From 18th -19th of June, CRISP participated in the “Berlin Summer Dialogue 2019 Post-Conflict Reconstruction: A Window of Opportunity? The role of external actors in the MENA region”. The conference was organized by the German Development and Peace Foundation (sef) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and took place at Berlins so-called “red” Town hall, one of Berlin´s most famous historical landmarks.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been convulsed by multiple wars and armed conflicts for decades. It is the civilian population that bears the brunt of these complex conflicts. In addition, instability in the conflict countries has major spillover effects in neighboring states in the region and beyond. Syria and Yemen are currently in the grip of brutal wars, with catastrophic impacts on their populations. Various recent conflicts have caused lasting damage in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon as well.
The Berlin Summer Dialogue brought practitioners from politics and civil society together with researchers to explore solution-oriented questions, drawing on lessons learned from earlier international engagement in reconstruction within the region. The most discussed questions were: How the international community’s engagement in the MENA region can have a sustained peacebuilding effect within these societies? What factors should international actors consider in order to avoid unintentionally entrenching existing lines of conflict or creating new ones through their short-term crisis response? Which specific priorities should they set for their contribution to the reconstruction of economic and social structures that sustain peaceful development? And what can be done to provide constructive support for discourses about a much-needed reform of the social contract in the MENA countries?
One of the most stimulating sessions was the roundtable discussion “Sustainable transformation of societies- making it work” between a peacebuilding activist from Tripolis, a human rights Lawyer and advocate from Erbil, a Researcher from the German Development Institute (DIE) and a representative from FES Tunis. The panelists discussed how most recent research shows that the internal causes of conflict within the MENA region would lie mainly in its outdated social contracts, which would be characterized by corruption, poor governance and social exclusion. The questions raised were what might the development of peaceful societies look like in the long term? That being the aim, what kind of roadmap should be set by local stakeholders in the long-run.
We are looking forward to a fruitful discussion during the next summer dialogue in 2020.