The Future of Iran is a project designed to encourage Iranians to begin thinking about the challenges they will face if, or when, they suddenly find themselves in a position to carry out major political, social and economic reforms.
The inspiration for the project comes from 1980s Eastern Europe, a period when Polish and Hungarian economists began talking about how to privatize and de-centralize their countries’ planned economies. At the time, such reforms were not possible. But a decade later they did abruptly become possible. Thanks to those early discussions, some people, at least, had already begun to think about what had to be done.
The same may someday be true in Iran: changes that seem impossible now may unexpectedly become feasible at some point in the future. The Future of Iran project hopes to identify the problems Iranian reformers will face in a time of transition, and help scholars and experts think about solutions.
Led by Anne Applebaum, Director of the Legatum Institute's Transitions Forum, together with Programme Advisor Sharan Tabari, the Future of Iran will be carried out through a series of workshops on economic reforms, educational reforms, judicial reforms and transitional justice. Papers are commissioned to accompany each workshop and will be published on the Legatum Institute website.
Each workshop will include both Iranian scholars and experts from other parts of the world—Eastern Europe, South America, South Africa—where political and economic transitions have taken place.
This project does not aim to advocate any particular kind of change. Nor will it provide a blueprint for future reforms. Our intention is to encourage people inside and outside of Iran to start thinking about what a successful transition might look like, to learn how transitions succeeded and failed in other countries, and to begin taking steps, at least, to avoid the mistakes of others.
In this brief video, Anne Applebaum explains the motivation behind the project: