Securing the Place of Organized Civil Society in Emerging Arab Democracies

February 2012

This workshop will explore the relationship between civil society and the development of accountable, representative government and institutions in the Arab world. In addition to understanding the role civil organizations played in toppling old regimes, the workshop will seek to understand what role, if any, they are currently playing in building new ones, following the so-called “Arab Spring.”  Workshop participants will discuss how civil society can be strengthened and how old authoritarian regulations (and attitudes) toward civic organizations can be changed to allow these movements to influence their countries’ political development in the fluid institutional contexts of the region’s transitioning regimes. In exploring all of these questions, invited scholars and Harvard faculty will examine not only what is currently happening in the Middle East, but also the experiences of other parts of the world, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, that have found (and are finding) themselves in similar moments of change.