Oral history interview with Lotfi Azzouz, 2015


Azzouz, Lotfi (Interviewee)
Chihi, Emna (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Lotfi Azzouz, 2015
Lotfi Azzouz describes the non-governmental sector during the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime, in which six legally recognized organizations and three unrecognized organizations championed causes of human rights and civil liberties while thousands of others worked with the government. He discusses how the regime actively sabotaged the work of organizations like the Tunisian League of Human Rights (L TDH) through legal, funding, and communications obstacles and how movement of individual opposition leaders was also targeted. In this environment, coalition building and networking were essential to NGO survival. After Ben Ali was deposed, the civil society landscape altered dramatically with increased numbers of NGOs, international support and roles for youth and women. Civil society organizations participated in the drafting of the new constitution. At the time of the interview, however, there were some tensions between international and local NGOs. Azzouz describes Amnesty International's work in documenting human rights abuses during and after the revolution. He addresses challenges in securing funding streams from Amnesty's international headquarters. He speaks of Amnesty's support of online activism, which helped accelerate the revolution. Azzouz goes on to say that regional inequality and a persistent top-down approach to change remain problematic in Tunisia. He narrates Amnesty's mediating role during the national dialogue, after the assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi. He compares NGOs' experiences liaising with the Troika government versus the technocratic government. He concludes by pointing out a false trade-off between security and human rights, to which many Tunisians subscribe
Collection Name
Tunisian Transition oral history collection
Arab Spring, 2010-; Revolutions--Tunisia; Non-governmental organizations--Tunisia; Online social networks--Political aspects; Tunisia History Demonstrations, 2010-; Tunisia Politics and government 1987-2011; Tunisia Politics and government 2011-; Azzouz, Lotfi; Bin ʻAlī, Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn; Amnesty International
oral histories
Physical Description
32 pages
Note (Biographical)
Lotfi Azzouz is the director of the Amnesty International Tunisia. He became an advocate of human rights as a student at the University of Jendouba. He later joined the General Union of Tunisian Students. Before becoming the director of the Amnesty In ternational Tunisia in 2007, he worked for the organization in Gafsa
Interviewed by Emna Chihi on December 16, 2015
Note (Provenance)
Lotfi Azzouz, Gift, transferred from Columbia Center for Oral History Research 2018
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Persistent URL
Related URLs
Available digital content for this interview.