Civil society is a major player in the democratic transition in Tunisia

Press release
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FIDH, EMHRN, and their member organizations in Tunisia, LTDH, CNLT ATFD and Collectif Maghreb Egalité, organized from 17 to 20 March 2011 in Tunis, an international seminar on democratic transition, including workshops on the role and needs of Tunisian civil society during this period.

It is the first tome since the fall of Ben Ali that such an event hosts hundreds of participants. Foreign guests (from Spain, Belarus, Russia, Egypt, Morocco, Peru, etc..), international experts, officials from Tunisian government and European institutions, member organizations of Tunisian civil society, have spent two days debating the conditions for a successful democratic transition.

The objectives of these two events were threefold: to learn from the experiences gained abroad during democratic transitions, define the framework for this transition in Tunisia and, finally, to evaluate and clarify the role and needs of civil society in Tunisia. The outcome of this work shows full agreement on a number of principles that unite all humanity.

These principles are basically:
 The constitutional rule of international standards must be applied directly into domestic law.
 An electoral law that allows fair and free elections, and that allows the formation of both a majority and a minority political representation.
 A constitution that protects the freedom of all, including equality between individuals and between men and women.
 Respect for the absolute freedom of conscience, which implies the independence of the public sphere with respect of the religious norms without denying the existence of religion itself.
 A judiciary system which is independent and equal for all.
 A free press able to report facts and express opinions, and independence for interest groups, particularly financial.
 An economic and social organization that provides universal access to fulfillment of basic needs and social justice.

To move towards these objectives, Tunisian civil society is not only player in this transition. But because it has led, in cooperation with others, the resistance against dictatorship, because it expresses the diversity and richness of the Tunisian people, it plays an essential role. Tunisian civil society plans to participate in the ongoing process emphasizing the importance of independence, democracy, freedom, equality and social justice. But it is not intended to substitute the political parties. On the contrary it is intended to build political projects within which the people can operate.

To fully play its role, civil society The Tunisian civil society needs to be rebuilt after the many attacks during the previous regime. Therefore we appeal to the international community, including the European Union to contribute to this reconstruction. This help must be given within the framework of the Tunisian civil society and must have a scope that allows a really in-depth process.

It is indeed necessary to rebuild a social fabric made of dialogue and firmness on principles, but also of openness. Tunisian civil society must be open to men and women from all walks of life, from all regions of the country and all generations, especially the youth of today who have expressed their desire for freedom and dignity.

The seminar and workshops are the beginning of a movement that we want to see grow wider and stronger. It must ensure that nobody ever feels rejected, and that everyone in the process feels the hope of an increasingly just, free and democratic society.

For more information contact:
Arthur Manet, FIDH: +33 6 72 28 42 94, amanet[at]
Shaimaa Abu Elkhir, EMHRN: 020101077207, Email:shy[at]

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