Dr. Elham Manea, professor of political science at the University of Zurich, addressed the 11th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy — see quotes below. She spoke on a panel titled “How Can We Make a Difference” along with journalist James Kirchick, Canadian MP Michael Levitt, and Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

For links to other speakers’ quotes, videos, photos, livestream, and more, click here.

On bringing about change in the Arab world:

“What I learned over time is that we shouldn’t wait for others to defend us. If I’m going to wait for someone to defend women’s rights in Yemen, my country, I’m going to wait for a long time. It’s better if it comes from within.”

“We can change by insisting that universal values apply in Yemen, just as they apply in Switzerland. We shouldn’t make any distinction based on culture relativism or identity politics.”

“There are issues that are being talked about in a manner that 10 years ago I never thought it would be possible. We’re not only talking about sexual orientation, but also questioning religious issues, authenticity of the Quran — questioning things that used to be solid and holy.”

On human rights today:

“The situation of human rights today has reached a certain kind of miserable status.”

“Dictatorial governments are emboldened by a lack of certain kind of countries which can play the moral compass.”

“The problem is that you see a changing international order with the rise of countries like china which does not care at all about [human rights].”

On how people can help:

“We must look at the actions and look at the consequences on the human beings. If you think you cannot bear it on yourself or your kids then take action, don’t be indifferent.”

Dr. Elham Manea (second from left) at 2019 Geneva Summit