Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights began as a primary unit in Birzeit University in 2016, as a result of the combination of the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy – Muwatin (founded in 1991 in Ramallah) incorporation into the university, joining with the Master’s Program in Democracy and Human Rights (founded in the Faculty of Graduate Studies in 1999), along with several other activities related to this academic program, joining together all to form the current institute.
Activities of the Muwatin Institute
The MA Program in Democracy and Human Rights
The courses in this program fulfil the requirements towards obtaining a Masters Degree in Democracy and Human Rights. The courses are designed to train our students in various fields including: teaching democracy and human rights, working in fields of democracy and human rights in numerous national arenas, researching and academic publishing on topics related to democracy and human rights. The program is open to all who are interested in the field of democracy and human rights including those who work in teaching and training (schools, institutions and universities) as well as those who work in civil and government run organizations as teachers and researches whose field of interest include issues involved in democracy and human rights.
The Arab MA Program in Democracy and Human Rights
Through the Masters Degree Program in Democracy and Human Rights, Birzeit University cooperates in the provision of the Arab MA Program in Democracy and Human Rights organized by Center for European Studies in Venice (Italy) in participation with Birzeit University (Palestine), University of Saint Joseph (Lebanon), Carthage University (Tunisia), Rabat International University (Morocco), and University Ca’ Foscari (Italy).
Research at Muwatin works in various directions: theory, application and policies.
Continuing Education and Community Intervention
The institute holds workshops and training sessions to develop a cadre of people interested in the topic and working in the field of democratic governance, this includes those who want to work towards developing more democratic based governance institutionally and those more generally interested in the topic.
Human Rights Protections
The institute holds workshops and training sessions to develop a cadre interested in the area of human rights protection working with individuals generally interested in or already in the field and people that are part of institutions that work to elevate the field of human rights and protection of human rights and the preservation of human dignity.
The institute has a program for teaching and training in research and academic writing. This program primarily focuses on improvement in the quality of research and writing in the fields of democracy and human rights.
Intervention and Activism
Muwatin Institute aims to play a role in community organizing on the principles and perceptions of democracy, pluralism, human rights, equality and social justice. The Institute also contributes to policy development, propose new legislation, amendments to pre-existing legislation, and play a neutral role in building a collective dialogue towards achieving goals of national liberation, full equality and justice.
Conferences, Symposiums and Workshops
Muwatin will continue the tradition of holding its annual conference organized around the principle of highlighting issues of democracy and human rights that concern the Palestinian people. The institute will also hold lectures, seminars, workshops and conferences that follow the latest developments, in doing so we will work to further the local conversation and pubic engagement with issues revolving around the idea and implementation of democracy and human rights.
The Muwatin Library has around 15000 volumes and periodicals related to the issues of democracy and human rights. All of these are accessible to the university students, researchers as well as the Palestinian community at large through the Birzeit University library system.
Muwatin works in the community to find, preserve and make accessible all kinds of material related the issues of democracy and human rights. The Institute has sought out such material from a number of sources including new and archived material from radio television programs and makes copies of this material available and easily accessible on the internet.
Website and Database
Muwatin has made a great deal of material available on the institute’s website including all of our activities, most of our publications, audio-visual recordings of our seminars, meetings and conferences, in addition to a detailed database about the graduate programs in democracy and human rights.
The resource laboratory is specifically designed for communal work in the form of a “lab” for democracy and human rights. A great deal of material will be made accessible in the lab including plans and material for teaching and training in the fields of democracy and human rights for all who are interested.
Muwatin will continue to engage the Palestinian and Arab reader through our publications concerning the issues of democracy and human rights, specifically targeting academics, student, policy makers, and the overall general public. The publications are under several serial headings including:
- Research and studies series
- Occasional papers series
- Critical interventions series
- Foundations of democracy
- Elements of democracy
- Palestinian histories
- Periodical report series
- Master’s thesis series
In addition to these publications, Muwatin publishes press material that covers issues of democracy and human rights including the Parliamentary Horizons magazine which will be re-issued.
Muwatin hosts long term initiatives and short term activities that comply with its principles and goals. Among these are:
An international and inter-disciplinary initiative, Karama works to study and understand ideas of human dignity through supporting research projects, community involvement, encouraging initiatives, providing the space for general discussion and encouraging youth projects.
The Idea Factory is a student run initiative in Birzeit University and supported by the Windsor-Birzeit Dignity Initiative. The “Idea Factory” works to answer the central question: how can the youth take the reins and responsibility in formulating their future into their own hands. The participants get together in the “factory,” partake in collective discussions, produce alternative visions to overcome the state of alienation that they find in their daily lives to fight exclusion and alienation in their daily lives.
Muwatin strives to provide the space for intellectual inquiries on fundamental issues that concern the Palestinian people as we work collectively towards deconstructing colonialism and hegemony and constructing our national liberation.
Muwatin Institute consists of several elements including teaching, research, continuing education, community outreach, and an information centre on democracy and human rights which involves constant public engagement including regular publishing, archiving audio- visual materials on the institute’s website.
The Institute is a centre of information both virtually through the website and physically in the form of a library of secondary and primary source material. The Institute is also a centre of on-going activities through the work of various other hosted initiatives including the Karama Initiative and the Idea Factory.
Muwatin Institute works to explore the definitions of democratic systems and human rights in all its inherent complications and paradoxes. Through this work, the Institute will further our collective understanding of democracy and human rights both in its local context and through a vigorous engagement with the international discussion around these key issues both practically and theoretically - including, of course, the vital critical approach to both democracy and human rights and their histories.
This active work of knowledge production in the Institute is within a framework of protecting liberty, freedom and justice - not only as rhetorical tools but also as practical tools for societies that cherish humanity, strive for equality and justice and peace.
The Institute is committed to working towards improving the means and methods of a political system that respects the people’s will and dignity, in particular the Palestinian people.