Arab Civil Society at the Crossroad

 

 

 

 

UNDP REGIONAL PROJECT

Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries

 

DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES 1

 

 

Arab Civil Society at the Crossroad: Assessing Engagement in Anti-Corruption Efforts

 

 

August 2013

 

 

UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

Beirut, Lebanon

 

Sustainable Research and Development Center (SRD)

Amman, Jordan

     

 


 

 

Contents

Acronyms. 4

Executive Summary. 5

Introduction. 6

Research Methodology. 7

Part I: Putting Civil Society in the Arab Countries in Context-Structure, Environment, Priorities & Impact 9

Structure of Civil Society in the Arab Countries. 9

Environment of Civil Society in the Arab Countries. 10

Priorities within Civil Society in the Arab Countries. 14

Civil Society’s Impact in the Arab Countries. 14

Part II: Perceptions of Past Anti-corruption Efforts and Future Opportunities & Challenges: Case Studies from Jordan and Iraq. 15

Jordan. 15

Iraq. 21

Tunisia. 24

Part III: Recommendations and Steps Forward. 29

For CS Actors in the Arab Countries. 29

Specific Recommendations to the Case of Jordan. 29

Specific Recommendations to the Case of Iraq. 31

For Policymakers in the Arab Countries. 31

For International Actors and Donors. 32

For Academics. 32

Annexes. 33

Annex I: Research Approach and Methodology. 33

Annex II: Background on the Arab Spring & Civil Society Development in the Arab Countries. 34

References. 42

 

 

 


 

 

Acronyms

 

 AC

 Anti-Corruption

ACIAC

Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries

ACINET

Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network

CS

Civil Society

 CSO

Civil Society Organization

INGO

International Non-Governmental Organization

JACC

Jordan Anti-Corruption Commission

JAFAC

Jordan Association for the Fight Against Corruption

NOG

Non-Governmental Organization

UNCAC

UN Convention against Corruption

 

 

 

 

 

 

This research was made possible through the financial support of UNDP regional Office in Beirut. The Sustainable Research and Development Center (SRD) in Amman, Jordan is grateful for their trust and support.

 

 

 

  (Draft)


 

 

 

 

 

Executive Summary

 

With the rise of the Arab Spring, and increasing attention and activism to combat corruption within the Arab countries, it is critical to assess how state structures, environments, values and regional dynamics themselves impact the role of various sectors in leading such anti-corruption initiatives. Because of the increasing role that civil society has played in terms of combating and raising awareness to corruption during the Arab Spring era, this research attempts to assess the factors that have influenced the level of civil society involvement prior to and post 2011 Arab Spring in selected Arab country.

 

The results indicated that civil society organizations, for a long time, were distorted and underwent systematic violation by ruling regimes in order to restrict the emergence of any opposition movements. Therefore, the civil society sector in the Arab region has not been recognized, faced many violations and limitations of their freedom of expression, association, and their independence. Before the “Arab Spring”, civil societies in the Arab region had a concrete role on campaigning and advocating to ending the Israeli occupation, while after the ignition of the “Arab Spring”, civil societies in the Arab region seemed to overlook the previous goal and started struggling to fight corruption and put an end for the dictating ruling regimes. The “Arab Spring” was perceived as an alarming sign that Arab civil societies are ready to take over power for democratic changes and ruling of law.

The findings of this research will be used to formulate recommendations for key national and international stakeholders regarding programming and next steps. The researchers have employed an “Arab Lens” of analysis and conducted fieldwork in two case study countries, Jordan, Iraq, and Tunisia, to inform their findings and subsequent recommendations.

 

Introduction

 

In 2011, the international community witnessed what has now been described as the “Arab Spring” throughout the Arab World, ushering in the current era where stakeholders at all levels are increasingly focusing on the roles of different sectors in addressing corruption and development. Arab countries’ civil societies have often been considered limited in this regard, but the events of 2011 suggested to many that this sector’s importance, in the context of corruption and development, is critical to project future trends in the region.

Because of this increasing role civil society has played in terms of combating and raising awareness to corruption, this research attempts to assess what factors have influenced the level of this sector’s involvement both prior to and post 2011 in various Arab country contexts. Based on interviews and discussions with civil society activists, government and private sector stakeholders primarily from Jordan and Iraq held over a two-month period, this study begins to delve into the challenges and opportunities facing civil societies in the Arab Countries from resource access to law regulations to relationships across sectors and socio cultural trends. It is critical to note that the following definition of civil society was used to guide this research and data collection accordingly: civil society defined as any “third sector” (i.e. not affiliated with government or the private, business sector) institution, group or individual involved in promoting movement towards democratic values in their society (CSI, 2003). For example, this can include professional associations, religious groups, labor unions, citizen advocacy organizations, community groups and individual. By delving into these challenges and opportunities through such conversations, key recommendations emerged that can be used to inform future direction of support for civil society engagement in anti-corruption initiatives in both post-conflict countries and ones that have enjoyed relative stability. Such recommendations, presented later in this paper, serve as a starting point for further research and analysis due to the fact that literature on this topic in the Arab countries, specifically, still needs to be further developed[1].

 

 

Research Methodology

 

In order to address the past anti-corruption efforts of civil society in Arab countries and prospects for enhanced civil society engagement after the events of the Arab Spring in 2011, the researcher team investigated and explored civil society’s role and activity within the context of anti-corruption efforts in the Arab world.

The research utilized a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to conduct a systematic assessment of anti-corruption efforts of civil society in Arab countries. This research examined how different definitions of civil society have been applied and translated within the Arab world context. During the first phase of data collection, qualitative, content analysis employed to assess past anti-corruption efforts of civil society in Arab country contexts. Publications and public domain materials (including implemented programs, established networks, and related initiatives’ documentation) included. The research team further used context analysis vis-à-vis qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies throughout the research to examine four key dimensions of civil society: structure, environment, values and impact. Each dimension comprised a number of individual indicators. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were selected for this research due to the fact that the former will provide in-depth, nuanced insight into critical themes associated with the research topic, and the latter method will provide insight regarding the magnitude and relevance of the research topic and themes. The instruments that used to collect data are the following:

  1. Semi-structured interviews.
  2. Focus Groups (organized in Baghdad and Amman).
  3. Online surveys (using monkeysurvey.com).
 
 

Four key dimensions of civil society will be measured: structure, environment, values and impact. Each dimension will comprise a number of individual indicators, which will represent the research questions’ aims.

 

Target Groups: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), civil society activists (individuals and community groups), experts in the country, government officials, activists, and NGO staff.

Justification of Countries Selected:Because the MENA region is extremely diverse politically, socially, economically and culturally, the research team used the following criteria to select three countries (Jordan, Iraq, and Tunis) that can serve as a representative sample in order for the data and results of the research to have relevance region-wide: geographical distribution, political structure, country activity before and after the Arab Spring.

Limitations: A study of this nature and scope has several limitations, most notedly time and funding resources for extensive travel and exhaustive coverage of material and organizations in all CSO contexts within the Arab world. Due to such limitations, the sample has been drawn from a diverse set of CSOs and civic activists that have a presence beyond the main city in each selected country to provide a representative and informative sample within the constraints of this project. Due to the shortness of time allocated for this research, and because research team not all able to travel all the time, Tunis has been covered via teleconference and joint Skype interviews and group discussions. It is usually expected that such limitations affect the research methodology, and subsequently bond the scope of the research conclusions.

 

Part I: Putting Civil Society in the Arab Countries in Context-Structure, Environment, Priorities & Impact

 

The conceptualization and implementation of civil society in the Arab countries reflects the historical myriad of influence in the region both from internal and external sources, as well as the political, social and economic dynamics of the region itself. With international and national attention focused on such countries, particularly in response to the Arab Spring events of 2011, it is important to highlight how the structure, environment, priorities and impact of civil societies in the Arab world are shaped by historical as well as recent events in the region (i.e. the Arab Spring), and how these dimensions subsequently affect approaches and concepts of civil society’s role and involvement in anti-corruption initiatives.

 

Structure of Civil Society in the Arab Countries

Most of the Arab countries lack classification systems that distinguish different types of civil society actors. In other words, a service-based NGOs register with the state as an advocacy NGO. Such a homogenous classification system can, in part, perhaps make funding allocation as well as registration processes and monitoring of CSO activities inefficient if there is no way to distinguish the mission and vision of the organization as a “political” versus “service” organizations. (Samad 2007, p. 5).

The state’s framing of civil society as a vague and homogenous entity in relation to the legal framework mostly influences internal organizational structures within civil society. In the context of anti-corruption, organizations themselves also lacked adequate internal governance structures, such as auditing systems and internal control which in part has been reported as undermining their anti-corruption initiatives accordingly in this research. Such weak organizational frameworks may thus undermine their impact on the ground as well as their credibility recognition among international donors and actors for example which could impact resource access.

Resource strains, in terms of funding also pose as a challenge due to donor grant cycles and dispersal of funds. However, corruption within the civil society sector itself was often noted as a resource strain for some, in terms of organizations creating “big budgets” for small-budget projects in order to sustain their organizations, their families, etc (i.e. the directors “get rich” from their CS work, while the rest of the CS staff receives little) (Interviews J7, J9).

 

Environment of Civil Society in the Arab Countries

The environment(s) in which civil society operates within the Arab World are inextricably linked with the structure and perceived structure of them accordingly. Based on previous research, such dimensions within the Arab World context have arguably created three categories of Arab Civil Societies:

1. Countries that highly restrict CS and no law exists governing non-profit types of organizations. The case of Libya is well representing this category, where the Libyan society as a whole has been largely devoid of functioning CSOs. The anti-regime movement has practically resulted in a civil war – with the most elite units of the armed forces violently defending the regime and suppressing the uprising, and other elements of the military siding with the opposition. The case of Libya can be explained as a result of a combination of a very low level of institutionalization of CSOs and a high degree of fragmentation of the armed forces.

2. Countries that do have a CS law, but law is used as a tool for public authorities to pressure/restrict CSOs. Syria has a law governs CSOs since 1958. However, compared to other countries of the region, pro-reform movements have been slower to gain momentum, have remained more limited in size. A discussion of the specific nature of the Syrian uprising is beyond the scope of this research. When it comes to the response of the armed forces to anti-corruption and anti-regime movement, the Syrian military has forcefully cracked down on the popular uprising, without a splintering of the armed forces or defections on a significant scale which mainly results from the weaknesses of the CSOs and the weak relationship between the armed forces and Syrian society at large.

3. Countries deemed “liberal”- CS is freely active, but CS faces problems in implementing the law that hinders CS accordingly. Tunis and Egypt are the best examples where an attitude of openness to the pro‐reform movements, was shown by the armed forces of Tunisia and Egypt. In both countries this can be explained by the (relatively) high level of institutionalization of the CSOs who are freely active, but faces problems due to uncertain relationship between the military and CSOs.

The following are the main context dimension delves more into this paradox as well as the three classifications of civil societies:

Political Context. The political context within Arab Countries is often noted as instable, fluctuating, lacking sound institutions, legislation and rule of law (Samad 2007).

Legal Context.Legal frameworks within the Arab World play a significant role in the ability for civil society actors to operate and conduct anti-corruption initiatives. For example, 70% of CSOs in Samad’s study reported legal frameworks as hindering.[2] Laws often do not provide access to information for the public, making it difficult for CS actors to conduct monitoring and related anti-corruption initiatives not only in the government sector, but other sectors as well.

Socioeconomic Context. The socioeconomic well-being of Arab countries’ populations is, in many ways, linked to subsequent engagement with corrupt as well as corruption prevention activities. In any attempt to reduce corrupt activities, it is necessary to know required socio-economic context. It is well accepted that no country is free from corruption but the problem is the attention of people to find its solution rather trying to understand in depth in the particular context. Research team argues that it is necessary to have in depth knowledge in understanding the root causes of corruption based on the particular socio-economic aspect that help for the sustainable reduction of the practices of corruption.

Millions of foreign aid never goes to the hand of needy one for whom it meant for. The amount that needs to be invested on the basic infrastructure has never been met due to the misuse of the allocated money. Research team believes that even after ten years of upspring in Arab countries, the economic growth could not be taken place and not property been implemented the policy and grow the national income and raise the living standard of the people. Since corruption has significant impacts on the socio-economic aspects in the Arab countries, anti-corruption initiatives should intervene the social settings of the Arab countries.

 

 

Socio-cultural Context. Socio-cultural factors, namely family, tribal, religious, or ethnic affiliations, within the Arab world, play a major role in shaping the environment in which CS operates. Such affiliations influence all aspects—political, social, economic, and cultural. As the corruption is deep rooted in social system that comprises of norms, values, arts, morals etc, it is hard to define/ assess corruption without relating culture. Husted  (1999) argued that “effective measures to fight corruption are dependent on culture. Emphasized on culture as a means of human growth and empowerment and the recognition that in order to achieve a sustainable development, economic, financial and social reforms have to be addressed from a cultural perspective (AUSAID, 2006). Therefore, it is hard to fight corruption without relating it to the culture of the particular context.

In most Arab countries, while family, tribal and ethnic factors mainly hinder fighting corruption, religious factors are still most efficient to fight corruption. Islam is the main religion in Arab World, the role of Islamic religious factors in contributing to the level of corruption is considered to be particularly hierarchical and that such hierarchical forms of religion are detrimental to civic engagement, a factor which should help reduce corruption.

 

Relationships between the state and CSOs reflect, in many ways, the level of development within CS as an independent entity. Where the legal framework for CS operations is restrictive, and the state is run by a dictatorial regime, for example, many organizations that do manage to be connected with the government through formal or informal means (and thus they allowed to operate but are restricted in the nature of their activities). Generally, the relationships between the state and CSOs is mainly the main factor that either constructive by legitimizing the sector in semi-democratic states or destructive by ruling dictators.

Relations between CS and private sectorare not always as concrete and visible as that between CS and the state. However, this is not to suggest such links do not exist. Rather, because “sectors” (i.e. the state, civil society, private sector, etc) often fluctuate or conflate with one another in the Arab countries, such links may be established in an informal manner.

Jordan Anti-Corruption Commission (JACC) has specifically received more attention as a mean to investigate internal corruption. Though the Commission was established under Article 3 of the 2006 Anti-corruption law, little action was conducted within this body between 2006 and 2011 on public stakeholder private companies (but with some attention given to investigation in government institutions). According to the JACC 2011 Report, JACC is investigating 844 cases in public sector and 182 cases in the private sector.

 

Jordan Countering Corruption in the Private Sector:

The Case of Amwal Invest

In most Arab countries, the government is dominating the public political arena but largely ignoring the corruption in the private sector. Even though there is a sharp distinction between the public and the private sector in Jordan, the story of Amwal Invest, as a Jordanian national case represents an ideal example in which an informal manner of cooperation between the civil society activism and the governmental institutions, and how the civil society (CS) can rely on peaceful means to counter corruption in private sector.

The story of Amwal Invest showed how public stakeholders had organized to investigate corruption among board members. (The Jordan Times 18 April 2012). Amwal Invest (public company) with capital of 45 million dinars and the number of shareholders more than 7200, shareholders list includes the Social Security Corporation and many of the major Gulf companies. In 2011, a small group of activists and shareholders investigated informally the performance of the Company and discovered that too much corruption cases in the company profile.

The SC activists used a systematic monitoring and analysis approach. They adopted a simple and scientific methodology in drafting the first report, which has been shared with both the governmental institutions and the company shareholders. This report has been used by the governmental institutions as a baseline for further investigations. At the same time, the report raised awareness among shareholders and encouraged them to attend and participate in the General Assembly Meeting held in May 2011. Consequently, in this meeting the financial statement has been disapproved and Board of Director has not been absolved, which included Mr. Fayez Faouri, the Chairman. The minutes of the meeting included a list of legal violations carried out by the Company's Board of Directors. The main corruption case in Amwal Invest story was the so-called Sara Transaction, where the company bought Real Estates valued at 37 million dinars from the Chairman.

After a lot of investigations in the JACC and drafting consultancy reports, all members of the BOD have been taken to the court.

The case of Amwal Invest proves that effective SC activists will give preference in the public sector then the corruption can be drastically reduced. SC should keep an eye on public and private activities and question public officials and Board of Directors on regular basis.  Private Sector does have corruption but this is attributed to the government. A company, like Amwal Invest, cannot be corrupted to this extent without having bribing government officials. But nobody can blame only government institutions (mainly, the Company Control Department and Jordan Security Commission) for that, SC is also responsible at least to point fingers at corruption in private sector.

The private sector in Jordan is vibrant and growing. Over the last few years with a national anti-corruption movement gaining momentum, civil society in Jordan has become more vigilant requesting a zero tolerance approach to corruption. The case of Amwal Invest showed that countering corruption in the private sector is a shared responsibility between the SC and the governmental institutions. It is the duty of every educated person to investigate completely about the functioning of the government and private sector to ensure that their own country turns systematically to a democratic state.

 

 

Civil Society (CS) has largely focused on promoting state accountability, but there are many instances in which holding the market accountable is linked directly to the former. Since many countries’ current protests and civil society anti-corruption activities have been sparked by harsh socioeconomic conditions created by volatile markets, CS in Jordan is active in promoting this type of accountability. There is a need for new interventions in Jordan to foster public access to anti-corruption related information and subsequent accountability among government and private sector actors, and strengthen national strategic thinking, policies and mechanisms vis-a-vis a sustainable societal dialogue on anti-corruption.

 

Priorities within Civil Society in the Arab Countries

The focus of the analysis is on how do perceptions of civil society and priorities within Arab countries generally inform the work of CS, and to what extent do they find their expression within CSOs and other CS entities. In other words, the research team investigated to what extent the CS in the Arab World participates and promotes social values related to anti-corruption efforts and mechanisms.

Prioritizing the promotion of anti-corruption through CS is arguably still at a developing point in the Arab World. This is due in part to certain environmental factors and frameworks that have limited free expression and access to information to invest in such projects, but also due to different understandings of the role of CS on a national level among the population.

Civil Society’s Impact in the Arab Countries

Overall, CS in the Arab World has often been described as weak or, in some cases, inexistent in a true sense. This is, in part due to internal obstacles such as lacking a clear vision and mission, weak internal governance, and fluctuating resources, but also due to environmental contexts as well. Data from focus group discussion in Jordan does highlight the challenges facing Jordanian CSOs. For example, most of participants agreed that civil society in the Jordan has not fulfilled its potential. CSOs have internal limitations that result from poor control over finances, unclear organization vision and strategies, lack of human and financial resources, sustainable or reliable funding, and access to information, besides the restrictions imposed by the ruling regimes.

 

 

 

Part II: Perceptions of Past Anti-corruption Efforts and Future Opportunities & Challenges: Case Studies from Jordan and Iraq

 

The presented case studies of Jordan and Iraq, representing two very diverse ends of the spectrum in terms of political, social, demographic and economic situations.

Jordan

Jordan has enjoyed what some describe as relative peace and stability over the recent years and has not witnessed Arab Spring movements comparable to its other Arab country counterparts like Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. Protests have occurred in Jordan, starting with calls to curb food prices inflation in 2010, to calls for government and society reform during the Arab Spring, and most recently, calls to oust corrupt politicians and hold the King accountable for what some have argued as “involvement in corruption.”[3] The latter was particularly noted as an impact of the Arab Spring in Jordan. Prior to the 2011 events, many Jordanians were hesitant to criticize the King publicly. The government has responded to such protests with calls for reform as well, but fieldwork responses and literature reviews indicate that little has materialized from such calls. Within civil society, awareness campaigns are being conducted, but as the following sections demonstrate, possess little impact and sustainability. Thus the Arab Spring has been described overwhelmingly as having little to no impact on the country of Jordan and the role of civil society in combating corruption, due to the following factors discussed below.

Structure. For a long time, civil society organizations were distorted and underwent systematic violation by ruling regimes in order to restrict the emergence of any opposition movements, said Hassan Al-Majali, activist in Human Rights and anti-corruption. Therefore, civil society sector in the Arab region has not been recognized, faced many violations and limitations of their freedom of expression, association, and their independence.

Jordan’s civil society can be characterized as rather robust in terms of quantity of participants or those involved in activity in this sector. Participants in the fieldwork stage of this research often reported their activities as linked or funded from entities such as international donors and organizations, national as well as foreign universities, generally; they also reported as being involved in networks at the national, regional and international levels. Topics of projects included: elections monitoring, legislative strengthening programs, intercultural dialogues, and building youth capacity in civil society and political development processes, among others. Additionally, though diversity exists to a certain extent in terms of participants and linkages within civil society, it is important to note that many individuals are not active in civil society at all, or their roles in private sector and government may overlap or be conflated with their civil society roles (Karajah 2007). For example, many interviewees reported CSOs as hiring government officials or prominent private sector leaders (with good ties to the government) as consultants or board members of their organizations to facilitate smooth relations and processes in terms of obtaining funding approvals from the Ministry of Interior (MoI), fast registration procedures, etc.[4] The latter must be highlighted in order to provide a full picture of civil society development in Jordan: for an organization or group to be official and receive funding support for their activities from outside donors, an organization must register with the government under the ministry most appropriate for its work (i.e. Ministry of Political Development for organizations interested in politics and civil society, etc), submit budgets for projects to both the donor and MoI for approval, and then finally receive the funding from the donor, vis-à-vis disbursement from MoI. Without “connections” or “wastah” (i.e. the role of the government board members, etc within an organization), this process can take months due to public sector stalls, etc. Thus, such conflated roles and long, registration and review processes often are the words chosen to characterize civil society development in Jordan.

"Wastah" is known as a tool for corruption, though it is becoming a “legitimate” value in the Jordanian society to get things done. So, "Wastah" is a tool that weakens the role of the CSOs in Jordan to fight corruption. However, such conflation has led to the growth of what can be described as “family business” CSOs within civil society, where non-profits function more like a business (i.e. profiting from what are supposed to be non-profit development programs from donor aid; Interviews J5, J9). Additionally, conflation of roles has informally limited the role of CS in conducting anti-corruption activities due to conflicts of interest—namely the private sector and government officials involved with CSOs may not necessarily encourage anti-corruption initiatives if such programs may expose flaws within their sectors and work accordingly. Jordan civil society is mainly robust in terms of numbers, it is limited in terms of organizations working on anti-corruption initiatives specifically; only two organizations, Jordan Transparency Center and the Jordanian Association for the Fight Against Corruption (JAFAC) were noted as focusing on this topic (Interview J4).[5] One interviewee noted that this is also a reflection of the fact that rules and regulations governing CSO activities (i.e. the aforementioned registration and funding approval procedures) are often based on “personal assessments” or “the orientation of the person assessing the NGO” (Interview J7).

 

Such street activists and new groups entering into civil society face their own set of challenges-particularly in terms of building relations with the government and accessing donor funding accordingly. Some interviewees reported a divide in communication between older, long-established CS groups and actors and their new counterparts to the extent that they are not aware of each others’ activities or do not trust their activities as being. Thus, the fragmentation, and the corruption within CS itself “shakes” the structure of the sector to support anti-corruption initiatives, generally. As one interviewee said, “[CS] needs to clean its house before cleaning the government, private sector, etc.” (Interview J5).

Thus the combination of formal and self-limitation practices, as well as divides between organizations, has shaped civil society’s anti-corruption efforts. The structure of civil society in Jordan is therefore inevitably weak in supporting anti-corruption initiatives in this regard. Even the most wealthy organization, such as the Royal NGOs, they have no activities to raise integrity and anti-corruption awareness. In addition to that the research centers mainly reflect one man attitudes

 

Environment. The developments in the region have reinforced the role of civil society and social movements as key stakeholders in enriching and preserving the continuous struggle for democracy and freedom. The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia signal a new era for the role of civil society organizations and their standing in relation to political power and to public policy making, in general. Yet, the old status quo still prevails in other Arab countries where civil society organizations are still facing restrictions and repression.

Jordan’s socioeconomic environment arguably represents the most pressing factor for the population at the current time and the main “trigger” of the increase in discussion and attention to corruption in Jordan. Currently in Jordan, unemployment rates among youth ages 15-24 are close to 30% and GDP per capita is an estimated $6,000 USD per year (CIA World Factbook 2012). However, the gap between the poor and the rich is growing as well. As one interviewee described, it is the simultaneous existence of such economic hardship, poverty and unemployment with luxurious living conditions for well-connected individuals that has encouraged people to go to the streets to raise awareness about corruption (Interview J1).

This is arguably a reflection, in part, of the impact of the Arab Spring on the environment in Jordan. Specifically, before the Arab spring, individuals were hesitant to discuss corruption publicly, challenge the King, etc; nowadays, people are more open and critical in their conversations about the Jordanian government and corruption in Jordan, generally. However, all interviewees agreed that no change has occurred in regards to participation and action.

Thus, though the Arab spring may have encouraged individuals, and actors within CS to be more vocal and public in addressing corruption, many challenges evidently still exist for CS to conduct tangible work in this field (if interviewees suggest no real change has occurred). The main items were specifically mentioned as “challenges” for CS operations are: legislation, legal frameworks, scope and role of international actors’ involvement and technical capacities. CSOs often do not have the necessary know how and that only a very limited number of CSOs really understand. The lack of capacity of local actors to implement potentially interesting programs and to financially support them and the lack of overall vision resulted in a very limited number of CSOs who understand the nature of good governance and the role of CSOs in anti-corruption national efforts.

The right to information law represents the most often cited challenge related to CS actors’ work in addressing corruption. Namely, Jordan does have a Right to Information Act that was passed under the 2007 law, but it is not enforced and requests for information that are submitted to the public sector staff are often ignored or stalled. For example, one interviewee noted that she has not received replies from her request for information from the Ministry of Planning numerous times. As a result, her reports are often incomplete due to “missing data” (Interview J2). Another interviewee also noted an experience where he was only granted access to data because the employee he talked with at that time was a schoolmate from when they were in secondary school together (Interview J9). Thus, without such data access, it is difficult for CS, and all actors generally, to do anti-corruption work beyond the scope of raising awareness.

SC faces serious barriers to access to information on corruption within the government and private sector due to the vague policy and laws outlining information access to government and private sector activity (for example, different ministries respond differently and arbitrarily to information access requests regardless of the all-encompassing 2007 Freedom of Information Law).

 

 

Legally speaking, there is also a lack of job security and whistleblower protection laws that would allow individuals to be more forthcoming in reporting corruption cases, etc. However, without such legal frameworks, individuals can immediately lose their positions and lifelong government benefits for reporting such activity.

Though some cases have come to surface in regards to corruption, most popular the Phosphate company case and the Casino case, the government has been rather lenient in its punishments-i.e. dismissing the cases altogether. In other cases, where individuals did go to trial, they often only received very minimal prison sentences (i.e. a few days) at most. It is important to note in this same regard that the Jordan Anti-corruption Commission (JACC), that is the designated body to investigate such corruption cases under Article 3 of the 2007 law has no power to bring cases it investigates to trial. Secondly, the JACC has not pursued any highly-political cases and has often “stalled” cases within the bureau. The JACC historically was part of the country’s security apparatus or the Mukhabarat; today many of the JACC staff have been working for or still security apparatus members (Interview J9). Thus, this conflated role with government makes it difficult for the JACC to really conduct AC work and serve as a supporting entity to CS AC initiatives—especially when it is government officials that are being labeled as corrupt.

In consideration of the latter point, in addition to CS structure in Jordan that requires the Ministry of Interior to approve all donor funding for CS, it is difficult for CS to thus access funding for any type of anti-corruption initiatives that uses informal means or challenges government bodies or figures for example. After all, international donors want to maintain their relations with the government, and CS wants to continue to receive funding from such donors to sustain itself subsequently. Thus, funding for anti-corruption initiatives is often not provided nor pursued.

Lastly, the technical capacities of organizations to address corruption—especially new entities entering the CS space, is thus lacking due to the culmination of the previous factors, particularly the access to information and funding. Establishing trust with other actors is also difficult due to the history and role of the security apparatus that is still very much present in the minds of the population.

Priorities. During the current transition period, civil society faces the challenge of protecting the changes and reforms acquired so far and preventing a retreat from the process of democratic change.

Interviewees and discussants continually highlighted the importance of addressing the socioeconomic condition in Jordan as the most pressing priority in terms of corruption within the Jordan. The focus on financial corruption rather than administrative corruption is largely a reflection of this pressing issue. Cost of living is increasing, yet wages are stagnant (not to mention those without work who are trying to manage). Additionally, as highlighted in the data collection and from witnessing protests in the streets, CS is focused on raising awareness about government financial corruption in particular. One interviewee suggested that this is due to the mentality among the population that the government is involved in everything due to its historical role and prestige (i.e. government positions used to be highly desired due to their prestige, good salaries and influence; additionally, and the government security apparatus was also always present in all aspects of civic life; Interview J8).

Impact. Civil society groups face the challenge of shifting from a defensive position to a more proactive role in public life. Civil society organizations have a major role in ensuring that reforms integrate concepts of justice, human rights, nondiscrimination, and equality.

The impact of civil society work in the context of anti-corruption initiatives has been repeatedly labeled as “weak,” “ineffective,” “non-existent,” and only “slightly influential” in terms of raising awareness among the population about corruption in Jordan. The items discussed in terms of the structure and environment in which CS in Jordan operates has largely led to CS’s weakness in this regard.

Additionally, the “newness” of many organizations interested in addressing corruption also substantiates such “weak” labels because such groups are still in the capacity-building and development phases of their organizations; additionally, as one interviewee noted, funding for CS development from foreign donors tends to “Start at point A to allow organizations to progress to point B, but then there is no funding available for follow-up and further development” (Interview J8). Thus, for organizations that are currently in their development stage, international donors may want to consider creating funds and programming for “points B to C and C to D” for such CS groups to have greater impact on the ground.

Iraq

Before “Arab Spring”, civil societies in the Arab region had a concrete role on campaigning and advocating to ending the Israeli occupation. After the ignition of the “Arab Spring”, civil societies in the Arab region seemed to overlook the previous goal and started struggling to fight corruption and put an end for the dictating ruling regimes. The “Arab Spring” was perceived as an alarming sign that Arab civil societies are ready to take over power for democratic changes and ruling of law (Focus Group Iraq Participants).

After the 2003 U.S. Invasion and the end of the Ba’th regime under Saddam Hussein, Iraq experienced (and in many ways, continues to experience), a certain level of instability and chaos throughout the country. Due to the diversity of religious, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds among the population, in addition to the presence and roles of international actors and related stakeholders and the history of conflict in the country, have made creating a stable state and governance structure a challenge. Though Iraq does not experience the “stability” of Jordan, it too has a large civil society sector quantitatively in the post-2003 sector due to both national and international interest to build civil society capabilities and enhance democratic elements within the country during the reconstruction period. However, how this “civil society” is being developed warrants discussion and consideration to see if such is having quality impact on the ground, particularly in the current era. The following sections discuss such CS development in Iraq further and present the results of fieldwork responses from the country.

Structure.Since the U.S. invasion in 2003, Civil society in Iraq can be described as developing on a rapid path in terms of quantity, but such development is not synonymous with quality “with regard to fulfillment of the [civil society] function” (Saral 2009, 21) . In other words, civil society organizations are proliferating with new and increased financial flows into the country in the reconstruction period, but the development of restrictive laws since 2003 and the legacy of historical dimensions have weakened civil society’s impact in the country accordingly.

Specifically, research demonstrates that most organizations, particularly those with political functions, lack clear strategies, organizational structures and knowledge and experience in CS development and overcoming challenges presented in a reconstruction environment (Saral 2009).

The legacy of Ba’ath repression of cultural, social, religious, and political identities thus is in part responsible for this weak development, in addition to current NGO law in the non-Kurd regions that require mandatory registration of CS organizations. The latter law also allows for the government to: intervene into the CSO’s activities, deny registration of the CS, and cancel registration after two years. Such extensive regulation has in part made many CSOs reluctant to criticize government policies and activities (Saral 2009).

Thus, explicitly addressing corruption within the government is extremely limited. According to fieldwork responses, it is overly evident that Iraq’s CS is approaching the issue of corruption through a human rights lens. In other words, by demanding and calling for the protection and recognition of human rights, CS actors are able to simultaneously raise awareness about corruption within their society in a way that is accessible and related to public interest. Fieldwork responses also noted that the latter trend is a reflection of the impact of the Arab spring on the Iraqi people: it has encouraged (them)to express their rights, needs and expectation. Additionally, using a human rights lens seems to attract more international funding to CS projects within Iraq as well.

Like the case of Jordan, Iraq’s civil society that particularly works within the field of anti-corruption initiatives is also funded primarily by foreign donors (as is almost true to all CS activity in Iraq). For example, USAID conducted several joint initiatives with CS organizations to promote public participation in democracy development activities and build networks between CS stakeholders to increase the impact and magnitude of their work and actions (USIP 2004). However, according to interviews, such foreign programs and support receives mixed reactions: for some stakeholders, this support is viewed as positive (i.e. it allows CS to exist in this context accordingly), while others view such support skeptically due to donor practices and involvement in corruption and corrupt-related activities. [6]

Media’s role as a source of communication with the public has been further developed in the current era (particulary since 2011’s Arab Spring’s events) as a resource to share CS progress in the field of anti-corruption initiatives with the public as well as link CSOs in network circles.

However, it is important to note that the public is still skeptical of CS work due to the legacy of the Ba’ath regime, the political instability and overall insecurity in the post-2003 era, as well as the fact that Iraq’s ethnic, religious and cultural diversity has not always been embraced (i.e. a source of bloodshed). Additionally, lack of facilities currently exist due to shortage of resources and security to allow CS organizations to accomplish their goals even with large flows of international funding entering the country for such physical capacity reconstruction makes such CS work look a bit “corrupt” in itself.

Environment. As mentioned when describing Iraq CS structure, the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the country, in addition to the legacy of the Ba’th regime and the history of wars in the country (i.e. Iran-Iraq, Gulf War, 2003 American Invasion, etc.), has created a very fragile political, economic and social operating environment in the reconstruction period for all aspects of Iraqi society-including the CS sector.

Under the Ba’ath regime, the restriction of rights has resulted in two important outcomes: (1) increased interest and activity in human rights promotion and related programming and (2) fear of developing objectives and programs that challenge authority of the government. In regards to the first outcome, this has been extremely supported by international donors under such program titles as “democracy development, human rights promotion, civic programs and training” (USIP 2004). For example, USAID provided training as part of its democracy development programs on constitutional law, media and human rights (USIP 2004). However, as noted in many reports,[7] the “legacy of past violence” has undermined such programs’ follow-up efforts and future impact. Rather, due to mandatory registration procedures and other related government requirements for CSOs and CS actors, CS tends to avoids designing initiatives that investigate government activity or are critical of the government generally (Malo 2008).

Priorities. Based on the combination of fieldwork as well as consulting previous research on the topic, it is not clear in particular what CS in Iraq would consider as “priorities” due to the fact that the diverse population in terms of ethnic, religious, cultural and political backgrounds leads to different priorities accordingly, but the co-existence in an unstable, reconstruction environment does in part warrant a national need to create security and stability to allow CSOs and CS actors to address the wide array of needs among groups accordingly. In regards to anti-corruption, fieldwork responses focus on encouraging accountability and proper management of financial resources—particularly within the national budget due to high rates of unemployment and economic challenges.

Impact. As noted initially in Iraqi case study discussion, the proliferation of Iraq’s CS actors is not often matched by quality in results, particularly in terms of anti-corruption initiatives. However, based on fieldwork responses, Iraqis noted that CS actions in the field of anti-corruption have had a visible impact on educational curricula and related educational institutions (i.e. policies within the Ministry of Education), developing better health centers, and moving towards an independent media.

Tunisia

Tunisia’s history dating back to the early 1900s is marked by the development of today’s civil society foundations that have impacted the events of the Arab Spring; simultaneously this history is marked by eras of dictatorship and suspension of rights and freedoms among the populace which has bred, in part, organisations that are “civil society” only in name.

The development of associations was first documented in the early 1900s (specifically between 1905-1913; see R. Naciri’s work) and is considered the roots of today’s civil society; of course, earlier forms of civil society did exist, but such classifications are definition-dependent.[8] These associations are considered the predecessor to organisations and groups that have been formally (and informally) established since that address issues such as political reform and democratization even though the former organisations did not necessarily address such in their mandates (i.e. they were mainly religious associations, theater associations, etc). The labor union movements that have developed, most notedly since Tunisia’s independence, are often credited as the drivers of the political movements and calls for social change in the country as of late (Naciri 2009).  It was the latter that led many of the major protests and movements prior to the downfall of Ben Ali.

It is important to note, and what will be discussed further below, is how a history marked by repression of individual freedoms, arbitrary law codes, and Western donor interest created a civil society in Tunisia that was far from independent (i.e. often possessing close ties with the government in order to function) and frankly “toothless” in terms of serving in the role as an intermediary between the citizens and the state. Limitations on items such as freedom of expression, press and assembly, often codified through arbitrary interpretations and drafts of legal codes and laws allowed Ben Ali and the state to “monitor” and minimize the potential and capacity for civil society to challenge government practices and policies.  Furthermore, the additional layer of Western donor interest created (and creates) an environment where Tunisian CSOs and other civil society, generally, must adhere to Western priorities (even if it contradicts their own) due to limited funding resources and related support.

The following sections further describe how these major themes play a role in Tunisian civil society’s operating structure, environment, priorities and impact.

Structure.  Tunisian civil society structure has changed over the course of the last century and thus has been characterised in various ways; at some points, it has been described as amuck with organizations that lack autonomy and simply cater to government and/or Western interests, and at other times as autonomous (particularly right after independence) and thus an entity to fear in terms of challenging government power.

 Labor unions and the Islamist movement have been particularly able to use civil society to mobilize and organize for their cause and interests. Key labor union movements include: Democratic Women's Association, the General Union of Tunisian Workers, the Tunisian Farmers Union and the Union of Youth Organizations. Even though law under the Ben Ali regime limited assembly among trade and labor unions, it was particularly these groups who have been mobilizing over the past decades to challenge government authorities particularly in terms of their work reference and economic situation.

Interviewees note in this research that as of late (i.e. during the Arab Spring era and the time right before Ben Ali’s downfall), Tunisia has witnessed tangible development in terms of both quantity and quality of CSOs and their activities. Particularly, Tunisian CS started to include more organizations addressing the issue of combating corruption. However, arbitrary laws that still challenge the Tunisian government today have made it difficult for these organizations to engage in strategic planning for their sustainable futures.

Moving forward, Tunisian CS will have to engage in self-reflection to assess how the level of it autonomy affects its unified (or un-unified) efforts to combat corruption and address issues of political reform;  CS will further need to assess its legitimacy (as well as integrity) in terms of acting as the so-called intermediary between the citizen public and the state.

Environment. Civil society in Tunisia has for many years operated under an extremely limited rights framework under the Ben Ali regime since the 1980s. Particularly, freedoms such as individual expression and assembly have been limited vis-à-vis the government’s arbitrary interpretations of the Tunisian law framework. For example, a union is allowed to exist and strike for their interests, but must notify the government of a strike a minimum of ten days before the event, which in effect undermines the use of a strike in part to advocate for the people’s interests (Naciri 2009). Another common occurrence is that registration applications of unions or other groups that are on file with the government will be reported as “lost” by officials, thus terminating the authorization for an organization to exist. Other rights, such as freedom of information and freedom of the press have been restricted, and programming on these topics funded by outside donors or elsewhere, have only been “capacity-building” projects in name.

This is not to say that outside donors’ support and work with Tunisian civil society has been completely irrelevant or toothless. The World Bank, for example, has worked with CSOs to strengthen components of transparency and accountability within their organizations to ensure funding flows and service delivery reaches the most vulnerable of the populations according to one interviewee. The World Bank has also worked with Tunisian CS to draft an access to information law, which, according to the same interviewee has had the “most iconic impact on CS efforts” accordingly. Other international organizations have further been providing logistical support to CSOs to build their anti-corruption capacity as well.

Internal support within Civil Society through Tunisian union groups such as the Democratic Women's Association, the General Union of Tunisian Workers, Farmers Union, and the Union of Youth Organizations, have provided critical technical support to other CSOs to build the widespread capacity of Tunisian CS both during the Ben Ali regime as well as in the current era. In light of these efforts, however, there are two main categories of the population who still oppose such developments and try to mitigate their development accordingly, namely people affiliated with the previous regime and those interested in gaining public office in the current era.

However, all interviewees cited the need for the rule and protection of law, the development of an independent judiciary, as well as access to information about national issues particularly in terms of social and economic issues, to allow them to legitimately develop their efforts in terms of anti-corruption initiatives going forward. Interviewees further advocated for a grassroots approach in building relationships with marginalized communities to gain their support for combating corruption due to the fact that historical misunderstandings of civil society’s role and function have often been misconstrued among various groups to be conflated with religious communities or particular interests with a “hidden agenda.” Additionally, formal routes of political reform, such as political party apparatuses, etc., have often been corrupt (but also limited) themselves, thus making the grassroots approach the ideal tool for conducting social mobilization to support anti-corruption initiatives accordingly.

Priorities. Tunisian civil society is particularly concerned with and has a marked history of raisig awareness about the conflation of economic situations with political issues, particularly in terms of how the former relates to national-level decision-making practices and perspectives.

In the transition era after Ben Ali, CS is increasingly focusing on combating corruption vis-à-vis focus on societal accountability, and advocating for national control of public projects and activities. The repression of former actions and activities of unions is also highlighted to mobilize public interest in promoting social and political reform and change in the new era. To avoid repetition of cases like this as well as corruption generally throughout the country, CS has been acting in various consultant capacities with national institutions and international organizations.

Impact. As mentioned previously, Tunisian CS has witnessed a proliferation of CSOs, both in terms of quantity and quality, addressing corruption and integrity within the country. Many interviewees suggest that such developments will lead to higher levels of awareness and practices related to combating corruption from its roots. Additionally, hearing the success stories of these organizations has encouraged individuals to keep working in this direction in the hope of seeing the impact of their activities as well.

However, Tunisia’s history of regime rule and the close relationship with Ben Ali’s government with Western powers, has bred skepticism and distrust among some members of the public who are suspicious of the international NGOs who fund activities of Tunisian CSOs, considering such flows as further promulgations of corruption through such entities as a result. This is also due to the fact, as interviewees highlighted, that some donors are indeed suspicious due to their profit-making activities under Ben Ali in the previous era.

To increase the impact of such organizations in terms of anti-corruption and civil society activity generally, interviewees have suggested strengthening legal protection mechanisms and opening communication channels with public servants to increase dialogue and understanding with them accordingly on the importance of combating corruption in all sectors of public life.

 

 

Part III: Recommendations and Steps Forward

The presented case studies of Jordan and Iraq allow us to draw insights that may help inform civil society actions throughout the Arab world accordingly. The data yielded from the culmination of both desk and fieldwork suggests the following key recommendations:

For CS Actors in the Arab Countries

  • Develop internal auditing and monitoring frameworks that demonstrate the integrity of the CS group or organization’s work to allow CS to legitimately engage in anti-corruption initiatives accordingly (i.e. “clean your house before telling others to clean theirs”)
  • Increase communication between “old” and “new” CS actors to maximize scope and impact on the ground
  • Engage in greater dialogue with donors about needs on the ground both externally and internally within CS
  • Advocate for more efficient registration and auditing processed of CS with the State
  • Advocate for whistleblower protection and access to information laws with stakeholders at all levels
  • Link programs and projects on anti-corruption to the populations’ everyday concerns and challenges
  • The concept of civil society in the Arab countries connected to some specific values, such as freedom, pluralism, living together, democracy, solving problems using civil tools, etc.., therefore, engaging in civil society activities requires promotion of these values, but these values cannot present at practical level while we don’t an adequate level of awareness about the “other” and his equal rights in the community regardless his/her tribe, religion, gender, and his socioeconomic situation (Salah Jorshi, Tunisian Activist). This could be the main task of CSOs to raise the awareness of these values based on the Arab own culture and historical heritage.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Specific Recommendations to the Case of Jordan

Thus, in order for CS is to play a greater role in anti-corruption initiatives in Jordan, fieldwork participants have suggested the following recommendations:

  • Enforcement of the Access to Information Act. Upholding and ensuring this law is enforced vis-à-vis training of public sector officials, media actors and increasing dialogue between CS and the public sector accordingly.
  • Training provided for government and public sector staff on requirements of the law (particularly the Access to Information Act). Many interviewees noted that international donor-funded programs tend to target CS and CSOs; it is thus recommended that a program is developed that spreads awareness about the Access to Information Act and what it means under Jordanian law for individuals working in the government and public sector, generally.
  • Develop Whistleblower protection legislation. No incentive exists for public sector officials and related actors to give information about corruption or become involved in anti-corruption work if their profession is in jeopardy in a very fragile economic environment and they could potentially lose their benefits as well. Developing such legislation and its subsequent enforcement may encourage increased reporting on corruption-related activities within such sectors.
  • Donors should revisit application processes and funding determinations. As one interviewee suggested, “Organizations are judged by how well their proposals are written in English, not by the character of the staff” (Interview J6). Donors may want to consider new alternatives to reviewing applications for funding, issue calls for proposals that focus more on socioeconomic issues or issues related to the priorities on the ground, and may want to consider including more “new groups” in their funding recipient circles.
  • Encourage greater communication and collaboration between journalists and CSOs. From this research, it is evident that communication and dialogue between the CS sector is divided. Greater networking and discussion between “old” CSOs, new CS actors, and journalists reporting on CS activity to the public should consider increasing cooperation and collaboration in order for CS to have a greater impact on the ground in regards to combating corruption.

 

Specific Recommendations to the Case of Iraq

 

In order to ensure CS participation in anti-corruption initiatives increases in the future in Iraq, the following recommendations have been made:

  • Use the media and Internet to strengthen the voice and scope and CS AC activities and interlinkages within CS itself. As is the case in Jordan, Iraq CS actors should consider greater linkages and cooperation with media actors in order to share their work with the public and increase their impact on the ground.
  • Increase cooperation between religious institutions, government entities and CS. Due to the diversity within the country and the history of oppression of such diversity under the Ba’ath regime, such CS actors from various groups need to explore and utilize dialogue methods to increase cooperation and overall impact on the ground of CS anti-corruption initiatives accordingly.
  • Revisit legal structures to ensure an autonomous CS. In conjunction with the point above, it is critical for CS and government to collaborate and create legal frameworks that ensure an independent CS sector in order for CS to function as an “intermediary” accordingly.
  • Draft and pass legislation that provides for whistleblower protection laws
  • Use of the power of the tribal structures and/or religious groups or parties in fighting corruption cases that involve people from these structures or groups. This requires establishment of a special council leaded by the head of the country and the leaders of the tribal structure, group, or party.
  • Draft and pass legislation that provides and enforces access to Information
  • Political and social parties should be the main part of the CSOs, but due to the negative attitudes among Arab people against parties the level of participation in these parties is still low. Many people dislike participating in these parties due to one or two reasons. One because many believe that most of these parties are controlled by the Intelligence Departments “Mukhabarat”, the second that members of these parties are subject to accountability and mostly they don’t feel safe and they don’t feel that they are secure.
  • Increase dialogue with CS and incorporate CS needs within CS legislation
  • Provide a streamlined auditing system for monitoring CS
  • Reframe criteria for determining how grants are awarded to CS groups
  • Accept more applications in countries’ national languages to increase scope and access to funding for organizations that may have strong programming and capacity skills, but may be weak in English
  • Consider applications from newer organizations AND the old, well-established organizations
  • Provided funding that exceeds the usual annual rotation to allow organizations to craft sustainable anti-corruption initiatives due to the fact that this topic is relatively “new” in the field of CS activity within the Arab World.[9]
  • Design programming based on preliminary fieldwork either conducted by CS groups nationally or in-house
  • Design programming that links civic and political rights with social and economic rights in a holistic manner
  • Collaborate with CS groups and the State to provide training and information about designing legal frameworks, such as whistleblower protection legislation, in order to curb corruption within society.
  • Conduct further research on how the concept, “Arab Spring” has been framed by Western actors vs. non-Western actors
  • Conduct further research on the perception and impact of the Arab Spring in the Arab World and beyond
  • Use more case study, micro-level research approaches to capture the unique dynamics of civil society and anti-corruption initiatives and practices within each country specifically.
 
 

For Policymakers in the Arab Countries

 
 
 
 
 
 

For International Actors and Donors

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

For Academics

 
 
 

 

 

Annexes

Annex I: Research Approach and Methodology

 

Research Goal, Objective and Guiding Questions

 

The overall goals of this research are the following:

  1. Support regional strategic thinking, especially of ACINET members and the larger anti-corruption community, in the development of more responsive and prospectively more sustainable and scalable anti-corruption reforms.
  2. Foster linkages with think tanks, NGOs and research centers with relevant initiatives and actors at the country, regional and global levels.
  3. Inform further discussion among key stakeholders and decision-makers in Arab countries and guide further research and development of related policies.
  4. Produce Results that allow implications to be drawn regionally.
  5. Provide an objective view of current anti-corruption initiatives in the Arab world
 
 
 
 

 

The overall objective of this research is to study past anti-corruption efforts in civil society in Arab countries and determine prospects for enhanced engagement after the events of the Arab spring in 2011.

 

Specific Questions that guide this objective aim to assess the structure, environment, values and impact of civil society contexts within the Arab world; questions include the following:

  •  What do we mean by civil society in the Arab states?
  • What has been the characteristics, and evolution of, civil society involvement in anti-corruption efforts in the Arab region? How has it been organized (formally or informally) or not? What factors helped, hindered, or determined these characteristics?
  • How is this civil society type of involvement specific to the Arab world and how is it different or similar to the involvement experienced in other parts of the world?
  • How did the Arab Spring change, or promote change in this involvement and in the way that civil society gets involved in anti-corruption efforts? How was this different among states in the Arab world?
  • What roles are donors playing in this area? What are the challenges, opportunities, and lessons from other parts of the world?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges for civil society engagement on anti-corruption efforts after the Arab Spring of 2011? What lessons can be learnt from other parts of the world? What are the main recommendations for different stakeholders (governments, donors, international organizations, and the private sector) to engage with civil society?
  • When resorting to empirical research, what do interviewees or focus groups say about these topics? What are the different perspectives?
  • What are the drivers of change in Arab countries that could strength the civil society capacities in anti-corruption?
  • How does the political context restrict civil society activity in Arab countries?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Research Methodology

 

The research utilizes qualitative methodologies--a combination of desk and empirical-based research--to conduct a systematic assessment of anti-corruption efforts of civil society in Arab countries. Qualitative methodology was selected due to the fact that it provides in-depth, nuanced insight into critical themes associated with the research topic . Specifically, structured interviews, surveys, and focus group discussions were used to collect data from the field in the three case study countries Jordan, Tunisia and Iraq. Discussion on this data collection is discussed more under the Procedure section.

 

Population and Sample. Because the Arab Countries are extremely diverse politically, socially, economically and culturally, the Research Team used the following criteria to select three countries that can serve as a representative sample in order for the data and results of the research to have relevance region-wide: geographical distribution, political structure, country activity before and after the Arab Spring. Approximately 10 interviews were conducted with “experts” in each case study country, or individuals from civil society (as well as government and private sector) that are well informed or well experienced within the realm of anti-corruption civil society activity. Two focus group discussions with a similar array of actors were also conducted in each case study country. Countries that were not included as “case studies” participated in a survey distributed via e-mail by the researchers.

 

Procedures. Following the literature review, the Research Team designed a series of questions that were incorporated into three data collection instruments:structured interviews, focus groups, and online surveys. Four key dimensions of civil society were considered when designing these questions and instruments: structure, environment, values and impact. Each dimension comprises of a number of individual indicators that reflect the research questions’ aims. The former two tools, interviews and focus groups, were used to conduct research in the three case-study countries: Jordan, Tunisia and Iraq. Surveys were distributed to both case study countries and other countries in the Arab World via e-mail to civil society activists, government officials and private sector individuals.

 

*** A study of this nature and scope has several limitations, most notably time and funding resources for extensive travel and exhaustive coverage of material and organizations in all CSO contexts within the Arab world. Due to such limitations, the sample will draw from a diverse set of CSOs and civic activists that have a presence beyond the main city in each selected country to provide a representative and informative sample within the constraints of this project.

 

 

 

Annex II: Background on the Arab Spring & Civil Society Development in the Arab Countries

 

The Arab Spring has been described by many in words such as: “An extraordinary wave of popular protest [that] swept the Arab world in 2011. Massive popular mobilization brought down long-ruling leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and helped spark bloody struggles in Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and fundamentally reshaped the nature of politics in the region” (Aday, et al. 2012). The historical trend of regime rule in the region and the rapid pace upon which these events occurred using new forms of social mobilization thus attracted the attention of the world audience. Tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and other media and communication resources were used to organize protests and collective actions accordingly in countries where such assembly is often forbidden or extremely monitored; thus such cyberspace-related tools provided an alternative “space” for activists to organize and communicate that was not always in the scope of State authority oversight. Such civil society organization thus represented one of the largest mobilizations within the CS sector that have ever occurred within the region.

 

However, such mobilization is not simply a Twitter campaign; rather such populations’ personal experience and suppression under regimes such as Egypt and Tunisia “fueled” the energy and interest among the population needed to make any such campaign a success (Anderson 2011). Additionally, it is important to note that almost all interviews conducted in this research did acknowledge that the Arab Spring did indeed represent one of the biggest mobilizations within CS, but has had little to no impact in terms of addressing corruption within societies and improving well-being among the people (for example, it was noted that even though Mubarak received a sentence, it was not because of his past corrupt administrative and financial activities, but rather based on his actions during the Tahrir Square movement; Interview J5).

 

The Concept of Civil Society Organization

The term “civil society” is not related to our culture, it is an imported western term, like many Arab countries, Jordan is 90% desert area and the tribal system is the dominant of most of the public sectors. In this community, it is unfair to use the term civil society. There are some voluntary organizations that have no authority but they able to connect the individuals with the government, it is not-for-profit organizations. It supposed that these organizations contribute in decision making in public affairs, defense of socio-economic interests of the community and its members, and improving standard of the profession and level of services, but the actual practices of most of active SCOs that many of their members associated to gain some profits through working on projects funded by UN agencies or INGOs. Voluntary organizations, tribal system, and SCOs have a slogan “not-for-profit” but most of their members seeks profits from international funded projects, in such environment you will not notice reasonable role of civil society in fighting corruption that is why you cannot touch a seriousness of the government in achieving results in fighting corruption, said Waleed Hatamleh, the Head of Jordan Association for Human Development.

For the purpose of this research, civil society is defined as any “third sector” (i.e. not affiliated with government or the private, business sector) institution, group or individual involved in promoting movement towards democratic values in their society (CSI, 2003). For example, this can include professional associations, religious groups, labor unions, citizen advocacy organizations, community groups and individual activists.

The structure of civil society, both conceptually and in practical form, warrants discussion in terms of the Arab countries as such definitions and designs impact CS activity and also reflects the environment(s) in which CS operates within. The definition of CS in the Arab World has been a critical point of discussion among academics, policymakers, and practitioners due to the fact that the development process of CS in this context has been remarkably unique in comparison to other world regions.[10]

Scholars have defined CS in the Arab World as “a wide range structure of labor unions, nongovernmental organizations, religious groups and societal institutions and organizations in the civil society” (Al-Jamari 2003, ctd. in Karajah 2007), “a group of civil and social institutions and a series of channels and means by which the modern society expresses its interests and purposes and is able to defend itself when opposed to the authoritarian rule of the political institution represented by the state” (Hilal 2004, ctd. in Karajah 2007), and briefly, “any entity that is nongovernmental, not an extension of the family and not an extension of the state” (Kandil 2004, ctd. in Karajah 2007).

However, before determining whether such definitions are appropriate and applicable, it is important to highlight how “civil society” is conceptualised within the Arabic language itself as such will provide some insights into what extent civil society concepts have been developed from the roots of Arab society versus “imported” from the West (Karajah 2007). In his piece Civil Society in the Arab World: The Missing Concept, Karajah notes that civil society in Arabic, “al-mujtama madanee” (المجتمع المدني) is derived from the words “meeting” and “city,” thus translating the role of civil society literally into “assembling cities.” In this definition, unlike the Western definition of civil society where “civil” is derived from the Latin word “civitas” and relating to the concept of citizenship, there is no reference to any form of “political or social mobilisation or collective action to organise and influence life” as it relates to citizenship and other forms of formal organization in the Arabic translation (Karajah 2007, p.27). This brief analysis thus has implications as to how such diverging translations may impact values embedded within civil society and the way that individuals conceptualise their own roles and actions as CS actors as a result.

Additionally, it is important to keep in mind historical concepts of the state within the Arab World when assessing CS concepts in this same context. Specifically, the Arab World is marked by a history in which the state and its leaders have served as the core of the nation’s “story” of development so to speak. In other words, the “timeline” portrayed in text and oral records of the Arab World is based on different eras of ruling elite rather than the development of people’s liberties and responsibilities within a “third sector” such as civil society (Karajah 2007).

Furthermore, because the Arab World is still often considered in a developmental stage, where the state and private sector role are working towards stability, the CS sector may often become conflated with the other sectors due to the fluctuating boundaries that occur on such a development trajectory and the fact that the societal environment is highly politicized due to such instability as well (Karajah 2007). The role of the family, tribe or religious sect in the Arab World is also often conflated with civil society, the state, and private sector due to instability associated with development. Because the family, tribe or religious sect provides the security that the state lacks, such identities often arguably stagnate the development of citizenship among the population as a result (Karajah 2007, Harmsen 2008).

The culmination of these factors has often led to civil societies in the Arab World to be synonymous with charity or services only; very few organizations seem to exist in the sense of serving in political or civic function or capacity. Furthermore, many Arab countries do not distinguish between different types of CSOs for example, lumping health charities with human rights organizations in the same category under law, suggesting a lack of structure and distinct role between such social and political based organizations as a result (Samad 2007). Thus, many have described the notion of civil society, as defined in terms of acting as a true “intermediary between the individual and the different organizing forces of the society” to be extremely weak or non-existent in the Arab World at all (Karajah 2007, p. 29).

In defining CS, we consider various types of participants under this umbrella, namely: CSOs, other formally registered organizations not affiliated with government or the private sector, non-formal groups, and individual activists/organisers. According to preliminary interviews, divides tend to exist between the “old” usual suspect CS groups and new ones that have recently engaged in the sector. For example, interviewees classified the “usual suspects” as long-established CSOs who were well-funded from international donors, and often having established relations or communications with the government (Interviews J3, J8). The “new” groups discussed often included individual activists and informal groups established via Facebook or other new media tools, as well as new political parties or corruption “monitoring” associations (such as the Jordan Association for the Fight Against Corruption-JAFAC).In this research, the latter new groups, often reported difficulty accessing resources to support their activities or the necessary “connections” with government actors to register or proceed through registration-related processes in a smooth manner; resources from international actors were also reported scarce as well (in part, perhaps due to the lack of recognition of their organization or group as “official” under their respective governments if registration processes are stalled or simply due to the fact that international donors are not yet fully acquainted with such groups to the extent of the older organizations; Interview J4) . However, such groups, unlike the former “old” CS actors, tended to share stronger messages both in the interviews and publicly through their activism about corruption in government, private sector, and even civil society itself within their countries. It is also important to note that media attention’s focus on the growing role of youth in the sector in the Arab world, largely because youth’s role in the events of 2011, may have in part encouraged more youth in other Arab country locations to participate in civil society accordingly, but such coverage may also overshadow other actors’ participation who represent a different age demographic.

 

 

A Variety of Contexts & Relationships

The environment(s) in which civil society operates within the Arab World are inextricably linked with the structure and perceived structure of them accordingly. The following section discusses internal and external elements of civil society in the Arab World that affect its role in anti-corruption initiatives accordingly. At the regional level, the context in which Arab civil societies operate within in terms of political, legal, socio economic, and socio cultural dimensions, greatly affects the direction, values within and impact of civil society’s work.

 

What becomes immediately apparent as ironic in such classifications is the paradoxical relationship between civil society and the environment itself, shaped by the government and other actors. In many ways, for civil society to develop further under such laws, they need the support and relationship with the government to prosper accordingly (See Abootalebi 1998). However, such laws, induced by the government or informal laws, induced by socialcultural factors, restrict CS activity, but for CS to truly serve as an “intermediary” and serve the needs of the people not provided by other sectors, it may have to challenge such laws and other structures that limit its activities accordingly. The following discussion on each context dimension delves more into this paradox as well as the three classifications of civil societies.

Political Context.The political context within Arab Countries is often noted as instable, fluctuating, lacking sound institutions, legislation and rule of law (Samad 2007). The legacy of colonialism (i.e. mainly from the British and the French), periods (and the continuance in some countries) of regime rule, and current periods of “occupation” in the region today (both in actuality as well as diplomatic relations) has, in part, led to such instability and limited development of strong state institutions throughout the region (Samad 2007).

For example, Samad describes the concept of “militarisation of the region,” due to political factors as creating societal instability and lack of security (Samad 2007). This militarisation is a result of both external forces, namely foreign occupations that violate international law such as the U.S. Invasion in Iraq in 2003 or the occupation of Palestine, as well as internal wars, such as the cases of Algeria, Sudan and Western Sahara. As a result, such instability often results in other instable parts of society such as CS, where continuous development and progress may be interrupted from actual conflict or laws and acts introduced during times of security threats and serious instability.

Fluctuation in the political context is also noted due to the fact that sound public institutions rarely are in operation and regime rule tends to characterise many parts of the Arab World. Constitutions (if they exist) are often violated, political and social factors often interfere or influence the legal or judicial framework, legislation usually does not provide the space for CS to conduct its work or law for CS is used to restrict its activity, and such legislation is often not even acknowledged as legitimate in many cases due to the role of social ties and affiliations and how they affect value in rule of law, concepts of citizenship, etc (Karajah 2007). However, this is also a reflection of the fact that electoral laws and legislation that do not always reflect the demographics and interests of the population lead to corrupt election procedures accordingly.

This is not to say that the region exists under a homogenous, insecure political context. Countries such as Jordan have further been described as enjoying relative “peace,” but it is important to note that such “peace” is accompanied by high levels of foreign occupation—as well as regime rule—in Jordan to ensure such. Additionally, countries such as Lebanon are often described as possessing a system that allows its citizens to express political and civic rights and other democratic thought through civil society outlets (Samad 2007).

 Many scholars have thus argued that you cannot have democracy without civil society, and the only way to truly foster the development of civil society is under democratic circumstances (See Abootalebi 1998). In the Arab Countries, such democracy may not fully exist in the terms of Western definitions, but the underlying causes of such shortfalls, may in part be due to such Western definitions being applied to country contexts without analysis of country realities. For example, many international donor programs that are designed to “enhance democracy” or “encourage democratic thought” often do not go far enough as to challenge the regime and undermine larger bilateral goal—even if such would result in better circumstances on the ground (Interview J9). Thus, all types of foreign-funded democracy enhancing programs are undermined when the same foreign actor continues to support the regime that is limiting democracy in that country context accordingly.

Legal Context.Legal frameworks within the Arab World play a significant role in the ability for civil society actors to operate and conduct anti-corruption initiatives. For example, 70% of CSOs in Samad’s study reported legal frameworks as hindering.The conflation of politics and social factors with such frameworks in many Arab countries has often resulted in limited ways for CS to address corruption issues comprehensively.[11]

Laws often do not provide access to information for the public, making it difficult for CS actors to conduct monitoring and related anti-corruption initiatives not only in the government sector, but other sectors as well. For example, Jordan does have an Access to Information Law that was passed in 2007, but it is not enforced and often “maneuvered around” by public sector officials who will ignore or delay responses to filed requests (Interviews J8, J9, J5, J2).

Laws may also frame CS as a security issue. This, as a result, allows the state to limit CS activity by claiming “national security” as a basis (Interview J5).

Judiciaries often lack autonomy and independence from the influence of other branches in the government as well as other actors in the state, generally. Many corruption-related cases that are investigated, for example, may never reach the trial stage or if they do receive trial, sentences are often minimal (Interview J7, J8).For example, in Jordan, the Anti-Corruption Commission (JACC) has no power to mandate a case be taken to court; rather the Parliament decides whether the case should be taken to trial.

International actors, who may not always be aware of such legal systems in detail, may also direct their capacity-building programs or related efforts in an ill-informed manner (i.e. wrong target group; providing skill training that is not relevant in the legal context, etc.) towards civil society. As a result, and as reported during many of the interviews, civil societies in the Arab Countries may have too many conferences and trainings to build capacity within CS to address corruption, etc, but ultimately end up being useless because they do not consider obstacles for CS to address such corruption under legal and political constraints specific to that country in question.

Thus, when “...drafting laws for the [CS] sector, one must take into account the complexity of societal relations, political environment, level of development, concentration of power, regime’s behavior in dealing with civil society organizations and other legal system and governance structure: poor CSO laws, if they improve, they will provide a framework for good governance system of accountability, and public transparency” (Samad 2007, 7).

Socioeconomic Context. The socioeconomic well-being of Arab countries’ populations is, in many ways, linked to subsequent engagement with corrupt as well as corruption prevention activities. For individuals receiving extremely low salaries in countries or areas where the cost of living is high, such frustration has, in some cases, encouraged such individuals to protest and speak out against harsh living conditions in both formal and informal groups. For others, such living circumstances have influenced them to take advantage of administrative or financial “bribes” or forms of corruption in order to provide for themselves and their families in some cases.

It is important to note that the latter is very much present in civil society as much as it is in government and related sectors. For example, there have been many cases where CSOs receiving grants create budgets greater than the cost of the intended project to pay larger salaries or use the money to fund other projects. One interviewee reported a case where a CSO submitted two different budgets (one for the donor and one for the Ministry of Interior who was responsible for approving dispersal of the funds from the donor to the organization); one budget’s rent (that to the donor) was reported double the actual rent in order to pay for another project the organization was operating at that time (Interview J7). It is particularly important to consider how high unemployment within a country, lack of whistleblower protection laws, and socio economic environments where individuals must spend a majority of their time working to “make ends meet” also affect engagement in CS and anti-corruption initiatives.

On a national level, the well-being of the economy has been very much interlinked to CS’s ability to engage in AC activity. For example, a healthy economy is needed to develop communications system which in part lead to greater levels of accessible information. The latter has often been noted as a major factor affecting the 2011 Arab Spring.

Socio-cultural Context. Socio-cultural factors, namely family, tribal, religious, or ethnic affiliations, within the Arab world, play a major role in shaping the environment in which CS operates. Such affiliations influence all aspects—political, social, economic, and cultural. For example, social ties often play a major role in who runs (and wins) elections, resource allocation (both financial and authority) and service distribution. As noted earlier, such ties often provide the security and stability that is lacking due to the fact that countries are still at a developing stage, where the state’s role fluctuates, and notions of citizenship within a country are weak. For example, Tkiyet Um Ali is often considered one of the best CSOs—both in efficiency and integrity—that provides services for the population (Interview J1). However, what we described as the militarisation of the region earlier plays a role in strengthening such social ties, which some scholars argue “impedes formation of CS and hijacks concepts of CS” (Samad 2007, p. 8).[12] Such social ties thus need to be taken into consideration in their influence in the development of civil societies in the Arab countries. Such social ties, or family and socio cultural units, arguably could be considered another “third sector” in addition to the concept of civil society (promulgated largely by the West as the sole intermediary sector), which is designed to act as an intermediary between the other sectors.

On the other hand, some interviewees claimed that the Arab societies derived many of its features from Islam where Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) didn’t accept the offer to be the ruler in Mecca because the offer came from the leaders of Mecca and they offered this to him to satisfy his personal needs (if any), but because he believes that his power should come from the civil society itself, he moved to Yathrib, which he called “Madenah” (means “city”, the word in Arabic language derived from the same root of the word “civil”). So, this group of interviewees sees that Mohammed got his power neither by miracles nor from the community leaders, but from the civil society itself.

Relationships between the state and CS reflect, in many ways, the level of development within CS as an independent entity. Where the legal framework for CS operations is restrictive, and the state is run by a regime, for example, many organizations that do manage to function may be connected with the government through formal or informal means (and thus may be allowed to operate but are restricted in the nature of their activities). Anheier (2004) notes that in countries with regimes, “Ruling elites [become] defensive of other potential power (i.e. CS)...so the monarch may create their own CS organizations to counter independent CS.” Because the law may, in many cases, allow for the state to dissolve an organization at any time, CS organizations may often frame their work in a way that is either linked or supportive of state activity accordingly. The plurality of perspectives within CS is thus muted or diminished as a result. In Samad’s research, however, he notes that in countries where the CS law could be considered “liberal”, such as Lebanon, state-CS relations are minimal in this regard due to the fact that the environment for CS operations is less restrictive in comparison to other Arab countries; thus strong connections between the state and CS is not present or needed and the development of more perspectives within CS is more likely to be present.

Relations between CS and private sectorare not always as concrete and visible as that between CS and the state. However, this is not to suggest such links do not exist. Rather, because “sectors” (i.e. the state, civil society, private sector, etc) often fluctuate or conflate with one another in the Arab countries, such links may be established in an informal manner. For example, a wealthy businessman may also sit on the board of directors for a civil society organization, or may operate one him or herself under his personal identity (i.e. not as their business affiliation).

Relations between CSO and CSOis reported as often “good” with CS developing networks on all levels ranging from local communities to the international level (Samad 2007). However, according to preliminary interviews for this report, there seems to be some gaps in communication within this sector, namely between long-established CSOs and new emerging formal or informal groups and organizations as previously discussed. Additionally, civil society activists included in this research further reported competition for resources with other CS organizations as well as a certain level of skepticism towards some organizations considered as “practicing corruption” (Interviews J2, J3, J5, J7, J8, J9).

 

A Question of Identity

The priorities promoted and practiced within civil society are important to assess in order to determine the level of direction and effectiveness of future activity, both generally and in terms of anti-corruption initiatives specifically. This section explores the general priorities and perceptions of civil society in the Arab world, rather than assessing Arab countries’ CS activities on Western definitions of transparency, accountability, and democracy.

As previously stated, the notion of CS has often been conflated with social services and charity provisions primarily for many individuals; political or civic groups may be limited in comparison to the former and their role in CS overshadowed with the value of CS providing for the well-being of the people socioeconomically. Legal frameworks have further limited free expression and access to information, and security apparatus’ (i.e. country’s intelligence departments) monitoring activities of CS have also contributed to muting the development of valuing such anti-corruption (Interview J1). However, with the growing realization that socioeconomic hardships are linked with corruption in political activity, the value of promoting anti-corruption is developing rapidly.

Even with this growing value, however, it is important to discuss the salience of socio-cultural identities over national citizenship and how it affects CS’s role as well. Notions of citizenship still remain low in many Arab countries, with socio cultural affiliations often prevailing (i.e. tribal, family, or religious identity, etc.). This is arguably due in part to the lack of security in the region and weak state structures, as well as regime-style governments that do not necessarily represent the public interest. If the government, or the public sector is not necessarily accountable to the populations’ interest and needs (which under progressively worse socioeconomic conditions, the latter is a major concern), and socio-cultural affiliations provide a community in which populations’ needs are addressed (i.e. religious groups may provide better social assistance services than the government or public sector generally, for example), and not to mention that their interests and identity are thus represented and embedded within the groups’ decision-making processes, etc, the latter is more likely to prevail. Even when interacting with formal state structures, it is often in the Arab Countries that “wasta” or familial, tribal or related socio-cultural connections and ties are used to access services in the public sector.

Though “wasta” can be considered a form of administrative corruption, such practices have not been the cases that have elicited calls for reform from the public. Instead, the brunt of protests and anti-corruption initiatives have been in regards to spreading awareness about financial corruption within government. One could argue that this is largely a reflection of the harsh socioeconomic conditions that are growing worse in the Arab Countries, which is one of the major triggers of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, for example. Attention to items such as political and civic rights and values has been limited, in part due to the fact that such socio economic issues are more salient due to their immediate and direct impact on the well-being of people and their families-the crux identity within the Arab countries. Ironically, however, many internationally funded projects that have occurred in the Arab countries since the Arab Spring have focused on political and civic rights rather than socioeconomic concerns (Interview J8).

 

Additionally, because corrupt practices have limited individuals’ rights outlined in constitutions or legislation, “wasta” is often used to obtain the access and services that are guaranteed under law, but are rarely upheld; thus wasta is a way for individuals to obtain their rights (Interview J9). Thus, such focus on socioeconomic issues and using “wasta” to obtain rights and services demonstrates the salience of such socio-cultural identities over the rule of law (in the case it exists) and notions of citizenship. The bridge between anti-corruption initiatives for the well-being of all citizens is thus still being built.

 

A Long Way to Go

The impact of CS activity at the current time is important to assess in order to determine and brainstorm future mechanisms and approaches that will allow CS to have comprehensive impact in anti-corruption work.

Overall, CS in the Arab World has often been described as weak or, in some cases, inexistent in a true sense. This is, in part due to internal obstacles such as lacking a clear vision and mission, weak internal governance, and fluctuating resources, but also due to environmental contexts as well. The following sections discuss this argument in context of different sectors accordingly.

Holding the State and Market accountable.In context of state accountability, CS has, in some ways promoted accountability by spreading awareness about corruption within government activities, etc. However, because information is difficult to access in almost all Arab Countries about such government activity, and also due to the fact that CS is often linked by legal frameworks, politics and social ties to the state (especially in restrictive law environments), CS may not pursue such accountability pressure activities to the extent warranted by conditions in the country accordingly.

CS has largely focused on promoting state accountability, but there are many instances in which holding the market accountable is linked directly to the former. Since many countries’ current protests and civil society anti-corruption activities have been sparked by harsh socioeconomic conditions created by volatile markets, CS is very much active in promoting this type of accountability. The story of Amwal Invest, where public stakeholders organised to investigate corruption among board members describes an example of such CS activism (The Jordan Times 18 April 2012).

Responding to social interests and meeting societal needs. Social interests are not always clearly defined, due to the fact that notions of citizenship are also weak. In regards to services and related social assistance, the CS sector has been extremely responsive in an effective way; other interests, like political and civic rights has been limited. CS has been predominantly conflated with social services and assistance or charity. Thus, in terms of socio economic services, CS has been a key provider in the Arab World context. However, because funding cycles from donors may fluctuate, such service distribution may also fluctuate accordingly as well.

Empowering citizens. Because the notion of citizenship is still arguably weak, CS’ role in empowering citizens can thus be described in a similar fashion. However, CS has been a key player in raising awareness about human rights and international standards, but such awareness-raising has been translated into concrete action only on a limited basis, there is still a need for increasing the CS awareness about its role in oversight and monitor the performance of governmental institutions, bodies, and public expenditures.

 

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Interviews

 

Interview J1, Civil society activist and Political Affairs Officer for Foreign Embassy in Jordan.

Interview J2, Investigative Journalist, Jordan.

Interview J3, Investigative Journalist and Blogger, Jordan

Interview J4, President of Anti-Corruption focused CSO, Jordan

Interview J5, Grants officer for International Donor Organization, Jordan.

Interview J6, Lawyer and Civil Society Activist, Jordan.

Interview J7, Program Officer at International NGO, Jordan

Interview J8, Civil Society activist and Blogger, Jordan.

Interview J9, Public Sector Employee, Ministry of the Interior, Jordan.

Interview J10, Civil Society Director, Jordan.

 

List of Iraqi Interviewees:

Interview I1, 2 journalists.

Interview I2, 5 governmental officers.

Interview I3, 4 activists

 

Focus Group Jordan Participants (Total: 14 participants representing government offices, private sector, and civil society organizations).

 

Focus Group Iraq Participants (Total: 21 participants)

 

Focus Group Tunisia Participants: 1 public servant, 2 journalists, 3 national NGO members



[1] For more details about related literature and situation analysis, please see Annex II: Background on the Arab Spring & Civil Society Development in the Arab Countries.

 

[2] Samad’s study covers 11 Arab countries that are part of the Arab NGO Network. The countries were divided into “conservative” and “liberal” countries based on the countries’ legal frameworks. The 70% figure is a culmination of responses from both country categories (both conservative and liberal).

[3] The latter statement was expressed in all interviews conducted in Jordan by the research team and witnessed in Jordan as well.

[4] One interviewee who participated in this research is a board member of several prominent NGOs who are well-funded and enjoy good connections with the government; he is further the sole lawyer for the land property of one of the royal figures, which has recently been a point of serious debate among the public (i.e. who the lands belong too historically, etc.).

[5] Investigative journalists also reported working on this topic, but not exclusively.

[6] The latter conclusion evolved within the Focus Group discussion conducted by the research team in Baghdad, Iraq in July 2012.

[7] Saral 2009; Al-Naba’ 2004; USIP 2004.

 

[9] This is a generalization, but the intent of the recommendation is made to allow CS actors to create more in-depth programming based on the combination of unique, historical experiences of the country In question and with the macro-;level effects of the 2011 Arab Spring events.

[10] See S. Karajah 2007; L. Daymond 2005; J. Hilal 2004; A. Al-Naba’ 2004; D. Lewis 2002; A. Bsharah1998.

[11] Samad’s study covers 11 Arab countries that are part of the Arab NGO Network. The countries were divided into “conservative” and “liberal” countries based on the countries’ legal frameworks. The 70% figure is a culmination of responses from both country categories (both conservative and liberal).

[12] This is a reflection of the latter comments related to how social ties lead to connections, or “wasta,” that affects the aforementioned distribution and access to services and outcomes of political activities and other formal state-affiliated decision-making processes.

 

 Sustainable Research and Development Center, SRD | Amman 11941, Jordan, P.O. Box: 2564 | F: +962 6 5000362 | M (Jordan): +962 79 7600 116  or +962 77 92222 09 | M (Iraq): +964 77 1610 8763 | Skype: srdedu |Email: srd@srd.edu.jo