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ATHENS COUNCIL: Arab world - Middle East peace - nuclear energy

01-02 July 2011



The events of recent months across the Arab world show undeniably that democracy, freedom and social justice are not restricted to certain nations, regimes, religions or peoples. They reaffirm our faith in the fundamental human values that our International is committed to promoting and defending.

The International pays tribute to all those across the Arab world who have suffered through repression and brutality, many of whom have given their lives for the causes and ideals that our organisation seeks to defend. We owe it to these people to ensure that their hopes and dreams for a free, democratic future are realised.

Considering the ongoing struggles in Yemen, Libya and Syria, the Council:

• reaffirms its solidarity with those striving to bring peace and democracy to Yemen, and salutes the youth and women’s groups in the front line of this movement, and its member party the YSP;

• condemns in the strongest possible terms the oppression and violence used by the forces of the Yemeni regime against peaceful activists and calls for those responsible to be brought to justice;

• supports the efforts of the Joint Meeting Parties for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and a transition to democracy and the end of the rule of President Saleh;

• supports the struggle and vision of the Libyan people to create a peaceful, stable and democratic society and recognises the efforts of the Libyan National Transitional Council as a legitimate interlocutor towards that end, and the contribution of the African Union to freedom and democracy for Libya through a process with the widest possible representation of the Libyan people;

• underlines its conviction that the only system that will result in long-term prosperity for the people of Libya is a democratic one that guarantees all fundamental freedoms and rights;

• deplores the ongoing loss of civilian life, and calls for a ceasefire and solution to the conflict;

• condemns the situation in Syria, where an undemocratic regime has likewise resorted to violence and the targeting of innocents in response to the legitimate demands of the people for more rights and freedoms;

• expresses its support for these demands, and resolves to build contacts with opposition political groups in Syria, and invite members of the opposition to future meetings of the International.

In Yemen, Libya and Syria, regimes which have stayed in power for decades by undemocratic means have lost all legitimacy by the actions they have taken against their own citizens. The indiscriminate killing of peaceful civilian protesters by the state security forces is deplorable, and all perpetrators of such acts of violence, oppression and murder against their people must be held responsible. We reaffirm our belief that these repressive regimes will fall, and a better future for all the people of those countries will thus be assured, standing in solidarity with those who seek to implement these changes.

The Socialist International remains seized of the situations in Egypt and Tunisia, recognising the challenges presented by the post-revolutionary transition to democracy, and the dangers that threaten the hard-won freedoms gained since the demise of their authoritarian regimes.

In line with this, the SI calls for a rapid transition to democratic rule and civilian control over state institutions.

The SI also calls for a period of dialogue to establish the framework and timetable for an election, to be agreed by all parties and to ensure that Egypt realises its future as a constitutional democratic state. The timetable of the democratic transition should enable the establishment of political parties with equal opportunities. At the same time, the preparation of the new Constitution should be done by a body composed of parliamentarians and representatives of civil society. This new constitution should guarantee equality of men and women and protection of human rights. (moved)

In Tunisia, elections are due to take place this year, on 23 October, with the support of all major parties, and we call upon the international community to provide the financial support necessary as Tunisia seeks to rebuild and make the transition to democracy. This is ever more important in light of the solidarity shown by the Tunisian people to some 150 000 Libyan refugees who have fled over the border since beginning of the struggle for democracy in Libya. We recognise that both Egypt and Tunisia face these financial challenges as they rebuild after their revolutions in an unfavourable economic climate. We appeal to the international community and to the EU to implement their promises for extraordinary economic assistance to Egypt and Tunisia to be devoted to strengthening the democratisation process, helping development and combating unemployment. (moved)

In both countries, the overthrow of the old authoritarian regimes present an opportunity for the people to build a society that is democratic, just and equal, where each citizen has the right to freedom of expression and a vote in free, fair and transparent elections; where women’s rights are guaranteed and women are able and encouraged to participate in politics and to stand as candidates in elections; where religious freedoms are respected and discrimination outlawed. This is the society the people demanded as they took to the streets, and these drivers of the revolution will not and must not accept a return to the unrepresentative and undemocratic political systems of old.

In particular, we recognise the contribution made by youth movements to the Arab uprisings, not only in the way they have stood up to authoritarian regimes whose rule extends in many cases for as long as they have been alive, but for their use of social media and citizen journalism to bring these struggles and the barbaric response of the authorities to the attention of the wider world.

The Council urges Morocco and the Polisario Front to continue to negotiate a peaceful and lasting solution to the Western Saharan conflict under the auspices of the UN, and expresses its support for the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and for the current efforts undertaken by Ambassador Christopher Ross, UN Special Envoy, aiming to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict. In this context, we ask the SI Mediterranean Committee to continue with its work in favour of the values of democracy and human rights.

Across the Arab world, democrats continue to need our help, support and solidarity. The continued political and economic support of the international community will be a crucial factor in the success of the inspiring democratic movements we are witnessing.

In all these areas, the International will accompany the process of democratisation, engaging with our members and building new partnerships in these nascent democracies, paving the way for fundamental change in the Arab world.

The Socialist International will send missions to each one of these countries, building and developing partnerships with societal and political organisations that share our values and principles – to convey to the people and leaders there our full support and to define the priorities and tasks for the international community and our own organisation in this region of the world.

In line with the above the Council agrees to establish a special Committee to work on the Arab world.