Regional workshop in Marrakech (November 2018)

From November 5th to 8th 2018, OHCHR organized a regional workshop in Marrakech, in partnership with the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights and as part of the Norwegian-funded project on religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa. The workshop on “The Role of Youth in Building a Tolerant Society” had 40 participants from 14 MENA countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen), was fully gender-balanced and also included three persons with disabilities.

The experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues and OHCHR staff members from Beirut, Doha and Geneva, trained the participants on international human rights treaties and engaging with UN mechanisms; how to protect and promote the rights of religious minorities; and ways to combat hate speech, notably through the Rabat Plan of Action as well as Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”. Furthermore, the workshop included a specific gender perspective with panel discussions on the integration of women and girls in decision-making and enhancing women’s participation in public affairs through CEDAW and the Sustainable Development Goals.

© OHCHR   
The programme was interactive, with each participant presenting their national experiences, good practices and innovative ideas to take forward. The workshop included many practical exercises, e.g. to summarize each of the 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights” into a tweet of less than 140 characters, which some participants spontaneously sent to their networks from their own Twitter accounts.

The participants of the Marrakech workshop made the following main recommendations:

  • Review educational programmes and curriculum in order to mainstream human rights and enhance inclusivity and diversity of societies, including in schools and universities;
  • Ensure a strengthened focus on challenges faced by youth and their communities;
  • Develop an advocacy plan to enhance the rights of minorities who are exposed to discrimination and better protect their human rights in the MENA region through laws, policies and practices;
  • Support civil society actors who are working on human rights of young people and youth unions to engage more in national and international human rights mechanisms;
  • Establish a regional youth platform to unify and empower them to better meet their needs; and
  • Establish a special human rights protection mechanism on digital space to support communication strategies and multimedia campaigns for combating hate speech and enhancing equality.