Why a lack of democracy in the Arab World? Can things change?

dem-arabic.gifIt’s a question that often comes up in comparison to a country like Israel, where, at least for its Jewish citizens, and to different degrees, its Arab citizens. democractic processes are vigorous, if often challenged.
But other than newspaper reports, it is hard to find extensive material in English about the state of affairs in the diverse Arabic-speaking world.
The Arab Development Report (for 2009 and earlier), is probably one of the few sources in English which account for the ongoing crisis of legitimacy and the rise of what is called the Arab Security State. Issues such as the persistence of poverty, despite oil-wealth in many countries, and continuing social underdevelopment are also accounted for. Of course, don’t expect anything too radical in the report, but it often states the obvious.
It is well worth a careful read of the 2009 Report, ‘Challenges to Human Security’. The report is prepared by Arab researchers for the UN Development Program. Helen Clark, the former NZ PM provides a preface in her UN role.
“Since its inaugural edition in 2002, the Arab Human Development Reports have stimulated debate and brought attention to the opportunities and challenges for enhancing human development in the Arab region. Part of the reason for that impact stems from the fact that the Reports’ central thesis—that reform is necessary and that sustainable change can only come from within— has the authority of having been written about the region by a team of inde-pendent Arab scholars, policy analysts, and practitioners from the region. The path breaking frst Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) presented three development “defcits” which stunt human development in the region, related to the acquisition of knowledge, political freedoms, and women’s rights. This year’s Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries examines human development through a human security lens.

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