The popular uprisings that have swept the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2011 present a historic event that has fundamentally changed the domestic power dynamics across the region. While civil society has played a prominent role during the protests, its influence seems to be waning. This Issue Brief explores some of the main challenges faced by Arab civil societies in the ongoing political transitions, namely:
- Internal divisions within civil society that prevent effective cooperation;
- Trade-offs between different organizational structures;
- Tensions that arise from civil society’s relations with the political sphere; and
- Exclusive and contradictory international policies and donor relations.
This Issue Brief is the first in a series of papers that disseminate the interim results of research and various consultations taking place with different partners under the auspices of the Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP). Part of an ongoing project, this initiative, entitled “Arab Spring: Challenges during Political Transitions and Comparative Lessons for Civil Societies in the Middle East and North Africa”, aims to strengthen the role and sustainable participation of civil society groups in the MENA region during the consolidation phase of the current transitions.
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