Challenges in the Blue Nile Arena: Geopolitics, Displacements, and Instability

March 26, 2021 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Susan Stigant; Ambassador Alberto M. Fernandez
Nile water flyer

The Blue Nile Arena, comprised of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, has long been considered an anchor for stability in the Eastern and Northern Africa, including the Horn of Africa. The stability in this sub-region now appears at risk as the countries face the arduous challenges of inter- and intra- state conflicts over diminishing natural resources, including water and land. Those conflicts are being adversely affected by climate change and aggravate food insecurity, poverty, and joblessness in each of the three countries. In Ethiopia and Sudan, the conflicts are manifested in a very large number of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), a major subject of interest to the humanitarian community. The economic, political and security developments in the Blue Nile Arena also shape and are shaped by geopolitics. 

As part of the water diplomacy webinar series (DUCIGS/Rethinking Diplomacy Program) we will present a moderated discussion with Ambassador (ret.) Alberto Fernandez and Ms. Susan Stigant on geopolitics in the Blue Nile arena, global implications of the IDP crisis and possible directions of U.S. policies for the Blue Nile Arena. Rethinking Diplomacy Program Fellows Ambassador (ret.) Patrick Duddy (Director of Duke Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies) and Erika Weinthal (Professor of Environmental Policy and Public Policy) will moderate the discussion.   

Susan Stigant is the Director of Africa Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) where she oversees programming in the Greater Horn of Africa, regional engagement, and with the African Union. Her thematic focus is on the design and implementation of inclusive constitutional reform and national dialogue processes. Prior to joining USIP, Stigant managed constitutional development, citizen engagement and election observation programs with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). From 2005-2011, she served as program director with NDI in South Sudan, where she supported the implementation of the peace agreement. Stigant also worked with the Forum of Federations on comparative federalism and with the research unit of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament in South Africa. She is a Duke-UNC Rotary program alumna. 

Alberto M. Fernandez is Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a position he held from 2015 to 2017. He previously served as President of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), a US-funded Arabic-language news organization, from 2017 to 2020.  Prior to joining MEMRI, Ambassador Fernandez was a Foreign Service Officer from 1983 to 2015 and served as the State Department’s Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications from 2012 to 2015. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea and U.S. Charge d’Affaires to Sudan. He held senior public diplomacy positions at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Guatemala, Kuwait, and in the Department’s Near East Affairs (NEA) Bureau. He speaks fluent Spanish and Arabic in addition to English.

This event is organized by the DUCIGS/Rethinking Diplomacy Program, with support from Duke Africa Initiative and Duke University Middle East Studies Center.

This event is open to the public but registration is required. 

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  • Duke University Center for International and Global Studies
  • Duke University Middle East Studies Center
  • Africa Initiative
  • Rethinking Diplomacy