Last Saturday, as international relations professor Morten Jerven was blogging about his upcoming week of intercontinental conferences, he happened to mention that he was looking forward to the chance to "sit in on the discussions of the senior statisticians from many African countries and get their views on what they see as the most important challenges in providing better data for development." Less than a week later, he was suddenly dropped as the opening presenter for the U.N. Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA) -- reportedly because many of those same statisticians had refused to be a part of his audience. Perhaps the cancellation should not have come as a complete surprise. After being catapaulted to social science stardom for his work on the unreliability of Africa statistics, Jerven has found himself the subject of similar statistician boycotts on another occasion before this one.
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In this week's series of Lab Reports on Libya, Chris Stephen explains why the revolution has stalled and gauges efforts for getting it back on track. Fayruz Abulhadi offers an incisive analysis of Libya's continuing economic malaise. And Fadil Aliriza examines the vital role of civil society organizations in the country's efforts to find its way toward a functioning democracy.
In the latest of his coverage from Libya, Democracy Lab editor Christian Caryl looks at the rise of the country's de facto city-states through the prism of the unlikely success story of Misrata. Mohamed Eljarh provides an update on the latest maneuverings of militias in Tripoli.
Mohamed El Dahshan explains why the recent horrors in Egypt make for a fire that will burn us all.
Min Zin reports on the 25th anniversary of the uprising that launched Burma's struggle for democracy -- and explains why activists are still working to fulfill the aims of the movement that began in 1988.
Juan Nagel draws lessons from Venezuela's recent history and applies them to the post-coup situation in Egypt.
Jonathan Schienberg reports on the simmering popular discontent in Jordan -- and why the willingness to compromise may be running out.
Abdalla Khader argues that it's time for Palestinians to start focusing on conducting new elections rather than wasting time on talk of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
And in Democracy Lab's latest collaboration with Princeton's Innovations for Successful Societies, Rushda Majeed shows how Kenya has forged ahead with efforts to use information technology to expose the workings of government.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
Hani Sabra and Bassem Sabry, writing for Al-Monitor, take issue with Tawakol Karman's contention (in her recent piece for FP) that Mohamed Morsy is the Nelson Mandela of the Arab world. David Gardner of Financial Times explains why the U.S. has far less pull over the Egyptian military than many would think. Slate's William Dobson slams President Obama for his ineffectual reaction to the crisis in Cairo.
Writing in The Atlantic, Michael Marcusa describes his experience spending quality time with militant Tunisian salafis.
Samer Abboud of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs analyzes the role of Syria's business elite in the civil war and how the international community can enlist its aid to prefer for a postwar order. Hugh Eakin reports for The New York Review of Books on how the refugee crisis in Lebanon is forcing the two sides in the Syrian civil war to form unlikely alliances.
In a prescient article for Foreign Affairs (written before this week's crackdown on pro-Morsy demonstrators), Erica Chenoweth analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of sit-in protests.
Is freedom from bad governance as important as freedom from foreign governance? That's the question posed by Srivatsa Krishna in his op-ed for The Indian Times.
Al Jazeera reports on the outcome of Mali's first post-conflict election. The photo above shows a second round vote count.
And Time's Bobby Ghosh makes the case that international policymakers should stop regarding Egypt as the center of the Arab world.
Democracy Lab will be taking its annual August break starting today; for the next two weeks we'll be republishing some of our favorite pieces.
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Long-time observers of Venezuelan politics view the events unfolding halfway across the globe, in Egypt, with more than a bit of déjà vu.
A revolution imposing a constitution and running a sectarian government, prompting a political crisis? Check.
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Christian Caryl explains why a small town in Libya continues to defy the International Criminal Court's demands for the handover of Muammar Qaddafi's son. As part of his recent on-scene coverage from the country, Caryl also looks at Libyan society through the prism of the gridlock on its streets.
Mohamed Eljarh analyzes the rising threats against Libya's female judges -- and why they're putting reform of the judiciary at risk.
Anna Nemtsova explains why President Obama's cancellation of his summit with his Russian counterpart is little more than a blip on Vladimir Putin's radar.
Juan Nagel scrutinizes the opposition roadmap in Venezuela.
Christopher Stephen tells the story of women soccer players from the Middle East and their struggle for the right to compete.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
Blogging for the Prospect, Rachel Aspden ruminates on the deep divide between Egypt's army and the Muslim Brotherhood. The International Crisis Group offers a report warning about the risk of rising violence in Egypt's transition.
The Atlantic Council's Danya Greenfield and Brian Braun urge the Jordanian government to pay attention to its citizens' grievances.
Writing for PBS, Azmat Khan directs attention to Yemen's challenges that haven't been making headlines.
At Foreign Affairs, Lindsay Benstead, Ellen M. Lust, and Jakob Wichmann survey public opinion on democracy and arrive at optimistic conclusions about the country's future. The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson offers a far less optimistic take.
Writing for The New York Review of Books Blog, Sarah Birke presents a memorable portrait of Damascus as it adapts to life amid civil war.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies' David Santoro argues that Burma needs to make good on its promises to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.
Mary Elizabeth King, writing for Waging Nonviolence, pays tribute to the world's history of non-violent resistance.
The Telegraph presents a gallery of photos from the Eid clashes in Kashmir between Muslims and police.
Recently I spoke to Amera Ali, a young lawyer from Tripoli, who had little good to say about the current situation. During the early days of the Libyan revolution, Ali took to the streets as part of a lawyers' movement to protest the killing of anti-Qaddafi protesters. As she was putting her life on the line, I am sure she never dreamed that the end of the conflict would bring a-not-so subtle campaign to drive women out of the judicial and legal profession altogether.
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Mohamed Eljarh reports on the increasing levels of extreme violence and distrust plaguing Libya two years after its revolution. He also explains the growing tensions as Libya grapples with its history of suppressing minority groups.
Writing from Tripoli, Christian Caryl reflects on the legitimized sense of paranoia that fills Libyans.
Juan Nagel introduces Venezuela's budding birther movement that could actually be right.
As President Obama prepares to visit Moscow for the G-20 summit, Anna Nemtsova reports that the Kremlin doesn't see Snowden as a potential problem for their relationship with the United States. She further wonders how Snowden will find freedom in an unfree country.
Yuhniwo Ngenge argues that Zimbabwe's judiciary has failed in its duty to democracy.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
VICE's Robert King interviews and documents Aleppo's child nurse, a 14-year old boy providing medical assistance in Syria's war zone.
Radio Free Eruope/Radio Liberty covers the pro- Yulia Tymoshenko rallies, two years after the former Ukranian prime minister was arrested.
In The Guardian, Peter Beaumont reports on the once strong Muslim Brotherhood's surprising downward spiral across Arab countries.
Writing in Foreign Policy, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson explain how coups in turn beget additional coups.
In the Financial Times, Andrew England reports on Zimbabwe opposition's slim chances in overturning the election results. Blessing-Miles Tendi argues in The Guardian that Zimbabwe's opposition lost the election fair and square.
The New York Times' Vamsi Vakulabharanam explains the formation of India's new state, Telangana.
In The Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey breaks down the spat between Lady Gaga and Russian officials over gay rights. In Quartz, Lily Kuo offers American consumer activists suggestions on what to boycott from Russia instead of vodka.
As shown in the picture above, protesters in Morocco lashed out at King Mohamed VI for including convicted child rapist Daniel Galvan in a mass pardon of Spanish citizens. The pardon was later overturned after Galvan had left the country. The response to public outcry comes amidst Human Rights Watch allegations that Morocco is limiting freedom of expression.
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Following months of deliberation, the delayed start to drafting Libya's post-Qaddafi constitution is finally in sight. In mid-July, politicians agreed to the set of rules that will guide the election of members to the Constituent Assembly -- the body responsible for writing the new constitution.
But that doesn't mean that everything is settled. In the first blow to the process meant to lay down the country's political foundations, Libya's ethnic minorities, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Tebu people, announced that they would boycott the election after they were earmarked only six out of 60 seats (or two each). There are no official figures for the Amazigh population in Libya, but estimates put it at 10 to 15 percent of the total population. If those assessments are correct, then the three percent allocated to them in the Constituent Assembly count as an extreme case of underrepresentation.
Transitions is the group blog of the Democracy Lab channel, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Legatum Institute.