Since the first wave of structural adjustment and other neoliberal reforms in the MENA region, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have played a major role in shaping, articulating and financing economic policies in the MENA region. These policies have been very consequential for social and economic justice in the region. They have often lead to at deterioration of socio-economic rights, reduced social protection, fewer and less qualitative public services; especially in healthcare and education, increased levels of inequality, and the emergence of new economic elites, connected to authoritarian regimes.
Remarkably, in the light of these issues and the long-term economic crisis in the region, IFIs still advocate for similar economic policies. For example, recent agreements of the IMF regarding loans for Tunisia, Egypt or Jordan have set conditions, which are harmful to the most vulnerable strata of society in these countries: Austerity measures, such as cuts in subsidies, are not offset by social protection nets or investments in public goods.
Additionally, the resources set aside from social spending are often shifted to security and military budgets, instead of sustainable development and long-term investments. Scholars and researchers from the region need to study the consequences of such policies and present feasible alternatives to decision-makers on national and international levels.