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Working Papers

Working Paper n.3

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Debates following the Arab Awakening saw lively dialectics between often contradictory concepts of citizenship, highlighting how difficult it can be to reconcile individual and community rights, the relationship between the state and religion, or the role of women.
Over the last three years, our EUSPRING research project has explored exactly these issues. It has listened to and engaged with representatives from Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia as they addressed fundamental questions about rights and citizenship.
In this paper, the EUSPRING project examined these debates as the three countries embarked on different political paths. Tunisia is attempting to consolidate a still fragile democracy, while security threats give rise to government responses that impinge negatively upon democratic rights. Egypt has reverted to a regime more repressive than that of former President Hosni Mubarak, and citizens’ protests flare periodically and unpredictably. In Morocco, the monarchy codified several more liberal rights in the new constitution, but citizens continue to demand more far-reaching change.
The EU and the US should now direct their attention and resources to local initiatives that raise awareness and create the conditions for individual rights to expand in a way that makes citizenship more effective — even as prospects for institutional reform at the macro level remain uncertain. The challenges lie in identifying the right range of partners and in molding U.S. and EU support around local views and aspirations rather than their own political terms and concepts, even in the presence of controversial concepts of citizenship rights.

By Emiliano Alessandri, Rosa Balfour, Nicolas Bouchet and Richard Youngs
July 2016

Working paper n.2

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Since the Arab uprisings of 2011, European Union (EU) assistance has nominally targeted more resources to supporting democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This reflects the failure of previous approaches, as the two documents reviewing the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of 2011 acknowledge,[1] as well as a stronger focus on democracy and human rights through the Strategic Guidelines on Human Rights of 2012 and the two accompanying Action Plans.[2] Resources earmarked for supporting civil society have been increased, the budget for the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) has been beefed up, and the strengthened EU Delegations have become more empowered to reach out to groups at the local grass-roots level behind democracy activities. The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) was created with the mandate to support individuals and organizations in neighbouring countries that work for democracy. The EU has better equipped itself institutionally, financially and conceptually, by strengthening its bottom-up grass-roots approach to democracy support. Whether this translates into a more effective strategy for democracy support, however, is questionable.

by Rosa Balfour, Richard Youngs and Francesca Fabbri May 2016

Working paper n1.

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Throughout the twenty-first century the United States (U.S.) has attempted to balance its traditional national security interests, whilst also seeking to promote the long-term transformation of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) towards democracy based on liberal values. With the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks providing a catalyst for policy change, the U.S. has moved away from its twentieth-century policy of pursuing a regional status quo and instinctively balking at political change. Yet, the U.S. has not abandoned its reliance on autocratic regimes that cooperate on more immediate national security interests such as counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, and the free-flow energy sources into the global market. Rather, U.S. democracy promotion in the MENA has become incremental by design and is characterized by its gradualist and often-collaborative nature. U.S. foreign policy in the MENA is, therefore, depicted by a cautious evolutionary stance rather than supporting revolutionary shifts in power.

By Emiliano Alessandri, Oz Hassan, Ted Reinerti April 2015