The Summary of this paper dated 9 September 2019 is reproduced for all intents and purposes below and the paper can be read online or as a Download PDF (opens in new window)
In the Middle East and North Africa, a growing number of internationally recognized (de jure) states with formal borders and governments lack de facto statehood. Often, governance vacuums are filled by alternative actors that perform state-like functions in place of, or alongside, weakened official institutions. This results in hybrid orders where the distinction between formal and informal actors in the state is blurred, as too are the lines between the formal, informal and illicit economies.
International policymakers have struggled to establish political settlements in these contexts. Would-be state-builders have mistakenly assumed a binary distinction between state failure and success. They have sought to recreate an idealized archetype of the ‘orderly’ state, critically failing to recognize the more complex networks of de facto actors on the ground. At times, international policymakers pick or support leaders who lack local legitimacy, capability and power. This stalls and fragments ongoing organic state transformations, and produces hybrid orders as de facto actors adapt by both capturing state institutions and creating parallel ones.
We propose a new model for understanding the fragmentary transformations of the state underway in Iraq and Yemen. It involves the concept of a multi-layered state, consisting of the executive, the formal bureaucracy, the de facto authorities and society at large. The gap in legitimacy, capability and power between the middle two layers in this model – the formal bureaucracy and the de facto authorities – is a critical source of instability and an impediment to reform. Bridging that gap is thus the key to effective peacebuilding and/or state-building.
This paper argues that all states lie along a chaos–order spectrum. No state is entirely chaotic or orderly. Even those that display many features of chaos – as in Iraq and Yemen – contain pockets of order that are all too often overlooked. The larger the gap between the formal bureaucracy and the de facto authorities, the more a state slides towards the chaos end of the spectrum. Effective state-building must find a way of institutionalizing improvised governance arrangements.
To achieve this, we advocate a ‘middle–out’ approach that aims to strengthen the connective tissues between the bureaucracy and de facto authorities. Simplified, this more inclusive approach entails reframing international involvement as playing the role of a ‘referee’ to monitor the transformations of the state while enforcing accountability, as opposed to the practice of picking ‘winners’ and integrating unfavoured actors into unpopular political settlements.
In AFRICATECH of August 22, 2019; More deals, less conflict? Wondered Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation whilst Cross-border water planning key, report warns.
LONDON, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Efforts to share rivers, lakes, and aquifers that cross national boundaries are falling short, raising a growing risk of conflict as global water supplies run low, researchers warned on Thursday.
Fewer than one in three of the world’s transboundary rivers and lake basins and just nine of the 350 aquifers that straddle more than one country have cross-border management systems in place, according to a new index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
With more than half the world’s population likely to live in water-scarce areas by 2050 and 40 percent dependent on transboundary water, that is a growing threat, said Matus Samel, a public policy consultant with the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“Most transboundary basins are peaceful, but the trend is that we are seeing more and more tensions and conflict arising,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
When work began on the index, which looks at five key river basins around the world from the Mekong to the Amazon, researchers thought they would see hints of future problems rather than current ones, Samel said.
Instead, they found water scarcity was becoming a “very urgent” issue, he said. “It surprised me personally the urgency of some of the situation some of these basins are facing.”
Population growth, climate change, economic and agricultural expansion and deforestation are all placing greater pressures on the world’s limited supplies of water, scientists say.
As competition grows, some regions have put in place relatively effective bodies to try to share water fairly, the Economist Intelligence Unit report said.
Despite worsening drought, the Senegal River basin, shared by West African nations including Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania, has held together a regional water-governance body that has attracted investment and support, Samel said.
Efforts to jointly govern the Sava River basin, which crosses many of the once warring nations of the former Yugoslavia in southeast Europe, have also been largely successful, he said.
But replicating that is likely to be “a huge challenge” in conflict-hit basins, such as along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq and Syria, Samel said.
Still, even in tough political situations, “there are ways … countries and local governments and others can work together to make sure conflicts do not emerge and do not escalate,” he said.
“The benefits of cooperation go way beyond direct access to drinking water,” he said. “It’s about creating trust and channels for communication that might not otherwise exist.”
‘NO EASY SOLUTIONS’
The report suggests national leaders make water security a priority now, link water policy to other national policies, from agriculture to trade, and put in place water-sharing institutions early.
“There are no easy solutions or universal solutions,” Samel warned. “But there are lessons regions and basins can learn and share.”
The index has yet to examine many hotspots, from the Nile River and Lake Chad in Africa to the Indus river system in India and Pakistan, but Samel said it would be expanded in coming years.
Working toward better shared water management is particularly crucial as climate change brings more drought, floods, and other water extremes, said Alan Nicol, who is based in Ethiopia for the International Water Management Institute.
“Knowing how a system works effectively helps you know what to do in the face of a massive drought or flood event – and we should expect more extreme weather,” he said.
While efforts to coordinate water policy with other national and regional policies and priorities are crucial, the key missing element in shoring up water security is political will, he said.
“We’ve been talking about this kind of integrated water management for 30 years,” he said. “The problem is practicing it. And that’s essentially a political problem.”
Reporting by Laurie Goering @lauriegoering; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking, and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate
In this long plea where he begins by paying homage to the Algerian youth, Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul analyses the handicaps, both political and economic, which overwhelm Algeria despite its immense potential. Then projecting himself into the perspective, he evokes the scenarios of the future and pleads with a lot of arguments and a great conviction, for “an indispensable global reform” (…) by flattening the differences through dialogue and consultation. He notably insists that The cries Algeria’s youth for a profound change must be heard.
So, here is this contribution from Prof.Abderrahmane Mebtoul, Economist, International Expert as posted on AFRICAPRESSE. PARIS on March 5, 2019, in French.
The strong mobilization of 22 February and 1st March implies a good analysis of the aspirations of civil society. Certainly not the rentier living in the salons, but the one that we saw on the street, the youth who does not want to be recovered.
The lesson given to the leader of the
Workers’ Party, which was booed, should serve as lessons. At a time when the
world is experiencing political, social and economic upheavals, where Algeria
is being challenged by some 70% of its population claiming genuine democratic
reforms – a condition of harmonious and sustainable development in the face of
the relentless globalization – we must pay a great homage to our youth who have
not experienced the drama of the years 1990-1999, and yet want a change.
Let us salute its political maturity
and peaceful marches without violence, where political parties in all
tendencies have played no role in mobilizing. Let us also salute our security
forces who have managed in a modern way these events which must be meditated
profoundly by the parties of power and their satellites – weakly
representative, not to say non-representative – as well as by any of the
opposition, which was off-track.
A partisan system disconnected from
According to some sources, the number
of political parties is approaching sixty, often with unnatural alliances,
whereas in democratic countries these alliances are made by ideological
affinity and a clear programme.
Also, except for ten of them, the
others show a formal and ostentatious presence in the elections… Furnishing
the emptiness, powerless almost always to act on the course of things and to
articulate clearly the concerns and aspirations of the real society.
Because of the internal crises that
periodically shake them, the discredit that strikes the majority of them, the
defiance of them and the partisan activism, the current political formations
today have a low capacity to carry out a work of mobilization and efficient
management, to contribute significantly to the political socialising, and thus
to make an effective contribution to the work of national recovery.
As proof, the last parliamentary
elections, both 2012 and 2017: considering the null and official data of the
Ministry of the Interior, the 3/4 of the Algerian population are not
represented by the elected officials.
The discredit which strikes political
groups, both from the power and from the opposition, must give way to credible,
non-artificially created formations, subject therefore to the possibility of an
objective assessment of the status and role which must be theirs in a society
that aspires to join the ranks of democratic societies. These formations will
have to be more capable of mobilizing society than in the years to come,
reforms – long deferred to guarantee a fictitious, transient social peace –
will be very painful.
An atomized civil society with an
Civil society in Algeria is
shattered. Contrary to the accepted and illusory ideas of past years, in a
context of social disintegration and “satellite TV” youth, most
official religious brotherhoods have less and less impact.
On the other hand, the confusion that
currently prevails in the national association movement makes it difficult to
devise a strategy to take into account and mobilize it. Its diversity, the
politico-ideological currents that pass through it and its complex relationship
to society and the State add to this confusion and make imperative an urgent
reflection for its restructuring, its current state reflecting the major
fractures have occurred in the national political system. Thus, it will soon be
divided into four fundamentally different civil societies: three at the level
of the real sphere and one dominant in the informal sphere.
The most important segment of this
civil society, the privileged and often unique interlocutor of the public authorities,
is constituted by appendages of power, located on the periphery of the parties
in power and whose officials are sometimes deputies, senators, living in large
part of the transfer of the rentier annuity. In fact, those who pride
themselves on mobilizing millions of voters live in air-conditioned lounges,
disconnected from society.
The second segment is that of a civil
society frankly rooted in the Islamist movement, with there also appendages of
legal Islamic parties.
The third segment is that of a civil
society claiming the democratic movement. Poorly structured, despite the
relatively large number of associations that comprise it, and undermined by
contradictions in relation, among others, with the question of leadership. For
these first three civil societies, their impact on the turnout in the last
local and legislative elections, despite their accession, was relatively low.
We finally have an informal,
unorganized, totally atomized civil society. It is by far the most active and
important, as well as we saw on February 22nd and the 1st March 2019, with
precise codifications forming a dense mesh.
Without the intelligent integration
of this informal sphere – not by authoritarian bureaucratic measures, but by
the involvement of society itself – it will not be necessary to rely on a real
dynamism of civil society. Because when a state wants to impose its own rules
disconnected from social practices, the society has its own rules that allow it
to function with its own organizations.
Three scenarios for Algeria from 2019
The dynamism of the partisan system
and of civil society in order to make it an effective instrument of the framing
of forces and a powerful lever of their mobilization is likely to succeed only
if the movement that composes it, is not in the service of ambitions personal
unmentionable and sometimes dubious.
We can foresee the different
scenarios possible depending on the state of the power relations at the
internal level, considering the evolution of the strategy of the actors at the
The first scenario: failure of the reform process.
The conditions of failure are real
and combined in the legal and economic environment in case of lack of
visibility and coherence in the economic and social approach. Risk accentuated
by the annuitants at the internal level and certain segments of external actors
maintaining informal relations and who are not interested in deepening the
reforms (loss of contracts in case of transparent tender notices).
On the other hand, the ambiguity of
legal texts allows for the legal blockade of reforms, while the multiplicity of
speakers allows for the confusion of prerogatives. Other parameters
contributing to the risk of failure: the fragility of internal private
investment capacity, stabilization plans that have made forced savings to the
detriment of the average layers that have impoverished; the mistrust generated
by internal and external investors through continual changes in legislation,
while the stability must be rigorous; populist speeches on account settlements
on the sensitive subject of taxation, and finally the high pressure of a
fraction of the internal and external actors linked to the interests of the
annuity, that to preserve protectionist postures because the liberalisation
Destroyed a fraction of the annuity.
The second scenario is the status quo.
It would lead to the regression for both social and physical, the world being in perpetual motion. This hypothesis will prepare the conditions of failure by imputing the current social conditions (poverty and unemployment) to reforms, which, except macroeconomic stabilization, are timid in Algeria (microeconomic and institutional reforms, Issues of future years), or to technical bodies while petrol is the absence of political will (neutralization of power relations).
This status quo will participate in a
programmed failure and would be suicidal for the future of the economy and
Algerian society. This is maintained by the confusion of some concepts
assimilating false reforms to the sale of national heritage.
Thus, according to the proponents of
this analysis, the reforms would be dictated by the major global oil companies,
the IMF and the World Bank. A posture reminding us of the Times of the
Inquisition against those who advocated the market economy and the
establishment of democracy.
The third scenario is the success of solidarity-specific political and economic reforms as contained in the legal, economic and political environment of Algeria, thanks to a youth increasingly aware of the country’s future issues.
The rupture of the previous system, in view of historical experiences, only occurred through violent but short-lived revolutions. Successful experiences have shown that the gradualist pathway inserting the Conservatives into a reformist dynamic has involved a profound redevelopment of the structures of power and new people acquired in the reforms with cultural demystification, the devastating rumours in the opinion are only the translation of the weakness of the communication system, especially in Algeria where the oral route is predominant.
There is, therefore, therefore, an
urgent need for close cooperation between the supporters of the reforms, the
political parties, the associations and, in general, all civil society, the
administration, public and private enterprises, the collectives of Workers,
trade unions, flattening differences through dialogue and consultation.
The goal will be to make the
strategic objective emerge through a symbiosis of individual interests and
collective interest, showing that the medium-term winners of the reforms will
be more numerous than the short-term losers.
The support of external actors for
their interests in order to avoid the negative effects of the Destabilisation,
but above all the mobilisation of the favorable internal actors because no
country can make the reforms in our place, the fate of Algeria is in the hands
of Algerian and Algerian.
Algeria, an indispensable actor for
Euro-Mediterranean and African stability, can lead to a process of inseparable
reforms of a profound democratisation of its society. In the business world,
feelings do not exist, only reforms will allow economic growth and the
reduction of the nagging problems of unemployment and poverty. Any obstacle to
these reforms only decreases the rate of growth, increases the country’s
insecurity and, Over there, contributes to social and political
destabilization. Time being money, any delay in the process of reforms could
result in more important social costs that could be supported by the most
A strategic vision to surpass a
It is time to have foresight in the
medium and long term, in order to correct the mistakes of the past, like
navigating on sight by ignoring the aspirations of society.
The strategic question is: shall we
go towards a real salutary change by reorganizing society, due to the global
geostrategic upheavals announced between 2019-2025-2030 or, thanks to the
passive distribution of the annuity, shall we simply replaster, postponing the
inevitable social tensions?
These are important enough reasons to
seriously consider reorganizing the partisan system and civil society so that
they can fulfil the function that is them in any democratic political system
that reconciles modernity with our authenticity, far from administrative
The redesign of the state, including
administration, integration of the informal sphere, reforms of financial,
fiscal, customs and socio-educational systems, new mechanisms of regulation and
social cohesion, optimisation of the effect of public expenditure and the new
management of infrastructures based on the rationalization of budget choices…
and pose the problem of the future of the Algerian economy so as to reconnect
it with growth and, consequently, to alleviate unemployment.
As I have often recalled, in this
month of February 2019 – and this is not today – Algeria is going through a crisis
of governance, which implies having a strategic vision of the future of Algeria
on the 2030 horizon.
Algeria needs for its national and
international credibility, geostrategic tensions at the level of the region and
the inevitable budgetary tensions between 2019-2020-2025 to bring all its
children into their diversity and not to divide us, requiring a minimum of
economic and social consensus that could not mean unanimism, a sign of
decadence of any society in order to stabilise the social body.
The reforms – beyond the natural
resistance of the pensioners – by rehabilitating good governance (the fight
against corruption, in concrete terms and not only by legislation) and human
capital, are the basis for development. The cries of youth in these months of
February and March 2019 for a profound change must be heard so that Algeria can
meet the challenges of the 21st century characterized, in this constantly
interdependent world, by major geostrategic upheavals in the security,
economic, political, social and cultural fields.
Faced with the inevitable budgetary
tensions and the geostrategic stakes of 2019-2025-2030, the success of the
reforms must be based on four axes: gathering, rebasing of the state,
democratisation and economic reforms accommodating economic efficiency and
profound social justice.
From Brussels to Basra, gilets jaunes have brought visibility to people and their grievances per Jon Henley, The Guardian’s European affairs correspondent published on December 21, 2018, is the story of a movement that is increasingly apparent throughout the world and in particular in the MENA region .
Within days the campaign had
gathered 200,000 backers and spawned hundreds of local spinoffs across the
country; two weeks later, a video urging motorists to display their hi-vis
yellow vests behind their windscreens in solidarity garnered 4m views.
The gilets jaunes, named
after the vest drivers are required to carry in their vehicles, were born, and
since 17 November, the movement’s first nationwide day of action, its
sustained, sometimes violent protests have rocked France.
But not only France.
Mostly leaderless, unstructured and organised on social media, “yellow vest”
demonstrations have multiplied internationally, from Belgium to Bulgaria,
Serbia to Sweden and Israel to Iraq.
The popular anti-establishment
insurrection by France’s squeezed middle, living mostly in rural or
deindustrialised areas and small or medium-sized towns far from the globalised
cities where the wealth of the 21st century is increasingly concentrated, has
found a global echo.
As in France, where it has
overwhelming public support, these diverse national movements have brought together
people with disparate demands and political views but one overriding and common
complaint: they cannot make ends meet.
“If the hike in the price of
fuel triggered the yellow vest movement, it was not the root cause,” said the geographer Christophe Guilluy. “The
anger runs deeper, the result of an economic and cultural relegation that began
in the 80s … Western elites have gradually forgotten a people they no longer
Cheap, readily available,
easily identifiable and above all representing an obligation imposed by the
state, the the yellow hi-vis vest itself has proved an inspired choice of
symbol and has plainly played a big part in the movement’s rapid spread.
“The point, remember, of the
yellow vest is to ensure its wearer is visible on the road,” Guilluy said. “And
whatever the outcome of this conflict, the gilets jaunes have won in terms of
what really counts: the war of cultural representation. Working-class and lower
middle-class people are visible again.”
The revolt spread first to French-speaking Belgium, where
400 people have been arrested over the past few weeks as police used teargas
and water cannon to disperse crowds pelting them with flares, cobblestones and
billiard balls, and setting cars and trucks alight in Brussels, Charleroi, and
Dismissive, like their
counterparts in France, of all their country’s established parties, Belgium’s
gilets jaunes, who have demanded the resignation of the prime minister,
Charles Michel,aim to launch a Mouvement citoyen belge (Belgian
citizens’ movement)to compete innext year’s European and
Belgian federal elections.
There have been largely peaceful
yellow vest protests in half a dozen Dutch cities including Rotterdam, where marcher Ieneke
Lambermont said her children had to “pay taxes everywhere, and can’t get
housing anymore”. Things were “not going well in Dutch society”, she said. “The
social welfare net we grew up with is gone.”
In Italy an anti-austerity,
anti-EU protest group inspired by the gilets jaunes has garnered thousands of supporters online and
plans a large rally in January, while in Spain Facebook groups of chalecos
amarillos plan to begin demonstrating in Madrid in the new year because
“it’s worse here than in France”.
Protesters wearing yellow vests in Bulgaria, the
EU’s poorest member, have blocked major roads including the border crossings
with Turkey and Greece, demanding not just cheaper fuel and higher living
standards but the departure of a government they likened to “the mafia”.
A civil rights organisation and far-right
politicians have adopted yellow vests – for different reasons – in Serbia,
while beyond Europe gilets jaunes protests have also occurred in Canada (over the UN migration pact), Israel and Jordan (over corruption and the high
cost of living).
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Here are the wise words of the guru-to-be named Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for the Advancement of Human Rights and Global Dialogue. These words are more likely to be of some use in the MENA region where there are presently numerous “Challenges ahead for the fourth estate.”
Media has the power to transform societies through enhancing enlightenment and active citizenry. Observers occasionally refer tothe media as the fourth estate owing to its influential role to furtherenhancing the plurality of opinions and ideas. A free press is indispensablefor facilitating good governance and transparency. It strengthens theaccountability of governments as citizens can critically assess the activitiesof incumbents through information provided by the media. It is indispensablefor facilitating good governance and transparent societies.
Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights defends
freedom of expression and the right to information. It enables press freedom to
become a reality: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been quoted as saying
that “the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr.”
However, significant challenges lie ahead limiting freedom of the press.
Firstly, journalists have had at times to pay a high toll for the expression of
truth as they see it. Thus according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than
1,300 journalists have been killed since 1992. Among these victims,
approximately 65% were murdered, 22% perished owing to crossfire and combat,
whereas 12% lost their lives owing to dangerous assignments. Many of those
deaths remain unresolved and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice as “complete
impunity” prevails in more than 80% of the cases.
The 2017 World Press Freedom report issued by
Reporters Without Borders likewise suggests that violent extremism has put
significant constraints on the ability of the press to operate freely and carry
out their duties. The conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria, the report
underlines, have enabled insurgents to create black holes for reporting.
Journalists have the right to work free from the
threat of violence and free from the threat of fear in their capacity as
transmitters of information to the public. Their lives should not be put at
stake for merely putting Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration into
Secondly, the accountability of media needs to be
strengthened so that it represents the public’s interests. After the so-called
“War on Terror”, hate speech and online bigotry have rapidly been on the
rise targeting specifically religious minorities. This has been followed by a
misconceived conflation between terrorism, Islam and the Arab identity, which
has given rise to marginalization, bigotry and discrimination.
In the context where social media contributes to
the dissemination of fake news without accountability, traditional media have
an important role to play to promote awareness of false and inaccurate
information. They may enlighten world public opinion by offering alternative
narratives on contentious issues contributing to plurality of views and
offering a voice to the voiceless.
At the 25 June 2018 World Conference on “Religions,
Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”
held at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) under the Patronage of HRH
Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, it was suggested
by the panellists to better harness the power of media by promoting positive
stories about religion and culture.
It was also proposed that we, as global citizens,
should never fear the stranger as differences enrich our societies. Media can
play a more influential role in addressing prevailing misconceptions and
misunderstandings that exist between people. The use of contemporary phobic
language triggering social exclusion and religious intolerance is a threat to
democracy and to diversity. Incitements to hatred, violence and bigotry should
be condemned as it exacerbates religious divisions within communities. It also
gives rise to a populistic tidal wave that is taking root in several countries.
Media has a “moral and social responsibility”
in “combating discrimination and in promoting intercultural understanding
(…)” as stipulated in Principle 9 of the Camden Principles on Freedom
of Expression and Equality. By reversing the trend of offering simplistic and
misconceived generalizations not grounded in reality, media can become a
catalyst for social inclusion by promoting a culture of peace, harmony and
tolerance. This would be in line with the objectives laid out in the 2002 “Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of
advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to
discrimination, hostility or violence” and in UN HRC Resolution 16/18 entitled “Combating
intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination,
incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or
belief” that condemns “any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes
incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the
use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other mean.”
Societies that demonstrate respect for press freedom and the safety and
freedom of journalists will make a valuable contribution to the fulfilment of
the provisions set forth in SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions of
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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