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Newsletter No.3 - June 2010
Issue No.3 | June 2010 

International Affairs Program
Roundtable assesses Taif Agreement after 20 years

  IFI hosted a roundtable discussion in mid-February to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Taif Agreement that ended the Lebanese civil war, attended by several scholars and politicians including Lakhdar Brahimi, Fawaz Traboulsi, Samir Makdisi, Ali Fayyad, Karam Karam, Khalil Gebara, Fadia Kiwan, Theo Hanf, Michael Williams, Karim Makdisi, and Rami Khouri. The discussion began with an analysis of why the Taif Accord was achieved in 1989; the realisation by all factions that the war could not be won, and the end of the Cold War, were significant factors. The roundtable discussed key issues involved in Taif, such as sovereignty, disarmament, and the Tripartite Committee overseeing its implementation. In addition, the actions of key players were also noted, such as the active role taken by Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the lack of participation by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and the implications of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. With regards to the success of Taif, the roundtable agreed that the Accord was only partially successful; while it put an end to the civil war, it was unable to implement certain types of reform, especially economic and social reform.

Summary of Roundtable Discussion on the Taif Agreement

Food Security and Policy Program
AUB studies food conditions in the region

  The Food Security and Policy in the Middle East program was launched jointly with the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) and the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) in February 2010. The aim of this program is to address food insecurity in the Arab states and to build a long-term sustainable program to tackle these problems. Current projects underway include Livelihood of Lebanese Bedouins, which aims to determine the recent livelihood changes of the Bedouins in Lebanon - a marginal rural group - and relating these changes to socio-economic, political, and ecological tensions. This project hopes to identify interventions that can facilitate not only the diversification of their livelihoods, but also their integration into the modern food system, with limited disturbance.

  Recently, IFI and FAFS hosted the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) MENA regional consultation workshop for their flagship Rural Poverty Report (RPT). Participants included 25 development researchers, NGO officials, academics and civil society organisations. Discussions revolved around ways in which the RPT could be modified to address issues and realities of rural poverty in the region.

  Future Food Security and Policy in the Middle East activities include a conference on the role of universities and research centres in addressing the challenge of food security in the Arab World.

International Affairs: UN in the Middle East Research Initiative
UN rules: why do they exist, whom do they serve?

  The Issam Fares Institute has launched a new initiative, as part of its International Affairs program, to explore the roles, activities, and impact of UN institutions in the Middle East. The geographic circumstances of this region, its abundance of key global resources, and its religious importance have all contributed to its significance on the international stage. For this reason, researching roles international actors have played in shaping political, economic and social affairs in the Middle East is of particular value to its indigenous people. The UN continues to play a central role in critical areas - peace-keeping, development, counter-corruption, refugees and human rights, to name but a few. AUB scholars and IFI have been documenting and analyzing the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since its initial deployment in 1978. The aim is to form an in-depth understanding of the evolution of UNIFIL’s goals, its methods, and how it has been perceived by all parties concerned.

  Upcoming lectures include a review and analysis by two authors of the Goldstone Report - the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict - and a lecture by the former political director of the UN mission in Sudan.

Past events include:
Debating the UN Security Council: The United Kingdom's Role, Experiences, and Interests
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An Irish Soldier's experience of Peacekeeping in Lebanon 1991-2007
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Research in Focus

Attitudes towards Policies Granting Palestinian Refugees Civil Rights in Lebanon

  Attitudes towards Palestinians in Lebanon focus on naturalization (tawteen) and perceived threats to national security, which are often driven by political rhetoric and media coverage. As a result, a true understanding of the forces that drive attitudes towards granting Palestinian refugees their civil rights has not only been severely impeded, but the positions, opinions, and perceptions of the Lebanese on issues relating to Palestinians and their rights to health, education, and property ownership have been fraught with misconceptions.

  In response, the Issam Fares Institute is conducting a one-year-long study, The Palestinian Question in Lebanon: A Study on Mutual Attitudes and Perceptions of Current Policies and the Future of Civil Rights, in an effort to generate relevant and accurate evidence on the attitudes of both the Lebanese and the Palestinians on the issues that fall under the umbrella of Palestinian civil rights in Lebanon.

  The study has a multi-stage, mixed-method methodology: an exploratory phase examines the extent to which the Lebanese approve or disapprove of new policies that can potentially reduce the current social and economic exclusion of Palestinians; another component investigates whether these positions and attitudes may be determined by age, religion, socioeconomic position, or political affiliation. The fieldwork will be carried out at four locations around Lebanon - two cities containing Palestinian refugee camps, and two semi-urban areas. This study will generate both qualitative and quantitative evidence to clarify the picture for researchers, policy-makers, civil society actors and the general public.

  The principal investigator is Dr Sawsan Abdulrahim, Assistant Professor at the department of Health Behaviour and Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, AUB, who has conducted research studies in Palestinian camps in recent years.

Bill and Sally Hambrecht Peacemakers Lecture Series
Aaron David Miller: "Gulliver's Troubles: Barack Obama in the Middle East"

A lecture and open discussion with Aaron David Miller Former advisor to US Department of State for 20 years, serving six secretaries of state, and Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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Read AUB News Story

Palestinian Camps
Nizar Saghieh, Ismael Sheikh Hassan: "Housing, Land and Property Rights and Laws: Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon and the Case of Nahr el Bared"

IFI's Program on Policy and Governance in Palestinian Refugee Camps with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the AUB Masters Program in Urban Planning and Policy and Urban Design hosted an open panel discussion with presentations from Nizar Saghieh Lawyer and Author of the NRC report on Housing and Property Rights and Ismael Sheikh Hassan Head, Nahr el Bared Reconstruction Commission.

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Research, Advocacy and Public Policy-making
Danyle Reiche, Ibrahim Warde, Rami Khouri, Sven Behrendt: "Arab Sovereign Wealth Funds: Growth, Relevance, and Prospects"

In collaboration with Carnegie Middle East Center and the Arab Reform Initiative, IFI held an open panel discussion with Sven Behrendt Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Middle East Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Beirut, Rami Khouri Director, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, AUB, Danyel Reiche Assistant Professor for Comparative Politics, AUB and Ibrahim A. Warde Adjunct Professor of International Relations, The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

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International Affairs
David Gardner: "Can the West Regain its Reputation in the Middle East? The Arab-Israeli Conflict and Beyond"

A lecture and open discussion with David Gardner Award-winning journalist, Chief Leader Writer and Associate Editor of the Financial Times newspaper.

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Climate Change / Environment
Abbas El-Zein: "Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation: Obstacles and Possibilities in Sydney and Beirut"

IFI's Research and Policy Forum on Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World and AUB's Faculty of Health Sciences hosted a lecture and open discussion with Abbas El-Zein Associate Professor, University of Sydney, Australia.

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