Advocating for Change

DAWN's advocacy targets both government officials and the broader foreign policy community. It aims to shift U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and North Africa away from support for abusive governments, toward support for human rights and democracy. Through letters, meetings, briefings, and petitions, DAWN urges U.S. policymakers to suspend military support to governments in the MENA region with poor human rights records; avoid meeting with U.S.-based lobbyists working as foreign agents for these governments; and support measures to sanction and hold accountable officials responsible for human rights abuses. At the same time, we seek to influence the thinking of the broader foreign policy community by convening key stakeholders to discuss new models for U.S. policy toward the region.



Many abusive, unrepresentative, and unaccountable governments and government officials in the Middle East and North Africa rely on American diplomatic, financial, and military support to sustain their repression and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. To ensure continued U.S. support, they pay tens of millions of dollars every year to American lobbyists. These lobbyists meet with U.S. officials to urge them to maintain and even expand the support of governments they represent despite their serious records of human rights abuses. Some of them produce misleading informational materials that often cast their clients' abuses in a favorable light, and others omit any mention of abuses at all. Some U.S. lobbyists even represent foreign government officials and agencies directly involved in torture and other abuses. In DAWN's lobbyist hall of shame, we seek to put these lobbyists and the government officials who deal with them on notice that their work for brutal governments, agencies, and officials will be scrutinized and judged in accordance with domestic and international human rights laws and professional and ethical standards.

Culprits Gallery

No tyrant can implement tyranny against an entire country on his own. He needs enablers who will implement his oppressive practices, even if it means abusing their fellow citizens. These agents often work in the shadows, where they mask their complicity in the guise of professionals exercising their duties in offices, courtrooms, police stations, and interrogation rooms. Some of these state agents go to great lengths to hide their identities even where domestic law requires disclosure, including by assuming fictitious identities. Sometimes this is justified in the name of protecting their security, but in many cases, they seek to conceal their abusive functions to avoid public shaming, particularly among colleagues or friends who believe them to be respectable officials.





Reforming Foreign Policy

US Foreign Policy in MENA





"The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face."

- Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post, October 17, 2018