More than seven years have passed since the initial eruption of the Arab uprisings. The civil wars generated in their wake in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen have resulted in untold destruction and suffering, including massive internal and external displacement, and the reversal of years of economic development and social cohesion.
Looking forward, it is important to understand the ongoing dynamics that led these countries to where they now stand and the policies that best serve the objectives of peace-building and sustained development in the post-conflict phase.
With this in mind, the Economic Research Forum (ERF) launched a new multi-year research program on Conflict, Peace building and Post Conflict Transition in War Afflicted Arab Countries to help enhance the indigenous capacity for undertaking policy-oriented research in these countries as well as in the MENA region at large. In turn, this initiative should promote constructive knowledge-based policy dialogue among stakeholders in these conflict-afflicted societies, and, help them build consensus around national post-conflict development and state-building agendas.
In this context, ERF launched a call for papers to identify and select potential researchers, mainly drawn from, but not confined to, the four countries in question, which would constitute the core network for this new research theme. The research workshop will feature presentations of thematic papers, prepared by leading experts on topics of direct relevance to the current call, as well as additional presentations on related topics to be considered in subsequent phases of the research project. Additionally, the workshop will provide a platform for the presentation of nine selected proposals which will constitute the project’s first batch of research papers to be followed by planned future calls on related structured projects.
The workshop will address several conflict related issues including causes of conflict, transition from war to peace and the post-conflict economic agenda. These topics will be discussed in light of literature findings and available data. Grasping the causes of conflict is the first and most essential step towards understanding the requisites for a peaceful transition and solid rebuilding. Economic, political, and social literature has extensively explored various reasons for the uprisings and the descent into civil war, including political and economic grievance, social discord, loot motives, and even climate change.
While there is no doubt that the conflicts cannot be pinpointed to one particular cause, it is important to provide evidence for the most pertinent root of conflict to move forward with the other topics. Transition to peace is at the cornerstone of post-conflict development. Studying countries that have faced similar ordeals could be beneficial in mapping out realistic scenarios for future conflict prevention such as power sharing arrangements.
Finally, the post-conflict economic agenda is one of the most concrete issues that this workshop will tackle. This will include assessing the damage that the conflicts have created, in terms of economic cost and human cost as well. The focus will be on women and children, as the literature seems to suggest that the burden of post Arab Spring civil wars have been much more devastating for the civilian population than previous conflicts in Africa, Central Europe and Latin America. The post-conflict economic agenda should be framed around the overarching objective of rebuilding economic governance institutions in order to enhance social cohesion and address the grievances that led to the conflicts in the first place. It is pertinent to stress that equitable and sustainable post-conflict growth can only be achieved in a context of an explicit development strategy that targets such grievances.
The workshop aims to identify frontier policy-oriented research issues and methodologies in the region and enable cross fertilization and networking of international scholars and researchers abroad and in the Arab region in order to create a sub-network of researchers and a database of resource persons and institutions working on this theme.
The workshop will bring together around 50 participants over the course of three and a half days. Each session is structured so that ample time is left for an open discussion.