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The Problematics of Governance in the Human Rights Movement in Tunisia

The Problematics of Governance in the Human Rights Movement in TunisiaDownload Publication

ARI's project on the Future of Human Rights Action in North Africa continues to explore the governance challenges and moves in this paper to Tunisia where prominent feminist, academic and human rights defender Hafidha Chekir explores the legal environment of civil society organizations in Tunisia and how this affected their own internal governance.

Chekir argues that independent CSOs have played a prominent role in the field of human rights, especially after the 2011 revolution. After the adoption of a new law to regulate associations in September 2011, CSOs have increased in number and flourished even more when four organizations together received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. By late 2017, the number of registered CSOs neared 21,000, including about 350 working on various human rights issues.

This paper focuses on the legal framework in which these organizations operate in Tunisia to show how their own governance was consequently affected. It emphasizes several governance issues related to management and funding, and highlights the experiences of organizations that have been active in the field of human rights for a long time as well as those that were established after the revolution.

 A number of structural and financial hurdles prevent Tunisian rights associations from carrying out their activities in a manner that is more democratic and in line with the principles of good governance: accountability; transparency; and the engagement of all association members in managing its affairs and deciding its approach and main priorities.


Photo: Tunisian lawyer and then President of the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LTDH), Mokhtar Trifi, speaks during the opening of its 6th congress in Tunis, September 2011. © EPA.