The Arab transition countries, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya, are grappling with complex issues relating to personal values, the extent of freedom of speech, individual rights, family matters, that all orbit around deep issues of identity and the respective roles of the individual, the state and society. These social conversations are constructive in that they reflect a rich pluralism of views in societies where conformity was the rule under dictatorship. But unfortunately, these dialogues are polarizing society, leading to violence and threatening chaos and a possible return to authoritarianism. In fact, the current social polarization to a large extent reflects attempts by political entrepreneurs to use existing social fault lines, and even exacerbate them, in ways that mobilize passions among possible supporters, driven to over-reach by the political vacuum created by the departure of the historical autocrats. The dynamics in Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, and Lebanon are slightly different, but here too, the intense and exclusive focus on identity is crowding out more important and immediate social and economic challenges.
Let’s face it. If we are ever going to successfully address the worldwide youth unemployment crisis, we need to act together — as a global community. That’s why last year, with the publication of Opportunity for Action, Microsoft and the International Youth Foundation called on leaders in the public, private, youth, and civil society sectors to join a “collective, massive and global” effort to expand job and livelihood opportunities for today’s youth.
Since then, there’s been a real sense of momentum on the issue, particularly among high-level policymakers. Just last week, the World Bank sponsored a lively roundtable discussion the day before its Annual Meetings in Washington, D.C. that echoed the urgent call for collective action around youth unemployment. Speaking to a packed hall filled with finance ministers, private sector executives, and development experts from around the world, the panelists at the “Boosting Shared Prosperity by Getting to Youth Employment Solutions” event offered concrete examples of practical and sustainable solutions to the current crisis. Yet the conversation kept returning to the need to act together to have real impact.
Tunisia has traditionally been perceived as a paragon of good practices in logistics in the MENA region. According to the Logistic Performance Index 2012, Tunisia is the best performer within the MENA region with a score of 3.17 over 5 (after U.A.E and Saudi Arabia) when Egypt scored at 2.98, Morocco 3.03 and Algeria 2.41. Tunisia also performs better than the regional benchmark countries in the trading-across-borders ranking of the Doing Business indicator. Tunisia is ranked 40th, far before Turkey (67th rank), Morocco (72nd rank) and Algeria (122nd rank).
At the same time, many importers in Tunisia complain about the inefficiency of Radès, the main Tunisian port, corruption in customs, and so on-- apparently with good reasons: dwell time, which is a good proxy for logistics efficiency, is benchmarked at around 3-4 days in middle income countries, whereas in Radès dwell time is officially around 6 days and more than 9 days according to the recent Tunisia investment climate assessment (with high dispersion), making it comparable to Mombasa in Kenya and much worse than a port like Durban in South Africa.
Asset recovery is helping to restore justice for Tunisia's citizens (Credit: European Parliament, Flickr Creative Commons)
It is welcome news that Tunisia has received $28.8 million corruptly acquired by the country’s former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The money emanates from a Lebanese bank account held by M. Ben Ali’s wife, and was handed over in the form of a check to Tunisia’s current President Moncef Marzouki, by Ali bin Fetais al-Marri, Qatari attorney-general and the UNODC Special Advocate on Stolen Asset Recovery.
Financial Markets…Spanish and Italian government bonds bounced back from their earlier losses, with their benchmark 10-year yields dropping 6 basis points to 5.17% and 4 bps to 4.36%, as a report showed German investor confidence surged to the highest level in nearly three years this month, boosting risk-appetite for the region’s high-yielding debt. Notably, Spain sold €4 billion ($5.35 billion) of 3- and 9-month bills with an average yield of 0.421%, down from 0.441% in January auction.
This week in Doha, the marble corridors of the Qatar National Convention Center resonate with voices from around the world. Over half way through the UN Climate Change Conference, as ministers arrive and the political stakes pick up, a sense of greater urgency in the formal negotiations is almost palpable. But in the corridors, negotiations are already leading to deals and dreams and action on the ground.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the discussions by saying we need optimism, because without optimism there are no results. He reminded us all that Superstorm Sandy was a tragic awakening. He reiterated the call for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement and 100 billion in climate finance by 2020.
Meanwhile our focus was firmly on the region ...
- Yemen, Republic of
- Western Sahara
- United Arab Emirates
- Syrian Arab Republic
- South Sudan
- Saudi Arabia
- Iran, Islamic Republic of
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Urban Development
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- food security
- Climate Change
- Ban Ki-moon
Think about it:
- Twitter limits all "conversations" to 140 words
- Twitter allows privacy whereas Facebook is based on discovery of relationships
- Twitter relationships can be one way, the way real relationships often are (we all “know” President Obama but he knows very few of us) whereas Facebook is always a two way street
Wherever democracy is absent or weak, for example in a dictatorship or a monarchy, there could be a high price to pay for any open expressed dissension. Twitter allows anonymity for those who push for transparency and democracy. Although one can exist without the other, studies show that the two are highly linked.
A 2011 study from the University of Washington entitled “Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?” showed that social media, via Twitter, played a vital role during the revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt. The authors said “for the first time we have evidence confirming social media’s critical role in the Arab Spring”. The project created a database of information collected from Twitter, analyzing more than 3 million Tweets based on keywords used, and tracking which countries thousands of individuals tweeted from during the revolutions.
|Renewed concerns earlier in the week about the Greek bail-out plan and the possibility of a credit rating downgrade for several European economies drove borrowing costs up. The European Central Bank’s (ECB) announcement on Thursday to defend the Euro has helped ease concerns somewhat.|
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- South Africa
- East Asia and Pacific
- Europe and Central Asia
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Middle East and North Africa
- Financial Sector
- Macroeconomics and Economic Growth
- tourism in devloping countries
- interest rates
- Euro area banking crisis
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When healthcare professionals take the Hippocratic Oath, they promise to prescribe patients regimens based on their “ability and judgment” and to “never do harm to anyone”.
Although extraordinary progress in medical knowledge during the last 50 years, coupled with the development of new technologies, drugs and procedures, has improved health conditions and quality of life, it has also created an ever-growing quandary regarding which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best.
And for policy makers, administrators and health economists, the unrestrained acquisition and use of new medical technologies and procedures (e.g., open heart surgery to replace clogged arteries, ultrasound technology scanners to aid in the detection of heart disease, and life-saving antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS) is increasing health expenditures in an era of fiscal deficits.
In many countries, I’ve see how ensuring value for money in a limited-resources environment is not only difficult but requires careful selection and funding of procedures and drugs. It also comes with serious political, economic and ethical implications—and with new drugs and technologies appearing every day, this challenge isn’t going away. What should countries do?