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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights and U.S. Policy in the MENA Region Ten Years After the Arab Spring

Thursday, April 29, 2021 - 11:00am
Virtual via Cisco WebEx


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the state of human rights in the Middle East and North Africa ten years after the Arab Spring and implications for U.S. foreign policy.

A simple but desperate act of protest in Tunisia in December 2010, the self-immolation of a frustrated street vendor, sparked a series of pro-democracy uprisings in largely Muslim countries throughout the MENA region that became known as the Arab Spring. Inspired by the rapid resignation of Tunisia’s authoritarian president, popular movements seeking political reform and greater respect for human rights swept the region. But ten years later, some initial successes have been rolled back, most of the movements have been brutally repressed, authoritarian rulers have consolidated their power and three countries have been ravaged by armed conflicts whose devastating humanitarian consequences have been felt far beyond their borders. The methods used to suppress dissent have entailed widespread human rights violations, including criminalization of speech and association, prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, stripping of nationality, reprisals against family members, and intrusive regulation of non-governmental organizations, often under cover of anti-terrorism laws. Several of the countries with the worst records in this regard are long-standing allies of the United States. The occasional imposition of sanctions on some of those alleged to be responsible for some of the worst abuses have not generally succeeded in changing regime behavior.

Witnesses will examine the patterns of human rights abuses documented since the Arab Spring and offer recommendations for a human-rights based U.S. foreign policy toward the region.  

This hearing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members of Congress and witnesses will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available for viewing on House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi (for Co-Chair Smith). 

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I 


Submitted for the Record


117th Congress