Welcome to the April edition of IBA Global Insight.
As this edition of IBA Global Insight went to press at the end of March, events across North Africa and the Middle East moved at a remarkable pace. Uprisings that began in Tunisia in January – following the self-immolation of a market trader – quickly engulfed the whole region, ending 40 years of autocratic rule by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt – in many ways a linchpin of the Arab world. This and subsequent developments in Bahrain, the involvement of Saudi Arabia, and the chaos unleashed in Libya suggest anything’s possible.
Is this a bright new dawn for those seeking the fundamental rights that can only be delivered by establishing the rule of law, neglected for too long in favour of stability? Extended features ('Arab awakening' and 'Rule of Law: an elusive panacea'), provide some answers to the question on our cover. The 'Letter from Washington' assesses the fraught position of President Obama and an already embattled America. Our inaugural column from the Middle East, meanwhile, analyses the impact on business in the region.
Amidst the turbulence, one contributor to this edition suggested the challenge of effectively covering events was ‘equivalent to taking a perfectly still photo of a runaway freight train’. Nevertheless, the edition as a whole presents the authoritative insight of leading fi gures in the international legal and business community, providing in-depth analysis of this unique moment in history. A common theme of many of the articles in the pages that follow is the interplay of idealism, pragmatism, and outright realpolitik, never more clearly in evidence than times like these. Which of these prevails is likely to dictate the brightness of the dawn.