Hivos International

Civic Driven Change: A new impetus to the debate

This policy brief describes the thinking behind and motives for a group of Dutch private aid agencies to support and help design the Civic-Driven Change Initiative.

Related Publications

This paper investigates relations between the Syrian regime and the Sunni sphere by providing a brief policy oriented analysis of regime - sphere relations and their role in the resilience of the Syrian authoritarian...

"Links in the Chain" is a bi-monthly publication which highlights the projects, ideas and news of the "Digital Natives with a Cause?" community members. The first volume was introductory and experimental in nature. ...

Crisis is a much-overworked word in social sciences generally and in politics in particular. Phrases such as ‘democracy promotion is in crisis’ or ‘civil society can never be a force for democratization’ are simplistic...

Michael Edwards spoke about Know-How’, ‘Know-What’ in his lecture entitled ‘Know-How’, ‘Know-What’ and the Politics of Knowledge for Development at the internationale dialogue Knowledge & Change: Theory and practice of development. Michael Edwards is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on civil society, philanthropy, and social change. In his speech he addressed particularly the politics of knowledge, which determine how thinking is translated into action of various kinds and which ideas are considered legitimate. He also stressed that these political factors are going to become even more important in the future.

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

The Kenya media programme (KMP) is a programme of Hivos whose aim is to strengthen the existing media landscape in Kenya. KMP's overall objective is to contribute to a responsible, accountable and transparent governance environment and...

The Kenya Media Programme (KMP) envisages a second four-year phase effective April 2015 and hopes to address sector wide efforts and challenges faced by the media. This is part of the reason why it was...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

Following the symposium Can do-ocracy deepen democracy? last December in The Hague, Hivos, ISS and WRR publish an online magazine: Can 'democracy by doing' deepen democracy?.

Democracy by doing is alive. Although the concept is very diverse and highly dependent on...

Zambia embraced plural politics in 1991. The multi-party democracy has, however, not yet brought stable and mature politics and governance to the country. Almost two decades after its introduction, it is still not clear whose interests Zambian politics really serve. The country’s citizens have largely remained spectators in the development process of their country, with little opportunities to be engaged in the decisions that rule their lives.

How does civic action provide possibilities in the search for new alternatives to politics and political engagement? This issue of Development, the quarterly journal of the Society for International Development (SID), assesses the potential...

This paper explores how social movements construct citizenship and redefine the very notion of the political realm. Social movements have quickly become powerful actors within South Africa’s civil society.

It is a well-known fact that extension of universal citizenship rights to all citizens regardless of their socio-economic status, were considered as a feature of the progress of modern societies. This approach is widely...

The Civic-Driven Change (CDC) Initiative provides a story and frame of reference which can add value to the work of (private) aid agencies. However, aid agencies vary, and the stage of development of this understanding - which competes with other methods - is such that a first engagement with CDC would be for agencies to critically reflect on their ‘being’ and ‘doing’ as civic agents of change. In focusing on what this might mean in practice, this briefing paper draws on essay 10 in the CDC volume and complements others policy briefs. It is not prescriptive. Illustrations of what CDC could entail for development strategy, principles and practices can help initiate public discussion, foster organizational debate and invite ‘rediscovery’ of civic agency in aided development.

Examples, mainly from the United States, show that public work can be an effective and practical way of expanding civic agency and engaging with political systems. Theses experiences are applied to defining and pursuing forms of democracy that are ‘developmental’ in that they build citizen capability to act against creeping technocracy and party-based politics that disempower.

By Evelina Dagnino

Civic driven change requires clarity about the meaning of terms. Experiences from Brazil detailed in this essay illustrate how the same language can hide contrary understandings and interpretations that stem from...

Within the context of Asia, this essay tackles the prevention and erosion of democratic practices, abetted by mass media which portrays civic agency as a negative force for social justice. Attention focuses on the commercialisation of the public sphere and roots of political culture that endorse authoritarian leadership. The author describes strategies, methods and experiences that deepen democracy beyond confinement by electoral politics.

For many decades, the main driver of progress in developing countries was considered to be either the state or the market. Civil society existed only in relation to, and by the grace of, these...

The world is not working well. For more and more people, life is unfair and insecure. In fact, for years now the global future has looked less rather than more politically certain, financially stable...

Politics is central to development discourse, yet remains peripheral.  And, over some twenty years, a civil society narrative has not fulfilled  its potential to ‘bring politics back in’. Reasons can be found in  conceptual confusion, in selectivity in donor thinking and policies  towards civil society and in the growth-driven political economy of  NGO-ism.

This essay introduces important concepts and provides the reader with information about the motivations, methods and substantive content of this volume. It concludes with an overview of what civic driven change mean from the...

This brief explores assessing risk in organizing civic-driven action. The exercise of citizens’ agency needs to be informed by a mapping of power/relations – class, caste, gender, space – amongst others. In addition, adequate support is called for to translate processes that increase people’s critical awareness into practical action without making those who take risks to change society more vulnerable in the process.

This essay summarizes the features of civic driven change emerging from the essays that could give value to the being and doing of private aid agencies. It then focuses on the ‘Monday morning’ question of steps that agencies can take to consider adopting a CDC discourse and approach and types of measures that would help with strategy and practical implementation.

Outsiders promote civic driven change in ways that implicitly assume and try to create a preferred relationship between personal and public rights and responsibilities. Drawing on cases from Hungary, this essay critically debates the role of external agencies and their political projects in defining and steering civic agency in other countries.

With a graphic case of gender empowerment from India, this essay focuses attention on the way in which the opportunities for and risks of civic agency can be (mal) distributed across development actors. It shows the assessment of risk as a critical but oft ignored feature of donor thinking and practice with consequences that run counter to the social justice agendas they espouse.

This policy brief explores the emergence of organizing as a method of citizen action for change, as it differs from mobilizing and other approaches to problem-solving. The focus of organizing is on developing civic agency as a central element of work on concrete issues. Civic agency is defined as capacities for self-directed collective action in open settings with no predetermined outcomes but a general orientation to the common good.covery’ of civic agency in aided development.

Values are a significant feature of civic driven change. This essay explores the role of religion in shaping the moral norms that guide people’s behaviour towards citizenship, politics and authority. With Kenya as an example, the notion of a rigorous divide between secular and spiritual groundings of civic agency is questioned.

This working paper outlines the current theoretical debate about civil society and democratisation and examines how such general debates have informed studies of civil society in the Arab world. It analyses in depth the...

Working paper 3 discusses Civil Society en Democratization in Yemen. One part describes and analyzes the persistence in Yemen of what could be called a traditional civil society comprising of tribal and religious actors,...

This paper provides an analysis of the state of civil society and democratization in Jordan. It analyzes the nature of the governing system and its institutions, examines the state of democracy in the kingdom,...

This article is a summary of the book Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World (Routledge, 30th September 2010).

This book illustrates that the popular view in political sciences and policy making that civil society...

In Libya, political civil society is a novelty. Mostly banned under Muammar Gaddafi, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have mushroomed in post-2011 Libya thanks to newly acquired freedoms. The influx of foreign donors to the previously...

In this Working Paper on the state of civil society in Iran, Sohrab Razzaghi makes a number of claims and offers recommendations for bolstering independent civil society in Iran. Two of the most thought-provoking...

The goal of this particular research has been to examine the role of  information and communication technologies (ICTs) in policy advocacy as  applied by civil society. Taking the Solidarity for African Women’s  Rights coalition and their work towards the ratification of the Protocol  on Women’s Rights of Women in Africa as a case study, this research has  looked at the opportunities and challenges in using Pambazuka News as a way of promoting the Protocol.

Since joining the Open Government Partnership in 2011, the Indonesian Government has shown some commitment towards implementing initiatives that increase citizen voice and government and service-providers’ accountability to citizens and service users. These include...

Recent demographics show that Indonesia’s future could well be shaped by a fast growing youth population. A government census conducted in 2010, shows that over 60 percent of the country’s population is younger than...

This article contests the role of social actors within a democratic context by looking at post-apartheid social movements in general and the case study of the Treatment Action Campaign in particular. By illustrating the structure, activities, goals and accomplishments of the Treatment Action Campaign up until the end of 2006, this work will argue that it represents an innovation in social movements in South Africa via its unique strategies and networks that have transformed the issue of HIV/AIDS from a health and service delivery problem, to a political and economic struggle that affects all people.

This guiding document provides concrete action-oriented driven information useful to local government bodies, Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and trade unions working in different African countries on how...

Efforts to reduce and remediate child labour require attention from multiple angles. One key element is the role of the private sector.

This guide focuses on how Community Based Organizations (CBOs), NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs)...

In mid-2015, VOTO Mobile, in partnership with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), applied to Making All Voices Count for a practitioner research and learning grant.

VOTO Mobile is a Ghanaian tech company...

Aiding populations of remote, poor countries is increasingly seen as a neglect of 'our own people'. The arts are perceived as a 'left-wing hobby'; the costly recreation of misguided idealists. And caring for the environment? This is no longer seen as self-evident, but as open for re-interpretation. 

What we see in global civil society depends on what value lens we use to define it. The trend towards networked organisation may have emancipatory effects, but may also obscure inequalities and clashing values....

This paper focuses on those countries in Eastern Europe and South America where civil society emerged as a cause celebre in the successful transition to democracy: Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.It offers...

Le mouvement international pour l’élimination du travail des enfants Stop Child Labour a rédigé un manuel présentant des expériences menées à travers le monde dans le but de partager et pour inspirer d’autres acteurs...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

The issue of ‘foreign funding’ to local civil and political society, and the political agendas associated with it, remain a highly sensitive issue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) following the ‘Arab...

In the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution, controversies  over foreign funding to Egyptian civil society organisations (CSO) have  become even more politicised. This has resulted in the prosecution of a  number of international and Egyptian...

This paper is an introduction to available literature on local democratic governance in fragile settings with an emphasis on contexts marked by protracted violent conflict. In this paper the term ‘fragile settings’ is used as it...

This article focuses on the issue of maternal mortality in Tanzania  from a human rights perspective. It deals with the findings of a study  conducted in 2008, which examined the role of civil society actors in  framing and claiming rights. During the research process, qualitative  interviews were carried out with non-governmental organizations and  focus group discussions were held with rural women in Tanzania. A key  thrust of the research was to examine how reproductive rights are  translated into the local context and how they are in turn used by civil  society actors.

Holding power to account requires understanding where power lies and how it is exercised. It entails understanding how decisions are made and who makes them, and the nature of entrenched, institutional obstacles to change....

What happens when organisations within civil society ally transnationally with agendas that counter prevailing global political projects? Explanation of debates and struggles within the World Social Forum provides valuable insights and lessons about pursuing democratic processes of reform for global social justice.

The Philippines has a long history of state–society engagement to introduce reforms in government and politics. Forces from civil society and social movements have interfaced with reform-oriented leaders in government on a range of...

How can we achieve an effective and sustainable HIV response? What are our respective roles and how can we enhance the current coordination? How can we ensure we are transparent in terms of implementation...

In December 2008, the Indian Parliament passed a legislation called the Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill that mandated the Union Government to “formulate, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers.” As...

Human rights organisations in India have consistently felt unable to respond to religious polarization and communal violence. While their efforts in combating the Hindu revivalist extremism did result in occasional ‘success stories’, more often...

Decentralisation has provided the opportunity for the participatory model of development planning and budgeting to be applied in Indonesia. Through a participatory planning and budgeting system known as "Musrenbang" (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan), Indonesia attempts...

This working paper presents two interesting examples of ‘practices of pluralism’ in Indonesia. The authors work in the NGO sector and participate in the Regional Team of the Promoting Pluralism Knowledge program in Indonesia.
...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

This Policy Brief introduces civic-driven change (CDC) as conceived by the ISS initiative. It describes major concepts, terms and arguments. In addition it explains basic principles, preconditions and areas of disagreement. It addresses frequently asked questions...

Civil society building efforts in Ecuador have provided the Achuar and Kichwas of the Amazon with a voice. This is particularly relevant given the global significance of the Amazon, which makes it essential that local voices are empowered to have a say in the future of their local space. Civil society building efforts aim at empowering historically excluded groups, leading to their political inclusion, as well as to an increase in their decision-making power.

Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC), a South African civil society organisation (CSO) working on transparency and accountability, has been heavily involved in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since its inception. Through its contributions to...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

International AIDS conference, South Africa

South Africa grapples with serious social and economic inequalities, including inequality in access to basic services. At a  time of rising social tensions, the country’s institutions are in danger  of losing the legitimacy they gained in the wake of democratic  dispensations of the 1990s. This book presents  the findings of five research projects that address  these key areas in  partnership with practitioners, which were  presented at an international  conference organised by the Hivos-ISS  Knowledge Programme on Civil  Society in November 2009 in Johannesburg.

The experience of Peruvian organizations of civil society in the struggle against the entry of living modified organisms -in this document interchangeably called GMOs or transgenic, clearly stands out in Latin America. Transgenic crops...

Are we entering a post-NGO era in development? Aid critics very much  suggest so. Hailed as a magic bullet for development two decades ago,  NGOs are increasingly criticized for being ineffective agents of change,...

New laws enacted in 2009 and 2010 opened up possibilities in the Bolivian political system for indigenous peoples to exercise territorial autonomy. More than 20 million hectares of land were subsequently designated as Indigenous Peasant...

Hivos has been gradually diversifying the role(s) that it performs in processes of systemic social change. To improve the effectiveness with which it is able to play these roles, Hivos periodically takes stock of its experiences. This paper  is the result...

Since the implementation of the first Open Government Partnership National Action Plan (OGP-NAP) in Uruguay in 2012, open government has evolved from a focus on e-government that was non-participatory, towards a multi-stakeholder, transversal approach...

Crisis is a much-overworked word in social sciences generally and in politics in particular. Phrases such as ‘democracy promotion is in crisis’ or ‘civil society can never be a force for democratization’ are simplistic...

This report shares the findings from an impact assessment of Accountability Lab, conducted between August 2016 and March 2017 as part of a research and learning grant from Making All Voices Count.

Accountability Lab...

'Participation for What' is about meaningful participation in development. How and when does it work? What are the downsides? And what does it imply for development practice and research? This book brings together a rich collection of essays on participation by Phd -  students from the Institute of Social Studies

In this paper, we focus on participation in the main planning documents produced in Bolivia in the first decade of the 2000s: the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the National Development Plan (PND). We analyze how these planning instruments have been able to capture popular participation through diverse mechanisms and how these practices fit in the current mainstream participation discourse. For more knowledge programme publications on participation in development click here. In this paper, special attention is paid to natural resources because of the predominant role they have in the Bolivian economy and because of their substantial contribution to the state budget.

Yayasan Kota Kita (Our City Foundation) is an organisation of governance practitioners who focus on urban planning and citizen participation in the design and development of cities. Following several years of experience with participatory...

How do marginalised communities use tech for transparency and accountability (T4T&A) work?

This research report, by the Tactical Technology Collective (Tactical Tech), presents reflections and learnings from two studies of about how marginalised communities –...

Literature on democratization rarely gives attention to the ‘big picture’. More often, scholars select one (or a few) key factors which are supposedly essential for democratization to take place or for a democracy to...

Despite the sustained and genuine efforts of committed civic activists, and a ‘surge’ of civil society organisations and democracy promotion over the course of the past two decades in the Middle East, hopes for...

Since 2006 the Nicaraguan abortion law eliminates all forms of therapeutic abortion in the country with a penalty of up to three years in prison. This paper considers the 2006 Nicaraguan abortion law reform by looking at the situation in the country, with special attention to women’s rights, in particular reproductive rights—and, more specifically, abortion rights. The paper shows that the reform is unrepresentative of the attitudes and opinions of much of its civil society members, namely, women’s organisations.

This working paper argues that the growing field of transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) needs a conceptual reboot, to address the limited traction gained so far on the path to accountability. To inform more...

This paper takes as its starting point the perspective that civil society participation in governance—particularly policy processes such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and related policy developments—largely takes on a mere consultative rather than a transformative role when initiated and driven by government or donors.

Information, communication and the mass media often exert a significant influence on how citizenship and civic agency are appreciated and driven. With illustrations from Latin America the essay looks at these influences between development...

South Asia is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population and is a region of dynamic economic growth, yet it performs relatively poorly on health and nutrition indicators. As a potential route...

This study investigates social innovation in by defining and applying test criteria. Social innovation can be directed at causes or symptoms. We therefore need some idea of why societies’ problems are ‘thickening’. This insight...

The belligerence with which the women’s movement has defended its rights during the last ten years has made it to stand out as one of the main political actors of the country. Its level of development and articulation permitted the realization of systematic actions of denunciation, demands and mobilization on behalf of women’s rights, in particular, sexual and civil rights all over Nicaragua’s territory. Specially important has been the struggle developed during the last three years in order to avoid the abolition of therapeutical abortion by the Nicaraguan State and later for its restitution and decriminalization as a legitimate right of women.

This paper critically analyses the emergence and development of the Yasuní-ITT initiative, which is built on the idea of leaving oil underground in exchange for financial contributions from the international community. Development politics in Ecuador has experienced major changes since the election of Correa in 2007.

This publication studies how the relationship between the state and the business community in Morocco has changed over the past two decades. Recent scholarship by social scientists on political change in the Middle East...

Since the late 1990s, the prospect of using ICT (Information Communication Technologies) to improve accountability, transparency, access to information, and monitoring authorities has attracted general optimism. However, early hopes that e-initiatives would be the...

Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, there have been abundant articles and studies on Syrian political factions and figures; but, to date, there has been no systematic study and critical...

The current revolution in Syria took most of the country’s civil society actors and organizations by surprise. Few were prepared to lead or give direction to the mass grievances against authoritarian rule, and even fewer appear to have been instrumental to the onset of the uprising in March 2011. However, whatever the outcome of the current Syrian crisis will be –a reform process, a fundamental change of the country’s political system, or an ongoing militarized conflict-- chances are that civil society organizations will be variously called upon to aid reforms, support a transition, or help address Syrian citizens’ burgeoning needs, or all of these together.

With mass protests in Syria in full swing, and violence reaching unprecedented levels, it may at first seem peculiar to release a volume of papers that document and analyse the inner workings and fate...

This paper attempts to trace, albeit briefly, the evolution of social security systems for the workers in India.

In this chapter, we briefly discuss (a) the conceptual issues as it relates to Indian conditions,...

Many articles have been written on democratization. The focus often lies on the ‘pluralist’ notion, in which civil society is believed to be the most important stimulus for democratization. Much less, though increasing, attention...

Are we entering a post-NGO era in development? Aid critics very much  suggest so. Hailed as a magic bullet for development two decades ago,  NGOs are increasingly criticized for being ineffective agents of change,...

This paper assesses the so-called ‘first lady phenomenon’ in (semi) authoritarian context. More specifically it discusses to what extent organizations in which Queen Rania is involved affect the development of a truly independent organizational...

Our world is changing quickly and profoundly. Rich and poor – regardless of where they live – are faced with increasingly ‘thick’ problems and social change is more politicized and contested than ever before. And yet, most international development NGOs (INGOs) keep offering ‘thin’ solutions to these problems. Solutions geared to measurable material success. Solutions that are aimed at increasing participation in unsustainable economies and polities.

India could rightly be characterised as one of the few large and growing economies with a vast informal sector, i.e. one dominated by a large number of very small enterprises consisting of the self-employed...

On a daily basis scores of Syrian activists upload their YouTube footage of protests and the regime’s atrocities, hoping that someone will watch them, become outraged, and act in ways to support the uprising....

Did Zimbabwean women’s organising constitute a women’s movement during the years 1995 – 2000? In a fascinating account of a significant period of women’s collective organising, Shereen Essof’s response to this question is positive....

In this Special Bulletin, Mariwan Kanie maps out the main debates in the Middle East on Middle Eastern transitions. Making sense of the new Middle East is not an easy endeavor. Since the start...

On the 10th of September 2009, violent unrest broke out in Kampala, the capital of Uganda in East Africa. Groups of youngsters attacked people and destroyed property. Police and army responded with force. Within...

This paper, entitled "Unity in Diversity", provides an academic background on the protection of diversity in both the international (UN experience) and regional (European, US and African) frameworks, and then assesses national, religious and...

Many governments, international agencies and civil society organisations (CSOs) support and promote open data. Most open government data initiatives have focused on supply – creating portals and publishing information. Much less attention has been...

Much of the literature on citizen accountability focuses on citizen voices. This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on the how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each...

The Working Paper aims to contribute to a growing pool of experience of applying power analysis for improving social activism and organisational practice. Over the last decade, an increasing number of practitioners, researchers, NGOs,...

Tanzania coffee farming 4s@scale programme for women

In ‘When Civics go governance’ Ria Brouwers analyses the stormy ascent of African NGOs in the field of good governance. Tracing the tracks of the NGO-boom in Africa, Brouwers brings together key academic writings with ISS led field on NGO interventions in Zambia, Uganda, Kenia and Tanzania conducted under the banner of the Hivos/ISS Civil Society Building Knowledge Programme.

Much of the literature on citizen accountability focuses on citizen voices. This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on the how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each...

تأتي هذه النشرة الخاصة ضمن إطار مشروع "وجهات نظر سورية" والذي يهدف إلى توفير منبر يتوجه من خلاله باحثون وناشطون سوريون من الداخل (وكذلك من الخارج) السوري إلى جمهور من القراء في شتى أنحاء العالم لاطلاعهم على الأساطير المتداولة والحقائق الواقعية المحيطة بالنزاع السوري. صحيح أن ليس هنالك قصور في كم التحاليل الخاصة شبه اليومية حول النزاع السوري من وجهة نظر المحللين الأجانب (أو من يسمون بخبراء في الشأن السوري)، ولكن ما نستفقده بشكل كبير في خضم هذا الزخم من التحاليل هو وجهات نظر الباحثين والناشطين السوريين الذين لا زالوا يعيشون في بلدهم سوريا والذين وبحكم تواجدهم في الداخل يفهمون نبض مجتمعهم وطبيعة وتعقيدات هذا النزاع. يطمح مشروع "وجهات نظر سورية" والنشرة الخاصة هذه إلى ملء الفجوة المعرفية السائدة حول المجتمع السوري والدولة السورية.

في هذه النشرة الخاصة يقوم أربعة من الباحثين السوريين بتسليط الضوء على العلاقات بين مختلف الجماعات العرقية والدينية والطائفية في سوريا. وقد ساهمت وتيرة العنف غير المشهودة سابقاً وارتفاع نبرة الطائفية في تقديم المسهّلات والمغريات لتصنيف النزاع الحالي الذي ابتدأ بتظاهرات سلمية بأنه مجرّد نزاع طائفي تقوده جماعات متحاربة فيما بينها. وهذا هو ما يمارسه في واقع الحال الإعلام الدولي ورؤساء العالم، ومثال ذلك ما صرح به الرئيس الأمريكي أوباما في مقابلة أجرته معه قناة ال"سي ان ان" الأمريكية في 23 آب/ أغسطس من هذا العام، حيث صنّف النزاع السوري صراحة على أنه مشكلة طائفية معقدة (تم الدخول على صفحة الويب المتضمنة لهذه المقابلة في 29 آب/ أغسطس 2013 من خلال الرابط:

 http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/23/president-obama-gives-exclu...?(

ولكن، هل هذا ما يعكس الواقع فعلاً؟

تم تأسيس سوريا الحديثة في عام 1920 حصيلة تسوية بين القوتين الاستعماريتين المملكة المتحدة وفرنسا. في هذه الدولة الحديثة كانت الطائفة السنية لا تشكل فقط الأكثرية السكانية المطلقة بل أيضاً النخب المالية والبيروقراطية والمثقفة، فكان ذلك سبباً في عدم رؤية الطائفة السنية داعياً لإبرام عقد اجتماعي وسياسي مع الجماعات الأهلية الأخرى. ومن جهة أخرى، شكّل انعدام حدوث صدامات عنيفة بين الجماعات الأهلية في سوريا تاريخياً وتمتعها بسلم أهلي دائم سبباً إضافياً قوياً للجماعات الأهلية المختلفة لعدم حاجتها لوضع عقود دستورية وقانونية وسياسية لتنظم العلاقات بينها. ومع ذلك فقد عاش المجتمع السوري العديد من التحولات الاقتصادية والسياسية والاجتماعية العميقة والتي تركت بصمات وآثار واضحة على العلاقات بين الجماعات الأهلية، لا سيما حقبتا الحكم الوحشي التسلطي الأسدي (الأب والإبن)، والثورة التي اندلعت في شهر آذار/ مارس 2011 وما جرّته خلفها من ازدياد في النزعات الطائفية في سوريا. كل ذلك ساهم في نشوء ديناميات ومداولات اجتماعية وسياسية واقتصادية جديدة أدت إلى تحول في العلاقات الأهلية السائدة.

تحاول هذه النشرة الخاصة تشريح وتفكيك الأساطير وتركيبة العلاقات المعقدة بين الجماعات الأهلية في سوريا، مثل العلاقات بين العلويين والسنة في مناطق الساحل السوري، وبين الأكراد والعرب شمالاً، وبين الدروز والسنة في منطقة حوران، وبين الجماعات الأهلية المختلفة في دمشق وريفها. وبما أن التاريخ لا يبدأ اليوم فإن المؤلفين المساهمين في هذه النشرة الخاصة يأخذوننا في جولة تاريخية تحليلية مثيرة ومقتضبة من بدايات تكوين سوريا الحديثة وواقع العلاقات بين الجماعات الأهلية حينها، مروراً بالتحولات التي طرأت على هذه العلاقات، ووصولاً إلى بدايات الثورة وما تبعها من تداعيات. وفي هذه الجولة يفكك الباحثون التركيبة المعقدة للعلاقات بين الجماعات الأهلية، وذلك من خلال حل شيفرة مكوناتها المرئية وغير المرئية من آليات وسلوكيات وأنماط تواصل تحكم هذه العلاقات. وقد استطاع الباحثون فك هذه الشيفرة بسبب معرفتهم العميقة بمجتمعاتهم، وفهمهم للحساسيات القائمة بشكل متبادل بين الجماعات الأهلية، كما واتباعهم الصارم لمعايير التحليل الصحيحة. ويختتم الباحثون دراستهم بتقديم تأملات فكرية حول ما يمكن أن يؤول إليه حال العلاقات بين الجماعات الأهلية في سوريا مستقبلاً.

كان التعليم أكثر أدوات النظام السوري في ضبط المجتمع السوري، كما أنه البنية الأكثر تضررا من الأزمة السورية، وسيبقى أحدى أهم التحديات التي تواجه الدولة السورية التي تريد إعادة تكوين نفسها

تتعرض الدراسة للإطار القانوني للتمويل الأجنبي في مصر، ووضعية هذا التمويل مع التطرق للتمويل السياسي وما يخص وسائل الإعلام فيه، وبعض المؤسسات المانحة الرئيسية في الحالة المصرية وطبيعة عملها. ثم تقدم الدراسة بناء على مجموعة من اللقاءات مع العاملين والدارسين والمستفيدين في المجال، لرؤيتهم لإشكاليات التمويل الأجنبي وأهم إيجابياته وسلبياته. وذلك بهدف تقديم رؤية لأهم الاستراتيجيات والمعايير على المستوى القانوني والسياسي التي يجب اتباعها والالتزام بها سواء من جانب الدولة، أو الجهات المانحة، أو المؤسسات المتلقية لهذا التمويل.

منذ  بدء الاحتجاجات في سوريا عام 2011، يدور نقاش واسع داخل الأوساط الثقافية  والسياسية وفي مراكز الأبحاث والحكومات الإقليمية والدولية حول احتمالات  قيام نظام فدرالي في سوريا مكان النظام الحالي. إلا أن هذا النقاش وبرغم  الحديث المستمر بشأنه لم يُطرح بعد في الشكل والمستوى المطلوبين للخوض فيه.  فمعظم التحاليل والدراسات والاستنتاجات التي تُقرأ وتسمع هنا وهناك تكتفي  بعرضها البسيط لمكونات الشعب السوري الإثنية والطائفية والجغرافية لتؤكد  قيام نظام فدرالي في سوريا المستقبل. هذا المنطق، لا يعدو كونه مجرد قراءة  تختزن الكثير من الاستسهال والتبسيط لمجرى الأمور والأحداث في سوريا، فلا  وجود طوائف ومذاهب متعددة يعني حتمية قيام نظام فدرالي، ولا الفدرالية هي  السحر المخلص لسوريا والسوريين في المرحلة الحالية.

تحاول  هذه الدراسة استنباط احتمالات الفدرالية في سوريا من خلال البحث في مفهوم  الفدرالية بحد ذاته وفي أي سياق يطرح اليوم على الشعب السوري،  توحيدي أم تجزيئي؟ كما تخوض في بحث أوجه العلاقة بين الأزمة السورية مع  مثيلاتها من الأزمات "العراقية واللبنانية" وتشابكهما، وخاصة أن هذان  البلدان المجاوران والمتداخلان مع سوريا عاشا، ولا يزالان، حروب أهلية  صغيرة وكبيرة وصراع على السلطة لم ينته أبداً برغم التضحيات الكارثية.  بالإضافة إلى ذلك، تستعرض الدراسة واقع وآراء الأقليات الطائفية والمذهبية  حول الأزمة الحالية، وهل من الممكن انكفاء النظام إلى دولة علوية في  الساحل؟ وما هو الممكن حالياً بناءاً على المعطيات السياسية والدولية  والعسكرية قبل وبعد المبادرات الجينفية؟

تعرض هذه الدراسة تحليلاً للكيفيّة الدقيقة التي جرت بها صياغة مصطلحات المجتمع
المدنيّ (وعلاقته بالديمقراطيّة) من قبل مناصريه في شرق أوروبا وأميركا اللاتينيّة، في
سياقاتهم السابقة للديمقراطيّة. تصاغ الفرضيّات بالاعتماد على الأفكار المشتركة لهاتين
المنطقتين المتباينتين وسياقاتهما الأيديولوجيّة. هذه الفرضيّات تشكّل مَداميك لنظريّة
سياسيّة لمجتمع مدنيّ يرزح تحت نظام شموليّ، ويمكن لها (أي للنظريّة) أن تنسحب
على سياقات معاصرة مختلفة. وبدل العلاقة التي أضحت مرفوضة على نطاق واسع بين
متانة المجتمع المدنيّ وبزوغ الديمقراطيّة، يُفترَض وجود علاقة بين بناء المجتمع المدنيّ
لذاته (والسابق للديمقراطيّة) واستدامة المجتمع الديمقراطيّ لاحقًا. النتيجة البحثيّة
الثانية التي يجدر الالتفات إليها هي أنّه بينما تماثل النشيطون في شرق أوروبا وفي
أمريكا اللاتينيّة مع أفكار ومجتمعات خارج الدولة، لم يتوقّع هؤلاء تدخّلاً فاعلاً من قِبل
الحكومات الغربيّة، أو الرأي العامّ الغربيّ في محنتهم القوميّة، ولم يطلبوا ذلك.