Towards New Social Contracts in MENA Countries? Prospects for Economic and Social Policy Reform, better Governance and National Dialogues


Hamburg, 04.10.2019


German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Many scholars interpret the 2011 upheavals in the MENA as a sign of failure of the social contracts that MENA countries had developed after independence. All of these were based on the provision of generous social benefits by governments to citizens as compensation for the lack of political participation. But with growing populations and declining state revenues, governments became less able to fulfil their contractual obligations and had to focus spending increasingly on strategically important social groups. The Arab uprisings in 2011 were thus an expression of discontent of citizens with a situation where governments provided neither political participation nor social benefits. The question is what types of social contracts have emerged after the uprisings and what do these imply for the coming years.

The first part of the panel dealt with MENA countries that sustained their statehood (Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia). It discussed if governments of these countries have been able to refurbish the old social contracts or establish new ones. What is the content of the new social contracts? What are the deliverables of governments and citizens? Are the new contracts acceptable by citizens or are citizens likely to revolt again? Can we think of reforms that establish ‘better’ social contracts that is better for citizens yet acceptable for governments?

The second part of the panel dealt with MENA countries that have descended into civil wars (Yemen, Libya, Syria). It discussed the prospects of these countries establishing new social contracts that are acceptable for all major conflicting parties, at least for the short term. Is the formation of social covenants between the conflicting parties conceivable? Can a new social contract be set up building on these social covenants? Which internal and external actors have to be on board in such a process?

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Datum / Uhr
04.10.2019 / 09:00 - 18:30


Hamburg, Germany


Photo: Markus Loewe

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