After the Arab Spring : New Paths for Human Rights and the Internet in European Foreign Policy

Study 04-07-2012

Following the Arab Spring there have been numerous public debates about appropriate policy responses to events in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). One of the largest public debates has centred on communications and the Internet and attempted to understand how EU policy could have prevented, mitigated or avoided some of the negative effects of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) during the Arab Spring. The following briefing paper provides an overview of the actions taken by governments in the MENA region to limit the positive impact of ICTs and the use of ICTs for harmful purposes. It then looks at key cases in the MENA region, analysing the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Bahrain before and during the Arab Spring. It then develops specific policy recommendations for European foreign policy, which are categorised by priority into short, medium, and long-term initiatives. In conclusion, it suggests that European policy makers have numerous avenues to develop policy solutions that could adequately respond to many of the issues raised during the Arab Spring, in the southern Mediterranean and beyond.