Needs and Demands of Civil society in the Arab region A Field Study (Jordan- Tunisia-Lebanon-Morocco)

Main Researcher: Mohamed El Agati Field Researcher in Lebanon: Mona Khneisser

Field Researcher in Tunisia: Nissaf Brahim Field Researcher in Jordan: Ali Assaf

Field Researcher in Morocco: Aziz Sakri Research Assistant: Mina Samir

During the past years, multiple studies focused on the relation between civil society organizations in the Arab region with the late developments in the region and its effect on the movement that the region is witnessing from around 10 years.

Some studies perceived civil society as a core partner in creating the movement in the region others focused on the interaction of civil society with the uprisings. However, this field study, which is a part of a larger project, is trying to see civil society the other way around, which is how this movement influenced civil society in the region in terms of approaches to its role, its agenda and strategies, and the internal structure and governance of the organizations.

In this context, this study attempts to examine how civil society organizations perceive their needs and demands on three levels, institutional, its relation to the general context, and in terms of their relations with different parties. This was done through the integration of two field studies tools: an electronic questionnaire, and structured interviews. In order to ensure access to the widest category of civil society in those countries, whether inside or outside the capital. It is noteworthy that the content of interviews and questionnaire was unified in the four countries under study: Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan.

The sample was designed in the four countries to include different areas of work, namely human rights, developmental, cultural / research organizations, and a category of other organizations that may not fall within these areas and fall under the previous definition. It also included organizations operating in the capital, urban (city), and rural areas.

The analysis of the results depended on three main focal points:

  1. Institutional problems:

There are three main institutional problems that civil society organizations need to deal with. Firstly, development of internal organizational structures and activating democratic mechanisms in terms of structures and decision-making. Secondly, clarification of roles and coordination between departments, and different institutions. Thirdly, formulation of visions and goals in a participatory way that also integrates beneficiaries of organizations’ work and development of mechanisms for decentralization of decision-making.

  1. Influence of the context on the civil society organizations:

When it comes to the main challenges ahead of the civil society organizations, first: there is the weak compliance and discipline by volunteers, as well as the weak institutional culture. Second: exposure to persecution and delay in administrative decisions such as difficulty in obtaining the authorization of activities and the lack of support from the authorities. In addition to obstacles set by the security services as a result of the emergency law in several countries or against the background of the war on terror, which often impede implementation of projects and achievement of objectives. Third: the problem of weak funding, in addition to the weak public financial and technical support.

  1. Institutional Needs:

When it comes to the main needs organizations, expressed that from the government at first there is the necessity of recognizing their role and end restrictions on their work. Moreover, from international partner institutions is to provide financial support in an equal and non-discriminatory way, as well openness to new initiatives and areas, and a focus on public funding without imposing funding agendas.

The study drew conclusions on civil society in the Arab region after the uprising. For example, there was a vivid effect for the youth who became part of the organizations not only with their spirit of initiative and enthusiasm, but also with the capabilities, they acquired though their experiences in the streets. In addition, how the international organizations have also tried to play a role in the transformation process experienced by those countries, which have affected both local and international organizations.

Full study available in Arabic on the link:

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