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  • Author: Zied Boussen, Mohammed Islam Mbarki
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Tunisian youth are no different from their peers across the world when it comes to their indifference to public life. This apathy towards politics is not new; it goes back before 14 January Revolution. A 2008 national survey of youth showed that around 83% of Tunisian youth were not concerned with politics and 64% were not concerned with elections or joining civil society associations. Nonetheless, the Tunisian youth surprised observers and played an essential role in the revolution that led to the fall of Ben Ali. Immediately after, however, they returned to their position of indifference. The political tensions and episodes of instability that accompanied the democratic transition disappointed the youth greatly and led to apathy towards politics in all its forms. Successive elections were the most glaring example of this attitude: the youth abandoned the ballots and stopped taking initiatives of political work, either as candidates or as voters. The rise of Kais Saied as a presidential candidate seemed to have reignited the Tunisian youth’s interest in politics. They walked with him through all the stages of his elections. They led his most unusual campaign at the smallest cost; they confronted media attacks against him and provided him with alternative and new media platforms that improved his image. This support brought the youth and Kais Saied closer together. Saied also showed great understanding of the youth’s economic and social demands and gave them priority. He shared their anger at the political establishment, so they decided to stand by him to punish the establishment that they see as the source of their successive disappointments. The results of the presidential elections, in which one candidate won the bulk of the votes of the youth participating in the elections, generated many questions about the reasons for the youth’s support of Kais Saied, and the hopes that they hanged on him. What can we infer from this experience that can benefit the youth political participation generally? How does this experience help us understand the actual needs that push young people to participate in public life?
  • Topic: Political Activism, Elections, Youth, Participation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Joelle M. Abi-Rached, Pascale Salameh
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: As countries begin to roll out vaccination for COVID-19, the Lebanese caretaker government has yet to provide details about its vaccination strategy, raising concerns about its ability to provide vaccines due to the country’s economic and governance crisis. This paper, written by public health professionals, raises a number of questions about the vaccination strategy that the government should address and calls for an open, inclusive, and transparent process to placate the worries of citizens given the privatization and politicization of the country’s health sector.
  • Topic: Public Health, Vaccine, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Stephen J. King
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: After independence, Algeria’s ruling elites chose to suppress identity issues because they saw diversity as a source of division and a threat to their hold on power. The Hirak has challenged the official narrative and called for an overhaul of the established regime, but issues of Black Algerians and anti-black racism still remain absent from public debates. This paper discusses the absence of Black Algerians in on-going debates about democratization, national identity, and belonging in Algeria, and suggests ways in which to address this exclusion.
  • Topic: Discrimination, Black Politics, Exclusion , Identity, Racism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria
  • Author: Yasmina Abouzzohour
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Oman is often portrayed as an “oasis of peace” that is immune to dissent. In fact, this assertion is an oversimplification and this paper provides a more discerning analysis of the relationship between the regime and opposition actors – such as youth groups, industrial workers, and intellectuals – that have led contestations in the last decade. It overviews the Omani political context, highlights recent episodes of contestation, and examines how the regime successfully contained them. It argues that in the coming years, the regime is likely to face heightened discontent triggered by socioeconomic hardship and it will be essential for the authorities to open the political sphere and stop repressing free speech.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Social Movement, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Theo Rauch, Michael Brüntrup
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a widely held consensus that it will not be possible to feed the world without the help of the smallholders of Africa, Latin America and Asia, who number up to 570 million farms or 2 billion people. Given the sheer size of this figure alone, the sustainable development of smallholder farming will be key to achieving a range of other sustainability goals.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Global South
  • Author: Katharina Krings, Jakob Schwab
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: While blockchain technology (BT) has gained a great deal of publicity for its use in cryptocurrencies, another area of BT application has emerged away from the public eye, namely supply chains. Due to the increasing fragmentation and globalisation of supply chains in recent years, many products have to pass through countless production steps worldwide (from raw material extraction to the point of sale). Ensuring the quality and sustainability of production in preceding steps is a major challenge for many firms and thus, ultimately, also for the consumer. BT offers potential for achieving significant progress on this front. Put simply, the blockchain makes it possible to verify data decentralised within a network, store it in a tamper-proof and traceable format and make it accessible to all members of a network.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Cryptocurrencies, Sustainability, Blockchain
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniele Malerba
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: To avoid catastrophic effects on natural and human systems, bold action needs to be taken rapidly to mitigate climate change. Despite this urgency, the currently implemented and planned climate mitigation policies are not sufficient to meet the global targets set in Paris in 2015. One reason for their current inadequate rollout is their perceived negative distributional effects: by increasing the price of goods, climate mitigation policies may increase both poverty and inequality. In addition, they may disrupt labour markets and increase unemployment, especially in sectors and areas dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, public protests in many countries have so far blocked or delayed the implementation of climate policies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Policy Implementation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mario Negre
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: With inequality reduction now being officially and broadly recognised as a key development objective with its own Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 10), there is a need for simple, economical and quick methodologies with which to focus on this area and assess progress. This paper presents such a methodology, which allows a rough assessment of the potential impacts of development cooperation on income, consumption and wealth inequality. This is important, as a rigorous causal analysis of the contribution development cooperation makes to reducing a partner country’s inequality is complex and costly. First, the relative contribution of targeted development cooperation programmes and projects to the economies of partner countries tends to be small (though admittedly not in all cases). Second, a myriad of factors contribute to changes in inequality in any given country, and assessing the impact of all of them is a complex, imprecise, time-consuming and resource-intensive exercise.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Inequality, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Max Otto Baumann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a case to be made for greater transparency of the United Nations’ (UN) development work at the country level. Transparency can, in the simplest terms, be defined as the quality of being open to public scrutiny. Despite improvements in recent years, UN organisations still only partially meet this standard. Only the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and, with limitations, the World Food Programme (WFP) systematically publish basic project parameters such as project documents, funding data and evaluations. Others do not even publish project lists. Only the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) publishes evaluations – a key source on performance – in an easily accessible way next to programme or project information. Lack of project transparency constitutes not only a failure to operate openly in an exemplary way, as should be expected of the UN as a public institution with aspirations to play a leadership role in global development. It also undermines in very practical ways the development purposes that UN organisations were set up for: It reduces their accountability to the stakeholders they serve, including executive boards and local actors; it hampers the coordination of aid activities across and beyond the UN; and it undermines the learning from both successes and failures.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Transparency, World Food Program (WFP)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Laryssa Chomiak
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: At the 10-year anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution, which toppled decades of dictatorship and repositioned discussions about democracy across the Middle East and North Africa, the democratic transition in Tunisia is in flux, or rather at an impasse. On the one hand, Tunisia is celebrated as the lone democratic success story of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, based on multiple cycles of free and fair elections. On the other hand, serious domestic political agitation over the last decade, coupled with deep structural inequalities and a rise in public perceptions of corruption in government, has nearly derailed its course towards democratic consolidation and stability. Democratisation in Tunisia has hinged on the widely celebrated mechanism of consensus among political adversaries in parliament, and among key political and civil society actors. Yet, instead of achieving consensus on critical political and economic-structural reforms, compromise-based arrangements have fallen apart due to intense party infighting, regular resignations of governments, and enormous public pressure resulting from a stagnating economy and lack of vision for comprehensive and equitable economic reform. The effect has been sustained infighting over economic and social policy, which in turn has resulted in diminishing public trust in political parties and new democratic institutions, an all-time low level of satisfaction with the government’s performance and a significant rise in contentious politics, particularly between 2019 and 2021. The proliferation of micro-parties (209 registered political parties for a population of 11.8 million) has resulted in confusion among the electorate, while the economic reality of a suffocating international debt crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has rendered levels of public trust in government to an all-time low.
  • Topic: Reform, Democracy, Arab Spring, Revolution, Transition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia