Hivos International

Civil Society

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

The experience of Peruvian organizations of civil society in the struggle against the entry of living modified organisms -in this document interchangeably called GMOs or transgenic, clearly stands out in Latin America. Transgenic crops have expanded greatly in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, even in the Bolivia of Evo Morales.

It's the Future Calling

What do you do when the phone rings? You pick up, or let people leave a message on your voicemail and check it soon after. The phone has been ringing for a long time now in the development sector. What do you do when a caller starts conversing? You talk back - if only to say you're going to hang up. We talk a lot in the sector. What do you do when the caller starts shouting? You hang up, even if the other person has a valid reason to shout. In the development sector, we don’t like shouters. We often hang up. What do you do when the phone doesn't ring? You don't exist - at least according to others. In short: you have become irrelevant.

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

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

Line Khatib: Syrian Perspectives Project is an Excellent Example of Insider Knowledge

Uptake 2

*Line Khatib is Senior Researcher at The Interuniversity Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (ICAMES), McGill University, Montreal, QC Canada and Assistant Professor at Political Science INS department, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

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.

Hivos' Kawa Hassan says to Dutch TV: 'The Civil Society is probably the only force that can hold Syria together' (Dutch):

Deze week besloot de Amerikaanse regering wapens te gaan leveren aan tegenstanders van het regime van Assad. Volgens de Amerikanen is er een kritische grens overschreden in het conflict door het gebruik van gifgas.  Ondertussen lijkt de positie van president Bashar al-Assad eerder sterker te worden dan zwakker.

Zijn strategie om de oppositie te verdelen door in het hele land sektarisch geweld aan te wakkeren lijkt te werken. Het geweld lijkt zich nu te verspreiden over de hele regio. Het hele Midden Oosten dreigt hiermee het toneel te worden van een  uitzichtloze geweldsspiraal.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, there have been abundant articles and studies on Syrian political factions and figures; but, to date, there has been no systematic study and critical appraisal of the engine of the revolution ˗ the local coordination committees (LCCs). For this reason, Hivos, in collaboration with Syrian stakeholders and regional knowledge initiatives such as Maalouma, has initiated the Syrian Perspectives Project.

In this Special Bulletin, Mariwan Kanie maps out the main debates in the Middle East on Middle Eastern transitions. Making sense of the new Middle East is not an easy endeavor. Since the start of the Tunisian uprising on December 17, 2010, the region has been the scene of complex, revolutionary and rapid transitions that defy conventional knowledge and wisdom.

The scope of these shifts and the speed with which they occur surprise even seasoned local analysts in the region and beyond. We believe the insights of this Special Bulletin are relevant to a broad, international audience of academics, practitioners, policymakers, journalists and opinion makers who do not speak and read Arabic and, hence, do not have access to important local knowledge on transitions.