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Solutions to Sectarianism? Examining efforts at ‘de-sectarianisation’ across the Middle East

On 10 September the Foreign Policy Centre and the Richardson Institute at the University of Lancaster hosted a conference entitled Solutions to Sectarianism? Examining efforts at ‘de-sectarianisation’ across the Middle East, part of the Sectarianism, Proxies & De-sectarianisation (SEPAD) project.

The conference explored the role of sectarian identities in an increasingly complex and fluid Middle East. It seeked to move forward from the analysis of the regional situation provided by SEPAD and the Foreign Policy Centre in 2018 (through their work Saudi Arabia and Iran: The Struggle to Shape the Middle East) to examine the reality on the ground and set out ideas for action needed to deliver meaningful peace and reconciliation.

The conference looked at how sectarian identities continue to resonate and the ways in which they are being challenged by local actors, looking at the successes and failures of public mobilisation from the Lebanese #YOUSTINK movement to activism around the 2018 Iraq elections. Using a broad definition of sectarianism based on identity politics the conference discussed how it is shaped by a range of socio-economic, political, ideological and ethnic factors that are further exploited by regional and international actors for their own geopolitical objectives.

The conference specifically focused on the cases of Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain that facing the aftermath of war or civic strife. It also explored what lessons can be learned from these countries that are relevant in navigating a route out of the active conflicts in Syria and Yemen. In each case it examined what can be done to encourage de-sectarianisation in these countries at a civil society, national and international level.

When September 10, 2019 9am - 3pm

Work Foundation, 21 Palmer St, Westminister, London SW1H 0AD


Dr Simon Mabon, Lancaster University

Dr Morten Valbjørn, Aarhus University

Samira Nasirzadeh, Lancaster University

Dr Edward Wastnidge, Open University

Adam Hug, Foreign Policy Centre

Professor Toby Dodge, LSE

Fanar Haddad, National University of Singapore

Ana Maria Kumarasamy, Lancaster University

Dr Staci Strobl, University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Thomas Fibiger, Aarhus University

Drewery Dyke, Rights Realisation Centre

Anne Kirstine Rønn, Aarhus University

Dr Bassel Salloukh, Lebanese American University

Simona Sikimic-French, Islamic Relief

Dr Sana Al Sarghali, An-Najah National University

Dr Mohammad Yaghi, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

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