The International United Nations Watch (IUNW), an independent think-tank and monitoring agency that focuses on the United Nations sent a letter to Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, regarding the suppression of freedom of expression in Egypt.
IUNW expressed its concern at the United Nations inability to adequately condemn, and reign in, the Egyptian government for continuing to jail and intimidate people for expressing their opinions and right to political dissent. “Political self-expression, in pluralistic and open societies, is a core UN value. It is unfortunate to see the United Nations not adequately enforce those values, in one of its member states,” the letter read.
Since the 2011 uprising, as part of the Arab Spring, Egyptian state authorities have struggled to contain pro-democracy dissent, while also fulfilling their responsibilities as members of the United Nations, that have duties to both their own populations, as well as the international community. Following a promising experiment with electoral democracy, which although flawed was nevertheless a positive development for the Middle East, Egyptian military authorities have adopted punitive laws, as well as a series of moves aimed at curbing freedom of political expression, and imprisoning those who do not share the views the state.
“IUNW believes that the UN must be clear in advocating for genuinely free elections in Egypt, as a step towards developing a broader political culture that is transparent, fair, and open to a variety of different opinions and views, that are held in a democratic spirit,” the letter read.
IUNW called on the United Nations to push Egypt, as one of its member states, to pursue more inclusive policies towards political dissent, rather than simply using jails and heavy policing to solve the problem. The United Nations must place greater pressure on Egypt to prioritise the democratic needs of its people, ahead of narrower economic and political concerns, that are behind El-Sisi’s current approach. If Egypt ignores the UN’s pressure, then it must explore new mechanisms for enforcing these values, in the face of member states that value their own narrow concerns, in spite of their UN membership.
Maya Garner, Spokesperson
International United Nations Watch
Address: 272 Baath Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2, 4JR