The very concepts of rights, inclusion, and pluralism have been under sustained attack in the Middle East for generations. This regional crisis is part of a global phenomenon of eroding rights in contexts as varied as the Arabian Peninsula to the U.S.–Mexico border.

Experiments are underway to address this widening rights gap. Reformers are trying to fix broken compacts between citizens and their governments, and at the same time working to rewrite a core narrative of who belongs and on what basis—finding ways to define citizenship more inclusively without erasing religious identity and community.

Join us on Monday, May 13 to hear a panel of experts discuss how to extend or revive universal rights in the Middle East. Speakers will draw upon studies of young Kurds trying to renew the outdated nationalist narratives of their aging rulers, historical attempts to unite Islamists and secularists, and Lebanese initiatives to supplant sectarian warlords. Stick around for a wine and cheese reception following the event to continue the conversation.

Event Details

Monday, May 13, 2019
6:00pm – 8:00pm

New York University
King Juan Carlos Center Auditorium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012


Moderator: Thanassis Cambanis @tcambanis
Senior fellow, The Century Foundation

Thanassis a senior fellow at The Century Foundation who specializes in the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. His most recent book, Once Upon A Revolution: An Egyptian Story, chronicles Egyptian efforts to create a new political order. His first book, A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War against Israel was published in 2010. He regularly contributes to The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe. He teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and was previously a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.

Melani Cammett
Clarence Dillon professor of international affairs, Department of Government, Harvard University

Melani Cammett is Clarence Dillon professor of international affairs in the Department of Government at Harvard University and holds a secondary faculty appointment in the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Her current research explores governance and social service provision, identity politics, and post-conflict institutional arrangements, primarily in the Middle East. She is also working on a new project on the long-term historical roots of development trajectories in the region.

Michael Wahid Hanna @mwhanna1
Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation
Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Reiss Center on Law and Security, New York University School of Law

Michael Wahid Hanna is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law. Hanna works on issues of international security, international law, and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia. He is the co-editor of Arab Politics Beyond the Uprisings: Experiments in an Era of Resurgent Authoritarianism (2017) and Order from Ashes: New Foundations for Security in the Middle East (2018). He has published widely on U.S. foreign policy in newspapers and journals, including articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The New Republic, Democracy, Middle East Report, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Survival, and World Policy Journal, among other publications. He appears regularly on PBS, BBC, and NPR, including appearances on Charlie Rose and the PBS NewsHour.

He served as a consultant for Human Rights Watch in Baghdad in 2008. Prior to joining The Century Foundation, Hanna was a senior fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute. From 1999 to 2004, Hanna practiced corporate law with the New York law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. Fluent in Arabic, he was a Fulbright Scholar at Cairo University. He received a JD from New York University School of Law, where he was an editor of the Law Review. Hanna is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Cale Salih @callysally
Research officer, Centre for Policy Research, United Nations University

Cale Salih is a research officer with the United Nations University (UNU) Centre for Policy Research, focusing on the changing nature of conflict. Prior to joining UNU, she was a project manager at the Institute for Integrated Transitions in Barcelona, focusing on post-conflict and post-authoritarian transitions in fragile and conflict-affected states. She has also held a number of research positions focused on the Middle East, including with the International Crisis Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Integrity. In addition, she has worked for media outlets including Al-Monitor and The Atlantic, and has published op-eds in, among others, the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and the Guardian. She holds a master’s of studies in international human rights law from Oxford University and a BA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Elizabeth Thompson
Professor of history, School of International Service, American University of Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth F. Thompson is a historian of political movements, citizenship, constitutions, gender, and foreign intervention in the Middle East at the American University of Washington, D.C. She is now writing a third book on the establishment of a democratic Arab government in Damascus in 1920, and the consequences of its destruction, as authorized by the League of Nations. She is also co-producing a documentary on World War I in the Middle East.