The Changing Regional Order. The Middle East is a region in turmoil. ISIS and the wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya are amongst the most recent displays of the perpetual violence and instability in the region. While it can be argued that the nuclear deal with Iran is a result of this instability, the deal in turn has an impact on the regional order as well. Case in point recent Saudi-Iranian tensions. This panel explores Iranian perceptions of different regional conflicts and the role Iran plays in them. The ambitious aim is to find roads away from violence and towards cooperation between regional powers.

Iran’s Domestic Challenges. While the nuclear deal has started to ease some of the tensions between Iran and the West, it has thus far not substantially impacted domestic politics in Iran. While this deal was a campaign promise of President Rouhani, it was only one amongst many, very few of which have substantially materialized. 2015 has in fact been the worst year in recent history in terms of human rights in Iran. Looming in the background, particularly around elections, is the succession issue (what happens after Khamenei dies). We will explore what is to be expected in the coming years. Will international rapprochement aid human rights in Iran? How do we expect the factional strife to play out? What can the role of the outside world be in the support of human rights in Iran?

Women’s Leadership in Iran. Despite many efforts – even despite the fact that a majority of students in Iranian higher education is female – political, social and economic leadership in Iran remains male domain. At the same time, many Iranian women have important social, economic and political roles in many Western countries. No less than 4 Persian media organizations in Western countries now have female leadership (VOA Persian, Euronews Persian, BBC Persian and Zamaneh Media). However, to date these trends in the diaspora have not yet seen the ripple effect into Iran many had hoped for. In this panel, we will explore what obstacles prohibit women from rising to the top in Iran and we’ll analyze what Iranian civil society in exile can (and cannot) do to promote gender equality in Iran.

Side events and panels include an inspiring account of the state of Environmental Management and Advocacy in Iran, attention for LGBTI Rights, hosted in cooperation with Article19 and JoopeA and a session on Digital Advocacy Support, hosted by Small Media. As a pre-event meeting, Zamaneh will host a one hour Persian Program as well, featuring an Ask Me Anything session with Zamaneh’s editor in chief Dr. Mohammad Reza Nikfar and a discussion on Education in Iran hosted by Iran Academia