The School of Public Administration and Development Economics (SPADE) at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, is pleased to announce the Governance of public policies during and after conflicts in the Middle East conference, which will be held on the 4th and 5th of April 2021 in Doha, Qatar.
The second decade of the twenty-first century was marked by historic changes across the Arab region, as popular movements emerged by December 2010 and onwards, with demands of dignity, freedom, and justice in what came to be known as the so-called 'Arab Spring revolutions. This set of various events aimed to get rid of authoritarian and corrupt regimes in their various forms. However, most of these popular revolutions did not reach their objective of establishing a better national governance system. Some uprisings led instead to violent conflicts that have claimed the lives of millions and afflicted the national economies everywhere armed conflicts occurred, and sometimes spilled over into neighboring countries, although the latter did not necessarily experience any national armed conflicts.
As part of the consequences that can occur in times of large-scale armed conflicts or civil wars, a national state apparatus may collapse, either completely or partially, and the ability of its state agencies to provide services and implement public policies may rapidly decline or simply come to a halt, even during an early, 'twilight zone' stage. Armed conflicts between political, religious and/or ethnic groups over the control of state apparatus, which suffers from fragility, have led to the shattering of social, economic and political structures as well as the heavy losses of lives, and the displacement of millions. The governance of energy resources and energy provision is of particular important. Energy resources have constituted the backbone of the economic development in a number of MENA countries, from Algeria and Libya to Iraq, Iran and the Gulf states; and have constituted significant sources of government revenues in other MENA countries, as in Egypt with natural gas, as in Syria with oil and as in Yemen with both of these resources prior to the current wars.
From this standpoint, this call raises the issue of the governance of public policies during and after conflicts in the Middle East. The main questions considered here are: how are public policies made in times of war? What are the public policy governance frameworks during and after conflicts in the region? Who are the main actors and influencers in making and implementing public policies during and after these conflicts? Also, how are mobilized the various resources needed to implement public policies? What are the roles that non-conflict actors play in mitigating the effects of war on societies? What are their challenges?
Indeed, a common feature of conflicts and wars is that the separation between state and non-state actors is not clear. These include international organizations, foreign governments, government-allied militias, rebel groups, and terrorist organizations on the one hand, as well as social and individual initiatives, NGOs and the private sector within the so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), on the other hand. In addition, the repercussions of wars constitute a heavy humanitarian burden put on the shoulders of the third sector organizations, non-governmental organizations broadly speaking, and the private sector.
While most of the theories and approaches that seek to study the phenomenon of making and implementing public policies focus on peace and stability, studying this phenomenon in times of wars and conflicts becomes more complex. There may be a conflict about the legitimacy of power between the conflicting parties, and, at times, various actors may have to fill in the sovereignty gap in the exercise of key state functions through local groups, religious authorities, tribes and clans. This may extend to warlords and terrorist organizations linked to political, social, military, or economic networks operating at the local, regional, and global levels.
Political settlements to conflicts and wars may provide opportunities for change and the state's resumption of its sovereign, security and service functions, but the state of stability is often limited, and the post-war phase may be more complex at times than the war itself, as the repercussions of war may clearly appear once the war itself is over, and sometimes decades might be needed to remedy these and return to a new state of normality. Moreover, many political settlements for wars are carried out according to negotiations that are coordinated by foreign actors, while local ownership of national dialogues based on the legitimacy of local values, common beliefs and locally-accepted power relations hold the potential to be more effective guarantor of stability and state building in the post-war era.
In the post-war era, states seek to build or rebuild their governmental apparatus while dealing with governmental and non-governmental forces with interests that may be divergent or even conflicting. Therefore, building a professional bureaucracy and better organization of social structures, as well as legal clarity of social rights are among the guarantees through which these conflicting interests can be dealt with.
Based on the above, this call for contributions include the following research sub-areas and themes for writing either theoretical or more empirically grounded papers:
- The governance of public policies in Arab or MENA countries experiencing direct conflicts (reality and challenges).
- The public policies relating to energy in particular and the energy-related public policy governance frameworks and institutional arrangements made during and after conflicts.
- The role of regional and international actors in the governance of public policies in the conflict and non-conflict Arab countries.
- Networks of actors, governmental actors and non-state actors in the process of making and implementing public policies during and after conflicts and the challenges facing these groups.
- Techniques for mobilizing the various resources needed to implement public policies during and after conflicts.
- A comparison of policymaking and the development of the energy sector in countries currently affected by civil wars.
- The agency and roles played by non-fighting groups in times of conflict in terms of mitigating the effects of war over society, and the difficulties they face;
- A comparative approach to the sovereignty gap during wars and how to exercise the main state functions.
- National dialogues, transitional stages, and the outline of public policies and the space for their implementation.
- The complexities of wars and their repercussions in terms of governance of public policies during the post-war period.
- Conflict of interests between different and conflicting parties in the post-war period and comprehensive reconstruction plans in post-war countries.
- Legal and constitutional frameworks to ensure social and transitional justice in the post-war phase and guarantees for the implementation of public policies.
- Cases from outside the Arab region to extract lessons learned and for comparative purposes are welcome.
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