Social cohesion stands out as a major element of the “Norwegian model”. Norway can even be seen as a sort of laboratory where one can measure both the positive and the negative effects of such a priority and examine its components. The Norwegian social-democratic model – i.e. economical and social policies aiming at reinforcing social cohesion – is largely a product of the remarkable ethnic and cultural homogeneity that has historically characterized Norway. Though this political strategy has generated considerable achievements, it would appear to be in jeopardy today. This study will examine three main questions: considering international movements of people, is it possible to maintain ethnic and cultural homogeneity in a country with an open market? As Norway faces growing international competition, is there not a risk that the adverse effects of social homogeneity will supersede its advantages? Lastly, will oil revenues be enough to finance the continuation of this Norwegian model despite perturbations associated with globalization?

Marc Valeri

The sudden slump in oil production since 2001 has only heightened the question of an alternative to an economy based on oil revenues, whereas the sultanate had undergone exponential development over the three preceding decades. From this standpoint, the policy of Omanizing the labor force conditions all other issues, as it is not merely an economic matter, but instead deeply alters the social fabric that remained intact during the era of prosperity, thereby questioning the very legitimacy of Oman’s economic model. Omani society is currently experiencing a rise in frustrations reflected in a resurgence of particularist prejudices and demands. Alongside this phenomenon is an exacerbation of inequality, particularly due to the enmeshment of economic and decisionmaking powers in the hands of the oligarchy that has benefited from these revenues since 1970. To what extent do the changes Oman is going through today harbor a threat for the stability of a regime considered to be one of the most stable in the region?

Marwa Daoudy

From 1991 to 2000, Syria and Israel, two of the key actors of the Middle-Eastern conflict, entered into extensive peace negotiations. What lessons can be drawn from the process in terms of Syria’s objectives, motivations and perceptions, considering that this actor remains largely unknown? Such concerns will be addressed by identifying the major issues at stake: territory, security, and water resources. By analyzing all the obstacles on the road to peace, we will evaluate the potential for a resumption of peace talks in the new regional context. The death of President Hafez al-Asad in June 2000 and the rise to power of his son Bashar, the deterioration of the Israeli-Palestinian situation since the start of the Intifada and Ariel Sharon’s election in Israel, the war launched by the United States in Iraq, the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in April 2005, and the meeting of the 10th Baath Party Congress in June have all drastically impacted on domestic and regional dynamics. The purpose of the study is to shed new light on Syria’s constraints and opportunities, and their impact on her bargaining position.

Luisa Palacios

This paper studies the institutional transformation of Latin America’s oil sector. It discusses specific policy choices and the timing of reforms in this industry. Latin American countries present different models of openness and energy-sector dynamics, and allow for an analysis of the liberalization process from a range of points of view: that of an importer (Brazil), of a historically self-sufficient country (Argentina) and of oil exporters (Mexico and Venezuela). The degree of dependence on oil revenues has proven in general to be negatively correlated with the level of openness of the oil sector. That is, countries more dependent on their oil sector for foreign and fiscal revenues tend to be less liberalized and open to private investment. This principle also holds true in Latin America: oil importers and self-sufficient countries like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil indeed have oil industries that are relatively more open to private sector participation than those of the oil exporters in the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico). However, different levels of openness exist within these general categories of importers and exporters. This paper will further argue that differences among countries in the same category are a function of the strategic and financial position prior to reform of their respective National Oil Companies (NOC), which is in turn related to the institutional evolution of the oil industries in these countries.