Rethinking and Reshapingthe EU’s Democracy Supportin Its Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods
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Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs

Inaugurated in 2006, the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut (IFI) is an independent, research-based, policy-oriented institute. It aims to initiate and develop policy-relevant research in and about the Arab world.

The Institute aims to bridge the gap between academia and policymaking by conducting high quality research on the complex issues and challenges faced by Lebanese and Arab societies within shifting international and global contexts, by generating evidence-based policy recommendations and solutions for Lebanon and the Arab world, and by creating an intellectual space for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas among researchers, scholars, civil society actors, media, and policy makers.

Through its work, IFI aspires to inform policy-making processes and influence the public debate, as well as to innovatively explore state of the art research methodologies and new ways for research dissemination. IFI also responds to emerging policy needs in Lebanon and the Arab world by attracting talented scholars and practitioners and building an agile organization.

Main contacts

Photo of Karim Makdisi
Karim Makdisi

Associate Professor of International Politics

Photo of Jamil Mouawad
Jamil Mouawad

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Studies and Policy

Photo of Joseph Bahout
Joseph Bahout

Director, IFI & Associate Professor of Practice in Political Studies

Role within SHAPEDEM-EU

Within the scope of the SHAPEDEM-EU project, IFI seeks to critically engage with EU practices of democracy support over the last decade taking into account intergenerational democratic knowledge in the Arab world, while focusing on the EU’s role and programs in the Arab world with their multiple and (often) contradictory meanings and diverse impacts at the local level. Accordingly, IFI will map and analyse local voices as well as ‘gate-keepers’ that mediate interrelations with the EU and their practices of adaptation and resistance to EU democracy support practices. IFI will also explore mechanisms for a more effective and inclusive democracy learning loop to ensure closer interrelationships between the local visions/local ownership and the EU to improve tools to support practices of democracy in the target countries.

Our vision for SHAPEDEM-EU

It is important to analyse and critique the EU’s democratization practices in the Arab world, and to shed light on how democracy and democratic politics are practiced and contested in the region. The Arab world is much more complex and dynamic than is usually represented in EU policy circles, and we hope our contribution will lead to rethinking such policies and views.

- from Karim Makdisi