Eighth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC), 7-9 December 2005 in Islamabad, Pakistan - CALL FOR PAPERS

Abstracts followed by papers are invited for the sub-themes under the major themes of Women's/Gender Issues; Livelihoods; WTO and Governance; Health; Peace and People's Rights; Child labor.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is holding its Eighth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 7-9 December 2005 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Each SDC is designed to be a forum for sharing and exchanging dialogues on sustainable development with practitioners, civil society and policy-makers. Some 150 panelists from 18 countries participated in the Seventh SDC held in December 2004.

The previous Conference covered issues such as globalization; migration and urbanization; food and water security; health; environment; energy; resource rights; gender issues; human trafficking; and, literature and development. Policy dialogues proved fruitful where speakers from Pakistan were able to share their ideas with counterparts from South Asia and other regions of the world.

The Sustainable Development Conference series has been established as a prime Conference in South Asia on development issues due to which it attracts leading intellectuals and policy-makers to come together.

An anthology, based on reviewed, approved and edited SDC papers, is published and launched at the succeeding Conference. The published books form part of curricula on development of some of the educational institutions within Pakistan and are also quoted in research publications.

The proposed Eight SDC will examine the multiple facets of sustainable development in the contexts of South Asia. The speakers will discuss how problems and issues in South Asia can be dealt effectively at various levels based on prior experience of successful policy interventions. The Conference seeks to bring together from South Asia and other regions of the world theorists, researchers, activists, policy-makers, and academicians to debate the issues of sustainable development in an era of globalization.

The following six major themes have been planned for this year's SDC:

* Women's/Gender Issues
* Livelihoods
* WTO and Governance
* Health
* Peace and People's Rights
* Child labor

Details of the themes and sub-themes are discussed below. Each theme will constitute one or more sub-themes and panels. Each panel will run for about two hours. Three to four presentations of 15-20 minutes each will be followed by a dialogue with the audience at the end.

Abstracts followed by papers are invited for the sub-themes under the major themes as explained below.

Contact information of the panel organizers and their email addresses are also provided to facilitate communication between the potential speaker and the respective panel organizer.

I. Theme: Women's/Gender Issues

The sub-themes will address dispossession and empowerment of women in the South Asian context. Juxtaposing South Asian women's gendered experience of both structural and direct violence, panels will seek to explore examples of positive masculinities in South Asia as a means of countering the violence women experience. In the same vein, we will examine state policies toward women's empowerment and specifically examine the MDGs impact on women and ask what makes it possible for women to overcome the tremendous hurdles in their way.

1. Gendered violence and positive masculinities in South Asia

This sub-theme will explore the increasing incidence of violence against women and its changing forms, and argue for an exploration of positive masculinities as a practical means to counter the trends in violence against women. Context-specific papers would be sought from gender specialists and gender networks that provide a way forward to policy-makers, activists and practitioners.

At the conceptual level, we will also explore how to engender the different human security frameworks so that they could capture the structural and direct violence that women in South Asia experience in their daily lives. Thus, indices such as the gender empowerment matrix would need to take account of violence against women (structural violence such as laws and customs, and direct violence such as rape, stripping naked or honor killings) as a key indicator of women's empowerment. It would be key issues of debate that how different UN and country-specific frameworks can become reflective of these realities and the practical steps that government can take to indicate their commitment to women's empowerment.
Panel Organizer: Saba Gul Khattak, Executive Director, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

2. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and women's empowerment: The way forward

The South Asian experience cannot be summarized as a simple case of failure or success. In some areas greater achievements might be reported in comparison to others. What are the factors that underlie women's success in achieving some degree of empowerment? Is the balance between the health of local economies, existing human (women's) resource capacities and customary community support for women's mobility and presence in the public sphere critical to the achievement of the MDGs, or can new initiatives act independently of such issues through sheer commitment of state institutions to women's empowerment?

Panel Organizer: Saba Gul Khattak, Executive Director, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

3. Linking our past to the future: Women, education and social reform

Late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the changing social positions of Muslim women in South Asia. A couple of studies have already tried to address a few aspects of the above-mentioned theme. However, certain gaps still exist and have to be addressed thoroughly. The proposed panel, while looking into the historical roots of women education in late 19th and early 20th centuries' South Asia, will try to link it up with present and future problems/prospects of female education in Pakistan and other countries of the South Asia.

Panel organizer: Ahmed Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

II. Theme: Livelihoods

The 2004 tsunami catastrophe that affected hundreds of thousands in Sri Lanka and India; heavy winter snow falls and rain leading to destruction and death in Pakistan; influence of international financing institutes (IFIs) on job securities; effects of globalization on marginalized people; and the many forms of displacement and the search for sustainable livelihoods exemplify the vulnerability of livelihoods in South Asia. One dimension of this is to look at sustainable solutions for issues of citizenship. Another dimension is that of social sustainability and vulnerability, and the ability to cope with stress and shocks as well as assuring livelihood continuity. The Eighth SDC aims to identify factors of vulnerability and resilience of livelihoods in South Asia.


1. Displacement, livelihoods and rights: Gendered experiences

This sub-theme will address the multiple contexts and forms of displacement (internal/national versus regional; rural/urban; development-induced displacement and conflict-induced displacement) and the search for sustainable livelihoods in an era of economic globalization and supposedly pro-poor national policies. It will discuss sustainable solutions for issues of citizenship and legality for economic migrants from other countries in Pakistan, access to resources as a right (especially water related displacement and livelihood threats) and the right to decent work, especially for women.

The purpose is to invite papers from within South Asia that address how the issues we raise here might have been effectively addressed at the community, local or national levels in South Asia, either through government policy or through effective resistance movements.

Panel Organizer: Saba Gul Khattak, Executive Director, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

2. South Asian livelihoods at risk

Social vulnerability and sustainability refer to the ability of individuals, households, or families not only to gain but also to maintain an adequate and decent livelihood. One dimension of social sustainability is reactive, which is the ability to cope with stress and shocks, and positively, enhancing and exercising capabilities in adapting to, exploiting and creating change, and in assuring livelihood continuity. The panel's objective is to identify these factors in South Asian contexts.

Panel Organizers: Karin Astrid Siegmann, Junior Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]
Abid Qayyum Suleri, Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

3. Natural Resource Management (NRM): Access and Benefit-sharing
Access to natural resources and benefit sharing for local communities are perceived to be a must for secured income sources, livelihood security, and human security in contemporary thinking on sustainable natural resource management (NRM). The Eighth SDC aims to assess the opportunities and challenges offered by “Access” and “Benefit-sharing concept” in NRM as introduced by Convention on Biological Diversity (section 8J) for improving the lives and living conditions of the poor, marginal and vulnerable sections of societies, and foster local development.

Panel Organizer: Abid Qayyum Suleri, Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

III: Theme: WTO and Governance

Global governance of trade under the World Trade Organization (WTO) made a quantum leap in 2005. Several WTO agreements are required to be implemented more strictly in developing countries. Liberalisation of trade in textiles and clothing, a major industry and major employer in the developing world, progressed manifold through the abolition of the system of country-wise import quotas. The deadline for WTO member countries' suggestions for further opening of their services' sectors lapsed in May 2005. These developments may lead to economic growth for those who can tap the opportunities; however, they are still not able to reduce the gap between rich and poor. The Eighth SDC attempts to explore linkages of multi-trading system with sustainable development to make liberalization of trade and investment people-friendly.


1. Is privatisation of basic services in favor of human development in South Asia?

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has embarked on a major liberalisation of trade in services in the context of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). WTO member countries are requested to submit their GATS offers, i.e. the suggestions for opening up of particular services sectors. In the latest statements, for example, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) has declared its intention to include the liberalization of basic services, such as the privatized provision of health care and education in its offer to the WTO.

No doubt, the provision of basic services in South Asia is woefully poor and a major obstacle to human development in the region. One-fifth of the Sub-continent's children are not even sent to primary school, and a third of the population does not access safe sanitation facilities. Expected benefits of liberalization of trade in services might address these problems. It is assumed that liberalization of services in trade leads to increased competition and thus to improved service quality, lower prices, technology transfer, less corruption, as well as employment creation.

However, developing countries' previous experiences of trade liberalization and privatization casts doubt on these hopes. Concerns are brought forward that the GATS threatens the principle of universal access to public services, the ability of the government to regulate, and that the negotiation process is heavily influenced by corporate interests and lack parliamentary and public scrutiny.

This sub-theme will bring together assessments of the human development impact of the GATS. Policy concepts to guarantee that services liberalization is in service of Pakistan's development will be at the core of the sub-theme.

Panel Organizers: Karin Astrid Siegmann, Junior Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]
Abid Qayyum Suleri, Research Fellow, SDPI Email: [email protected]

2. South Asian textile trade in the post-quota era: Human development implications of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC)

In January 2005, the quota system for imports of textiles and clothing under the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) was phased out and gave way to a more liberalized global trade in textiles and clothing. The labor-intensive textile and clothing sector has been the classical start-up industry for developing countries to export on their own account. It is the employment intensity of the textiles and clothing (T&C) industry in developing countries--in particular of female workers–that makes the running out of the quota regime in January 2005 a hotly debated issue for human development.

The T&C sector is the biggest exporter for several South Asian economies and a large industrial employer of those countries. The panel's objectives are to explore the impact of the ATC expiry on various dimensions of human development in South Asia, including exports, employment, and gender equality. Policy conclusions will be drawn regarding the distribution of cost and benefits of trade liberalization under the WTO regime.

Panel organizers: Karin Astrid Siegmann, Junior Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

Foqia Sadiq Khan, Visiting Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

3. Linkages of trade with development and poverty reduction

There are various dimensions to the linkages between trade, development and poverty reduction. Both theoretical and political economic dimensions are changing as well as unfolding (i.e. the emergence of new ones) in this new trade and investment regime. Some efforts are being made to look into the various dimensions of the issue, and making trade and investment liberalisation work for the poor. But, unfortunately, many such efforts do not attempt to look into the issue holistically, i.e. in both theoretical and political economic terms, supported by civil society’s (Northern as well as Southern) understanding. Furthermore, issues relating to the effects of trade and investment liberalisation on the poor need to be looked into in a positive manner, and an overarching purpose of all the activities would be to find out the conditions necessary for mainstreaming international trade into national development (poverty reduction) strategy (keeping in mind issues relating to policy coherence).

Realising this vacuum and pursuant to its mandate of building consensus on issues affecting the livelihoods of the poor, SDPI is organizing this panel to discuss linkages between trade, development and poverty in the present scenario.

Panel organizer:

Abid Qayyum Suleri, Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

IV: Theme: Health

The importance of health in the overall sustainable development can be looked at and understood in many ways. The most important being individual's capacity and then a nation's capacity to transform physical and mental well-being into economic productivity, growth and sustainable development. However, achieving this is not simple. Many causal factors affect people's health and hence the process of sustainable development. The forthcoming Conference intends to highlight issues related to children's health, environment, and health care that plays a significant role in affecting people's health (the focus will be health issues in the South Asian region).


1. Children's health and environment

Three pillars of the sustainable development are society, economy and environment; the “Heart” of the sustainable development is the future generation. Children represent the future of our societies, and therefore it is essential to protect the health of children and ensure that children live in safe environment, allowing them to reach their full potential. However, children happen to be the most vulnerable group to adverse health consequences of environmental factors such as polluted air, contaminated and polluted water, food and soil, radiation risks, chemicals, unhealthy housing, environmental noise, risks related to transport, and the consequences of armed conflict and environmental disasters and poverty. According to the WHO (2003) report, approximately 3 million children under the age of five years die every year due to environmental hazards. In South Asia, the average infant mortality rate (IMR) is about 70 per 1000 live childbirths (UNICEF 2000). The governments and stakeholders have a responsibility to take action to reduce the sources of chemical and other risks and prevent childhood exposure.

The Eighth SDC will look at the ways in which governments cooperate and exercise power over natural resource management (NRM) in their respective countries and in the region. The participants of the Conference will share their experiences and discuss national and regional environmental and health issues with a focus on the children's health. These, among others, include monitoring and situation evaluation of children of different age groups and toxic chemicals, preventive and educational activities for promoting safe use of chemicals and national environmental and health policies.
Panel organizer: Mahmood A. Khwaja, Research Fellow, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

2. Critical issues in health care

The sub-themes for health and health care in the forthcoming SDC will broadly cover the following areas:

a. Critical Issues in Pakistan's Health Care

* Health Policy Planning and Reforms
* National Health Accounts
* Primary Health Care

b. Pharmaceutical Industry

* Drug pricing
* Illegal drugs

The two panels will address issues within the health sector for a better understanding of health service delivery, especially safeguarding interests of the poor people. The panels will try to bring together policy-makers, researchers, and academicians to share ideas on barriers to access to health care in the country, to understand factors that affect the health of individuals and communities, and to contribute to the development of policies that reduce inequity and improve the health of Pakistani people.

Panel organizer: Shafqat Shehzad, Research Fellow (Health), SDPI

Email: [email protected]

V: Theme: Peace and People's Rights

The uniqueness of Pakistan's political history is widely appreciated. The country's political history has had a direct bearing on the day-to-day life of the common man, as well as on its stability as a country. The sub-themes under this theme will focus on the impact of Pakistan's political structure on violence since independence; treatment of religious minorities; inter-state peace between Pakistan and its neighbors; and other related issues as discussed below.


1. Religious Minorities: 1947 violence and relief work

Minorities in Pakistan have been quite proactive in their approach towards serving the society, the roots of which can be traced back to the pre-partition days. Various accounts of minorities' generosity and support are available but have never been documented. In the period of bloodshed and massacre in 1947, Christian priests walked in front of Muslim and Hindu clusters in order to save their lives. The services of Christian doctors, nurses and welfare in the refugee camps cannot be forgotten. Upon Quaid-e-Azam's request, the Parsee community opened their up educational institutions for the Muslims. History books are filled with tales of mass murder of Hindu and Muslim communities which has poisoned the minds and cultivated hatred and prejudice between these communities. However, the wonderful records of harmony have never been penned down.

The panel aims to bring together scholars from the majority and minority communities to provide insight and acknowledge the contributions of the minorities' positive role during the dark period, and their function in the societal development in various fields.

Panel organizer: Ahmad Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

2. Religious minorities: Post partition struggle and contributions

The religious minorities live in Pakistan with incomprehensible insecurities and under the hegemony of 97 percent Muslim majority. However, if one goes by the dictionary definition of minorities and include other small racial and cultural groups, then the spectrum becomes even broader. For them, intolerance is bred through negation of pluralism, creation of strong negative images and refusal to acknowledge diversity of views.

In either case, the country of 140 million has not been able to become a melting pot accommodating diversities of faith, culture and language. Instead, it remains a disturbed plate of ethnic, religious and intellectual minorities where weak fear extinction.

The panelists of this session would try to examine the issues and conflicts, structural and policy responses, and policy recommendations regarding the religious minorities of Pakistan.

Panel organizer: Ahmad Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

3. Women mystic/sufi poets: Dissenting voices from South Asia

The women saints in medieval Indian society emerged in an atmosphere of discrimination and suppression but blossomed into thinkers, scholars and spiritually advanced and emancipated beings. Their lives and works constitute the supreme forms of self-expression. Sharply breaking away from the traditional role assigned to a woman as wife, daughter and mother, these women saints consciously or unconsciously departed from the established norms of social behavior and spurned the limitations imposed on them by their families and society. Not only did their compositions carry the overtones of protest, their emergence was in itself a social revolt.

If the hatred between India and Pakistan is viewed from a gendered perspective, then all the conflicts including Kashmir seem to be overshadowed by attempts to dominate each other, which stem from the concept of ‘mardangi' (manliness).Women reformers, especially those connected with the Sufi Movement, deeply affected the social patterns, widening the mental horizon of people and establishing greater tolerance and inter-communal harmony. Indian society being largely patriarchal, the position of women has for long been regarded as inferior. Significantly, the Bhakti Movement saw the emergence of women saints on an unprecedented scale.

The panelists of this sub-theme will be examining how the spiritual path helped a woman to break out of stereotypes, the chains of tradition, orthodoxy and convention, which sought to control her sexuality.

Panel organizer: Ahmad Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

4. Linking our past to the future: The regional voices (Pashtun, Baloch, Sindhi, Punjabi)

As Pakistan was created on the basis of Muslim nationalism, any assertion of regional or linguistic identity was regarded as treason. However, the charm and attraction of Muslim nationalism, which united the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, could not sustain its power and collapsed as a result of uneven economic development and political injustices to the smaller nationalities.

The panelists from the four provinces will try to analyze how Pashtun, Sindhi, Balochi and Punjabi nationalisms are the products of the failure of the political system, which could not absorb the demands and adjust the aspirations of these nationalities.

Panel organizer: Ahmad Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

5. Linking our past to the future: The concept of ‘other'

The territorial division of India and Pakistan in 1947 is significant as it marked the beginning of a global trend towards de-colonization. Unfortunately, it also resulted in extreme violence and a level of genocide, and one of the largest migrations in human history. Violence being the most dramatic repercussion of the Partition inaugurated inter-communal tension.

After partition, Pakistani was termed as enemy or the ‘other' by India. Similarly Indian was termed as an enemy/other by Pakistan. It also let to the distortion in the history of South Asia. The panel will attempt to analyze the situation and raise new questions.

Panel organizer: Ahmad Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

6. Students in political mobilization

Students have played a key role in political and social mobilization not just in Pakistan but all over the world. Students from madrassahs to universities continue to play a pivotal role in various ways in political mobilization in the country. In the case of Pakistan, however, very little work has been done to document as well as critically analyze the role of students in different periods of the country's history. This panel aims to bring together analysts/scholars who have studied, or have been involved in student mobilization of the left as well as of the religious groups. The panel will examine the past achievements and limitations of students' mobilizations in addition to raising issues and questions for further analysis.

They will also scrutinize how privatization of education has depleted students' role in political mobilization.

Panel organizer: Ahmad Salim, Director Urdu Publications/Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

7. The significance of Indo-Pak peace

The ongoing peace process between Pakistan and India brings hope for a permanent detente between the two conflict-prone neighbors. However, the process is only beginning to mature and there still remain significant pitfalls, which need to be guarded against, if lasting peace is to be found. Unlike past attempts at Indo-Pak rapprochement, where territorial disputes and military security took precedent, the current bid for peace has attempted to cover all areas of mutual concern/interest. The key issues to be looked into include Kashmir, nuclear deterrence, trade ties between the two sides, and the potential for water disputes, to name a few. The proposed panel will invite speakers to discuss each of the key issues with regards to the peace process. Additionally, speakers will be asked to explore the potential benefits of Indo-Pak normalization in the South Asian region as a whole.

Panel organizer: Moeed Yusuf, Consultant, Economic Policy, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

8. Human security issues in South Asia-Concept and realties

On world level, the concept of human security emerged as a forceful idea after the end of the Cold War, challenging the conventional concept of security that was confined to and focused on state security concerns. Japan and Canada have recognized human security as the key component of their foreign policies and are at the forefront to promote and protect the ideals of human security. Nonetheless, the event of 9/11 and its aftermath have adversely affected its growth and ideals at the international level. International terrorism, occupation of the weaker states, support for despotic regimes, state terrorism, suppression and legislations for legitimizing access against human liberties are a few examples. However, these trends have also maximized the importance and necessity to get legality and recognition at international and state level. Establishing the Human Security Unit at the United Nations in September 2004, after formation of an independent international commission, ‘Commission on Human Security' in January 2001, could be considered as response to the above threats and issues encompassing human security across the globe.

At South Asian level, the region is considered to be most vulnerable one under the concept(s) and standards of human security. The issues and questions of human security in South Asia are politically important, intellectually debatable and challenging, both at the governance and the civil society level. Hunger, suppressions, state sponsored violence, discriminatory laws, communal violence, diseases, natural disasters, ethnic and gender discriminations and poverty within the boundaries of the nation state, and threats of regional conflicts, foreign interventions, interference, wars, economic domination and globalization from outside the boundaries are weakening the already fragile human security situation in South Asia. In fact the newly emerging concept of human security and people of this region are under tremendous pressure on all fronts, within and out side the state boundaries.

The basic aim of this panel is to discus and envision the future of the concept at the world level, to explore various dimensions of the issues of human security at the South Asian level, to look into the successes elsewhere for replication in South Asia, and to give recommendations for future course of action to promote and protect human security standards in South Asia.
Panel organizer: Salim Shah, Research Associate, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

9. History through the lens: Cinematic depiction of people's rights

In South Asia, there exists a compelling tradition of highlighting socio-political discourses through the medium of cinema. From great cinema legends like Satiyajit Ray to modern time's filmmaker Sabeeha Sumar, the tradition lives on in one form or other. Historical issues such as the British rule of the Sub-Continent, freedom movement in India and Indo-Pak Partition have been creatively captured and documented through the lens of the camera. Moreover, it is the plight of the common people, their struggle against the injustice and oppressive systems that have come out so remarkably in Indo-Pak cinema. On the other side, Iranian celluloid, and their documentary films on social themes are rated among the best in the world.

Under this sub-theme, we would invite globally renowned documentary and film-makers of South Asian origin to present and discuss their movies. The panel aims to highlight the role of cinema/film-making in depicting peace and people's rights.
Panel organizers:
Uzma T. Haroon, Conference Coordinator, SDPI

Email: [email protected]
Shamil Shams, SDC Consultant, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

VI. Theme: Child Labor

Child labor constitutes a grave violation of human rights' as it negates the principles of human dignity. Its existence in any society poses a serious challenge not just to the persons or families directly involved in child labor but to all individuals and institutions. Child labor deprives children of their unalienable right to education, health and a carefree childhood. Moreover, child labor also affects the level of human resource development the country aims to achieve in the future. The panel(s) under this theme, therefore, will examine the violation of human rights of the vulnerable groups, especially children.

Panel organizer:

Shahbaz Bokhari, Survey Coordinator, SDPI

Email: [email protected]

Plenary Sessions

A plenary session will be organized each day with personalities whose contribution in sustainable development is well known. Some of the proposed names include:

* Renana Jhabwala--on informal sector workers and the challenges of globalization;
* Mehmood Mamdani--on peace in the face of war on terror;
* Amartaya Sen--on human capabilities;
* Deepak Gayawali--on water.

Published: 27 Jul 2005

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