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Boutros-Ghali: Human Rights in Egypt at the beginning of a long road - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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File photo of former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali delivering a speech on December 7, 2009. (AFP/Cris Bouroncle)

File photo of former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali delivering a speech on December 7, 2009. (AFP/Cris Bouroncle)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Former UN Secretary-General and president of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that Egypt is still in the early stages of creating a human rights culture.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Boutros-Ghali said: “Strengthening a culture of human rights will take time. It takes a person thirty or forty years to become a successful doctor or engineer, let alone a country to adopt the principles and culture of human rights. This, no doubt, requires time and ongoing work, and we are still at the beginning of a long road.”

Boutros-Ghali stressed the importance of promoting a human rights “culture” in Egypt, saying: “We must not talk in depth about human rights and then forget about it. We must teach human rights in schools and universities—at all levels. This is an ongoing process that does not stop.”

Commenting on the recent presidential elections, he acknowledged that the NCHR had received some complaints of electoral violations, but stressed these were not enough to affect the results: “Overall, the election process went well.”

Popular former defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi swept the vote, defeating Nasserite rival Hamdeen Sabahy. The Sabahy campaign conceded the elections to Sisi on Thursday, but has since filed an appeal to the Presidential Elections Commission alleging violations by Sisi supporters.

Speaking about the major challenges facing Egypt’s new president, the former UN secretary-general said: “Sisi will face a number of challenges, not least the economy, as well as the growing population and the water problem. There are also security problems.”

“I’m not worried about the Muslim Brotherhood because Egyptian public opinion has now understood the negative aspects of this group,” he added.

Commenting on Egypt’s escalating security problem, the NCHR president said that “terrorism” is not just a national problem, saying it must be resolved through international cooperation.

“We need to enact international laws and secure cooperation and coordination between different apparatuses to monitor and pursue terrorists around the world . . . It is essential that we understand the concept of globalization, wherein many national problems require international cooperation to resolve,” Boutros-Ghali told Asharq Al-Awsat.