On 10 May 2024, the AEFJN International Secretariat met with Mr. Saeed Abd Elhafez Darwish, the President and CEO of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD), in Brussels to discuss possible points of cooperation on human rights and other advocacy issues between Africa and Europe. Mr. Darwish has more than three decades of extensive experience fighting for human rights as a lawyer and head of an American international news network based in Egypt. Among FDHRD’s organization advocacy programmes, which AEFJN shares interest are 1) human rights issues, such as the freedom of speech and expression, 2) integrity and transparency in government institutions, and 3) the importance of dialogue to resolve conflicts. Founded in 2005, FDHRD was established with funding assistance from USAID, the American Embassy in Egypt, and Freedom House among others to advocate for human rights through dialogue after realizing that there is a pressing social need to facilitate as a non-governmental organization. Since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, however, the Egyptian government restricted the flow of international funding to NGOs due to security and political reasons. Despite this situation, FDHRD continues to monitor the human rights situation, publish fact finding reports, and was the first NGO to urge Egypt to sign the Maputo Protocol through its dialogue with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

       FDHRD’s visit to AEFJN is significant for establishing networks with NGOs in the Arab region to collaborate on human rights and migration issues. AEFJN sees that future collaborations with FDHRD could further expand its advocacy capacities in Sub-Saharan Africa given that there is an increasing political economic influence in the region brought by foreign investments from Arab countries such as the acquisition for carbon credits in Liberia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. As a particular case, the Maasai’s displacement in Arusha Region, Tanzania calls for the need to find Arab NGO contacts to help in fighting the United Arab Emirate’s funding Tanzanian government’s gaming controlled area projects that resulted in human rights violations against pastoralist communities. The meeting also provides an opportune moment to collaborate in advocating for a UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights since FDHRD and AEFJN have a common concern to defend human rights from abusive multinational companies in Africa.

            Welcoming FDHRD’s visit to AEFJN contributes to the latter’s strategy in finding partners who could co-shape advocacy efforts with the EU CSOs to institutionalize multi-level African community driven advocacy. AEFJN recommends that FDHRD helps in monitoring the implementation of the new EU-Africa Global Gateway by joining the European and African CSOs’ efforts to establish the AU-EU Civil Society Engagement Mechanism.


Dr. Lawrence S. Pedregosa

Advocacy and Communication Officer