Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Understanding the Legacy of Arab Human Rights Movements and Their Responses to Intractable Challenges 

Human rights activism and organisations emerged in the Arab states in the late 1970s. Understanding the political contexts of the foundational moments of human rights movements in the region is crucial to unpack their early origins, and their institutional and political evolution in their local, regional, and international manifestations. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, human rights organisations began to consolidate their reference to international human rights law and to be integrated into the international human rights system. Over time, these organisations have deepened their professional capacity and expanded their working methods and mandates, laying the ground for new and specialised generations of human rights organisations to emerge. The overall legacy of these organisations and the human rights movements in general over the past thirty years is rich, manifesting itself in legal, political, cultural, and social arenas. Nevertheless, this legacy is not linear. Its societal impact varies from one country to another and is also contingent on the changing political contexts in the Arab region, both before and after the Arab Uprisings.

Rowaq Arabi, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to human rights studies, is seeking research papers exploring topics about the evolving dynamics of human rights activism and movements in the Arab region, and their legacy in changing political contexts. The journal calls for the submission of abstracts for original research (in Arabic or English) drawing on interdisciplinary approaches in social sciences, humanities, and law. Abstracts of a maximum of 150 words should be submitted to [email protected] along with the author’s CV and list of scholarly publications. Additionally, unpublished junior scholars are encouraged to submit full manuscripts instead of abstracts. There is no deadline, and we will process the submissions (of abstracts and full manuscripts) as soon as we receive them until the plan for this issue is complete. The best and most relevant abstracts will be accepted, and authors will be given a convenient period to finalise their full manuscripts, which will be sent to blind peer-reviewing. Authors of approved manuscripts will receive financial remuneration upon publication. Papers that do not follow Rowaq Arabi’s style guidelines—available here—will not be considered for peer-reviewing.

Rowaq Arabi suggests the following sub-topics for research while welcoming other suggestions relevant to the call as indicated above. Approaches can include case studies or comparative analyses.

  • How did the various historical and political contexts influence the origins and development of human rights movements in Arab states?
  • What factors have affected the institutional evolution of Arab human rights movements? How have these movements developed strategies and tactics to respond to moments of crisis and domestic repression?
  • How have the human rights movements responded to delicate and complex questions affecting the future of human rights and democracy in the Arab states? And how have they responded to changing domestic and international political contexts?
  • How have the international and transnational dynamics of human rights activism interplayed with the domestic work of human rights organisations and defenders in the Arab region?
  • How have Arab human rights organisations/movements managed the changing relationship with ‘international’ groups and the challenges posed by some of these groups?
  • How has the human rights activism of Arab populations in the diaspora had an impact on the direction of national movements in the region?
  • To what extent have human rights movements in the region been influenced by the Palestinian cause since the Nakba in 1948 until today?
  • How did the evolving relations between human rights organisations and the political elites at large expand or inhibit the struggle for human rights in Arab states?
  • To what extent have human rights movements succeeded in making human rights relevant to Arab societies? How did these movements’ struggles expand or diminish the acceptance of the universality of human rights  in Arab societies?
  • How significant of a role has the classism of Arab elites had in weakening societal support for human rights?
  • How have human rights movements responded to the longstanding phenomenon of the instrumentalization of rights talks, double standards, and politicisation of human rights by international or local actors, particularly in times of political crisis, societal polarisation, and armed conflict?
  • How has the rising trend of government-sponsored NGOs (GONGOs) influenced the impact and mission of independent human rights defenders and NGOs?
  • How significant are the efforts by what seems to be an increasing number of authoritarian states in the Arab region and elsewhere to dismiss and delegitimise human rights as neo-colonialism? How much traction does this trend have and what may be done to counter it?

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