Event Wrap-Up: Panel Discussion on Arab Countries in Transition

Event Wrap-Up: Panel Discussion on Arab Countries in Transition
Click here to watch video.

On Monday, April 9, 2012 Stimson, George C. Marshall Foundation and Safadi Foundation USA hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Arab Countries in Transition: An Update on International Support One Year after the Deauville Partnership.”  The panel was moderated by Mona Yacoubian, Director, Pathways to Progress: Peace, Prosperity, and Change in the Middle East Project at Stimson.  Panelists included: Masood Ahmed, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund; Inger Andersen, Vice-President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank; and Dr. Peter Howard, Coordinator for the Deauville Partnership, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, US Department of State.

In their prepared remarks, the panelists assessed progress made in supporting Arab transitions by the United States and international financial institutions since the launch of the Deauville Partnership at last year’s G8 summit. They also addressed future challenges. The common theme expressed by all the panelists was that the Deauville Partnership presents a unique opportunity to bring all invested stakeholders together, creating a new framework that will strengthen coordination efforts among them.

Masood Ahmed noted the ongoing challenges Arab countries face and emphasized the need to address social and structural issues that limit people’s access to opportunities in the region.  He specifically highlighted unemployment issues that initially drove the revolutions. He further stated that while the Deauville Partnership has been useful as a platform for bringing key actors together, the next step is to go from a framework to country-specific deliverables.

Inger Andersen highlighted the “democratization of development,” elevating demands for enhanced governance as critical for successful transitions. Key elements include increased transparency and accountability. Andersen also emphasized the significance of participation in the Deauville Partnership by non-traditional partners such as the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council nations and various regional banks, noting that their presence enhances the Partnership’s representative nature.  She underscored the importance of their involvement as an important impetus for encouraging regional economic integration. Andersen also noted the need for developing a strong domestic business environment by providing better access to financing, facilitating small and medium enterprises, and improving education so as to nurture a skilled labor force.

Dr. Peter Howard discussed how the marshaling of international support has changed the United States’ approach to the region, noting ways the United States government is looking to economically support successful transitions. He provided a brief review of the three “pillars” for undertaking Deauville Partnership activities: economic, governance, and trade, noting progress made to date under each pillar.