How to Navigate Egypt’s Enduring Human Rights Crisis: Blueprint for U.S. Government Policy

Date: January 27, 2016 – 8:00pm to 9:30pm

On the fifth anniversary of the mass Tahrir Square protests against Egypt’s former President Mubarak that led to his resignation and unleashed a period of continuing political instability, Human Rights First will release a new blueprint on how Congress and the Obama Administration should address the persistent human rights crisis in Egypt.

Although official U.S. policy and rhetoric since the protests began has supported democratic development and independent civil society in Egypt, the United States continues to send troubling mixed messages about its commitment to prioritizing efforts to improve the human rights situation there. In light of Egypt’s significance to U.S. national security interests and its place as a bellwether for U.S. policies in the region, more resolute and consistent efforts to strengthen Egypt’s democratic institutions and protect civil society are vital. Human Rights First’s new blueprint will set out recommendations for the U.S. government to more effectively use its influence to advance human rights in Egypt. The new report is rooted in ongoing in-country research and interviews with Egyptian human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists, academics, lawyers, and government officials.

Join Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, POMED’s Amy Hawthorne, and TIMEP’s Nancy Okail for a lively discussion on January 27th. The panel will address current conditions in Egypt, the strengths and shortcomings of the U.S. response, and potential opportunities for the U.S. government to more effectively support civil society and address human rights concerns.


  • Neil Hicks, Director, Human Rights Promotion, Human Rights First
    Neil Hicks advises Human Rights First programs on a wide variety of international human rights issues, and serves as a resource to the organization in identifying opportunities to advance human rights around the world. Neil also writes and conducts advocacy on issues relating to human rights promotion in the Muslim world, and on the impact of counterterrorism measures on human rights. Between 2002 – 2007, Neil was the director of the Human Rights Defenders Program. Neil is a member of the Egypt Working Group, a bi-partisan group of policy experts that has been advocating for democratic change in Egypt since prior to the popular uprising that overthrew President Mubarak in February 2011.


  • Amy Hawthorne, Deputy Director for Research, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
    Amy Hawthorne is POMED’s Deputy Director for Research. She is a Middle East expert with extensive policy, analytical, and practical experience on Arab political reform and democracy promotion. Prior to joining POMED in October 2015, Hawthorne served as Resident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, where she focused on U.S. policy toward Egypt and U.S. and European strategies to support political and economic reform in the post-2011 Arab world, with a concentration on Tunisia. Before joining the Atlantic Council in April 2013, Hawthorne was an appointee at the U.S. Department of State for two years, where she helped to coordinate U.S. support for Egypt’s transition and advised on the U.S. response to the Arab Spring. Hawthorne graduated with honors in history from Yale University, with a focus on the Middle East, and obtained her MA in modern Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan, where she concentrated on Islamic law. She has advanced skills in Arabic and has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Arab world (especially Egypt) as well as in Turkey.
  • Nancy Okail, Executive Director, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
    Dr. Nancy Okail is the Executive Director of TIMEP. She brings more than 15 years of experience promoting democracy and development in the Middle East and North Africa region to this role. Prior to joining TIMEP, Dr. Okail was the director of Freedom House’s Egypt program. She has also worked with the Egyptian government as a senior evaluation officer of foreign aid and has managed programs for Egyptian pro-democracy organizations that challenged the Mubarak regime. She was also one of the defendants convicted and sentenced to prison in the widely publicized case of 43 non-governmental organization workers charged with using foreign funds to foment unrest in Egypt. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex in the U.K. where her dissertation examined the power relations of foreign aid.
  • Brian Dooley, Director, Human Rights Defenders Program, Human Rights First
    Brian leads Human Rights First’s work on human rights defenders. He is the author of several books about civil rights and U.S. politics and of several reports on the human rights situation in Egypt since 2011.

Human Rights First
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Published on January 20, 2016


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