MENA » Overview

Following the so-called "Arab Spring" in 2011, Salzburg Global Seminar developed a series of meetings and program activities focused on Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa. The series provided a forum in which to explore systematically the key elements needed for building more open democratic societies in the region, notably by examining models that have been tried in other regions and countries where major political and social transformations have occurred within the last few decades, including central and eastern Europe, Indonesia, Latin America, South Africa, and Turkey.

Working in partnership with a number of institutions in the region, Salzburg Global facilitated an examination and comparative analysis of various reform models to help expand knowledge and understanding, among those seeking to bring about change in the MENA region; of how these models were implemented and what were the results - positive and negative, intended and unintended. What questions do those who worked for change in these other countries wish they had asked, what information do they wish they had drawn on, what might they caution reformers in the MENA region against doing or encourage them to consider doing? What was, or might have been, the role of a surrounding regional community, and of the international community? What technical support might policy-makers, civil society activists, philanthropists or academics receive from their counterparts in other countries?


Fateh Azzam: "There are a lot of challenges to progress"
Fateh Azzam: "There are a lot of challenges to progress"
Oscar Tollast 
The Board Chair of the Arab Human Rights Fund has suggested the biggest priority in the Middle East and North Africa region is to create a shared common vision. Fateh Azzam spoke at Salzburg Global as part of a seminar session entitled, ‘Getting Transition Right: A Rights-based Approach towards Diversity & Inclusivity’. The session, which started on Friday, is being hosted by Salzburg Global and the Arab Human Rights Fund and will focus in particular on four key countries in the midst of transitions that can pilot new approaches to diversity management: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen. Mr Azzam, who helped establish the Fund, has served on the boards of several Palestinian, Arab and international human rights organizations. Prior to this, he served as regional representative for the Middle East for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2006 until 2012. In a Q&A with Salzburg Global, he revealed the biggest challenges facing diversity and inclusivity in the region, what issues need to be prioritized and what role policy has to play. What’s brought you to Salzburg Global this weekend? We’ve co-organized with the Salzburg Global Seminar this discussion on diversity and inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa region. Why did you decide to partner with Salzburg Global? It came up by chance in a discussion between one of our staff members and people at Salzburg and it just seemed like a very good idea. We in the Arab Human Rights Fund are moving more – besides doing philanthropy [and] grant-making in the human rights arena – we are also moving more towards creating a forum and developing the think-tank expertise to help people around the region think in human rights terms, to consider some of the human rights issues and the best ways to move around. It just seems that the partnership for this particular topic, given what’s going on in the region, was a very important idea at this time. What are the discussions centered on this weekend? They’ll be centered on identifying what the issues are in terms of inclusion and exclusion, and in terms of diversity. Not so much diversity management, but the relationship between how we encourage more inclusion and how we promote inclusion in the context of human rights. How can human rights and diversity interact? That was raised actually in the first session. Is it a matter of creating a culture of diversity where human rights can be protected and guaranteed and respected, or is it an insistence on respect and the guarantee of human rights that can lead to more inclusive societies and societies that are at more acceptance of diversity when you protect inclusion by the rule of law and by guaranteeing human rights? Whilst these discussions take place, what do you feel are the biggest priorities? I think the biggest priority right now is to try and create – not consensus – but at least some common ground, some common vision in the region. There are so many things changing right now in the transitions after the revolts of the last couple of years. People are so focused on the problems and on the reasons why we need a change but there’s not enough discussion on what kind of vision for the future do we have and do we want. For us of course, as a human rights actor – the Arab Human Rights Fund – it is a human rights vision. It’s a vision of inclusion. It’s a vision of the rule of law based on respect for human rights. How can we get people in the region to think in those directions so that the promise of the revolution can become real and not drowned in the differences, problems and issues, and the historic exclusions that have created the revolts in the first place? What motivated you to get into this line of work? I’ve been in this line of work for 30 years. A well-known American politician – I think it was Kennedy – said one time, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ So if you don’t like the way a situation is, then you have a responsibility to do something to change it. Even if your role can be tiny and miniscule, it is a role and you have something to say, so you might as well jump in and try and do it. You find people that you can do it with, you find colleagues, [and] you find people of like mind that you can work with to make it happen. That’s what I’ve been doing for most of my life. That’s what a lot of the people here are doing. It’s a commitment to taking on a personal responsibility to be part of the change. What do you feel are the biggest challenges to progress being made? I feel there are a lot of challenges to progress. One [of them] is interference. There is a lot of interference. There’s a lot of regional interference, a lot of international interference. Everyone wants to play in our yard, and everybody has something to say and finds people they want to support. Another big, big problem is that there are a lot of vested interests: people that have power and don’t want to give up that power. These people are allied to many of the people who are interfering from the outside as well so that the voice of the people gets lost. The voices get lost, and that’s one of the most important things from a conversation about inclusion: how do we make sure peoples’ voices are heard again? I think that’s what we have to be looking for. That’s a big challenge. How do you get people who have too much power to give up some of that power and allow others in? What role does policy have to play in terms of diversity and inclusion? We have to define policy first. Policy is not politics. Policy is having a direction, having a set of principles to guide what your politics should do. You have to have an idea that can then be translated into a policy that says, ‘I want to go in that direction.’ For example, if you don’t have an educational policy, then anybody can educate anyone they want and you can actually end up in a situation where differences are deepened and exclusion gets even worse. Whereas if you have a policy on education that says education has to be inclusive, education has to be broad, education has to start at this level and go to that level, and has to incorporate human rights ideas in the education, then that policy can move us towards where we want to go. What are you hoping to get out of this session? First of all, the dialogue itself is crucially valuable on its own. Even if nothing else comes out, it’s the fact that people have come together and will go back to their countries and take some of the different ideas that were shared. That’s a very important outcome. But then if we can manage to also get a set of recommendations for later to follow up in terms of developing policy ideas or policy directions in that specific national context - but also for the region as a whole - for each of the participants to take back and maybe try and build coalitions and move in that direction, then we would have had a very good impact from the meeting. Of course, for the Arab Human Rights Fund, having tried to play this role as convener, [we are hoping] to be able to come back and get some interesting new ideas or clear ideas about not only our funding but where are program can go to help move this agenda of inclusivity and diversity forward.
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Getting Tranisition Right in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen
Getting Tranisition Right in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen
Oscar Tollast 
Recent political transitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have shown how exclusion from decision-making processes leads people to create new channels to proclaim their rights. As countries across the MENA region tackle the challenges of their nascent democracies, a session that looks to identify strategic directions for improved diversity in the Middle East got underway today at Salzburg Global Seminar. The program, which takes place from today until November 6, is entitled ‘Getting Transition Right: A rights-based approach towards Diversity and Inclusivity’. It is being hosted by Salzburg Global Seminar and the Arab Human Rights Fund and will focus in particular on four key countries in the midst of transitions that can pilot new approaches to diversity management: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen. Countries in the MENA region are very diverse, yet people have come together ignoring many of these distinctions to call for more open and equal governance systems. Effective diversity management helps to instil greater acceptance of plurality and provides the foundations for social and economic progress. The session will enable intra- and inter-country analysis of effective approaches to diversity management, to craft policy guidelines and recommendations to help ensure the realization of basic rights, and support the translation of policies into action. Speakers at the session include Fateh Azzam, chairman of the Arab Human Rights Fund, and Amal Basha, described as Yemen’s most prominent advocate for human rights and chairperson of the Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights. Ann Elizabeth Mayer, author of Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics, and associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, will also be speaking. Participants will engage in a highly interactive process of presentations, discussions and working groups to tackle and unravel some of the biggest questions surrounding this topic. Working groups will present their recommendations at the end of the session before the group as a whole outlines the next steps going forward.
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Philanthropy as acupuncture: It's not about the size of the needle, but where you put it
Philanthropy as acupuncture: It's not about the size of the needle, but where you put it
Louise Hallman 
“Philanthropy is like acupuncture,” declared Hakan Altinay, senior fellow for global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, during the Salzburg Global Seminar session on ‘Philanthropy in Times of Crisis and Transition: Catalyzing Forces of Change’. It’s not about the size of the needle, he explained, but where you put that has the biggest impact. This, he argued, could especially be said about philanthropy in times of crisis and transition.  The amount of money philanthropic foundations and other donors grant to NGOs and their projects is less important than which NGOs and which projects, and in which areas—geographic and societal—these projects operate. In the audience were 28 philanthropy experts, hailing from a diverse range of backgrounds, from those working for big foundations in the USA and Europe, to those working in regional, local and community philanthropy in countries of recent crisis, such as Libya, entering a new transition phase (e.g. Egypt), as well countries in prolonged transitions and prolonged crises, such as South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively; all arrived at Schloss Leopoldskron, Austria, to share and compare their own experiences and expertise of working in such countries. Times of great political change and crisis can open up a country to philanthropy in a way not previously seen before, or simply offer a new partner by way of a change of government.  But whilst new bodies into which philanthropic foundations and other donors can deftly push their monetary acupunctural needles might appear through times of crisis, several key issues still arise. First and foremost, where do you put the “needles” of funding? What are the key issues and causes to be funded? Which are the best NGO partners to fund to deal with and promote those issues and causes? How do you deal with the multiple transitions that may be happening at the same time at different levels and in different area of one country? “If we’re good and put needle in right place, we’re effective,” Altinay elaborated. If the needles are just poked in where they are not needed, i.e. the funding is not well-placed, then: “we just annoy people!” Times of crisis might open up new areas of need, particularly in governance capacity building, but as countries move into times of transition, many of those same challenges from before the upheaval still exist. “When people leave the squares, it’s poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, women’s marginalization and economic disempowerment—all of the issues we were dealing with before, we’re dealing with now, only in a more open and honest environment,” offered one Fellow working the Middle East and North Africa. But in the MENA region, there is an identified “matching problem” – not only matching money to issues but also matching funding with local donors.  Time spent ensure the best match might seem slow, but it will be well spent when it means that the impact is better assured. If the area for “treatment” has been identified, just who is the acupuncturist? And for how long should the treatment be administered? International, local and individual philanthropy all have their roles to play. As countries enter crises, large international foundations are able to swoop in and pump in vast sums of money very quickly.  They have the human and financial capital to mobilize swiftly. But just as quickly, they can leave. “Foundations need to ensure they have a humane exit strategy,” recommended one Fellow, to avoid sudden losses of funding for small NGOs and to aid transition. But in turn, NGOs also need to always plan for the big donors’ exit. If the big international donors are assumed to be leaving once the crisis is over, local philanthropy needs to be ready to be involved for the long haul, beyond the crisis and throughout the transition. Local philanthropy often gives local NGOs the legitimacy they sorely need, especially if such times bring with them a wave of new found nationalism and/or a renewed distrust of “foreign agents”. But often these local philanthropic organizations lack the capital to fund large projects, leading NGOs to seek funding from multiple donors; multiple donors means multiple reports and higher workloads piled on already stretched resources.  Besides giving the larger grants, this is where larger international or more experienced foundations can help, by helping to establish networks of donors that can work together rather than in silos or worse, competition.  This networked approach can help towards that all important “humane” exit strategy and ensure continued sustainability of civil society organizations, long after the big boys have gone home. Individual donors, too, can play an important role in building NGO capacity in crisis and transition countries as they can often help avoid the (sometimes vindictive) bureaucracy faced by NGOs when trying secure funds from institutional donors. Individual giving can often be more speedy and flexible as well as offering an independence and credibility, but it can also be more narrowly focussed and less ambitious. However, as one Fellow pointed out: “You can’t get a better buy-in for a larger donor than proving you have ‘crowdsourced’ lots of small donations.” All these funders are needed to ensure effective treatment, and the most effective treatment is long-term investment; we’re not talking 3-4 years but 20-30 years. Besides the ‘where’ and ‘who’, there is also: how? In times of limited funds, particularly in Europe, some donors have moved from cause-led grant-makers to impact-led grant-makers. This means NGOs must work harder for their donations and can lead to short-sightedness in transition countries as donors push for quick returns on investments and measurable impact—something not always possible in countries of great social change. Strategies are needed. “How do you do a strategic plan in a fast changing society?!” exclaimed one exasperated Fellow. Indeed, who knows what the post-Arab Spring Middle East will look like in 20 years? “Strategy is about knowing how to manage what you can’t control,” came the reply. Once the body, limb, needle, method and acupuncturist have all been identified, it still leaves the question: what is trying to be achieved? What chi is to be rebalanced? Periods of crisis and transition are inherently political, and philanthropists need to think politically—after all, the new regime might not be the same enemy as before—but this doesn’t mean they should necessarily act politically.  Philanthropy should support civil society, but it shouldn’t have to replace the government, with one Fellow warning against getting into the “neo-liberal position of funding what government should provide” (in this case, garbage collection). Just as new governments might not turn out to want as much change as the revolution hoped, not everyone in philanthropy wants social change and justice—some donors want stability and continuity.  After all, philanthropy writ large has no overarching guiding philosophy. It is a tool to catalyze change, not the catalyst itself. But at the same time, all donors—large and small, international and local—need to realize that by being in the field and acting in field means they are ultimately effecting the actions of the field.  You, the donor, the acupuncturist, with your needles of funding poking into various different areas and depths of a country, over various lengths of time, are changing the balance of the country’s chi, and affecting its transition, whether for better or worse.
Experience and knowledge shared at the Salzburg Global Seminar session ‘Philanthropy in Times of Crisis and Transition: Catalyzing Forces of Change’ will be expanded upon with further research for the upcoming publication on working in countries of crisis and transition to be published by the
Institute for Integrated Transitions and the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement in 2013.
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Mohamed Morsi: Leader of Egypt?
Mohamed Morsi: Leader of Egypt?
Lucky Gold, CNN 
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The Rule of Law in a Globalized World
The Rule of Law in a Globalized World
Salzburg Global Seminar Staff 
At a time when the world is undergoing a great deal of economic, political and social upheaval, there is more and more interest in, and argument about, the meaning of the rule of law and the proper role of law in society - issues examined last week at the Salzburg Global Seminar's five-day session on 'The Rule of Law in a Globalized World'. A series of panels during the week explored the particular implications of globalisation for the rule of law in different areas of practice areas, but in so doing also highlighted several unifying themes. Education, especially, was an issue that came up time and time again. Right from the start, Kenneth Dam from the University of Chicago, who chaired the session, stressed the need to break the topic down into separate legal fields and explore not only rules, but governance, the nature of law itself and what this means in different parts of the world. In international trade, former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills pointed to the great strides that have been made in reducing poverty and boosting transparency with the opening up of global markets under agreed rules, particularly since the founding of the World Trade Organization. This opening is, of course, far from complete. Alan Wolff, co-chair of Dewey & Le Boeuf's international trade practice group, pointed out that there is still much progress to be made in terms of liberalizing trade and investment around the world. As the stalling of the Doha Round shows, in many cases there is still a long way to go before emerging countries and the West are anywhere near reaching a consensus on certain trade issues. But in Hills's view education - or perhaps re-education - could help to break the deadlock, since it is partly caused by the least developed countries (LDCs)' lack of the necessary know-how to negotiate trade issues effectively. If better informed, she suggested, they might be better placed to understand the benefits available to them. The importance of education was also one of the main points emerging from the panel on the rule of law in the Middle East. In this case it is not so much the developing countries as the developed nations of the West that could benefit from being better informed about the Middle East, according to Azizah al-Hibri, founder and chair of Karamah - Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. If the West is to really understand the true causes and implications of the Arab Spring and what it means for the rule of law in this region, she argued, it needs to reject preconceived ideas, 'redefine its view of Islam and re-educate itself about the Islamic world'. As she explained, living in a globalized world has made this all the more essential: 'We are a global village now and we know that policies based on wrong assumptions have bad consequences. So perhaps it is time to look at each other more realistically and accurately, and this can only happen through knowledge, not through stereotypes.' As the Arab Spring itself demonstrated, modern technology has increased the flow of information around the world via the Internet and focused a spotlight on the rule of law across the Middle East. In more general terms, it is also interesting to note that the Internet has had a direct impact on the rule of law in relation to particular practice areas such as intellectual property (IP). As Johannes Christian Wichard, the head of global issues at the World International Property Organization, explained, international law-making has had a tough time keeping up with the sheer pace of digital advancement in recent years. In this sense, the challenges of controlling cyber space pose real questions about the future of IP protection and the rule of law in this sector. Moving away from practice-specific implications, globalization also has wider connotations for the rule of law in light of the pressures it places on businesses and financial institutions to adapt both their local and international operations to contend with new challenges. Both Peter Solmssen, general counsel at Siemens AG and Robert Shanks, of Raytheon, agreed that, in the business world, senior management is directly responsible both for enforcing the rule of law in the workplace and for creating a work ethos which prioritises compliance. As Solmssen went on to explain, his challenge, when brought in to "clean up" Siemens after the 2007 corruption scandal, was to 'change the entire culture of the company to make compliance a top priority.' He is also a firm believer that large companies like Siemens have a role to play in fighting corruption on a more universal level: They should look not only to enforce the rule of law in the way that they conduct business, he stressed, but also capitalise on their combined market power to help 'drive out corruption and promote transparency,' in the global marketplace as a whole. Meanwhile, the sessions on capital markets and emerging economies highlighted some of the immediate and continuing financial challenges faced in both developing and industrialised countries and what they mean for the overall development of the global market economy. Understandably, the prospects for development and growth in fragile states and low-income countries depend largely on a country's own particular economic and political circumstances. But, as Carlos Primo Braga, special representative and director for Europe External Affairs (EXT) at the World Bank, told us, if you look at the developing world as a whole you see that its fortunes are increasingly determined by the progress and stability of both middle-income countries (MICs) and so-called "booming" nations, such as China, India and Brazil, and their ability to manage their own growth effectively. Financial institutions themselves can also help promote the rule of law in the finance sector, says Michel Nussbaumer, chief counsel of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). 'We have seen that there is a strong correlation between good legislation for business and good market development. Those countries with better legislation seem to do better in market development, so by supporting legal reform in the commercial sphere, we also contribute to the commercial process,' he notes. Since 1991, the EBRD has worked to promote the transition of Central and Eastern European countries to a market economy. As a result of its success in Europe, the Bank is now expanding its operations to North Africa and the Middle East where, as Nussbaumer says, it will need to adopt new strategies for promoting the rule of law, tailored to the particular needs of this region. On the final day three working groups, which had working through the week in the intervals between panel discussions, presented their findings. These suggested that the very nature of the rule of law and its implications can mean very different things for different nations. Although, as chairman Dam noted, a consensus cannot be reached on what factors are absolutely essential to the rule of law, it is possible to agree on one thing: we can be optimistic that if we examine the core values of each society, we can establish both viable and aspirational goals for the rule of law in both developing and industrialised countries, as well as on a more international level, in a world which contends with the increasing and ever-evolving pressures and challenges of globalisation.
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VIDEOS

Libya, NATO and the Arab Spring
Perspectives from Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi

Perspectives on the Arab Spring protests
Maja Daruwala; Executive Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India on the significance of the Arab Spring in Asia.


Perspectives on the Arab Spring protests
Saad Eddin Ibrahim on, founder Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies & Trustee, Arab Democracy Foundation.