Washington DC - From November 27 to 30, the second World Forum on Human Rights was held in Marrakesh, twenty years after the inaugural event in Brasilia, Brazil.
Washington DC – From November 27 to 30, the second World Forum on Human Rights was held in Marrakesh, twenty years after the inaugural event in Brasilia, Brazil.
The Forum brought together thousands of participants from civil society, international organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and individuals from various backgrounds and disciplines.
The forum had a rocky start amid logistics mishaps, which were not up to par with Morocco’s international image. The Forum was plagued by a loss of electricity, poor tent setup, missing entry badges, an absence of clear signs and driving directions, a failure to accommodate the many disabled attendees. It was further exacerbated by the rain and the housing and accommodation shortages.
Insidious doubt slithered into my mind concerning the Forum’s content and panels. Thankfully, the substantive interactive sessions were the most relevant to my advocacy work through the American-Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network.
One notable topic that garnered significant interest was violence against women, as this theme is not only relevant for Morocco, but the entire world. In Morocco, we still are failing from both an individual and an institutional standpoint that reflects a collective lack of social maturity and weak engagement to seriously address this ongoing tragedy. Women in Morocco face many types of violence on a daily basis, from both known and unknown sources. However, the worst aspect of the problem is the absence of a streamlined, easy, and consistent judicial system that can deal with such a daily problem. Women’s rights are still being violated on a global scale, and the efforts to prevent and resolve this problem remain inefficient and ineffective.
Another topic that saw good debate was the discussion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the world. Even at this Forum, Morocco did not have dedicated parking spots, bathrooms, ramps, or hearing aids. This is a cultural shortcoming whereby persons with disabilities are deemed unqualified or incompetent to fulfill their share of responsibilities. This is a very serious matter, especially for educational institutions that lack the infrastructure, cultural awareness, equipment, and social sensitivity to assist children with disabilities. This affects the children’s ability to be independent and productive members of society and their capacity to contribute to the nation’s economy. To do this, we must progress and move away from the social and cultural stigma of labeling people as ‘handicapped’.
The last, but not least, important item from this conference was the fact the Morocco has failed to submit its human rights report for the sixth year. This was announced with a reminder from various international organizations’ representatives about the need to draft a realistic, authentic, unbiased, and facts-based report that not only represents the glamourous side of Morocco but also its negative aspects. Participants also reminded the audience of the urgent need for public-private partnerships in writing this report, with civil society organizations being included in the report’s content and follow-up, as well as the implementation of any recommendations.
It remains to be seen whether or not a global forum with such visibility can be an impetus for Morocco to move towards being a nation that puts human rights discourse into practice and enhances its implementation of ratified international human rights conventions.
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