Introduction to Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Case Studies from the Middle East

19.03.-14.05.2021, Fridays at 10:00-12:00 (Helsinki time, UTC+2)

Registration period for the course is open until 5.3.2021 at 16:00
5 ECTS (for possible equivalency with Finnish universities, see below)
Course language: English
Format: Zoom-lectures, required readings, in-class presentations, written assignments
Organiser: Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME) 

Course instructor: Dr Said Sadek 

Dr Said Sadek is an Egyptian political scientist with nearly 20 years of teaching experience in several universities in Egypt and abroad, delivering courses in Political Science, Sociology, Journalism, Middle East Studies, and History. Dr Sadek is also a media, cultural, political affairs and risk advisor, and a regular free-lance writer and political analyst in Arab and international media. 

Key description 

The course examines the social and political systems that emerge in the aftermath of ending violent civil conflict, exploring how post-conflict reconstruction can consolidate peace and security and the attainment of sustainable socio-economic development. 

The course is designed for master’s and doctoral level students in the fields of international relations, Middle Eastern studies, conflict resolution, peace studies, and state building. 

Working methods 

The course is delivered online and consists of eight weekly lectures, a selection of required and recommended readings, short in-class presentations, a weekly media analysis assignment, and a final research paper of no less than 10 pages. The final session in week 8 features a Q&A with guest speaker involved in the field of post-conflict reconstruction. 


The term ‘post-conflict’ does not signify the obliteration of the root causes of the outbreak of conflict. Nor does it imply a complete cessation of hostilities that often recur even after the signing of a peace agreement or the waging of elections. It frequently denotes merely an abatement of hostilities, or a ‘window of opportunity’ for peace in a conflict that can again escalate if mismanaged.   

Post-conflict reconstruction is broadly understood as a complex, holistic and multidimensional process encompassing efforts to simultaneously improve military (restoration of law and order), political (governance), economic (rehabilitation and development) and social conditions (justice and reconciliation). 

The course will critically evaluate current theories and practices of transitional justice, state institutions rebuilding, truth-telling, reconciliation, memorialization and psychosocial repair, national identity, and new forms of social change and governance that emerge out of post-conflict humanitarian practice. 

Subjects examined include: 

– What causes civil wars? Why have intrastate wars increased since 1945 more than interstate wars? 

– What programs, policies, and approaches do post-conflict countries adopt after civil war? Is the post-conflict reconstruction model ethnocentric and ideologically biased? 

– How do multiple local, regional, and international players both contribute to and obstruct the re-constructing of a war-torn country and its institutions? 

– What challenges do post-conflict countries face in dealing with international stakeholders who may have varying interests, resources, and commitments? 

– What are the shortcomings of the modern Arab states and political systems? How do these appear to have made some Arab states more vulnerable to the outbreak of civil conflict? 

– Why did Syria descend into one of the most devastating civil wars of the last 100 years? What role have foreign powers played? Who will bear the cost of reconstruction? 

– What are the causes of the frequent civil wars in Lebanon? Has Lebanon succeeded in building a stable post-conflict society? Can it prevent recurrence of a new civil war? 

– What are the causes of civil war and state failure in Iraq? Why have attempts to construct a stable democratic model failed? 

Learning objectives 

By the end of this course, students should be able to:   

1-Describe and explain motivations for international intervention in post-conflict reconstruction. 

2- Compare and contrast competing approaches to reconstruction. 

3- Critically assess the programming dilemmas in areas such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of irregular forces, security sector reform and the employment of private security.  

4- Examine and explain the linkages between successful conflict resolution, security, sustainable development, and reconstruction.  

5- Analyse and explain the importance of transitional justice in the aftermath of conflict. 

6- Appreciate the role of media, education, culture, and religious discourse in reconstruction. 

7- Understand the importance of rebuilding state institutions and economy for sustainable peace.  

Equivalency with university courses 

University of Helsinki 

ALKU-LIJ313 Lähi-idän kansainvälinen politiikka (5 ECTS) 

ALKU-LIJ311 Lähi-idän poliittisia kysymyksiä (5 ECTS) 

ALKU-LIJ314 Lähi-idän yhteiskuntien erityiskysymyksiä (5 ECTS) 


The registration period for the course is until 5.3.2021 at 16:00. The selected participants will be informed by 10.3.2021.

Registration for the course is now closed.

Picture: ART production / Homs, Syria, September 2013. Boy near the destroyed house holding a white dove. As a result of fighting between rebels and the Syrian National Army, some areas of the city of Homs were badly damaged.

Published 11.2.2021