13.07.12 10:25

Call for Abstract: UNU-CRIS/UNECA Joint Conference: After the Arab Spring: Rethinking the Role of Regional Organisations in Promoting Democratic Governance, Brussels, 22-23 November 2012

Call for Abstract

After the Arab Spring: Rethinking the Role of Regional Organisations in Promoting Democratic Governance

UNU-CRIS/UNECA Joint Conference, 22-23 November 2012, Brussels

Submission of Abstracts: August 31, 2012

Submission of Papers: October 15, 2012

Abstracts submitted after this date will not be accepted.


Inquiries and submission should be directed to the programme chairs:


For more information, please visit the conference website at:







The end of the Cold War has witnessed increasing efforts by regional organisations in promoting democratic governance among their member states. Regional organisations all over the world embrace the idea that without political stability, it would be difficult, if not altogether impossible, to achieve economic and developmental prosperities. As such, these organisations have been playing an increasingly important role in guaranteeing peace and security within their region as they promote cooperation and dialogue initiatives in various economic, political and social issues.

The recent civil unrests and mass protests that swept through several Arab states (hence the phrase ‘Arab Spring’) have revealed certain fundamental weaknesses in the structures, ability and capacity of regional organisations to respond to popular protests and yearnings for democratic change. In many cases, these organisations do not have the institutional mechanism and normative frameworks to deal with such popular uprisings. This has brought to light one fundamental truth: that there is more to be done by regional organisations to guarantee peace and security and prevent conflicts than just adopting multitudinous treaties and encouraging the conduct of democratic elections in their member states. The Arab Spring thus affords the opportunity for regional organisations worldwide to undertake a comprehensive soul-searching reflection and ask themselves a critical question: what exactly should be the role of regional organisations in promoting democratic governance and what should be strategy for doing so?

Consequently, policies that deal with the promotion of democratic governance and standards in regional organisations deserve to be studied closely. However in order to do so, we must address the continuing questions about the details regarding what exactly is democratic governance and the extent to which regionally based membership organisations can promote democratic governance on the part of their members states. These are by no means non-controversial issues, hence present serious challenges to regional organisations.

In addition, there is also the need to assess the democratic nature of the structures and processes of regional organisations. Although regional organisations try to promote democratic governance, they often face critiques concerning their own internal democratic deficit. Such deficit might hinder the ability of regional organisations to implement the promotion of democratisation. This raises the question on how an organisation can promote democratic governance in member states, when at the same time it is challenged at promoting internal democracy in its structures and processes.  


1.    To review the role of regional organisations in promoting democratic governance among their member states, either in relation to post-conflict situations or in other contexts.

2.    To develop detailed knowledge on how regional organisations facilitate and support post conflict countries as well as work on their governance deficits in order to promote democratic values.

3.    To nurture a dialogue on ways in which regional organisations can strengthen their cooperation in democracy promotion, stability and improved governance.

4.    To give an opportunity for participants to discuss how regional organisations maintain democratic governance after a change of regime, and;

5.    To develop new strategies on how regional organisations operate to ensure democratic governance.

1.   Concept and theory of Democratic Governance in regional contexts;

2.   Normative, Legal and Institutional Framework of Regional Institutions in Promoting Democratic Governance; 

3.   Role of Different Regional Organisations and Obstacles in the Past and Present in Facilitating Democratic Governance; 

4.   Democratic Governance, Citizenship, Peace, and Security in Regional Contexts; 

5.   Democratic Deficits in Regional Institutions and Implications for Regional Democracy Building;

6.  Globalisation, External Actors, Institutions and Governments in Influencing Regional Institutions and Regional Democracy Agenda-positively or negatively, and;

7.   Economic Opportunities and Challenges in Promoting Democratic Governance in Regional Contexts.

1.    Senior officials of key regional institutions (E.g. AU, EU, ASEAN, OAS, Arab League, ECOWAS, ECCAS, SADC, EAC, IGAD etc);

2.    Leading academics and scholars working on regional institutions, and; 

3.    Policy makers, practitioners and civil society organisations. 

The conference will be jointly organised by UNU-CRIS and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The UNECA is the UN regional organ, based in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, established in 1958 to facilitate the socio-economic and political development of the continent and has been actively involved in promoting regional integration, economic empowerment and democratic governance in Africa.




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