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Human Rights

Governance in Guatemala

The May 2009 murder of prominent Guatemalan lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg and the release of a videotape he made prior to his death plunged Guatemala into a deep political and institutional crisis. In the video recorded prior to his death, Rosenberg accused Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom and his wife of murder and corruption, prompting calls for Colom's resignation as well as popular demonstrations in his support. The scandal brought into sharp relief broader issues of corruption, impunity, and public insecurity in Guatemala.

Human Rights: Challenges of the Past & Challenges for the Future

This conference celebrated the contributions of Margaret E. Crahan, Director of the Kozmetsky Center, to human rights scholarship and activism over many decades. Panelists agreed that much progress has been made since the democratic transitions of the late 1980s and early ‘90s, but the persistence of discrimination, poverty, and inequality in the region, along with the ongoing search for justice for past violations, indicate that the struggle for human rights and accountability is far from over.

Perspectives on European Union (EU) Relations with Cuba

Roy said that in 2003, following a Cuban government crackdown that resulted in the jailing of seventy-five dissidents (fifty-five remain imprisoned), the European Union imposed diplomatic sanctions. These were wholly diplomatic and included a freeze on visits by high-level officials, but did not impact trade or investment in Cuba. The sanctions were temporarily suspended in 2005 and formally lifted in June 2008. The EU is now engaged in a process of normalizing relations with Havana.

Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom Strikes Back

David Ottaway, Wilson Center Senior Scholar and former Washington Post Cairo Bureau Chief, gave his insights regarding the current situation in Saudi Arabia in light of the recent protests and the ways in which the Saudi regime is attempting to deal with new challenges.

On April 13, the Middle East Program hosted a meeting on "Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom Strikes Back," with Ottaway. Haleh Esfandiari, Director of the Middle East Program, moderated the event.

The Mideast on Fire: What Happens Next?

Dalia Ziada, Egypt Office Director for the American Islamic Congress and an award-winning blogger, provided a first hand report of the historic uprising in Egypt and offered insight into the challenges and opportunities now facing the Egyptian people.

Human Rights and the Arts in Iran Today

In a conference addressing the role of human rights and the arts in Iran, speakers from the arts and literary community discussed how different forms of expression bring varying human rights issues to the fore in Iran. While politics, economics, and nuclear capabilities tend to dominate contemporary discussions about Iran and preclude mention of the multi-faceted art scene that has emerged since the Islamic Revolution, participants addressed this artistic flourishing and its implications for human rights in Iran.

Can Women Help Make Peace Agreements Sustainable?

The role of women in civil society and their involvement in peace negotiations has been notable, though women have often been overlooked as mediators in peace talks.

Iran Primer I: Domestic Politics

In the first in a series of meetings following the recent release of the book The Iran Primer, three of its contributing authors offered their insights on Iran's domestic politics in the year following the contested elections of June 2009 which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reelected to a second, thus far contentious, term. The topics analyzed included internal politics, the opposition movement, and the current state of diplomacy with Iran.

Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East

In a discussion of women's role in society in the Middle East, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, highlighted demographic changes she believes are intensifying the notion that women's empowerment is key to the growth and prosperity of the economies of Arab and Muslim-majority countries. She also discussed how women in these traditional societies face challenges expanding their roles because women's rights are seen negatively.

Demography and Women's Empowerment: Urgency for Action?

Why do Middle Eastern women participate in economic life at a rate inferior to that of female citizens of other regions, and why should they be empowered to participate at a greater level? According to Nadereh Chamlou, women of the Middle East remain so poorly represented in economic life today because of restrictive social norms. Chamlou remarked that the region's women must be empowered to participate in a more significant way if their countries are to effectively exploit, instead of squander, the current economic "window of opportunity."