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Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa

Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa
Overview

The Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) is developing a series of meetings and program activities focused on Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa. The series will provide 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, SGS will facilitate 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?

As countries across North Africa and the Middle East undertake distinctive paths toward reform, the mechanisms of transformation in different arenas – political, social, economic, etc. – require new models, new ways of working, and new actors who can articulate a vision of reform and chart a path for achieving it. With a view to strengthening the capacity of leaders and institutions in the region, the SGS seeks to contribute to these reform processes by inviting a cross-section of civil society leaders, opinion- and policy-makers, and activists to engage in 1) discussion with counterparts from regions/countries in other parts of the world that have undergone major reform processes; 2) networking with counterparts from other countries within the MENA region; and 3) strategic planning in cooperation with each other at country level.

Activities

Are ‘Universal Principles’ Universal After All? Lessons from the Arab Revolt of 2011
June 2011 - A special short seminar, linked to the SGS Board of Directors’ meeting, focused on the changes occurring in the region. In addition, a special brainstorming meeting was held on the proposed Middle East and North Africa initiative with some ten key Middle East experts in attendance. Videos from the session

The Rule of Law in a Globalized World: Why it Matters
Aug. 2011 - This session was conducted under the auspices of the newly created Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law, continuing and reviving a long tradition of Salzburg seminars on legal issues. The program focused on the critical need to strengthen the rule of law in emerging economies, and included a panel specifically on The Rule of Law in the Middle East. Session summary

The Challenges of Transition: Sharing Experience
Dec. 2011 - This program will convene select emerging leaders, decision-makers and/or opinion-shapers from transition countries in the MENA region – people who are playing key roles in the political upheaval and/or are likely to have key responsibilities in the far-reaching process of reform which will inevitably follow. In addition, people who have played similar roles in democratic transitions elsewhere will join these emerging leaders to describe their experiences as instigators and managers of change, presenting a range of models and approaches, highlighting both successes and failures, and answering questions.

Egypt Leading Change: What Role for Regional and International Cooperation?
March 2012 - Recognizing that Egypt plays a critical leadership role as an example in the MENA region, this meeting will gather members of the Salzburg Global Fellowship in Egypt and neighbouring countries, alongside a wider group of emerging leaders in the country and the region. The meeting will take up the themes developed in the December session and build on them, but with a particular focus on the role or roles that can most usefully be played through cross-border cooperation.

Political Reform and Social Transformation: Strengthening the Core of Civil Society and Women’s Leadership
Sept. 2012 - The seminar will provide an opportunity for those at the forefront of reshaping their societies to compare experiences and craft new strategies to strengthen civil society and ensure women’s full participation. It will focus on two central pillars of creating more open and just societies: 1) Strengthening civil society through appropriate legal and policy frameworks and institutional capacity building; and 2) Securing women's full and equal participation in decision making across all sectors.


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