WORKSHOP: Beyond international security: social security and social welfare in the Middle East and North Africa – what are the research and policy choices? (3 December 2013, University of Bath, UK)

Date: 3 December 2013

Time: 09.00 – 17.30

Venue: Chancellors’ Building, University of Bath, UK

Programme: For the full workshop programme, please see the Call for Participants(pdf)

Who should attend: This workshop is open to interested participants from academia, the governmental and non-governmental sectors. Please register your interest in attending the workshop by emailing the network coordinator, Dr Rana Jawad at r.jawad@bath.ac.uk.

Presenting a paper: Colleagues wishing to present a paper should email a  250 word abstract to Rana Jawad at r.jawad@bath.ac.uk by  25 October 2013.

Financial Matters and Bursaries for PhD Students: The workshop will be free of charge with a limited number of places available. A small number of travel bursaries for PhD students will also be available on a first come first served basis as follows: up to a maximum of £100 for UK-based PhD students and up to £200 for PhD students coming from overseas.

NB: Please note that priority of attendance will be given to delegates who are directly involved through their professional activities or academic research in an area of social policy or international security that is relevant to the workshop.

About this workshop: To mark the recent establishment of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Social Policy Network which is dedicated to the promotion of research on issues of social protection and social welfare in the MENA region, we are pleased to announce that our first workshop is to be held on Tuesday 3 December 2013 at the University of Bath’s Institute for Policy Research (IPR), Bath, UK.

Social security to protect the local populations of the MENA region from poverty and deprivation has – at long last – become an issue of major international concern – on a par perhaps, with the more traditional concern of international security. Both national governments in MENA and global development agencies (led by the ILO, World Bank, DFID and UN agencies) are now seeking to articulate new social visions for this region’s diverse populations based on a regime of (a) social assistance and cash transfer programmes and (b) the promise of extended social security coverage. But what are the prospects for social protection as a tool for policy analysis in the MENA region and are there no already existing forms of social solidarity and social mobilization which contribute to the formation of viable future social policies?

The aim of this workshop is to highlight the pivotal importance of social justice and social welfare issues affecting local populations in the MENA region and to present the case for social policy as a vital form of public intervention aimed at solving the enormous social problems that this region faces. Moreover, the workshop will explore the particular trajectory of social policy in the MENA region and the tremendous scope for effective social activism which already exists there (prior to the Arab spring). Empirical research from around the MENA region, though limited in scope has shown already that local populations have long mobilised around issues of social justice on both secular and religious grounds yet these forms of action have received little attention from the public media and mainstream public policy debates.  Indeed, MENA countries have in operation systems of both state and non-state welfare provision which as yet, have received hardly any scrutiny in terms of their wider social impact.

This workshop will offer the first opportunity to take stock in a research-informed forum of the specificity of social welfare initiatives in the MENA region and crucially, what choices now lie ahead for researchers and policymakers working in this field.  The two main outputs from the workshop will be a report that sets out some of the key discussions and a suitable plan for future action by the network; as well as the preparation of a themed section on some key papers from the workshop to be published at a later date in an international journal.

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