Photo: Nefissa Naguib Nefissa Naguib

As a direct response to Norway’s “Brazil strategy” of enhancing research cooperation on global issues between Norway and Brazil, CMI is cooperating with Universidade de Brasilia on a project regarding the future role of the military and its relationship to the state and civil society in the Middle East and Latin America.

The objectives of the project are diverse. Firstly, the project aims to foster links between Brazilian, Norwegian and Middle Eastern research institutions and individual researchers. This will hopefully contribute to the building of a strong interdisciplinary development research network between researchers based in Norway, Latin America and the Middle East.

The second objective is to introduce a comparative perspective on the contrasting roles of the military in the Latin American and Middle Eastern processes of political transition.

Since the start of the Arab Spring, long-time dictators have fallen, and others are facing growing pressure. Several countries are undergoing political transitions, and the outcome of these processes will depend partly on the role of armed forces and their willingness to coordinate with, and subject to the rule of civilian authorities. In countries throughout the Middle East, these issues are still unsettled, and will remain so for the years to come. In Latin America, different countries have seen the role and positions of armed forces evolve in various directions. A comparative perspective will enrich our understanding of military – civilian relations in these two regions, and the Latin-American experience offer lessons of great relevance to ongoing processes in the Middle East.

A third objective is to initiate an in-depth study on the role of the military in the Arab world and its relationship to the state and civil society. How has the 2011 uprisings affected the military as an institution? Does the military have an impact on sectarian relations and the position of Christians in the Arab world? Questions like these could stimulate public debate on the role of armed forces and civil society in processes of democratization.


Workshop on military civilian relations

Brasilia, April 12-14th

As a part of this project, Chr. Michelsen Institute, in cooperation with the University of Brasilia and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center, is organizing a workshop in which we seek to explore the relationship between military and civilian forces In Latin America and the Arab World.

The workshop will be held at Finatec Conference Centre in Brasilia, on April 12- 14, 2012.

Gathering a group of thirty researchers, this workshop will cover various aspect of military-civilian relations under four thematic headings:

 1. Political reform.

Constitutional reforms, reforms in the role of parliaments and other reforms in the structures of government. The influence of armed forces on political reforms during phases of transition, and the impact of such reform on the position of armed forces. 

 2. Security Establishment.

Under this heading, we look at the relationship between, civilian police forces, intelligence services and other security actors that operate within the domain of the state. The basis of recruitment to various security forces, and their control over economic resources will be addressed here.

3. Civil society and the armed forces

The relationship between armed forces and various non-state actors and social groups, such as the media-sector, civil rights groups, religious authorities, ethnic and sectarian minorities and women. Here, we seek to explore the impact of armed forces on power relations between various groups, and their abilities to advance various social agendas.

4. Justice

The final session will focus on legal institutions and practices in relation to political transitions. We will look at post-transitional tribunal, at the relationship between military and civilian legal institutions, and the role of legal processes in defining the relationship between armed forces and civilian authorities. This session will also address the issue of international law, and the impact of international structures on legal processes within a national setting.

This workshop marks the start of a long term cooperation between Our aim is for this workshop to function as a starting point for more long-term research collaboration between researchers in Norway, Latin America and the Arab World.


The new research project taps into several current research themes at the CMI as the Transformations in the Arab World and Emerging South Powers.