Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights began as a primary unit in Birzeit University in 2016. This institute is the 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.
Through its academic programmes and various related activities Muwatin strives to foster an interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching, thus constructing the space to apply these intellectual and practical tools towards understanding our lived realities. The institute believes in the integration of its efforts, and in cooperating with other programs and activities in the wider university. It is a primary and paramount concern for the institute to engage our students in these activities as well as providing them with the space and tools to be core components of work of the institute. Our students and researchers benefit from the opportunities that we provide to connect with other academic and research institutes, local civil society, national institutions as well as foreign visiting researchers. Muwatin strives to serve as a central intellectual interactive source for all those interested in issues concerning democracy and human rights, whether theoretical or applied. Indeed, the Institute insists in engaging with the community to serve as a platform for those interested in understanding and impacting our lives. Particular attention is given to hegemonic and regulatory structures that have been heavily prevailing over the lives of Palestinians living in the colonial condition. 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 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.
The Institute works towards achieving these goals through the diverse courses offered in our graduate studies program, as well as through the space and opportunities provided for research and workshops; symposiums; publishing newsletters, books and pamphlets; convening conferences and regular training sessions, connecting with other local, national, and regional institutes in the Arab world as well as other global institutes with a similar trajectory and philosophy, with a specific focus on academic institutes who, through their work, elevate the principles of humanity, dignity, the protection of freedoms, achieving true equality and real justice.
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.