses at an international stage, in a manner not currently permissible domestically. CESR is working to try and bring the rights of Syrians to the forefront of the government’s attention during these times of unrest and transition.
October 13th, 2011