Hivos International


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

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

By Evelina Dagnino

Civic driven change requires clarity about the meaning of terms. Experiences from Brazil detailed in this essay illustrate how the same language can hide contrary understandings and interpretations that stem from different political projects that drive society. The critical appraisal of words and their use sets a guide for other essays.

Old Wine, New Bottles? How the NeXt generation prepares for a take over

“Old Wine should become better as it ages”,

“Is New Wine good when it comes in plastic bottles?”

“I’m Old Wine, so what I am going to say might be a bit acid”

The proverb ‘Old wine in new bottles’ was tweaked and reformulated frequently on 24 March, when theInstitute of Social Studies held the third and last debate in its Target 2020 series. Following the 2010 ISS debate series on the WRR report on development cooperation, this series discussed the way forward towards the year 2020, by looking to development cooperation from three different angles: new economic powers, new (philanthropic) financial resources, and the new generation.

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

GISWatch wins WSIS project prize from ITU

Hivos and The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) were pleased to accept the WSIS Project Prize from the International Telecommunications Union for the achievements of the GISWatch project under the category "The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICT for development".

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.

Reform or restoration? Tunisia’s canary-in-the-coalmine indicators

Tunisia’s strongman President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali has been deposed. But if his ruling party was kicked out the door, is it now coming back through the window?

The ‘Jasmine Revolution’: The Fall of the Arab Berlin Wall?

The dramatic and quick fall of the former president of Tunisia Ben Ali was a political Tsunami and a shock and awe. Could this unprecedented and unthinkable revolution have impacts-albeit in the long run- across the Arab Middle East?

Tunisia and the future of democracy promotion in the Arab world

Even as Tunisians struggle to create a new political order, the popular overthrow of Tunisia's dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is reshaping politics across the Middle East. That's the bad news. Arab regimes have often been criticized as sclerotic and archaic; they are neither. Over the past two decades, they have confronted and overcome a wide range of challenges that have caused authoritarian governments to collapse in many other world regions. Arab regimes have demonstrated their resilience in the past, and they continue to do so in the wake of the Tunisian uprising. If the United States and its allies wish to exploit the Tunisian example to widen processes of democratic change in the Arab world, they will need to adapt as well. Tunisia holds lessons both for Arab autocrats and for Western promoters of democracy. Which lessons turn out to be decisive will depend, if only in part, on whether democracy promoters demonstrate the same flexibility and responsiveness shown by Arab regimes.