Economy and Social Justice

While socio-economic factors were an important driver for the protest movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2010/11, most of the countries continue to follow a neoliberal economic model. Some governments were able to secure social peace through rentier income, but this has become less and less successful due to the decline in the oil price. Structural deficits in economic policy, such as the high dependence on the energy sector, the need for labour market policy reform, low productivity, and a low rate of industrialisation, are thus becoming increasingly apparent.

Due to economic and financial difficulties, many countries in the region have had to call on the support of international financial institutions such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Tied to this financial support were structural adjustment conditions that were supposed to increase the countries' international competitiveness. However, a side effect of liberalisation, privatisation, and the reduction of state services is growing social inequality. The economic growth achieved benefited a small and well-connected elite and entrenched clientelist structures of power.

Increasing social inequality in the region has a negative impact on the development of the respective countries, not only economically, but also socially and politically. Inadequate social security systems in need of reform, a dramatic increase in informal employment and the unfulfilled hope of social advancement through education are leading to increasing resignation and a lack of prospects, especially among young people.

With its regional project Economic Policies for Social Justice, based in Tunis, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) aims to revitalise the debate on economic policy in the region. Instead of the discussion being stuck in the rut of structural adjustment and austerity measures that are believed to be "without alternative", real economic policy alternatives are to be considered. These should contribute to strengthening social justice in the economies of the region.

Publications

Mechanisms of exploitation: Economic and social changes in Syria during the conflict

Mehchy, Zaki

Mechanisms of exploitation: Economic and social changes in Syria during the conflict

Beirut, 2022

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Uncovered: the role of the IMF in shrinking the social protection

Uncovered: the role of the IMF in shrinking the social protection

Case studies from Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco
LaMarsa, 2022

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A decade of rosy forecasts

Rehbein, Kristina

A decade of rosy forecasts

How the IMF underestimated debt risks in the MENA region
LaMarsa, 2022

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Tax justice in Tunisia

Bouzaiene, Amine

Tax justice in Tunisia

An ideal crushed by debt policies
LaMarsa, 2021

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The Tunisian debt crisis in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Tunisian debt crisis in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Debt repayments over human rights?
Tunis, 2021

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Economic Policies for Social Justice

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. More

To know more about our international work:

Global Economy and Corporate Responsibility

Global Economy and Corporate Responsibility

From a progressive perspective, there is no doubt that global economic, trade and tax policies serve a higher goal. Primarily, they are instruments to reduce inequality within and between states and between the Global North and Global South. A beneficial global economic order serves the common good: It provides solutions to social issues, instead of exacerbating them. More

International Community and Civil Society

International Community and Civil Society

We are fighting for international solidarity and democratic participation in global politics. Civil society needs to have a say when it comes to solving problems and making rules that apply to all of us. The common good, and not the interests of the economically powerful, should be front and center – also on the global stage. More

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