In much of the democratisation and development literature, human rights organisations were championed as whistle‐blowers and advocates of justice.
This article argues that human rights organisations were just as disconnected from the momentum of the force, building up prior to and at the wake of the revolution as other civil and political organisations and forces. An inhibitive political environment prohibiting political activism and an elitist internal culture meant that human rights organisations were far removed from the street. Yet they played an intermediary role in engaging with journalists, lawyers and activists as well as an indirect role in raising awareness of human rights violations, which facilitated the coalescing of a platform around the death of Khaled Said. The revolution however, has forced the human rights organisations to rethink their strategies of engagement and relationship with the masses. The extent to which this is forcing a paradigm shift remains to be seen.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 43.1 (2012) Human Rights Organisations and the Egyptian Revolution