by Abdelhafidh Abdeleli, swissinfo.ch
Nearly two years after the start of the Arab Spring, revolutionary enthusiasm among Swiss-based activists has given way to careful reflection on how to best help build a democratic future amid the upheaval.
Human rights and development campaigners agree it is extremely difficult to give clear assessments two years after the first uprising erupted in Tunisia.
But according to Rachid Moussali, founder and director of the Geneva-based non-governmental organisation Alkarama (Dignity), “compared with the past, fundamental freedoms are now largely respected, despite occasional violations in Egypt or Tunisia, for example.”
Khaled Saleh, a member of the Libyan National Council for Public Freedoms and Human Rights, concurred: “The situation has changed radically. There are greater freedoms. Laws banning demonstrations or membership of political parties have been annulled. And the path is open for greater freedom of expression.”
But cementing these new freedoms and establishing proper rule of law are huge challenges, especially in countries where the security services were for many years in the hands of “tyrannical regimes”, Mousalli told swissinfo.ch.
Swiss-based activists remain upbeat. They welcome the fact that states have by and large managed to stick to political roadmaps. In general countries have moved from revolutionary to political legitimacy, although certain ambiguous situations remain, they say.