The Arab world is “on fire.” Since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011, people intensified complaints against being disregarded by their rulers and discriminated in the distribution of power. Multiple attempts at reforming Arab countries’ electoral laws have been undertaken since to improve the representativeness of political power. Yet, large segments of populations still do not feel properly represented in political decision-making.
The study of electoral law reform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) over the past decade helps us identify the lessons learned and the ones still to be learned. The participants of the conference will discuss how these reforms impact the region’s deeply divided societies, and how they may contribute to mediating conflicts. Special attention will be paid to the electoral law debate in Lebanon, the only Arab country with a long record of democratic practice and a broad occurrence of electoral law modeling. Furthermore, we will raise attention to examples from other world regions and study their experiences.
Now is the right moment to take stock of the progress made in this area and to bring together the knowledge and skills of experts – practitioners and academics – from within and outside the region to assess the progress to date and to foster a debate that will improve elections and social integration well beyond the MENA region. The conference aims to create an academic platform for this discussion that may improve and better mobilize the international community’s support for the democratization and electoral reform processes.
In order to connect different levels of theoretical and practical knowledge about elections and electoral laws, we are inviting:
- Academics from various disciplines studying and comparing electoral systems inside and outside the MENA region;
- Legislators who have participated in the legal framing of electoral processes;
- Representatives of independent expert bodies and ministries managing and supervising electoral processes;
- Political party leaders who are engaged in electoral law reform; and,
- Members of civil society and nongovernmental organizations who are engaged in raising voter awareness, electoral reform advocacy and election monitoring.