Past Program

Nov 01 - Nov 06, 2013

Getting Transition Right A rights-based approach towards Diversity and Inclusivity


Recent political transitions, notably those in the Arab/MENA region, show how exclusion - from decision-making processes, economic opportunity, social equality - leads people to create new channels to proclaim their rights. In mass numbers women and men across the MENA region protested, demanding to be heard and for their governments to take their interests seriously. Incremental change would not be sufficient - transformation of political and social systems was required.

Whatever the beginnings of reform processes, sustaining healthy transitions and creating stronger and more equitable societies requires a rights-based approach to diversity management. The countries in the MENA region are very diverse - and yet people came together, ignoring many of these distinctions, to call for more open and equal governance systems that would no longer dismiss whole swaths of the population based on criteria of class, gender, religion, identity and so forth. Effective diversity management helps to instill greater acceptance of plurality and supports tolerance, if not actual social cohesion. The resulting stability and increased opportunity are also critical factors for supporting economic growth. Beyond meeting rights that are assured by law, effective diversity management can also support conditions for more robust economic activity by bringing more people, with a diverse range of skills, into the economy and enabling more creativity.

Until diversity within these societies is recognized, accepted and valued, the social fabric will remain fragile and transition processes will be less secure. People are demanding new systems that provide for human security. If new leadership can get these approaches right, they can herald true social and possibly economic progress. This is critical if they don't want to risk being a small interim step in a revolutionary cycle. A strong and secure society requires public discourse, engaged citizens, access to information, and an equal voice for all citizens - women, men, young people, minority populations. Basic rights have to be protected and effective policies to manage diversity have to be implemented or new leaders risk perpetuating the same problematic systems and structures that the "revolutions" succeeded in challenging.

As the countries of the Arab MENA region follow their own pathways in this period of regional transition, the Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) and the Arab Human Rights Fund (AHRF), in cooperation with regional representatives, are convening a special series to enable intra- and inter-country analysis of effective approaches to diversity management, to craft policy guidelines and recommendations to help ensure the realization of basic rights through diversity management, and support the translation of policies into action.

The program will focus specifically on four key countries that are in the midst of transitions and can pilot new approaches to diversity management for the Arab region, as well as forge a roadmap for greater regional cooperation: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.


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