Arab delegates to Sana’a conference:A positive step forward [Archives:2004/703/Reportage]

January 15 2004

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Most of the Arab delegates that participated in the Sana'a Inter-Governmental Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court held during 11-12 January have expressed satisfaction with the conference and its theme and hoped that more such events would be held in the future. In an attempt to get the impression of a few Arab delegates representing different countries in the region, Yemen Times obtained the following statements.

Dr. Isam Ali Al-Rawas
Dean of the Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sultan Qaboos
Sultanate of Oman
“The Sana'a conference is an important meeting to discuss significant issues and is considered an essential step to have us get used to accepting the principles of democracy and discussing them in a way that conforms to our beliefs and regulations. We should not be influenced a lot of the agenda that comes from abroad, but we should modify it to suit our needs in our societies.
On the other hand, the International Criminal Court is essential to preserve democracy and human rights. It is an important body that would remind all who want to cross the red lines of the consequences of violating democracy and human rights.”

Dr. Al-Habib Al-Junhani
Staff of the Tunisian University and writer
“I have presented a study in English and French on the civil society, modernization and Islam during the conference and want to stress that there can be no development without the strong presence of the civil society.
Democracy and economic development are two sides of the same coin. Recent researches confirm that democracy requires a long time to evolve and our problem in the developing countries, and specifically in Arab countries is our rush in demanding ideal democracy. It is important to realize that democracy as an evolving process and what is important is that we set our targets and walk in the right path.
I believe the Sana'a Conference is important step in the right direction, and we need not rush into expecting fruitful results in the near future.”

Mudhaffar A. Rashid
Researcher n Human Rights and Amnesty Int'l member
This conference is quite important especially for the Arab world as it was an opportunity to exchange ideas and listen to the views of others. It is an important event that should be repeated to identify our problems and work on solving them without any loyalties or compliments to any official or non-official side. Brining governments and non-governmental bodies together in such an event was an excellent idea, bringing the conference closer to reality on the ground.

Hussein Al-Manswari
Representing Civil Society Organizations
“What has been said in this conference is quite interesting and came up with practical resolutions. However, what has been said in this conference needs to be translated into reality.
Only then will the interests and ambitions of the people be met.”

Nasser Mohamed Al-Odaili
Gulf Development Program
Saudi Arabia
“What is important in the event is that it brought the civil society to discuss and present its ideas. After attending the different discussion sessions, I have come to conclude that participants seem to believe in the role of the civil society and officials have come to understand that they are never a threat to governments. The culture of enabling the civil society to take leading roles in Arab countries will require a longer time, and it is time to educate the next generation of the importance of the civil society. Efforts should be exerted by governments to integrate issues related to the importance of civil society to curricula of students in preliminary stages to enhance this culture in the future.”

Abdulkareem Dahman
Parliament Member
“This event, in all its three dimensions, human rights, democracy, and International Criminal Court, is a pioneer step taken by an Arab country with the participation and support of international institutions and governments. I hope that the events of the Sanaa conference are steps to found a new and strong Arab civil society. Hence, we have to speed up implementation of the resolutions coming out of this conference so as not to be accused of sponsoring terrorism, but rather sponsoring initiatives that promote human and civil values and democracy.

Marwan Mohammed
Parliament Member
“In my opinion, the conference will have a role in formulating future politics in the Arab world, especially as this period is quite encouraging to form democracies and promote human rights. Islam has called for democracy before the West and in my views, such initiatives need to come from our own countries and not from the West.
The participation of civil society organizations along with official bodies has enriched the conference and resulted in an environment of mutual cooperation rather than conflict and discord.”

Ahmed Hussein
Official representative
“The holding of such conferences is positive and beneficial in formulating a common culture that would support and enhance human rights and democracy in the Arab world. We want more of such conferences and seminars to be held in those specific fields, especially as human rights and democracy have become so important in this era.”