Compromises, Complicity and Rights

December 11, 2020

In collaboration with CGC Paris and CGC Istanbul, CGC Tunis hosted Dr. Agnes Callamard, Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression; UN Special Rapporteur on  Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions; for a conversation under the theme of "Compromises, Complicity and Rights".

Agnes Callamard was in conversation with Cansu Çamlıbel and Mohamed Yassine Jelassi, Secretary General of SNJT, the national union of Tunisian journalists.

On November 21-22, 2020, Saudi Arabia hosted the fifteenth G20 meeting. It was held virtually due to COVID-19 but, nonetheless, world leaders gathered under the chairmanship of King Salman al-Saud and the active participation of his Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman. The summit was an opportunity for the Saudi leadership to promote its economic and political model, and its vision for the future. World leaders praised Saudi Arabia and discussed world affairs; none was critical to the host.

In light of major human rights violations happening in the Kingdom or through its policies, such as the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the general muzzling of the press, the imprisonment of feminist and other political activists, or the war on Yemen, are world leaders compromising with the Saudi leadership? Are they complacent? Complicit? And how should the victims claim their rights? Or should they claim their rights when political and economic realities prevail?


*Dr. Agnès Callamard is the Director of Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression, an initiative seeking to advance understanding on freedom of expression global norms, and Special Adviser to the President of Columbia University, first amendment scholar Lee Bollinger. On August 1, 2016, she was appointed the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial summary or arbitrary Executions. Dr. Agnès Callamard has a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work globally. She spent nine years as the Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, the international human rights organization promoting and defending freedom of expression and access to information globally. Under her leadership, ARTICLE 19 reach and reputation flourished earning global recognition for its cutting edge public policy thinking on diverse issues including national security, equality and development. She founded and led HAP International (the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership), which is the first self-regulatory body for humanitarian agencies at the international level. Prior to this, Dr. Callamard was Chef de Cabinet for the Secretary General of Amnesty International (AI) and AI’s Research-Policy Coordinator, leading AI’s policy work and research on women’s human rights. Agnès has advised senior levels of multilateral organizations and governments around the world and has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries. She has published broadly in the field of human rights, women’s rights, refugee movements and accountability and holds a PhD in Political Science from the New School for Social Research in New York.


*Mohamed Yassine Jelassi is Secretary-General of the Syndicat National des Journalistes Tunisiens (SNJT), the national union of Tunisian journalists, the youngest Secretary-General since the union’s foundation. He worked with various print, e-media, and audiovisual media, and participated in producing documentary films. He is a graduate of the Press and Information Science Institute (IPSI, University of Manouba, Tunisia) and minored in political science. When at university, he was a member of the national students union (UGET) and SNJT, and active in the opposition against dictatorship. In December 2018, when Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman visited Tunisia, the SNJT organized a widely-covered demonstration to denounce the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. 

*Cansu Çamlıbel is the Editor-in-Chief of independent online newspaper Duvar English based in Istanbul, Turkey. She also writes a column on diplomacy and Turkish politics in the sister publication Gazete Duvar in Turkish. Prior to this role, she was the Washington Correspondent for the daily Hurriyet of Turkey for two years. Before her appointment to the U.S. capital she worked for Hurriyet in Istanbul in various roles including her 5 years as the political interviewer of the newspaper. She was awarded with ‘Nieman Journalism Fellowship’ at Harvard University for the 2015-2016 period. At Harvard, she made a comparative research on the modern day propaganda tactics of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and the propaganda schemes of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany in 1930s. Prior to Hurriyet, Cansu Çamlıbel worked as the Brussels Correspondent of Turkish news network NTV. She holds a Master of Arts degree in International Journalism from the Cardiff University in the UK.