Hivos International

Authoritarian regimes

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

This policy paper provides a roadmap for electoral reforms in Syria  that will be needed to set Syria on the path towards democratisation. It  is the latest publication of Hivos and SRCC.

The Stimson Center hosted a discussion–organized by Knowledge Programme Civil Society of the Dutch organization Hivos that aims to gain insights on civic activism in authoritarian settings in Syria and Iran–on the future of non-democratic regimes in the Middle East and the policy implications of the unprecedented, and unexpected, recent popular uprisings in the region.

Syrian Petition for Political Change: A Dramatic Missed Opportunity

Given the atrocities currently committed in Syria and the spectacularly bad press this generates for the regime, one would think that issuing an effective petition calling for political change in this country would be an easy task. All such a petition needs to do is to jump on the bandwagon of rapidly mounting protests and express the deeply felt anger across large sections of the Syrian population. In addition, any serious public appeal would demonstrate that there is a viable alternative to the regime; by way of clever proposals for political change and in reference to an impressive list of signatories from Syria’s brightest and most respected minds.

‘From Resilience to Revolt. Making Sense of the Arab Spring’

Early 2011 waves of protest started rolling through the Middle East. Though in many states the status quo was only shaken without any actual transformations, the popular uprisings, which have since become known as the “Arab Spring”, did manage to remove a series of leaders from their figurative thrones.

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

Beyond Frontiers: The Implosion of the Middle East

On the occasion of the 12.5 years anniversary of its exchange programs with the Middle East and North Africa, the College of Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam and Zeytun in collaboration with Hivos held a debate on the fast--changing strategic landscape of the Middle East entitled Beyond Frontiers: The Implosion of the Middle East. Professor Anoush Ehteshami, professor of International Relations at University of Durham talked about catalytic events and new realities that are reshaping the region. Hivos' and Carnegie's Kawa Hassan highlighted the need for conceptual innovation, academic and activism imagination that rise to the challenge of the transforming Middle East. 

Tehran's Unplugged Internet Plan

An article recently published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting tells about the plan to create a separate internet for Iran that could leave web users confined to a closed domestic network, cut off from the rest of the world. 

New Media in Authoritarian Settings

New media has rapidly changed our world of communication. The individual, more than ever, can spread, share and obtain information directly. To what extent does new media enhances chances for expression and participation for people in authoritarian settings? Do activist networks on the internet have more potential? Is the internet a platform for development, social change and democratization or just a platform where demagogues and security services make out the rules? The spread of internet has lead to increased online civic activism in the Middle East: citizens are organizing protests and use social networks like Facebook and Twitter for advocacy purposes.There are three different main positions on the extent to which new media leads to effective (political) mobilization: optimistic, pessimistic and realistic or neutral.

The Green Movement is a massive and unprecedented social movement that brought together different segments of the society and courageously challenged the regime. However, despite its importance, social mobilization alone is not sufficient to bring about a regime change, let alone a sustainable democracy. In addition to mobilization, the movement needs a strategic reflection on its vision, which aims at developing a new narrative for an alternative social order that is truly tolerant, pluralist, democratic, today and tomorrow, and that would result in the(re)definition of a bigger ‘us’.