The research programme on Peace and Security in the MENA Region studies threats to the region’s security and analyses the role of international diplomacy in improving the prospects for peace in the short, medium and long-term.


  • Sep 2022 +

    Muslim and Arab Contributions to Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Dr. Victoria Stewart-Jolley

    The Arab Drafters of the International Bill of Rights: In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the General Assembly. Even at the point of drafting the process was dogged by claims that it was Eurocentric, dominated by European and ‘Global North’ actors, while disregarding thinkers and cultural voices from outside the European sphere. However, doing so ignores the remarkable history of the jurists from Muslim majority and Arab States, who actively participated throughout the drafting process. Most of the iconic articles, the obvious disavowal of the use of gendered pronouns throughout the texts, or the freedoms of conscience thought and religion were championed, not by French or American jurists, but by Lebanese, Iraqi, and Pakistani. Global South jurists defined and defended human rights, often in the face of opposition from their European and American counterparts, but their contribution and stories have been largely lost or ignored in the literature. This study seeks to restate these histories and bring a greater acknowledgement of the role of Arab and Muslim scholars in creating our understanding of human rights.


  • Nov 2021 + AGDA Insight

    Gulf Countries and the Stabilization Efforts of the Sahel

    Dr Jean-Loup Samaan

    This Insight investigates two key questions: What would be a realistic end state for stabilization efforts in the Sahel? And how can the governance processes at the regional level be recalibrated to efficiently align with the interests of all the stakeholders? Among the several conclusions and recommendations, it suggests that the Gulf states could: one, make sure that the aid recipient countries and their partnering international organisations follow the same long-term objectives – economic and social development and the prevention of local radicalization; two, support the improvement of socio-economic conditions in the Sahel by focusing investments on the modernisation of local infrastructure, connectivity, education, and healthcare; and three, promote policies through the GCC framework, facilitating coordination with other primary players such as the EU.


  • Mar 2020 + AGDA Working Paper

    The Practice and Theory of Stabilisation in the Arab Gulf States

    Dr Timo Behr

    This Working paper seeks to come to a better understanding of the practice of stabilisation amongst Arab Gulf States, as well as the theories that inform their vision of stability, while recognising the significant differences in their approaches. In order to do so, the paper traces the way that Arab Gulf States have sought to promote regional stability over time, identifying a clear shift from a narrow reliance on bilateral assistance as a tool to foster limited foreign policy goals, towards a more comprehensive and ambitious crisis management approach that effectively combines a broad spectrum of hard and soft power tools to reach more ambitious objectives.

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    A Diplomatic Perspective on Stabilisation Jan 2020 H.E. Bernardino León Gross View More
    Jan 2020 + Working Paper

    A Diplomatic Perspective on Stabilisation

    H.E. Bernardino León Gross

    This AGDA Working Paper looks at the role of diplomacy in contemporary stabilisation missions. It highlights the need for diplomacy to occupy a central place in the debate on the future of stabilisation. The paper is divided into three sections. The first section describes the need for diplomacy at a macro level to reach viable parameters for stabilisation. The second section posits the reflection from the MENA region perspective. Finally, the paper presents some thoughts on the experience of Libya as an essentially diplomatic process of stabilisation, which was strongly indigenous in nature.

  • Sep 2019 + AGDA Working Paper

    The Evolution of the Regional Security Complex in the MENA Region

    Dr Christian Koch

    This AGDA working paper looks at the geopolitical changes that have taken place in the MENA region over the past decade with an emphasis on the consequences for established actors and the new opportunities arising for new actors to establish themselves within the existing geopolitical spaces. Three factors can be identified as critical in terms of understanding the current transition. First is the fear of domestic uprisings or disturbances. Second is the growing concern among the Arab states of the MENA region of an expanding Iranian power especially through the use of non-state actors and proxy forces. Third is the fear of US abandonment or re-orientation. All three factors come together to present a different picture of the MENA region than in recent history.

  • Sep 2019 + AGDA Working paper

    Global Tipping Point? Stabilisation in Afghanistan Since 2001

    Dr Mark Sedra

    In many ways the international intervention in Afghanistan represents a tipping point in global thinking on externally-supported stabilisation processes in conflict-affected and fragile states. The Afghanistan stabilisation and state-building project has struggled to achieve sustainable change. In fact, the intervention has had the perverse effect of exacerbating instability and creating new conflict faultlines in some areas. While the stabilisation concept is not without flaws, this paper argues that it was the lack of appropriate preconditions for stabilisation activities coupled with poor implementation that undermined its application. The AGDA Working paper draws six primary lessons from the Afghan stabilisation experience with the potential to inform more effective programmes in comparable contexts.

  • Jan 2019 + AGDA Working Paper

    Urban Warfare: Stabilisation of Cities

    Virginia Comolli

    The aim of this AGDA working paper is to inform the reader about the specificity and challenges of stabilisation efforts in cities. In doing so, the paper first provides a broader overview of key demographic and urbanisation trends before introducing the subject of urban conflict and approaches to deal with it from both a security and humanitarian perspective. The discussion relies on lessons learnt from past conflict and post-conflict situations, with a specific focus on Middle East-specific examples.

  • Jan 2019 + Working Paper

    Non-State Armed Actors and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Lessons from Peace Processes and Implications for Stabilisation.

    Dr Ed Marques and Sylvia Rognvik

    This paper looks at ways we can constructively engage with Non-State Armed Actors (NSAAs) in peace processes, and what are the implications of such engagement for international stabilisation efforts in the Middle East and North Africa. It first describes the characteristics of NSAAs in the MENA region and then discusses the various roles NSAAs can play in decentralised states. It finally analyses the complicated relationship between NSAAs and peace processes, drawing some lessons learned from various experiences.

  • Dec 2018 + Working paper

    The Soldier and the Curator: The Challenges of Defending Cultural Property in Conflict Areas’ December 2018

    Dr Jean-Loup Samaan and Jean-Gabriel Leturcq

    This AGDA Working Paper aims to bring to light the numerous initiatives of international actors to defend cultural property before, during or after conflicts. The paper starts by retracing the issue of protecting cultural property in times of war in modern history. It then analyses recent developments, in particular the creation in 2017 of an International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas. Finally, the paper highlights some of the most significant issues policy-makers will need to address in the near future, including the uncertainties regarding the legal framework relating to ongoing conflicts.

  • Nov 2018 + Working Paper

    Competing for Justice: Transitional Justice and Stabilisation in the Middle East/North Africa

    Dr Zinaida Miller

    This AGDA Working Paper identifies factors that shape the potential for transitional justice in the MENA region to reinforce stability, foment change, and allocate power. Rather than focusing on a single case study, it references salient characteristics and challenges raised by different national and regional situations. The paper is structured around four categories: (1) the choice and design of mechanisms; (2) the conditions of transition; (3) the inclusion of economic factors; and (4) the role of memory, history, and reconciliation.

  • Nov 2018 + Insight

    The Economic, Security and Military Implications of Artificial Intelligence for the Arab Gulf Countries.

    Dr Jean-Marc Rickli

    This AGDA Insight reviews some of the economic and security implications of AI for the Arab Gulf countries. It first defines and reviews recent breakthroughs in AI, then looks at the economic implications of AI in terms of productivity growth, but also jobs destruction and displacement. The security implications are also analysed by focusing on autonomous weapons system and their impact on strategic stability. It is followed by analysis of some uses of AI in the cyber domain and argues that cyber AI-supported offensive operations and manipulations are likely to be the biggest challenge that the Arab Gulf countries will face in the near future. It concludes by looking at the issue of the global governance of AI.


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    Stabilisation and Peacebuilding Efforts Since the 1990s Oct 2018 Dr Jonathan Fisher and Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert. View More
    Oct 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Stabilisation and Peacebuilding Efforts Since the 1990s

    Dr Jonathan Fisher and Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert.

    Stabilisation has increasingly become the central guiding rationale behind international interventions in situations of conflict and peacebuilding. It has also become a core policy discourse used to articulate and describe both the content and ambitions of such interventions. This AGDA Working Paper explores what has been the nature of stabilisation missions since the end of the Cold War. It compares three case studies (Uganda in the 1990s, Haiti in the 2000s and South Sudan since the mid-2000s) that have been on the recipient end of stabilisation practices.

  • Oct 2018 + Working paper

    Contemporary Approaches to International Stabilisation Efforts

    Dr Victor Gervais

    This AGDA Working Paper looks at a variety of relevant international attempts to build the conceptual and institutional toolkit for stabilisation activities. It first provides an overview of what makes stabilisation distinctive from competing concepts and practices, and then reviews a range of institutional models and bureaucratic mechanisms developed in various Euro-Atlantic countries with experience leading stabilisation responses. Along the way, the paper lays out priorities, options and ways forward that together could support ongoing attempts by new actors involved in stabilisation efforts, in particular in the MENA region, to develop their own conception of stabilisation and build the instruments they need to build state resilience and promote peace and security across the region.

  • May 2018 + AGDA Insight

    Iran’s Missile Programmes: Evolving Strategic Objectives and Capabilities

    Dr Victor Gervais

    This Insight evaluates the current state of Iran’s missile capabilities and assesses their potential evolution towards greater operational efficiency. The insight first provides an overview of Iran’s missile programs. It then examines the military and strategic utility of Iran’s missiles and analyses the impact of emerging capabilities on its military doctrine. Finally, the Insight assesses the implications for regional security and stability of reported transfers of Iranian missiles to non-state forces in the region.


  • May 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Yemen: Immediate-To-Short Term Actions to Improve the Humanitarian Situation

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    This AGDA Working Paper looks into ways to improve the humanitarian situation in Yemen in the immediate to short term. The focus is on finding solutions in four areas: the increase in food insecurity, the disruption of basic services, the spread of communicable diseases and the needs of those that are internally displaced. It argues for solutions with regard to access and distribution of vital goods throughout Yemen, stabilisation of Yemen’s financial system and ensuring indiscriminate basic service provision and for scaling up assistance and living up to aid pledges.

  • Apr 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Consolidating the Iraqi State: Challenges and Opportunities

    Dr Victor Gervais

    Iraq stands at a pivotal moment - once again. The military defeat of Daesh represents a renewed opportunity to reorient the country's trajectory towards long-term stability and economic prosperity. While the task of rebuilding areas liberated from Daesh will require sustained efforts in the coming years, the Iraqi elites must also ensure that problems of a deeper structural nature will be tackled. Without this, the military success again Daesh will soon vanish; This working Paper analyses the broad structural challenges facing the Iraqi state, along with possible solutions, in order to establish clearer priorities and options for dealing with them. In particular, three key elements of structural fragility are identified in three dimensions of the state's capacity and sustainability.

  • Apr 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Stabilisation in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: Different Dimensions of an Elusive Concept

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    Politicians and commentators commonly talk of the need for ‘stability’ and ‘stabilisation’ when referring to the current situation in the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Indeed, stabilisation is what the broader MENA region seems to be in desperate need of, but a lack of consensus around what stability entails and how to get there, might keep fueling instability instead. This paper is a first of a series that will be published as part of the AGDA’s Stabilisation Research Initiative (SRI), led by AGDA faculty members dr. Saskia van Genugten and dr. Victor Gervais. In this framing paper, the author offers an initial exploration of the different dimensions of stabilisation as can be found in the existing literature, thereby combining current ideas, approaches and lessons identified by practitioners and academics alike. Along the way, the paper identifies common challenges and areas for further exploration within the AGDA’s research initiative.

  • Apr 2018 + AGDA Insight

    Increasing the Participation of Women in Peace Processes

    Hannah Beswick

    Qualitative and quantitative data have proven the positive impact that women’s participation in the peace process has on the likelihood of a durable, positive peace – one that goes beyond the immediate absence of violence, and strives to achieve justice for all but despite the recognition of the benefits, women are still massively underrepresented in peace processes. This AGDA Insight looks at how women’s participation at the peace table impacts the longevity and durability of the peace, and includes strategies and recommendations on how to bolster women’s participation at the peace table.


  • Nov 2017 + AGDA Insight

    Europe’s New Defence Ambitions: Engagements in the MENA Region

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    Issues such as Brexit, Catalonia and the rise of nationalism dominate the global headlines on Europe and tend to point towards the disintegrating of the continent. However, at the same time, a new ambition for increased European defence cooperation among the EU member states, is exposing a rather different trend that is bringing Europeans together on one of the most sensitive issues of national sovereignty: security. This AGDA Insight looks at the driving factors behind Europe’s renewed assertiveness on defence matters, provides an overview of recently launched initiatives and assesses the potential implications, including for Europe’s civilian and military operations in the wider MENA region.


  • Nov 2017 + AGDA Insight

    Trump’s Proposed Foreign Aid Policies: Potential Implications for MENA

    Dr Elham S. McManus

    The countries in the MENA region have had different levels of need when it comes to foreign aid. While some countries, in particular members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), have themselves long been donors of aid, others have been highly dependent on the financial support received from more prosperous countries. Thus, one cannot but wonder how populism – in the US and Europe – and its implication for foreign aid, might impact the development and security of the MENA region. With this issue in mind, this AGDA Insight examines the change in US foreign aid policy and its implications for the MENA region.


  • Apr 2017 + AGDA Insight

    Libya: Building Political Consensus around Economic Objectives

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    Despite all the political divisions, most Libyans can probably agree on the fact that action is needed to stabilize their country’s economy. The current economic malaise is on the one hand caused by suboptimal oil revenues due to disruptions in production, a lack of investments, and low oil prices. On the other hand Libya suffers from disputes over economic governance and pressure on national economic institutions to take sides in the ongoing political crisis. This AGDA Insight provides a background on the Libyan economy and assesses both long term economic challenges as well as the additional complications caused by the civil wars.


  • Mar 2017 + AGDA Working Paper

    Livelihoods For Syrian Refugees: Transitioning from a Humanitarian to a Developmental Paradigm

    Lorraine Charles and Dr Saskia van Genugten

    Several countries that have been hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees since 2011 are changing their policy assumptions with regard to Syrian refugees. Instead of designing policies from a ‘temporary and humanitarian’ perspective, governments are increasingly seeking more ‘developmental and (semi-)permanent’ solutions. Labour market integration is a key aspect of this change and the authors discuss this issue through case studies of Jordan and Turkey.

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    External Powers in the Horn of Africa: The Case of Iran Jan 2017 Dr Saskia van Genugten, with Amna Fikri View More
    Jan 2017 + AGDA Insight

    External Powers in the Horn of Africa: The Case of Iran

    Dr Saskia van Genugten, with Amna Fikri

    Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and the Sudan are located along vital shipping routes, including the Red Sea, the Bab el Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. At the same time, many states in the Horn of Africa are faced with institutional, economic and security challenges. Due to the strategic importance and a reliance on external support, many global, regional and local actors contribute to the Horn’s security environment. With a specific focus on Iran, this AGDA Insight assesses the interactions and realignments between external and local actors in the Horn of Africa.


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    Hezbollah Beyond the Syrian Conflict Jan 2017 Dr Jean-Loup Samaan View More
    Jan 2017 + AGDA Insight

    Hezbollah Beyond the Syrian Conflict

    Dr Jean-Loup Samaan

    Hezbollah played a significant role in the Syrian regime’s brutal takeover of Aleppo in the last battle of December 2016, albeit at high costs. This AGDA Insight evaluates the current status of Hezbollah and assesses its potential evolution after the Syrian war. The Insight looks at the group’s involvement in the Syrian conflict since 2011, assesses the evolution of the Hezbollah-Israel conflict, describes the regionalization of Hezbollah’s agenda and explores two possible scenarios for the evolution of Hezbollah and their implications for regional security.


  • Nov 2016 + AGDA Insight

    The EU’s External Migration Policy and Implications for the MENA Region

    Dr Silvia Colombo

    The sharp increase in refugees seeking asylum in Europe has pulled the European Union (EU) into the global humanitarian migration crisis and forced urgent action. This AGDA Insight assesses recent developments in the EU’s external migration policy and looks at the implications of these policies for the EU itself as well as for the regional (in)stability of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.


  • Sep 2016 + AGDA Insight

    The MENA Youth Conundrum: Generating Productivity, Preventing Disillusionment

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    The MENA region has, on average, the highest youth unemployment in the world. Educational and professional opportunities in the region remain low and with the number of young adults rapidly increasing, the issue is often not addressed with the necessary urgency.

  • Jul 2016 + AGDA Insight

    A Failed Coup in Turkey: What are the Consequences?

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    The attempted military coup in Turkey confirmed the decreased ability of the military to intervene in Turkey’s democracy, the continuous popular support for the democratically elected government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the government’s determination to consolidate its position. This AGDA Insight provides context on the coup attempt and explores the implications of its aftermath, both domestically as well as internationally.


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    Combatting Daesh in Libya Apr 2016 Dr Saskia van Genugten View More
    Apr 2016 + AGDA Insight

    Combatting Daesh in Libya

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    This policy brief focuses on the strength, strategy and tactics of Daesh in Libya and assesses the range of policy instruments the international community could employ to help the legitimate Libyan authorities in their efforts to combat terrorism.


  • Mar 2016 + AGDA Insight

    Post-Conflict Yemen: Early Economic Recovery Initiatives

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    This policy brief focuses on the short-term and long-term challenges to Yemen’s economy and suggests priorities for economic recovery in Yemen in a post-conflict phase.



  • The MENA Youth Conundrum - Dr Saskia Vin Genugten Oct 2016 Watch