By Policy Center for the New South
At What Time?
Monday, November 1, 15h00
The Challenge of Governance in Times of Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed all around the globe several failures in institutional and political management. Indeed, public health systems, government capability and trust in government have all been challenged during the pandemic. At the beginning of the sanitary crisis, quick initial responses from governments were crucial to the propagation of the virus, e.g. closing borders, alleviating the initial economic impact of lockdowns etc. At the peak of the pandemic, public health systems were tested due to the high number of hospitalisations. In addition, the digitalisation of education and administrative procedures was critical to ensure the continuity of social life.  Today, the organisation of successful vaccination campaigns is decisive to end this crisis. In the near future, governments should also implement various policies to counter the long-standing effects of the pandemic. To cope with these challenges, good governance is a paramount stake. In this regard, we will address why good governance is important in times of the pandemic.

  • How can government responses to the pandemic be assessed in the light of governance?
  • Why governance is crucial to overcome long term impacts of the pandemic?

Opening Remarks

Speaker: Karim El Aynaoui, Executive President, Policy Center for the New South

Wednesday, November 3, 15h00
The Vaccine Patent Controversy and the South
Despite significant scientific, technological, and industrial strides, access to the various COVID-19 vaccines remains highly unequal, as vaccine manufacturing, research and development remain too heavily concentrated in high and upper middle-income countries. With a substantially more limited access to vaccines, lower income countries are, thus, left vulnerable to future waves of the disease, which in turn will continue to jeopardize economic recovery and political stability.
One of the main reasons explaining such access disparities, is the controversy surrounding the intellectual property protection of vaccines.  Countries such as India and South Africa have backed a global scale campaign to waive vaccine patents and ease technology transfers, but this initiative continues to be strongly opposed. Critics of the waiver proposal question for instance the extent to which lower income countries possess the infrastructure and materials to scale up manufacturing, while arguing that bottlenecks in the supply chains and the scarcity of raw materials remains the main challenge impeding greater production and distribution.

  • To what extent can vaccine patent waivers alleviate the obstacles hindering the Global South’s access to vaccines?
  • How can intellectual property rights be reconciled with moral and ethical imperatives to protect world populations?
  • How can the international community contribute to democratizing access to vaccines?

Friday, November 5, 15h00
Multilateralism in the Construction of a New World Order
Since the beginning of the health crisis, combined with the polarization between the United States and China and the resurgence of nationalist sentiments, the world has entered a new geopolitical era. The world order as we knew it in the aftermath of the Cold War, with globalization and global governance with one leader, is now being challenged. The resolution of transnational challenges is lagging behind due to the withdrawal of states and the lack of leadership and trust in international institutions. Recent events and developments on the international scene have even shown the predominance of unilateral and bilateral relations in order to protect and preserve national interests. The amplified differences between the countries of the North and the South reveal the need to adopt an equitable multilateralism in the establishment of a new world order.
What role can we entrust to international institutions in the construction of this new world order? How can we rebuild a sense of trust?
With the predominance of new major players like China, can we say that the new world order will signal the end of the Western order?
Hasn't the health crisis proved that multilateralism is in retreat and that its values have been undermined for decades?
Monday, November 8, 15h00
Stability Challenges in Africa: Rethinking Efforts
Stability is a key element to unlock Africa’s untapped potential. Besides preventing several deaths and forced population displacement, stability is a prerequisite for democracy-building and investment attraction in the continent. For the past decades, many policies have been implemented to resolve the problem of stability in Africa. Many of these efforts have failed to encompass the complexity and the particularity of the continent. Most of these solutions have also been imported from outside Africa (e.g. international peacekeeping, foreign military interventions, foreign reports and recommendations). Today, many voices recommend thinking about solutions within the African framework. In addition, they advocate for the implementation of these policies via African institutions. In fact, some initiatives have been implemented by regional institutions (e.g. ECOWAS’ sanctions on military rulers of Sierra Leone). Furthermore, this paradigm shift should be most and foremost thought of by African experts and intellectuals on the basis of Africa’s day-to-day reality. In this regard, we will address stability stakes in today’s Africa. We will also apprehend previous and current efforts to stabilise the continent. Finally, we will discuss some original mechanisms to achieve Africa’s stability.

  • What are the issues at stake behind Africa’s stability?
  • Why previous policies have failed to revolve stability challenges in Africa?
  • What is the role of African institutions in achieving the continent’s stability?
  • How can we innovate in stability mechanisms in Africa?

Wednesday, November 10, 15h00
The Technology-Human Rights Nexus : Finding Balance
The world needs to understand how technology affects human rights, just as needs a reality check on the “technology-human rights nexus”. Can we live in a free society without privacy? is technology endangering human rights? These two questions merit further reflection.
Today, technology touches almost every aspect of our daily lives, affecting our activities both online and offline. It widened the possibilities of work, education, access to information, health care, etc. But these same technologies can unfortunately be used to infringe our rights.
There are more and more examples of how new technologies such as artificial intelligence can be used as a powerful tool for human rights. While they have the potential to make significant positive contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights. At the same time, however, their rapid development raises serious questions about the potential negative impacts on human rights.
As a result, technologies have an impact on all human rights, from the right to life to the right to privacy, from freedom of expression to social and economic rights. The question of whether we should instead be concerned about the use of these technologies and their deployment in unjust and unequal political, military, economic and social contexts is of vital importance. This session will therefore try to answer the following questions:

  • How can we defend human rights in a technological landscape increasingly shaped by robotics and artificial intelligence?
  • How will the use of technology impact human rights?

Friday, November 12, 15h00
Rebuilding an Inclusive Post-Covid Social Contract
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed flaws in healthcare systems around the world. Despite the inequalities between the different countries in the strength of these systems and the social safety nets, the common observation is that we must rethink social contracts and the relationship between states and their citizens. This renewal of this relationship is based mainly on the quality of services provided by the State and the reform of health systems so that it can withstand future shocks. Nonetheless, we should also take a look on the nature of interactions between citizens and decision-makers. Globally, populations have opposed the coercive methods used by states to impose confinements and mandatory vaccinations, in this context, the issue of trust between states and citizens is at the heart of the overhaul of Post Covid Social Contracts.

  • How can we build an inclusive social contract after what the pandemic has revealed the flaws inside our systems?
  • How does international cooperation impact the national debates on social contracts?
  • Do states have to create global surveillance systems in order to ensure citizen’s well-being?

Monday, November 15, 15h00
Economic Recovery and the Great Reset
The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world into a health, social and economic crisis of exceptional magnitude. In economic terms, the restrictions established to contain the spread of the virus have resulted in a sudden stop to entire sectors of activity and major disruptions to supply chains. Consequently, the global economy experienced its worst recession since World War II in 2020, with a 3.3% contraction in real GDP, a sharp decline in trade and direct investment flows, in addition to massive job losses. As a result, the downward trend in poverty that began in the 1980s has been reversed and more than 100 million additional people have fallen back into extreme poverty.
In this context, a number of questions seem relevant:

  • What are the levers to act on for a quick and strong recovery for the world economy?
  • What place for human development in the post-Covid development strategies?
  • How to conciliate between ambitious development objectives and budget sustainability?

Wednesday, November 17, 15h00
The China-US Trade War: When Will it End?
The escalating US-China trade tensions has resulted in the rise of two separate spheres of influence in both trade and technology and contributed to reshaping the global trade landscape. In order to de-escalate the conflict, the two hegemonies signed the Phase One trade deal in January 2020. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak that undermined trade flows worldwide, China managed however to purchase around 60% of the committed amount for trade in goods in the Phase One deal. The main goal of US in addressing trade imbalances with China was offset with the increasing trade deficits with other industrial countries such as EU, Vietnam, Taiwan and Mexico. The aim of this session is to answer some critical questions related to the US-China trade prospects.

  • Given the different episodes of uncertainty, including the COVID-19 outbreak, what are the urgent areas of collaboration between the US and China?
  • What are the shortcomings of Phase One trade deal and the expectations of Phase Two deal? What might be the optimal alternative approach to purchase commitments in managing the trade imbalances?
  • As the Biden administration is not inclined to immediately review the US policy toward China, what will be the consequences of maintaining tariffs in 2021 on both economies?
  • The deep intertwining of the EU economies, the US and China implies that the trade war is having spillover effects that go beyond the imposed tariffs on China. What are the different implications for the EU in the context of the current crisis?

Friday, November 19, 15h00
Great Threats to Humanity: Sustainable Energies and Climate Change
Climate change is the defining issue of our time. The last decade was the hottest in human history and has seen an increase in natural disasters. These shocks not only damage the environment on which humans depend, but they weaken political, economic, and social systems as well. Tackling climate change requires unparalleled levels of global cooperation. It will compel countries to question their economic models, invent new industries and recognize the moral responsibility that wealthy nations have to the rest of the world, thus placing a value on nature that “goes far beyond money.” One way to combat climate change and reduce the drain on our planet’s resources is to shift to systems that utilize sustainable energy. Renewable energy minimizes carbon pollution and has a much lower impact on our environment. While it will cost money to shift to renewable energy, it will cost much more in the long run if the world fails to do so:

  • Given the current uncertain global context resulting from the health crisis, are countries committed enough in the battle against climate change?
  • How can countries lower the cost of the transition to low-carbon sources of energy? What are the significant policies needed to foster the use of sustainable energy?
  • To pursue its battle against climate change, the EU has introduced a carbon border adjustment mechanism as part of its “Fit for 55” package. What are the possible implications of such mechanisms? Are carbon taxes an adequate tool to incentivize countries to decarbonize?

Monday, November 22, 15h00
Public Health Imperatives in the Global South
The Covid-19 pandemic created a global shock to which public health services attempted to respond and which crystallized on effective ways to ensure global immunity.
Developing countries in the South were faced with a double challenge. On the one hand, they have to deal with the heavy burden of fighting endemic diseases. Africa has been put to the test, in addition to HIV-AIDS, malaria and Ebola, the Marburg virus threatens to further compromise West Africa's capacity to respond.
In Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, immunization rates remain very low (between 10 and 20% at the end of September), according to PAHO/WHO, and the challenges in these regions are similar and relate to the elimination of infectious diseases, the strengthening of emergency risk management capacities and the guarantee of universal health coverage.
On the other hand, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has strained health systems in developing countries and threatens them with collapse. The post-Covid-19 period offers an opportunity to rebuild public health systems in our global south and address the structural failures that undermine them.

  • What are the main failures of the public health sector and what reforms should be put on the agenda?
  • What should be the priorities and pillars of a resilient public sector that serves all citizens?
  • The issue of public health is transversal and touches on the environment, demography, food... How to deal with such a project?
  • Faced with the cost of scientific research and medical equipment, particularly vaccines, how can we ensure substantial funding and a more efficient and fairer international solidarity?

Wednesday, November 24, 15h00
Global Power Competition: The New Race for Africa
Due to its strategic location, its abundant resources and rapidly growing population, Africa is well positioned for economic and industrial development. This potential has clearly attracted many external powers to scramble for political and economic influence in the continent. Hence, for the past two decades, Africa has been the site of fierce competition between large and medium powers reflecting the new geostrategic power relations in the world. The most visible manifestations of this competition are the projection of foreign military powers as the continent is witnessing a concentration of foreign military forces on its soil. The fight against terrorism and the security of commercial and economic interests are today the main engines of foreign intervention in Africa and Western powers are no longer the only ones trying to assert their influence on African theaters. In fact, emerging powers have joined the great powers in their play and race for influence in Africa and have become competitors.

  • What are the implications of this scramble for Africa?
  • Can we say that all external powers are similar in their strategy towards Africa?
  • How is the scramble for the continent driving further militarization and securitization and how is it affecting internal continental dynamics?
  • Is the continent doomed to be a space for competition or is there room for cooperation between global powers towards better outcomes for Africans?

Friday, November 26, 15h00
The Future of Europe in the Post-Covid Geopolitical Arena
When assuming office in 2019, Ursula von der Leyen vowed to be the leader of a “geopolitical commission”, hence apparently marking a turn in the way the European Union (EU) was presenting itself to the rest of the world. Indeed, putting geopolitics at the center of the European Commission’s agenda implied endorsing the role of global player in an international arena marked by intensified competition between rival power centers. The von der Leyen commission thus affirmed its desire to see the EU act both as an innovative and competitive economic actor with a particular emphasis on the green and digital “twin transformations” and as a more active and responsible geopolitical agent willing to engage with the global South, particularly in the Mediterranean and Africa, and supporting a rules-based multinational order to tackle common issues of global relevance. These ambitions were regularly stated in the communications and strategies produced by the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS). About two years after covid-19 first erupted, this session will aim at evaluating the von der Leyen’s performance as a “geopolitical commission”.

  • Has Europe achieved to be rebalance its relations with China, for instance in terms of better protecting its companies’ intellectual property and ensuring better access to Chinese public markets?
  • How probable is it that Europe will manage to enforce common industrial, innovation and digital strategies to reinforce its position worldwide in these matters?
  • How likely is it that the EU can achieve the “strategic autonomy” that it has been seeking these past few years, notably in view of the United States’ and NATO’s preeminence in strategic and military issues?
  • In light of the divisions pitting EU Member States against each other, has the EU actually managed to be perceived as a serious geopolitical actor by other power centers (in Africa, Asia and the Middle East)?
  • Can the current Commission succeed where the previous ones seem to have largely failed in the Neighborhood and Africa?
  • How successful has the Commission been as a promoter of multilateralism worldwide?

Monday, November 29, 15h00
The Biden Administration : Rebuilding Pathways with the Wider Atlantic
Since Joe Biden assumed the presidency of the United States in January 2021, the transatlantic relationship has experienced a surge of enthusiasm and political activity. Biden and his pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, are confirmed Atlanticists. They recognize that, despite Asia’s rise, the United States and Europe are still the load-bearing pillars of any open and stable international system. In fact, The United States has expressed a strong desire to "crisis-proof" the transatlantic space for the future, particularly in the areas of defense, health security and multilateralism. It has also taken a number of measures to develop some sort of transatlantic green deal, including climate action, trade and climate diplomacy. This session will address the significant and fast-moving issues of concern on the transatlantic policy agenda, and their potential to generate new global common goods during Joe Biden's presidency.

  • How can the Biden administration renew the transatlantic partnership which will lead to formulating a common strategy towards China, reimagining NATO and expanding the US-EU partnership?
  • Will Biden's agenda threaten European strategic autonomy?
  • What are the prospects for an inclusive Atlantic policy or Alliance that takes into account the wider Atlantic community?
  • In light of the divisions pitting EU Member States against each other, has the EU actually managed to be perceived as a serious geopolitical actor by other power centers (in Africa, Asia and the Middle East)?
  • Looking at the wider Atlantic, are there signs of closer transatlantic parliamentary cooperation between the European Parliament, the US Congress, the Latin American Parliament and the African Union Parliament?

Wednesday, December 1, 15h00
Développement Post-Covid : Nouveaux modèles et horizons (in French)
La pandémie a déclenché une crise de développement sans précédent, qui a remis en cause la résilience de nos systèmes économiques, politiques et sociaux. Mais, dans l’effort de confronter ses implications multiples, il y a aussi une opportunité de s’élargir vers de nouveaux horizons en encourageant les gouvernements et les acteurs internationaux à adopter des modèles de développement qui assurent un avenir plus sain et plus prospère.

  • La pandémie sera-t-elle considérée comme un tournant historique dans la conceptualisation de nouvelles perspectives pour le développement ?
  • Comment façonner l’avenir du développement pour des sociétés plus durables et égalitaires ?
  • Quels devraient être les secteurs prioritaires pour sortir plus forts de la pandémie et transformer nos économies, et créer des emplois ? Surtout, comment les pays à faible revenu du bassin atlantique, peuvent-ils transformer leurs économies et leurs sociétés ?
  • Compte tenu de la nature asymétrique de la reprise au niveau mondial, que peut faire la communauté internationale pour assurer une reprise plus équilibrée entre les Etats ?

Friday, December 3, 15h00
The Wake Up Call : Bridging Divides in South America (in Spanish)
El año 2021 marca para los países de América Latina, salvo Bolivia y Cuba, el inicio de un nuevo e intenso período electoral, que se extenderá hasta 2024. Renovaciones o reelecciones de presidentes en un contexto marcado por la incertidumbre económica, la polarización política y por la inestabilidad social. En el plano económico, la pandemia supuso un shock sistémico sin precedentes, exacerbando los problemas estructurales pre-existentes que frustran toda expectativa de mejora socio-económica. En el plano político, si bien el continente latinoamericano solía tener una cierta homogeneidad ideológica (el “giro a la izquierda” de la primera década del siglo XXI y el “giro a la derecha” de mediados del decenio anterior), el contexto actual presenta un panorama lleno de incertidumbre y heterogeneidad.

  • Dónde es más visible esta polarización y fragmentación política?
  • Se puede hablar de una crisis institucional regionalizada?
  • • La oleada de protestas que ha tenido lugar cobró bastante protagonismo puesto que fueron protagonizadas por los jóvenes. ¿Qué papel está desempeñando la juventud latinoamericana?

Monday, December 6, 15h00
Shifting Education Paradigms: Are Classrooms Obsolete?
The Covid-19 pandemic advanced numerous instrumental responses for online education under the urgent global shutdown of face-to-face classrooms and has accelerated and reassessed the adoption of digital tools, especially in advanced economies. While some praise the benefits of online instruction such as more flexibility, self-directed study options, and access to the same instructors and teachers as traditional learning; others remain dissatisfied with virtual classes. The latter argue that while distance learning was necessary in a time of crisis, it remains altered and thinned out of qualities and only limited to knowledge dissemination, lacking the necessary multi-sensory feedback loops and the social and affective engagement that form the enlightening experience that is education. They add that online learning was readily available pre-Covid (although not necessarily synchronous) and is only complementary to the classroom. Beyond beliefs, opinions and preferences, research shows that homework whether digital or not, increases social inequalities. In the COVID-19 crisis, this problem is exacerbated by unequal access to digital technology (as well as by differences in parental supervision of children’s schoolwork).

  • Are classrooms really obsolete or is will a truly robust system integrate both digital and face to face learning?
  • What did the new environment of online education teach us about the importance of face-to-face classrooms and productive pedagogies for this setting? And likewise, how can we design and utilize digital tools to the advantage of schools?
  • What has to remain the prerogative of the classroom and what can we continue to leave to the online environment so that we can best use the in-class face-to-face time?
  • How might we take our insights developed from online teaching to prioritize and optimize what face-to-face pedagogies afford in relation to updated understanding of educational ideals, methods and values?

Friday, December 10, 15h00
Leveraging Big Data and Innovation for the South in the Global Economy
Information is Power; that is the reason the world’s most valuable resource is no longer Oil, but Data. The UN stated, in one of its reports about Sustainable Development, that the volume of data in the world is increasing exponentially, that 90 per cent of it has been created in the last two years and that it is projected to increase by 40 per cent annually. This huge amount of Data that can be estimated actually in dozens of zettabytes includes information about stock markets, natural resources, climate change, security and any other field that can affect the economy and sovereignty of a State. That said, the volume of data held and explored by each country depends on its richness and its investments in innovation and IT, then, the gap is clear between US and China in one hand and the rest of the World in the other hand. This session, being focused on the South, will answer the following questions:

  • Given that only the American GAFAM’s financial value has reached 4 trillion USD while the whole GDP of Africa is still around 2.6 trillion USD, is it possible for African companies to compete locally with the IT giants? If not, will encouraging foreign investments in this sector, through which they acquire funds and expertise will be a better choice?
  • Do the education programs in Southern countries qualify local labor to get involved in cutting edge technology projects, particularly in cyber security, and this, in order to protect their national economic and security data?
  • How the South-South collaborations and the exchange of technology and funds can benefit African countries and ensure a certain independence from the North?

Monday, December 13, 15h00
Making AfCFTA Work
The African Continental free Trade Area (AfCfTA) finally entered into force on the first month of 2021, after the 22nd country ratified the agreement. It is a one of the flagship projects of the African Union 2063 agenda, but It is a first step on a long journey to African Economic integration. Reaping the benefits of this mega-project still relies on the effective implementation and the path of the ongoing negotiations on several pending “technicalities”. The impact of AFCfTA can be muted if, for example, non-tariffs Barriers are not flexible and set too complex for African traders. Analysts agree that full implementation is still not expected in the foreseeable future, as more critical questions need to be agreed upon in the next phases, such as investment, competition policy, etc. besides, the lack of access to trade enabling-infrastructure can seriously undermine the scope of the trade agreement. African leaders are, thus, called to put in place a comprehensive and fully fledged infrastructure policy, to advance trade connectivity and remove trade bottlenecks.

  • Should we be confident about the future of the AFCfTA?
  • What role of local industrial policy in the promoting of intra-african trade?
  • How can the AFCfTA set the stage for a new economic partnership with world economic powers?

Wednesday, December 15, 15h00
Demographic Shifts and the Pandemic
Since its emergence, the new coronavirus has continued to bring many uncertainties, whether in terms of health aspects, policy measures or social and economic consequences. If there is, however, one certainty in this Covid-19 era, it is that the pandemic is a turning point in human history; only that exposure of different groups is far from uniform.
In the field of demography, the pandemic has caused the death of more than 4.5 million people (the elderly being the most exposed) and has had an impact on births (the number of births in 2020 is estimated to be the lowest since 1961, when China experienced a massive famine) and is expected to have an impact on the cross-border movement of people (many migrant workers have not been able to travel, and many will opt to migrate in order to improve their living conditions). Covid-19 may also have an impact on life expectancy, particularly if more contagious and possibly more lethal variants of the coronavirus emerge.
In this context, the following questions emerge:

  • What concerns do we have about the demographic changes potentially brought about by Covid-19?
  • Will the measures taken by countries today be sufficient to cope with such demographic changes
  • How can countries in the Atlantic Basin effectively pursue mitigation and adaptation policies to deal with the unintended consequences of Covid-19 on migratory movements?

Friday, December 17, 15h00
Covid-19 and Debt for All
The last decade has been marked by a long period of debt accumulation, particularly in emerging and developing economies. Loose financing conditions and low interest rates encouraged these countries to borrow to meet their financing needs. Today, in the context of the global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation is becoming more worrying.  The increase in public spending on health and social protection, combined with the decrease in tax revenues, has led to a widening of deficits and an acceleration of the pace of indebtedness, which has added to the upward trend already underway since 2010. The world is thus faced with a dilemma: ensuring a sustainable economic recovery without exacerbating the risks of a global debt crisis.

  • Should we be more concerned about the economic recovery or the debt situation? Are we facing a trade-off?
  • Have the initiatives taken by the international community so far, in support of certain countries, to mitigate their risks of over-indebtedness and default, been sufficient and effective?
  • How to maintain the development momentum for countries facing a liquidity shortage?
  • How to reform the international architecture to reduce the risk of future debt crises?

Monday, December 20, 15h00
أفريقيا والعالم العربي ـ اي تداخلات في القضايا الجيوسياسية الحالية