Declaration of the Arab Trade Union Confederation For a Free, Democratic, and Fair Arab Society to Address Terrorism

As the threat of terrorism is growing in an increasing number of Arab countries, there is a strong need for alternative ways to address it.

In parallel with the World Social Forum organized in Tunisia in 2015, the Arab Trade Union Confederation has organized an international conference on the role of Arab trade unions which have always defended people’s rights, in particular the right for dignified and safe life.

Participants have concluded that in order to address terrorism effectively, we need a new and complete vision in order to treat the dysfunctional situations that have contributed in the growth of terrorism:

First: reform of unfair economic and social policies which favor the rich and the strong and which have led to the increase of unemployment, poverty and social marginalization and to the creation of social environments where terrorism finds its basis and shelter. This reform has to be carried out with the effective participation of trade unions and through a serious social dialogue based on the demands for social justice and for a fair distribution of development burdens and fruits among the categories of society. Urgent measures shall include a review of tax systems and the adoption of a progressive/increasing tax system, as well as states commitment to provide social protection.

Second: reform of education systems which have focused on disabling the mind and developing memory and which have led to a re-production of underdevelopment, failing to equip the youth with free thinking and discernment capacities and therefore making them easily recruited by terrorist groups. This reform shall also include the dissemination and generalization of the culture of enlightenment and human rights.

Third: democratizing political systems and implementing transparency which was missing in decision-making, broadening the scope of political and trade unions rights and liberties and ensuring executive control and accountability requirements, in order to correct mistakes and to address imbalances which weaken the capacity to fight terrorism. We need to be aware that military and security effectiveness is limited by the absence of free social participation. The balance between the guarantee of rights and ensuring security is an essential condition to defeat terrorism.

Fourth: adoption of cultural policies focusing on citizenship and its supremacy over religious, ideological, tribal and ethnic belonging. Achieving social complementarities through free interaction between the components of society and addressing discrimination against Arab women to guarantee full gender equality. Promoting the role of civil society organizations in all fields, disseminating the culture of tolerance and respect of the other, adopting peaceful dialogue in all conflicts are essential.

The participants adopting this statement shall commit to these recommendations and call upon Arab workers and trade union activists and the various Arab democratic forces and civil society organizations to join their efforts by respecting diversity and differences. They emphasize, in this context, that these recommendations are the only means to build up modern and civic Arab societies committed to defend human rights and liberties and able to assume their responsibilities to face state terrorism and that of extremist groups, as well as the threats resulting from the increase of internal conflicts, the Israeli occupation and the ambitions of regional and international powers to dominate the region and divide it under the guise of counter terrorism.

As terrorism has become a cross-border phenomenon, and no country worldwide is immune from its dangers, the whole international community shall assume its full responsibility in this regard and namely the United Nations Organization, which should react as it is provided for by its Charter to maintain international peace and security.