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News & Opinion

11 Jul 2017

Youth Disengagement: Myth or Reality?

Are youth disengaged? This is the question I was invited to speak about recently at the first of a series of ‘youth dialogues’, organised by Wilton Park in partnership with Restless Development, the WANA Institute, and the British Council. Despite a lot of the mainstream media rhetoric arguing to th...
Author : Alethea Osborne
02 Jul 2017

Sexism in Terrorism: How Reporting on Women's Acts of Violence Distorts Reality

It strikes an odd chord that a gender variation appears when discussing terrorism. It is most apparent in regional and international media reporting on terrorist incidents perpetrated by women, and greatly hinders Countering Violent Extremism efforts as policy is best informed through evidence-based...
Author : Nadine Sayegh
21 May 2017

The Informal Sector: An Obstacle or Partner in Promoting Syrian Refugee Livelihoods?

As the Syrian refugee crisis enters its seventh year, the general discourse on Syrian refugee livelihoods has shifted. The crisis is now characterised as protracted, and host states are taking measures to include refugees in the labour market. However, in our rush to increase the participation of re...
Author : Shaddin Alhajahmad
07 May 2017

Enhancing Youth Enrolment in Education: What can Civil Society in Jordan Learn from the Private Sector?

Jordan should accommodate its rapidly growing population by prioritising the enrolment of youth in higher education. To facilitate this, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) should adapt to how society, as well as the stakeholders and beneficiaries of civil society programmes, are changing. One questi...
Author : Jamshid Masori
02 May 2017

Ma'an: Dangerous or just Desperate?

The Jordanian city of Ma’an, located 220km south of Amman, has many reasons for being distinctive in its national context. The southern city, surrounded by endless hot and dusty vistas, has been described by international media outlets such as The Economist and Al Jazeera as “a hotbed of ISIS”. Acco...
Author : Alethea Osborne
20 Apr 2017

The Paris Agreement: A Gleam of Light

The impacts of climate change are increasingly being felt by populations world over. The World Bank predicts that certain cities will become unliveable, agricultural viability will decrease and pressure on already scarce water resources will escalate, potentially increasing migration and the risk of...
Author : Lara Nassar
21 Nov 2016

Informal Justice is Real Justice

I’m a member of that generation of scholar-practitioners who were present when customary justice programming was dismissed as not ‘real’ justice work. I can vividly recall a former boss telling me that “at [organisation to remain unnamed], the only justice system is the formal one, and playing in th...
Author : Dr Erica Harper
16 Nov 2016

Op-ed: What Does Trump Mean for the WANA Region?

If social media is anything to go by, then a healthy majority of the region’s citizenry is dismayed by the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America. No Arab could have missed the rhetoric Trump spent his election campaign claiming to stand for. We have heard his...
10 Nov 2016

Legal Empowerment through Cultural Understanding

Afro-American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said that “perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends”. In the first half of...
Author : Annalisa Bezzi
24 Aug 2016

On the Refugee Route Part V: Thickening Nostalgia, Shrinking Patience

After having spent a month following their odyssey from a rural village in Eastern Damascus to the industrial German city of Stuttgart, separating from the Kreker siblings midway through the Balkans was challenging personally. By this point, I had grown emotionally attached to the weathered yet resi...
Author : Dina Baslan
18 Aug 2016

Innovation in Humanitarianism Is Necessary, but It Will Not Bring Peace

Tomorrow, August 19th, is World Humanitarian Day. There will be an abundance of articles about it, but few of them will discuss what it really means to be humanitarian. The most important aspect of being a humanitarian is to end wars and to work to sustain peace. It is not about summits and conferen...
Author : Adel Elsayed Sparr
09 Aug 2016

The Value of Membership Chains: The CAN Arab World Network

Today, the fight for action to tackle climate change is at its peak. Action must be strategically coordinated, in order to create a higher impact. Here, the importance of an action like the Climate Action Network shines. On the 28 of May 2016, the West Asia North Africa (WANA) Institute attended its...
Author : Kamal Kakish
29 Jun 2016

On the Refugee Route Part IV: Crossing Through Europe’s Firewall

We transited through five Greek islands –Rhodes, Symi, Nisyros, Kos and Kalymnos— as we sailed westward across the Aegean Sea, collecting more asylum seekers at every stop. Exhausted men and women passed out in the narrow corridors, while others hand washed their clothes, and those who could not sle...
Author : Dina Baslan
26 Jun 2016

Future War: A Review of David Kilcullen’s ‘Out of the Mountains’

What will future conflict look like? This question is the subject of David Kilcullen’s 2013 offering, Out of the Mountains; The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla (2013). It challenges us to question our preconceptions, to break away from siloed thinking and to be open to contributions from other dis...
Author : Kim Wilkinson
15 Jun 2016

Can Women Preachers Prevent Violent Extremism?

The way in which Imams and religious leaders can help preventing violent extremism (PVE) is often discussed by academics, experts and policy-makers. Little is mentioned, however, on the role of women preachers (known as wa’ethat or murchidat in Arabic). This is not very constructive for PVE purposes...
Author : Dr Neven Bondokji
01 Jun 2016

The Weakness Of Indices: The Deceptive Hibernation Mode In WANA Will Fool You Again!

Last week, Freedom House celebrated its 75th anniversary of advocating for freedom. I like Freedom House – mostly because I like freedom. Every year, I read their annual report on the status of freedom in the world with interest. Naturally, I focus on their findings in the WANA region. According to ...
Author : Adel Elsayed Sparr
26 May 2016

"An Unhappy Marriage That Cannot Afford A Divorce": The Need To Advance Energy and Water Management in WANA

Last month, I was fortunate enough to participate in a workshop that brought together over 30 experts to discuss integrated energy and water planning jointly hosted by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, the Wuppertal Institute and the West Asia-North Africa Institute. The discussions showcased how...
Author : Lara Nassar
24 May 2016

The Need for a New Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism in the WANA Region

Over the past few years, violent extremism has ascended as the most perplexing security threat of present times. There is wide agreement on the need to prevent and counter violent extremism, but the question of how is not so easily answered. Current efforts range from comprehensive programs that foc...
Author : Leen Aghabi
12 May 2016

The Head-cam Video Daesh Doesn’t Want You to See

You may have seen the Daesh helmet-cam video released by VICE on April 27, titled What It’s Really Like to Fight for the Islamic State. Contrary to the slick content pushed out by the Daesh media machine, this video reveals what life is really like for Daesh fighters on the front lines – and the pic...
Author : Kim Wilkinson
11 May 2016

Beyond The Refugee Crisis: Combatting Educated Outmigration

This article first appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 23 April 2016 One need only glance at the headlines of any major news carrier to know that human migration has become a defining issue of the post-Cold War global economic order. But while European leaders squabble about the line b...
Author : HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal
28 Apr 2016

What’s Inspiring WANA: Al-Durra Food Factory

Interviews are perhaps one of the most engaging ways to do research.  For one of our upcoming research projects (stay tuned), we were on the lookout for Syrian investors who have chosen Jordan as a safe haven for their industrial operations. Al-Durra, a food manufacturing ‘giant’, was recommended by...
Author : Mays Abdel Aziz
28 Apr 2016

On The Refugee Route Part III: Smuggling - An Act Of Resistance

It had been more than three weeks since Somar and his sisters commenced their long journey. Although they had not yet touched European soil, not a day had passed without them fantasizing about their parents one day following them to Germany. The impossibility of safe and legal entry into Europe had ...
Author : Dina Baslan
25 Apr 2016

60 Million Refugees: A Crisis That Has Outgrown Its 65-Year-Old Solution

This article first appeared in the LA Times on Febuary 21, 2016 The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and other displaced persons exceeded 60 million globally last year. More than half of the refugees have been uprooted not for months, but for years upon years. It's clear that the international leg...
Author : HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal
25 Apr 2016

Beirut's Bold Step: Reinforced Tolerance

This article first appeared in Lebanon's The Daily Star on March 25 2016 In 2010 the Lebanese government took a bold and innovative step in the name of national unity, social cohesion and tolerance among peoples. The government marked a national holiday to celebrate the Annunciation – a commemoratio...
Author : HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal
25 Apr 2016

Guns Alone Won't Stop ISIS

Syrian refugee children attend a class at a makeshift school set up in a tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan, August 11, 2015. Credit: AP This article first appeared in Haaretz on April 3, 2016  At the end of WWII, world leaders, horrified ...
Author : HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal
19 Apr 2016

Planning Syrian Peace? Understand its Wars

Syria is ravaged not by a single war but multiple interconnecting conflicts.  Even disregarding the Kurds’ gradual push for autonomy in the North or the dramatic fight against ISIS in the East, Syria’s civil war is comprised of at least two related yet distinct wars. Although the 2011 revolution beg...
Author : Emily Hawley
30 Mar 2016

On The Refugee Route Part II:"My Younger Sister Barely Remembers Me"

After spending three years in Jordan, detached from home and family, Somar was starting to get accustomed to life as a single man with minimum responsibility. “All I worried about in Jordan was my rent, but when I saw my sisters? My God! I realised how far removed from responsibility I was,” he told...
Author : Dina Baslan
29 Mar 2016

Troubled Waters – Daesh and Water in the Conflicts in Syria and Iraq

4,500 years ago, on the banks of the Tigris, what might be described as the world’s earliest water conflict took place between the Sumarian city-states of Lagash and Umma. Fast forward to 2016, and again battles are being waged for control over the precious resource in the WANA region. Water is bein...
Author : Kim Wilkinson
24 Mar 2016

On The Refugee Route Part I: Choosing The Hard Way Out Of The WANA Region

Somar Kreker is a movie junkie. He loves cinema for the fact that it's a space that allows people to reimagine the worlds in which they live. As a teenager, he dreamt of opening a film club in Damascus, where stories of ordinary and extraordinary lives would be brought to the big screen. But of all ...
Author : Dina Baslan
08 Mar 2016

Feminist Discourses in the WANA Region: Strategies for Success

Scholarship on the discourse of women's rights has significantly developed in the past decades, with a specific focus on how religion influences women's legal and social roles. It has been argued that “the two major challenges to all human rights and especially those of women in the twenty first cen...
Author : Annalisa Bezzi
24 Feb 2016

What’s Inspiring WANA: Jordan’s Resilience Amidst Regional Crises

Every few years, when it becomes apparent that the favoured approach is not winning the fight against world poverty and conflict, a new jargon emerges. The latest catchphrase is resilience, a concept initially coined in the natural sciences. After a quick perusal of the websites of international dev...
Author : Leen Aghabi
21 Feb 2016

Democracy's Greyzones

There are many things that might surprise you when you’re living abroad. It could be the local cuisine, perceptions about tidiness, or the efficiency of the bureaucracy.  Personally, what I always find most inspiring is a country’s people, and the deep and puzzling contrasts that are contained withi...
Author : Annalisa Bezzi
07 Feb 2016

What's Inspiring WANA: If you read one book on radicalisation in 2016, let it be this one

“I had always been taught – and had passionately believed – that the presence of Islamism meant justice, and the absence of it created injustice. But now I began seeing things differently.” – Radical, Maajid Nawaz In Radical, Maajid Nawaz takes the reader on a journey from growing up in Essex, detai...
Author : Kim Wilkinson
31 Jan 2016

2015: Humanity hit a record low in the WANA region

In the Atlantic, Charles Kenny recently claimed that 2015 was the “best year in history for the average human being”.  True, the world is “better-educated, better-fed, healthier, freer, and more tolerant”, but let’s not allow global aggregates feed complacency.  How much does a better-fed global pop...
Author : Leen Aghabi
24 Jan 2016

The beginning of the end: why the diplomatic process tells us that war in Syria is concluding

Syria. That’s really all you have to say. And if you wanted to elaborate, just go with what Staffan de Mistura said: The Syria crisis is the worst failure of the international community since the Second World War, and has the potential to extend beyond the region. All the challenges, the suffering, ...
Author : Adel Elsayed Sparr
14 Jan 2016

Meet our new Research Fellows

This January, the Institute brought on two new Human Security team members - Senior Research Fellow Adel Elsayed Sparr and Research Fellow Leen Aghabi. Last week, we spent a few minutes getting to know our new arrivals  and heard about what they're going to be doing over the next year, and what they...
07 Jan 2016

The power of local knowledge in resource management

As an integral part of our history, our traditions give us a sense of identity and belonging, allowing us to evolve while retaining something original. Traditional practices teach us to learn from past mistakes, and build on successful examples. But tradition is not only limited to cultural and soci...
Author : Kamal Kakish
07 Dec 2015

Charting a new course in environmental good governance: Natural resource management, Al Hima & Islam

Water insecurity is emerging as one of the most imminent threats to the human environment in West Asia-North Africa (WANA). For instance, by 2025, water withdrawal is projected to increase by at least 50 percent, driving most countries in the region into food insecurity. The dominant frameworks for ...
25 Nov 2015

November 25th: International day for the elimination of violence against women

According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2015, released last week by the World Economic Forum, progress on closing the divide between the opportunities afforded to men and women has stalled. Gender-based discrimination remains a global phenomenon, but West Asia and North Africa (WANA) is the region ...
Author : Annalisa Bezzi
23 Nov 2015

The relationships between food, water and displacement

It was Benjamin Franklin who said that when the well is dry, we know the worth of water. The well has been dry in West Asia — North Africa (WANA) for quite some time, and the people living here know the worth of water painfully well. Clean water and food are not given goods for millions of people in...
15 Nov 2015

The case for an Islamic sustainable development model

When the post-2015 agenda was adopted in the form of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it ushered in a new era of international development cooperation. It was a welcome achievement, and one that was preceded by perhaps the most inclusive process in the history of the United Nations; each mem...
11 Nov 2015

Planning for the unpredictable: exploring transitional justice options for a post-return Syria

Currently, Syria is the battleground of one of the largest ongoing international conflicts. The Syrian conflict, since its emergence in 2011, has seen hundreds of thousands of fatalities, created millions of refugees, and set the backdrop for numerous international human rights and humanitarian viol...
Author : Adam Lhedmat
02 Nov 2015

Reflections on a summer spent in Amman: WANA's social justice intern looks back at her time spent with the Institute

As I pack my bags to return to University in England, I have been invited to write a short opinion article reflecting on my internship with the West Asia-North Africa Institute. I arrived from Rabat, Morocco not knowing what to expect of my time in Amman or what my experience at the Institute would ...
Author : Noor Jehan Guyer
11 Oct 2015

Four Syrian Futures

The conflict raging in Syria shows no sign of abating; it is plagued with too many actors and too many interests at odds with peace. Nonetheless, preparing for even the ugliest of calms is vital, not just for Syrians but for the broader West Asia-North Africa region. To aid this process, the West As...
Author : Emily Hawley
01 Oct 2015

Forging New Strategies in Protracted Refugee Crises

Read and download the WANA Institute's full "Forging New Strategies in Protacted Refugee Crises: Syrian Refugees and the Host State Economy: Jordan Case Study" report here The civil conflict in Syria poses the most complex and immediate humanitarian challenge to the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) reg...
Author : Dr Erica Harper
28 Sep 2015

Europe Should Lead by Example and Bring International Refugee Policy into the 21st Century

Europe’s failure towards the refugees at its borders is finally receiving the attention it deserves. This is an historic moment which offers European leaders the opportunity to make a serious impact, not only on the lives of those who have survived perilous journeys to the continent, but on the rele...
Author : Sean D. Thomas
21 Sep 2015

Representation is Everything in IS Social Media War

As news of Islamic State (IS, also referred to across the WANA region as Daesh) advances were trumpeted on Twitter, the world watched as, online and in real time, IS took over major Iraqi cities and resources, such as the Mosul dam. Social media, championed as a force behind the Arab Spring, suddenl...
Author : Kim Wilkinson
13 Sep 2015

Engaging Muslim Leadership in the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals

The emergence of the market-led development model has resulted in degradation and exploitation of the world’s natural capital. Since the industrial revolution, humans have consumed most of the non-renewable fossil fuels developed over the last 250 million years. This has been done in the name of eco...
Author : Dr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi
02 Sep 2015

Sustainable Natural Resource Management: Islamic Perspectives

Convergence and unity between natural sciences and social sciences is needed to inform and reform the discourse for water and land management. Harnessing the core values of Islam can inspire a fresh narrative that can inform a new model for sustainable water and natural resources management.  The ea...
Author : Dr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi
26 Aug 2015

On The One Year Anniversary of The Ceasefire in Gaza, Dr Erica Harper Reflects on The Events of Last Summer

The 26th of August 2015 marks one year since the 51-day military assault on the Gaza Strip that left 2251 Palestinians dead, 551 of them children. In the October following the ceasefire, the international community met in Cairo and pledged USD 5.4 billion for reconstruction. By February of this year...
Author : Dr Erica Harper
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