A new social contract for MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries: Experiences from Development and Social Policies
Bonn, 05.12.2016 until 06.12.2016
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR)
The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) hosted the third IPR-MENA social policy conference "A new social contract for MENA countries: Experiences from Development and Social Policies" on 5 and 6 December, in partnership with the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research.
Participants debated whether a ‘new social contract,’ derived from formal and informal agreements between the groups that make up a society and the government defining respective rights, expectations and obligations, could provide for socio-economic development and long-term political stability in the MENA region.
Several prominent policymakers and scholars gave keynote addresses at the conference. They included:
- Christiane Bögemann-Hagedorn, deputy director-general for the MENA region at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
- Muriel Calo, Resilience and Livelihoods Officer for the MENA at the UN World Food Programme;
- Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist for the MENA region at the World Bank;
- Steven Heydemann, Professor for Middle East Studies at Smith College in Northampton, MA;
- Nidal Katamine, former Jordanian Minister of Labour;
- Samar Muhareb, Director of ARDD-Legal Aid Organization in Jordan; and
- Arthur van Diesen, Regional Social Policy Adviser for the MENA at UNICEF.
Several keynote speakers also took part in a public discussion on the MENA social contract, held at the Deutsche Welle on 5 December and moderated by DIE Senior Researcher Markus Loewe. His Excellency Dr. Katamine sparked a lively debate by calling for Western countries development organizations to promote democracy in the MENA, including through intervention and sanctions. The other panelists and the audience preferred to emphasize the mutual obligations of local, national and international actors that are essential to the notion of a social contract.
The conference also included five panel sessions, each of three panels held in parallel, where around 40 academic papers were discussed. Topics ranged from conceptual understandings of the social contract to the impact of economic and social inequalities to governance issues to rural-urban divides to country case studies, including Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Libya.
The DIE’s MENA research team plans to include the best papers presented at the conference in a journal special issue on the new social contract in the MENA.