Democratization and Conflict in the Arab World: Challenges, Opportunities and Dangers

Over the last four months, mass protests have rocked the Arab world. Protestors seek democracy, the rule of law and greater social justice. Whether democracy will be the harbinger of greater internal conflict and instability, or instead will provide the institutional, legal and normative framework for processes of domestic reconciliation and peacemaking, is the question that this conference will address.

Over the last four months, mass protests have rocked the Arab world. Protestors seek democracy, the rule of law and greater social justice. In Egypt and Tunisia, youth-led movements have forced rulers from office. In Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Libya, democratic rebellions have provoked brutal repression from regimes determined to hold on to power. While it is too early to predict the outcome in any one of these cases, one vital challenge facing the region's youthful protestors is to confront-and where possible, transcend-the escalating ideological, social, and religious or sectarian tensions that have been exacerbated by democratic change itself. Whether democracy will be the harbinger of internal conflict and instability, or instead will provide the institutional, legal and normative framework for domestic reconciliation and peacemaking is the key question that will animate this one-day conference.

In addressing this complex question, the conference organizers hoped to offer concrete, policy-relevant insights that will be of benefit to political leaders in the Arab world, as well as to policy makers and activists in the United States working in the areas of human rights, democratic change and the rule of law.

Agenda

10:00am | Panel 1 - Security, Conflict and Democracy: Analytical Vistas

  • Steven Heydemann, Chair
    Vice President, Grant and Fellowships Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Daniel Brumberg
    Democratic Innovation and Managing Conflict"
    Senior Adviser, U.S. Institute of Peace and Co-Director, Democracy and Governance Studies, Georgetown University
    Read Dan Brumberg's latest "On the Issues: U.S. Policy and the Arab World"
  • David Waldner
    "The Limits of Political Engineering"
    Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, University of Virginia
  • Peter Mandaville, Chair
    Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State

11:30am | Panel 2 - Live Hook Up: Conflict and Media in the Arab World: Youth, Democratic Peace Making and Media in Egypt

  • Sheldon Himelfarb, Chair
    Director, Centers of Innovation, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • In Cairo: Dina Shehata and Ibrahim El Houdaiby, Nadine Wahab
    Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Deputy Campaign Manager for Mohamed Elbaradei
  • In Washington: Adel T. Iskandar
    Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University

12:45am | Lunch Address - The Human Rights Dimension: Assistant  Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael H. Posner

 2:00pm | Panel 3 - Countries, Cases and Challenges

  • Manal Omar, Chair
    Director, Iraq Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Noureddine Jebnoun
    Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
  • Samer S. Shehata
    Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
  • Toby C. Jones
    Department of History, Rutgers University
  • Mona Yacoubian Discussant
    Special Adviser, U.S. Institute of Peace

3:30pm | Coffee Break

3:45pm | Panel 4 - Foreign Policy:  Managing Conflict and Change

  • Robin Wright, Chair
    Senior Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Robert Malley
    Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis Group
  • Jennifer L. Windsor
    Associate Dean, Programs and Studies at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  • J. Scott Carpenter
    Keston Family Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Joe Stork
    Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa division, Human Rights Watch
  • Gilles Kepel
    Sciences-Po, Paris, France
  • Kenneth Wollack, Discussant
    President, National Democratic Institute

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