Arab Human Development Report

Arab Human Development Report
August 2009, UNDP

This is the fifth volume in the series of Arab Human Development Reports sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and independently authored by intellectuals and scholars from Arab countries.

Like its predecessors, this Report provides eminent Arab thinkers a platform from which to articulate a comprehensive analysis of their own contemporary milieu. It is not a conventional report produced by the United Nations. Rather, it is an independent publication that gives a voice to a representative group of Arab intellectuals whose sober and self-critical appraisals might not otherwise be heard in the particular circumstances of the region. The views of the authors are supplemented by an opinion poll conducted in four Arab countries—Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and the Occupied Palestinian Territory—that represent a range of political and cultural contexts for the Report’s analyses. A special Youth Forum convened for the Report also provides insights from young Arabs.

Inspired by UNDP’s 1994 global Human Development Report on human security, the present study takes up that subject as it concerns the Arab countries.1 Its starting point is that, seven years after the publication of the first Arab Human Development Report, the region’s fault lines as traced in that analysis may have deepened.2 The question thus arises: why have obstacles to human development in the region proved so stubborn? This new Report proposes that the answers lie in the fragility of the region’s political, social, economic and environmental structures, in its lack of peoplecentred development policies and in its vulnerability to outside intervention.
Together, these characteristics undermine human security—the kind of material and moral foundation that secures lives, livelihoods and an acceptable quality of life for the majority. Human security is a prerequisite for human development, and its widespread absence in Arab countries has held back their progress.

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