79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Lecturer in Public Policy, Middle East Initiative
Ishac Diwan is a lecturer on public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is the director for Africa and the Middle East at the growth lab of the Center for International Development.
Current research interests include growth strategies, the political economy of development, and the pro-active management of natural resources, wt a special interest in Africa and the Middle East. Ishac is also directing the Economic and Political Transformation program of the Economic Research Forum.
Ishac got his PhD in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984. He taught international finance at the New York University’s Business School between 1984-87, before joining the World Bank in 1987, initially in the Research Complex (1987-92) working on the debt crisis of the 1980s.
In 1992, Ishac joined the Bank’s Middle East department, first as the country economist for the West Bank and Gaza (1993-94), as an advisor to the emerging Palestinian Authority, and later, as a regional economist, where he led economic teams in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, and Yemen. He contributed to the creation of the prime network of economists in the Middle East, the Economic Research Forum, and of a regional policy forum, the Mediterranean Development Forum.
In 1996, Ishac joined the World Bank Institute and led the Economic Policy group (1996-2002), creating the Attacking Poverty Program and contributing to the initiation of the Global Development Network.
Ishac lived in Addis Abeba (2002-07) and Accra (2007-11), as the Bank’s Country Director for Ethiopia and Sudan, and then for Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. These were intense years of engagement wt governments, civil society, the private sector, and donors (which explains the lack of visible intellectual production during these years). Ishac led several ambitious initiatives, such as Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net, Ethiopia’s Protection of Basic Services Program, and in West Africa, initiatives to support the development of natural resources.
Ishac has worked on conflict prevention and on state building (in Palestine, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Guinea) and has participated in the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Darfur Peace Negotiations, and the Oslo negotiations.
June 3, 2013
Op-Ed, Project Syndicate
"While short-term pain is not unusual following the end of despotic regimes, long and protracted transitions can be terribly costly, requiring decades for societies to recover. Political impasse is not only depressing economies by discouraging trade and investment; it is also preventing the formation of governments that could implement much-needed economic and institutional reforms – and thus threatening to take these countries into a long downward spiral."
Journal Article, Middle East Development Journal, volume 5
By Ishac Diwan, Lecturer in Public Policy, Middle East Initiative
This paper presents the outlines of a coherent, structural, long term account of the socioeconomic and political evolution of the Arab republics that can explain both the persistence of autocracy until 2011, and the its eventual collapse, in a way that is empirically verifable. The changing interests of the middle class would have to be a central aspect of a coherent story, on accounts of both distributional and modernization considerations, and that the ongoing transformation can be best understood in terms of their defection from the autocratic order to a new democratic order, which is still in formation.