Archive, Lectures

Tom Porteous


“Revolution, Rights, and Political Imagination in the Middle East and North Africa Today”


Tom Porteous is the deputy program director at Human Rights Watch and is based in Washington DC. He joined Human Rights Watch in 2006 as the London director responsible for communications and advocacy in the United Kingdom. Porteous has a background in journalism, diplomacy, and UN peacekeeping. In the 1980s and early 1990s he was a freelance correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, and other media, first in Cairo and later in Berlin, Algeria, and Morocco. He worked in UN peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Liberia. He also served as conflict management adviser for Africa in the UK’s Foreign Office from 2001 to 2003. Porteous studied classics at Oxford University.


He discussed the work of Human Rights Watch in the Middle East and North Africa in the run up to and during the uprisings and revolutions of the past two years, the role of human rights discourse in framing protesters’ demands and influencing political transitions, and the relationship between human rights, democracy and sectarian/religious politics. He also talked about what human rights organisations can/should do in the face of the brutality of Syria’s civil war.

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