Disastrous Triumphs: the Arab Spring five years on

Friday, 17 June 2016, 10:30 a.m.
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - ASERI
Via San Vittore 18, Milano


Paolo Lembo, on UN special assignment to Burundi and former Director UN Regional Center for the Middle East

Riccardo Redaelli, Director of the ASERI Master in Middle Eastern Studies

In 2011 the Arab World begun unravelling. What initially was euphoria quickly turned into chaos. Today we recognize that the unflinching tide of unorderly Middle East uprisings ignited an epochal transformation. Still, some claim there is no transformation of sort and  there must not be, because the Middle East is not ready to absorb a socio-political system different than what it had. Or, at least that is proclaimed by those who glance at the Middle East through lens we call: Orientalism. One hundred years since the fall of the Ottoman empire, the Arab nation has still to witness the lights of an era where people master their own destiny, where everybody freely expresses her/his views, where pluralism reflects the richness of precious historical heritages, where scientific empiricism leads innovation. In the quest for a new Arab nation, many are determined not to let the dark creeds of religious atavism or military regression to suppress their aspirations once more. Still, many are not. It is commonly asserted that Western liberal democracy is losing credibility and that the international community must be more open to tolerate and even encourage non-Western political models. Calls for non-Western forms of Democracy have been around many years, but are becoming more ubiquitous in the struggles of contemporary Middle East history. Will these calls succeed in becoming integral building blocks of the emerging post-Western world order? And, most importantly, will those behind these calls be able to offer a credible alternative vision to bring peace and progress in regions that currently have none of either?

Paolo Lembo has been with the United Nations System since 1987, holding increasingly responsible positions in several assignments, mostly related to complex emergencies. Among the others, he was Head of Mission in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Tajikistan, Kosovo, Kuwait, UAE, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Burundi and Director of the UNDP Regional Centre for Arab States. He holds a Laurea cum Laude in Literature and an MA in Modern Drama  from the University of Rome La Sapienza. He has authored or supervised a number of UN publications and studies, mostly concerned with human development, peace-keeping and peace-building. He is a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the United Nations Peace University and  regularly holds courses on Peace-keeping at several universities in Europe and the US.

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