NGOs should have greater role in promoting peace

May 30, 2010

Civil society organisations could play a major role in promoting peace by acting as mediators in negotiations or initiating peace moves, Qatar National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) chairman has said amid conference calls for better relations between NGOs and governments in the Arab world.

“Peaceful settlement of conflicts had become one of the most essential values of human rights,” Ali Bin Sumaikh Al Marri said. “Conflicts of all forms put human rights at risk, particularly if they lead to wars where people’s lives are seriously threatened. Democratic transition is one of the clearest types of peaceful settlements of political conflicts,” he said at a workshop on ‘Peaceful Settlement of Conflicts and Democratic Transition in Doha.

The two-day gathering, organised by NHRC, the Arab Democracy Foundation (ADF) and US and Canadian officials, said that “closer co-operation based on mutual respect among governments and civil society organizations” was crucial.

Representing the NGOs, Dr Mohsen Marzouk, ADF secretary general, said that Arab governments should be involved in democratic reforms.

“The Arab governments should establish a new type of relation with the NGOs based on dialogue instead of suspicion,” he said. “We do not criticise people for the sake of criticism or absolute opposition, but we see (governmental) practices that we can never accept. Wherever there are positive things, we will point them out as well,” he said.

Bob Paquin, from the Canadian foreign ministry, said the key to the success of the forum was to ensure that regional participants, both governments and civil society, were full partners.

“My country will continue to pursue dialogue with the countries of the region. The values that Canadians share have taken my countrymen to the far corners of the earth, where we have worked hard to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” he said. “Discussions on issues like democratic governance and conflict resolution are of central concern to Canada.”

Qatar’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Follow-up Affairs Mohamed Abdullah Al Rumaihi said that the workshop was a precursor to the “Doha Forum for the Future” to be held in December with joint Qatari-Canadian participation.




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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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