Contributed by Dr. Elie Abouaoun, Executive Director, Arab Human Rights Fund (AHRF) –
Almost two weeks ago, a group of funders successfully concluded the “Funder Learning Visit to the Arab Region” (Tunis, May 8-10) organized by the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) and Ariadne- European Human Rights Funders Network.
The visit took place during a critical and historical time for the Arab region. Currently, at least one third of the region’s countries are undergoing some kind of political transition. Beyond the importance of the timing, the visit was a rare initiative of a group of international funders. Instead of deploying an interventionist approach with little interaction and input from local actors in the region, this group of international funders had the opportunity to see and learn about the region through a local lens.
This visit allowed funders to gain clear insight to the needs and perspectives of local actors. Most importantly, it created spaces for regional and Tunisian actors to be exposed to the mindset of a representative group of international human rights funders, opening the door for a two-way interaction to the benefit of all parties.
The Arab Human Rights Fund, which modestly contributed to the event, is proud to have partnered with IHRFG, Ariadne, the Oak Foundation, the Fund for Global Human Rights, and the Global Fund for Women for the success of the visit, not only through financial support, but also through a number of speakers who possess a strong knowledge of the region. From our perspective, the priority was to shed light on the most pressing human rights issues with the hope that these conversations will be useful to international funders in planning and implementing their programs in the region.
As is the case with such events, the benefit of the visit went beyond the technical aspects and allowed for networking and memorable moments in a lovely city. A special thanks to the IHRFG team for a well-organized and enriching convening.