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Carter Center Slideshow: The Carter Center Works for Peace in the Wake of Arab Revolutions

  • In December 2010, Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest police harassment, triggering a democratic revolution throughout Tunisia and the Arab world. Citizens demonstrated against their governments and called for new freedoms. Since then, the governments of four Arab countries, including Tunisia, have fallen, and transitional leaders have turned to The Carter Center to observe elections and help them achieve true self–governance. Photo: The Carter Center | Carter Center Slideshow (2013)

  • To date, the Center has monitored elections in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and has sent study missions to Algeria, Palestine, and Jordan elections. “The prospects for genuine democratization in the Middle East and North Africa are greater than ever before,” said Dr. David Carroll, director of the Center’s Democracy Program. “But we have to realize that elections are just the start of long–term democracy building in places where the institutional failures that led to the revolutions are decades old or longer. There will be steps forward and backward along the way.” Photo: The Carter Center/ D. Hakes

  • “The transformation of these societies will continue for years to come—and with uncertain results. But the potential is there to create strong foundations for democratization,” said Dr. Carroll. The Center has remained in Tunisia to monitor the constitution drafting process and establishment of frameworks for future elections, offering advice as the country works to build strong political institutions. Photo: The Carter Center/ D.Hakes

  • Since May 2011, The Carter Center also has monitored political transition and witnessed parliamentary and presidential elections in Egypt, which has seen setbacks as well as democratic steps forward. Many youth, women, and other activists believe they have much left to fight for; their colorful political graffiti covers the walls surrounding Tahrir Square in Cairo. Photo: The Carter Center/ D. Hakes

  • “This is a step–by–step process of a complete revolution from a 60–year military dictatorship to an absolutely free and unrestricted right of people to choose their own parliamentary members and president,” President Carter said. “It’s a complete transformation, which took the United States more than 12 years from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution.” Photo: The Carter Center/ D. Hakes

  • Although challenges in Egypt’s electoral process left some in the revolution feeling marginalized, many still felt the moment’s importance. "I am not hopeful about who we will elect as the next president per se,” said 24–year–old Gehad Abada, “but I am hopeful that he will leave after four years and that we will hold him accountable for what he does, and for anything that goes wrong." Photo: The Carter Center/ D. Hakes

  • The Center maintained a core team in Egypt after the presidential election to follow the constitution drafting process. President Carter’s historic negotiation of peace between Egypt and Israel has helped the Center to be welcomed in Egypt. Still, The Carter Center has faced challenges, such as not being able to observe the entire constitutional referendum process due to the late release of regulations for accreditation of witnesses. Photo:The Carter Center/ D. Hakes

  • In July 2012, The Carter Center observed Libya’s General National Congress elections, an important first step in the country’s transition from authoritarianism to democratic governance and an opportunity for Libyans to vote in meaningful national polls for the first time in almost six decades. Under Muammar Qaddafi, political parties were banned and the government strictly monitored political activity; organizing or joining a political party could result in a long prison term or death sentence. Photo: The Carter Center/ S. Kwiram

  • "On behalf of The Carter Center," President Carter said, "I thank the Libyan people and the transitional authorities for the warm welcome and cooperation extended to our observers during national elections. We are deeply moved and inspired by the demonstration of national determination to build a new Libya, free of tyranny and able to join at last the family of democratic nations in the quest for freedom, dignity, and justice for all people." Photo: The Carter Center/ S. Kwiram

  • Post–election, Libya has faced political and security challenges, which have slowed post–revolution reforms. The Carter Center continues to monitor the political climate to determine if there is potential to reengage in the country, for example to monitor the new congress, the selection of the constitution-drafting body, and eventually a constitutional referendum. Photo: The Carter Center/ S. Kwiram

  • The Carter Center also works to support Arab human rights defenders, such as human rights rights researcher Fatma Emam, who demonstrated for change in Tahrir Square with thousands of other men and women. Post–revolution, she found women’s rights left behind. Emam shared her experiences with others at a human rights defenders forum at The Carter Center. "Advancement of human rights must come from within society, so The Carter Center works to bolster the efforts of local activists who accept great personal risks in the pursuit of human freedom," said Karin Ryan, director of the Center’s Human Rights Program. Photo: The Carter Center/ D. Hakes

  • Finally, The Carter Center also promotes peace across the region by closely monitoring political events, including the tragic situation in Syria, and maintaining contact with all sides to encourage a political solution to violence. Photo: The Carter Center

  • “In all of these countries, the path to democracy is full of challenges,” said Hrair Balian, director of the Conflict Resolution Program at the Center. “The successful outcome will depend on the level of inclusiveness and tolerance of the new orders being created.” Photo: The Carter Center