Paradigms for the future we all deserve: A case study of the MENA Region

YaLa Academy Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela final project: Imagine what the MENA region would look like in 10 years, if peace was established today? How did it happen? What practices and institutions were put into place in order to establish this peace? Remember to draw on the skills we’ve learned from our lecturers throughout the semester. You can write a blog, make a video, write a song, create an infographic… Feel free to get creative!

By Chibuike B.K. Emmanuel, Nigeria

If peace is established today and we fast forward 10 years, the MENA region will boast of a region where human rights are honoured and women’s rights are preserved. For instance, the region would have developed to the extent that women can drive cars in Saudi Arabia. Another example will be the increasing number of women in decision making and peace building process.

Civilized dialogue will also replace the use of violence as a response to addressing conflicts. To this effect wars, terrorism, and political/sectarian conflict will be greatly reduced as well as militancy and Islamic extremism will be decimated to the barest minimum.

There will be a reduction of fragile states in the region, as there will be ample stability of the region’s political and economic system. Poverty, which belabours most of the region in spite of its wealth, will be a thing of the past.

This desired future – ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity – requires the perquisites of peace and stability. Jobs and opportunities need to be created for MENA Youths to productively engage them so that they don’t become willing and veritable tools for extremism. Pragmatic policies advocating for Middle East economic integration need to be put in place. Successive MENA Leaders must figure out ways of ensuring prolonged domestic stability to be able to initiate long lasting peace.

Thirdly the MENA Region needs to emulate what is working within peaceful Arab states –  countries  such as  Qatar, Kuwait , UAE and  Jordan – who have managed to maintain sanity in spite of so much chaos around them. How do they make this happen? What strategies can be learnt? Other Arab States must decipher and fathom these home grown pragmatic approaches, put them to work, scale them and deepen their impact.

The practice of Dignity needs to be also entrenched at the heart of dealing with one another – Jews, Arabs, Persians and others. People should value and respect their neighbours even when there are issues that they disagree on. The Rights of all the people in the region to live in peace should be upheld; everyone should realise that no one can build peace alone – it requires all hands on deck. They also need to deal with dichotomies such as the religious division between Shiites and Sunnis, and how it plays out in policies as well as the ensuing acrimony that builds up from such.

Furthermore, Israelis and their Arab neighbours need to come to some sort of meeting point. Arabs and Palestinians especially must respect the fact that Israelis’ right to existence is genuine and legitimate while Israelis need to relinquish control of some areas as regards to the Palestinian State’s demands. Israel needs to halt settlements in some locations and attacks on Israel must also stop.

Finally, the sanctity of human lives needs to be upheld to the utmost. Along with the permeation of democracy, there needs to be an equilibrium balance of monarchical rule (since that is what the region seems to understand more) with good governance. Strong civil societies also need to be birthed to replace loose and consensual civil society movements. Strong and active national as well as regional women’s movements should also be encouraged.

I believe that if all of these mechanisms are put in place and pursed vigorously, that a peaceful MENA region starting from today will metamorphose into one of the most desirable places on earth to live, in ten years time.

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