At the invitation of Professor James McGann, coordinator of the research centers at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs called for holding a panel discussion on think tanks and their role in light of global developments, on January 30, 2020, which was accompanied by the convening of more than a hundred and fifty other panel discussions in many world cities, deriving their theme from the main title ” Why Think Tanks Matter? ” This panel discussion was moderated by Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, Chairman of the Council, with the participation of Their Excellencies Ambassadors: Ezzat Saad, Director of the Council; Mohamed Anis Salem, Ihab Wahba, Youssef Al-Sharqawi, Mohamed El-Ashmawy, Mohamed Mounir, Dr. Hazem Atiyyatallah, Dr. Heba Ragheb Awad, Mr. Ahmed Abu-Shady, Mr. Hedayat Abdel Nabi, Mr. Fadi Khalil, and Mr. Atef Al-Ghamry.
According to a presentation made by Ambassador Anis Salem, the panel discussion clarified the criteria on which the process of selecting and ranking various think tanks worldwide is based in the annual report issued under the supervision of Dr. McGann, which included the quality of the technical and logistical aspects, work papers, and the intellectual output related to policy-making in various fields. Many problems facing Egyptian and Arab think tanks have been mentioned, such as the lack of financial resources, low level of human resources, bureaucracy, difficulty of communicating with and influencing decision makers, the inability to communicate with other think tanks, and the underutilization of knowledge societies and future studies. The relationship between Egyptian think tanks and the executive bodies or what is being crystallized in the decision-making process in the state, to what extent is the interaction between them, and the extent to which the outputs and recommendations of these think tanks are utilized, were also raised.
Some have suggested, by way of recommendation, the necessity of activating and maximizing cooperation among the various think tanks of all world continents, to constitute the so-called continental cooperation, which is based on activating the relations between the think tanks of each continent, in order to achieve the common good of humanity as a whole, and to solve the various problems facing its welfare and prosperity. With regard to the issues that should be given priority at the present time by the Egyptian and Arab think tanks; it has been pointed out that the deal of the century which is unjust to the rights of the Palestinian people must be confronted, as well as the necessity of endeavoring to establish a regional zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and they denounced the claims of the major countries possessing such weapons that they are keeping them for deterrence, which could pose a danger to all mankind; and moreover, this is basically a violation of the principles enshrined in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations. Moreover, the attendees recommended the necessity of working towards the utilization of Egyptian think tanks as they represent a distinct soft power tool in Egypt, and it should also enjoy the independence needed for it to carry out its desired tasks in the best possible way, while engaging in achieving peace and sustainable development via a wide network of relations with one another.