The struggle for inclusive citizenship in Arab countries


A presentation of the 2019 Arab Human Development Research Paper along with some preliminary survey results, conducted in twelve Arab countries, was followed by a panel discussion.

From left to right: moderator Ambassador Richard LeBaron, presenters Dr. Adel Abdellatif and Ms. Paola Pagliani, and discussants Dr. Amaney Jamal and Dr. James Zogby.

On October 1, 2019, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and the United Nations Development Programme presented a preview of the 2019 Arab Human Development Research Paper, followed by a panel discussion. The paper focuses on the struggle for citizenship in all its dimensions in Arab countries. Dr. Adel Abdellatif, Senior Strategic Advisor at the Regional Bureau for Arab States, and Ms. Paola Pagliani, Policy Specialist from the United Nations Development Programme presented the conceptual framework outlined in this research paper and previewed some of the preliminary results of surveys conducted in twelve Arab countries.

Since the 2011 uprisings, Arab countries have struggled to define a new social contract that would insulate their citizens from forces of exclusion—forces that range from poverty, inequality and unemployment to water scarcity, corruption and gender discrimination. In some cases, reforms and policies aiming at modernization have, as an unintended consequence, generated greater inequality rather than greater inclusion. In other cases, exclusion has fueled societal tensions, instability and ultimately violence, putting people at greater risk of marginalization. If ongoing conflicts are not resolved and demographic projections do not deviate from current trends, 40 percent of people in Arab countries will live in crisis and conflict conditions by 2030.

Dr. Abdellatif oversees the UNDP’s flagship Arab Human Development Report covering topics such as youth, human security, gender, and freedom since the first report was released in 2002. Dr. Jamal has extensive experience in surveying social, political, and economic attitudes of citizens across the Arab world and studying the role of civic associations in promoting democracy in the region. Dr. Zogby specializes in polling in the Middle East and is a frequent commentator on Arab and Arab-American affairs.  Ambassador Richard LeBaron, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center, moderated the discussion.


Dr. Adel Abdellatif
Senior Strategic Advisor, Regional Bureau for Arab States
United Nations Development Programme

Ms. Paola Pagliani
Policy Specialist
United Nations Development Programme


Dr. Amaney A. Jamal
Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics
Princeton University

Dr. James Zogby
Managing Director
Zogby Research Services


Ambassador Richard LeBaron
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council