Economic Policies for Social Justice

Social Justice with its political and economic relevance are at the core of politics in the Arab world today. The uprisings of 2010/11, while not bringing about lasting political change to the region, have nonetheless exposed the ultimate need for political and especially economic reforms. Since the uprisings it has become more and more obvious, that the current economic order of the Arab World is not sustainable, neither socially, economically or ecologically. The need for economic policies for Social Justice is pressing – and growing.

An overstretched public sector has been unable to absorb the growing number of unemployed and public budgets are consumed by largely ineffective subsidies, while corruption and a rent-seeking economy limit innovation and investment in the private sector. In this situation, International Financial Institutions continue to call for structural adjustment programs and economic liberalization. Such policies have been implemented for many decades now, and economic growth in the region was mostly produced by a mixture of neoliberal and crony-capitalist economic policies. However, this growth only benefited a small elite and created sharp social inequalities. The increasing privatization of public goods and services, such as healthcare and education, have further cemented these inequalities. Further inequalities in terms of public services, investment and employment persist between the center and the periphery in all countries of the region.

In the absence of politically accountable governments, social injustice has contributed to protests, political instability and, in the worst cases, to armed conflicts and wars. For many countries of the region, reconstruction will be a decisive issue over the coming years. Choices towards social justice in reconstruction will be crucial to ensure sustainable peace and development.

In the light of these developments, it is safe to say that neoliberal policies have dramatically failed the Arab world. However, in a political environment increasingly dominated by securitization, political and religious extremism, the crucial debate on causes and effects of economic policies and its alternatives is bitterly absent, yet more necessary than ever before.

  • Photo: FES MENA

Core Group and National Workshops

The project’s main focus is to develop alternatives to current economic policies, which have led to social injustice in the MENA region. These alternatives are developed by a group of distinguished scholars and researchers from the region, called the “Core Group”. Throughout the first project year of 2016, a first draft of proposals for alternatives policies has been discussed in national stakeholder workshops in 12 countries in North Africa and the Middle East. The recommendations, critique and ideas from these workshops will further inform and influence the development of the drafting of economic alternatives by the Core Group.

  • Photo: FES MENA

Publications and Thematic Workshops

This project aims to initiate academic debates on pressing economic issues and to connect academics from the region with civil society and stakeholders. The goal is to broaden the knowledge and understanding of economic issues and policies among relevant stakeholders and civil society. Only on this basis an informed debate on economic policy and its relation to Social Justice becomes possible. In a next step, broader coalitions between academics, decision makers, trade unions, political parties and civil society are needed to initiate and demand progressive change towards social justice. Workshops and conferences seek to connect experts and civil society throughout the MENA region, while studies and articles will inform the debate.

The main axes of work in this project are international trade agreements, the role of International Financial Institutions, reforms of the subsidy systems, regional disparity in relation to Social Justice and the question of Social Justice in the field of post-war reconstruction.


Launching Publication Regional Conference

A new publication by FES is set to shed light on the causes and costs of economic injustices and present feasible alternatives for new economic...


Alternative Economy and employment

The prospects and types of employment in new and emerging sectors of the economy in the MENA were the subject of the expert workshop. The workshop was...


North Africa’s Trade Arrangements: Complementarities and Contradictions with the CFTA

The establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) are currently debated within the African Union. Which place will North Africa assume in...


Theme Week “Time for Justice”: Marginalization in the Maghreb

“Regions left behind” was the theme of a panel discussion and movie screening in Berlin on the subject of social and economic marginalization in the...



Fiscal reforms caused economic downturn, economists argue

AMMAN — Fiscal reforms implemented 10 years ago were the main cause of the downturn in Jordan’s economy, and similar policies are still being...


Experts say social justice should drive economic policies

AMMAN — Economic policies should strive for social justice and to engage the younger generation in the development process, experts and policy makers...



Thomas Claes

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Tunisia

  • Project Director

+216 71 775 343

Towards Socially Just Development in the MENA-Region

Towards Socially Just Development in the MENA-Region

The publication „Towards Socially Just Development in the MENA-Region” intends to rekindle debate on economic policy, leftist critique of the economic order and the relation of social justice and economic policy choices in the Middle East and North Africa.


Ansatzpunkte einer nationalen Beschäftigungsstrategie für Tunesien

Wirtschaftliche Probleme und soziale Ungerechtigkeiten lösten im Jahr 2011 die Revolution

in Tunesien aus. Seither hat sich viel in Tunesien getan;...