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UW Visiting Scholar Brings Expertise on Middle East, Africa

February 13, 2015
UW visiting scholar
UW Senior Visiting Scholar in Global Studies Ahmed Rhazaoui will speak on the topic of “The Syrian Crisis, Refugees and the Impact on Neighboring States" during the spring term.

A longtime United Nations peacemaker who most recently worked with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon is the new Senior Visiting Scholar in Global Studies at the University of Wyoming.

The appointment of Ahmed Rhazaoui of Morocco for the spring 2015 semester is through UW’s Global Studies Excellence Initiative, funded by the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowment. Created in 2006 by the Wyoming State Legislature, the endowment brings distinguished scholars and educators to Wyoming.

“Dr. Rhazaoui brings real-world experience in international development and its challenges that will benefit UW students in the classroom and in discussions, and contribute a great deal to thinking how the United States should approach development and reconstruction in places like Syria and elsewhere in Africa and the Arab world after events such as the Arab Spring,” says Associate Professor David Messenger, director of UW’s Global and Area Studies Program. “We are very fortunate to have a scholar and practitioner of Dr. Rhazaoui’s stature here in Wyoming.”

At UW, Rhazaoui is teaching an upper-level undergraduate and graduate class that deals with the U.N., development and crisis management in Africa, based on his years of experience in the region. He also will have a vital part in UW’s Global and Area Studies outreach work, traveling to different Wyoming communities.

Rhazaoui is scheduled to speak at the Sunrise Rotary Club in Laramie at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, at the Holiday Inn; at Northwest College in Powell and the Worland Rotary Club March 5; then to the Casper Foreign Relations Society April 9. At UW, he’s scheduled to speak April 23 at 5:30 p.m. in Room 103 of the Classroom Building. His topic for all of the presentations: “The Syrian Crisis, Refugees and the Impact on Neighboring States.”

Rhazaoui started his career in academia, teaching at New York University, Richmond College (N.Y.) and Mohamed V University in Rabat, Morocco, before joining the United Nations in the late 1970s. He spent the next 30 years at the U.N. in various capacities, starting as economic officer at the U.N.’s Africa headquarters in Ethiopia, where he worked on the impact of transnational corporations on African countries.

Afterward, he moved to U.N. headquarters in New York to continue working on transnational corporate activities and the U.N. effort to draft an international code of conduct for those activities. Rhazaoui joined the U.N. Development Program in the late 1980s to work in the field on development challenges as deputy, then resident representative and U.N. coordinator. In that capacity, he led the U.N. Development Program teams in Guinea, Niger, Rwanda, Cameroon, Senegal and Syria, with shorter stints in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Tunisia.

His U.N. career was capped in 2004 by his appointment as director of the U.N. Office for West Africa and deputy special representative of the secretary general. The office’s objective is to bring the U.N. peacemaking work to the field by focusing on conflict prevention, management and post-conflict reconstruction in West Africa.

Among the highlights of his career was the lead role in coordinating the work of the U.N. for the reconstruction of Rwanda in the immediate aftermath of the 1994 genocide. In Syria, he focused on the promotion of reforms before the Arab Spring, an effort that was overtaken by events after he left the country at the end of his assignment. In fall 2014, he worked for the U.N. with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

After the U.N., Rhazaoui resumed his academic career as visiting professor in Ifrane (Morocco), and taught at Paris-Descartes/Sorbonne, Georgetown and Tsukuba University (Japan). He combines his academic work with consulting for the U.N. on peace and development issues.

Rhazaoui’s academic training includes a B.A. in political science from Whitman College, an M.A. in international studies from the University of South Carolina, a Ph.D. in political science and economics from New York University, and postdoctoral work in the area of Islam and social change in the Middle East and North Africa region at the University of Chicago.


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Chad Baldwin

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