Promoting human rights in the Middle East and North Africa

With authoritarianism once more gaining ground in the Middle East and North Africa, the European Council on Foreign Relations explores how European diplomats can be more effective in promoting human rights and democratic values in the region

Human rights and its close relatives, democracy and the rule of law, are increasingly important for European governments – because all three are coming under growing pressure. What is often called the rules-based, or liberal international, order is vulnerable.

Europeans helped build this order after the second world war, and the human rights framework is core to it. Countries such as China and Russia are mounting explicit challenges to the order, while the Trump administration’s time in office demonstrated that Europeans can no longer rely on a bipartisan consensus in Washington that consistently supports global institutions and multilateralism.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the erosion of international institutions “the biggest threat to the world”, President Emmanuel Macron has decried the fact that “international law and all forms of cooperation [are] crumbling, as if it were business as usual”, and the United Kingdom says it will respond to “a situation where our values are being challenged”.

© European Council on Foreign Relations