Makram Ouaiss

Makram Ouaiss is Chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University (LAU). Between 2010 and 2011, Ouaiss served as Chief Technical Specialist for the Strengthening Electoral Program in Lebanon with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and advisor to the Minister of Interior and Municipalities on electoral issues. Before joining LAU, Ouaiss was associated with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) where he held the positions of senior advisor for political and electoral processes, deputy director for Central and West Africa and deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa region. Prior to that, he managed the Institute’s programs in South Asia for over six years. In these capacities, Ouaiss has conducted parliamentary, political party, civic, election and conflict resolution programs in over 30 countries. Before joining the Institute, Ouaiss worked at Amnesty International and the United Nations’ Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He has published articles and reports on democratization and conflict resolution in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and around the world. Ouaiss is currently the coordinator of a pro-peace coalition of 27 nongovernmental organizations called the Gathering Wahdatouna Khalasouna (Our Unity is Our Salvation) and is a board member of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE). Ouaiss holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) and a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Economics from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), of the Johns Hopkins University.

Plenary Title: “From Occupation to Quicksand?”

The presentation argues that occupation is nowadays often justified legally or morally, but too often remains the result of narrow state strategic or economic interests. Occupation is furthermore the result of the internal and external divisions of those occupied and their inability to envision and organize a way out. These divisions either internal or instigated by the occupier are aimed at maintaining full control of the lands that are occupied. Can the occupied outwit the occupier? What does it take and how can it be done? The presentation draws on past studies and examples to identify the lessons learned and possible ways occupied countries or territories can overcome occupation.