The National Human Rights Strategy
Egypt attaches great importance to the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Egyptian institutions work relentlessly to translate the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution that guarantee a wide range of rights and freedoms, into legislations, programs and strategies, with a view to achieving a better standard of living for its citizens. Egypt also reaffirms its respect for its international and regional human rights obligations under the instruments to which it is a party, and always pursues its efforts to implement and comply with them.
Egypt seeks to further enhance its cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms. Egypt has participated in the efforts aiming at the development of the United Nations international human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council where Egypt enjoyed its membership twice. Moreover, a number of Egyptian experts were elected as members in the United Nations human rights treaty bodies. Egypt also contributed to efforts aiming at developing regional human rights mechanisms within the African Union, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and League of Arab States.
Over the past years, Egypt achieved significant milestones in advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms, at the legislative, executive and institutional levels. Nevertheless, enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights is an ongoing and recurrent process which has accumulative and gradual impact. Despite efforts exerted and achievements attained in this regard, some challenges remain. This necessitates continuation of ongoing efforts to overcome these challenges and to ensure the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by everyone as guaranteed by the Constitution and national legislations.
The National Human Rights Strategy (NHRS) clearly demonstrates a serious endeavor to address any challenges to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It reflects the existence of political will to give a strong impetus to national efforts in this regard. The NHRS is an Egyptian initiative and the outcome of national efforts; it aims at the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms through a comprehensive approach. The NHRS is a main pillar of building the Egyptian Modern State where all citizens enjoy their rights as guaranteed to them by the Egyptian Constitution and legislations and in consistence with Egypt's international obligations under international human rights law.
The full text of the Strategy is available on the official website of the Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights:
First: Main Features of the National Human Rights Strategy
The NHRS is the first of its kind; it adopts a comprehensive and integrated approach to advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms, and is geared by a clear strategic vision. It builds upon the progress achieved and takes into consideration, when setting its target results, the opportunities and challenges of the national context. The NHRS is a national roadmap to advance human rights, and a significant tool for self-development.
A timeline has been set for the implementation of the NHRS, which will begin with its launch in September 2021 and will continue for five years, ending in September 2026.
The NHRS comprises four complementary pillars: The first pillar: civil and political rights, the second pillar: economic, social and cultural rights, the third pillar: human rights of women, children, persons with disabilities, youth and the elderly, the fourth pillar: human rights education and capacity building.
Each pillar addresses: the main strengths and opportunities, challenges, and target results. Implementing the target results requires achieving progress on three integrated parallel tracks; legislative development track, institutional development track, and human rights education and capacity building track.
The NHRS is based on a vision aiming at advancing all human rights and fundamental freedoms in Egypt through enhancing respect for and protection of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, stipulated for in the Constitution, national legislations and international and regional human rights instruments to which Egypt is a party. The ultimate goal is to enhance equality and equal opportunities without any discrimination through, interalia, addressing a number of challenges that include: the need to enhance human rights culture, the need to enhance participation in public affairs, challenges to the achievement of targeted economic development, and terrorism and regional disorder that adversely affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The NHRS is based on a number of basic principles:
- Human rights are inherent to human dignity, universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated.
- Non-discrimination, equality, ensuring equal opportunities, and respect for the principle of citizenship.
- Rule of law is the basis of government; and the judiciary’s independence, immunity and neutrality are basic guarantees for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- Democracy and human rights are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
- Enhancing good governance, anti-corruption efforts and reinforcing the values of integrity and transparency to ensure access to human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- The right to development is a human right whereby every human being and all peoples shall have the right to participate in and contribute to the achievement of inclusive development and to access its benefits.
- All members of the society shall fulfill their duties and responsibilities related to the respect for the rights and fundamental freedoms of others.
- Rights and freedoms inherent to a human being are neither inalienable nor derogable; they may not be undermined by any law regulating their exercise. No restrictions shall be imposed on the exercise of rights and freedoms, except for those stipulated by law and are necessary for the protection of national security, public safety, public order, public health and public morals or the protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms of others.
Second: Preparation Methodology
The preparation of the NHRS was spearheaded by the Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights (SSCHR), which was established pursuant to a Prime Ministerial Decree in 2018. The SSCHR aims to develop and monitor the implementation of an integrated approach towards enhancing the respect and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms stipulated in the Constitution, the national legislations, and international and regional instruments to which Egypt is a party.
Stages for development of the NHRS:
1- Preparatory stage: The preparation of the NHRS started with listing human rights-related future plans, programs and activities, in coordination with all ministries and authorities concerned. This activity was accompanied by examining national action plans and strategies in various fields in order to build upon the programs and activities included therein, and achieve correlation and complementarity with the target results of NHRS through a comprehensive human rights perspective. Furthermore, the national human rights strategies and action plans of a number of countries were examined by the SSCHR to learn about relevant best practices and experiences. The concluding recommendations issued by international and regional human rights mechanisms were also examined together with those issued by the National Council for Human Rights, and the status of their implementation was assessed, in coordination with all relevant ministries and bodies. Therefore, the preparatory stage contributed to an extensive assessment of the needs related to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
2-Extensive Consultations Stage: The SSCHR adopted an extensive consultative approach to the strategy’s preparation, at two parallel levels: the first was consultations between relevant ministries and bodies while the second was consultations with civil society representatives through an extensive societal dialogue. This approach is consistent with the consultative planning approach adopted by the State. Six hearing sessions were held to receive suggestions related to the development of the strategy draft. They were attended by representatives of the National Council for Human Rights, non-governmental organizations from different governorates, syndicates and trade unions, research centers and universities, federations of chambers of commerce and businessmen associations, public figures and the intellect. After the elaboration of the draft, phase two of the consultations started with hearing sessions with the Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives, and representatives from the National Council for Human Rights, non-governmental organizations, and public figures. The purpose was to review the most prominent features of and target results of the draft. These hearing sessions witnessed a constructive dialogue, which produced several proposals relating to different pillars of the strategy, some of which were included therein. Furthermore, the SSCHR set up "an advisory body", including 25 public figures and experts of law, economics, public policies and strategic planning to engage different calibers in the strategy’s preparation.
3-Drafting Stage: the drafting of NHRS, in particular with regard to identifying challenges and target results, was informed by the extensive self-assessment of needs related to enhancing human rights and fundamental freedoms and the wide consultations led by the SSCHR with different relevant stakeholders.
Third: Follow-up and Evaluation of Implementation
The SSCHR will follow-up and evaluate progress made in achieving the underlying vision of the NHRS and the implementation of its target results. This task is vital to build upon progress made and identify implementation gaps that need to be addressed. Some issues need to be further examined to determine the best ways to address them with a view to consider their inclusion in the most appropriate way in the future. This would enhance coordinated national action to enhance respect for human rights by addressing relevant challenges.
In the context of following up on the implementation of the NHRS, more efforts will be exerted to enhance communication, coordination, consultation and development of national partnerships between all components of the institutional human rights edifice, including the civil society. This is the cornerstone for a successful implementation of the strategy, leading to the development of an integrated framework for a coordinated, collective, participatory and ongoing institutional action. This would achieve the desired correlation and synergy of all efforts that aim at enhancing human rights protection.