Strategies of Economic Aid and Development in the Arab World, from the Cold War to the Present

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Conference RoomMultidisciplinary Research Workshop 14 May 2012, Villa La Fonte, Conference Room
Joint workshop MWP, HEC Department and RSCAS, EUI



During the second half of the 20th century, economic aid and cooperation to development have been crucial in shaping international politics in the Arab countries of the Mediterranean.

The Cold War was particularly important in promoting economic aid as a political and strategic tool to define relations between donor and recipient countries. It was not only used by the two superpowers and by European nations to define their position in the Arab world, but became a tool for North African and Middle-Eastern countries to pursue their own economic and political interests.

Since the end of the Cold War, international economic aid has continued to play an important role in shaping relations between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Conference of Madrid, the Barcelona Process as well as the European Neighborhood Policy and Union for the Mediterranean heavily banked on “aid to development” to define relations between the shores of the Mediterranean basin.

Yet, the MENA region has experienced increased political instability, economic ups and downs and vast unemployment, thus questioning the actual impact of economic and development aid to the region.

The recent development of the “Arab Spring” has shown both the inadequacy and the limits of international aid to development.

Concerns over migration issues, economic investments, international competition from Eastern Asia, and the political orientations of the new regimes have all played an important role in defining international economic aid.

This conference will examine the major changes that have occurred over the last sixty years in the economic development of North African and Middle Eastern countries, and the different impact and meanings assigned to international economic aid during and after the Cold War, in order to understand the long-term rationales of the policies adopted by Western states and by recipient countries

See programme and speakers here.

Organizers: Elisabetta Bini and Virginie Collombier (Max Weber Fellows, EUI), Massimiliano Trentin (Department of History, University of Padua), Federico Romero (HEC, EUI), Olivier Roy (RSCAS, EUI)