Hivos International

Social Movements

In this paper, we focus on participation in the main planning documents produced in Bolivia in the first decade of the 2000s: the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the National Development Plan (PND). We analyze how these planning instruments have been able to capture popular participation through diverse mechanisms and how these practices fit in the current mainstream participation discourse. For more knowledge programme publications on participation in development click here. In this paper, special attention is paid to natural resources because of the predominant role they have in the Bolivian economy and because of their substantial contribution to the state budget.

This paper explores how social movements construct citizenship and redefine the very notion of the political realm. Social movements have quickly become powerful actors within South Africa’s civil society.

This article contests the role of social actors within a democratic context by looking at post-apartheid social movements in general and the case study of the Treatment Action Campaign in particular. By illustrating the structure, activities, goals and accomplishments of the Treatment Action Campaign up until the end of 2006, this work will argue that it represents an innovation in social movements in South Africa via its unique strategies and networks that have transformed the issue of HIV/AIDS from a health and service delivery problem, to a political and economic struggle that affects all people.

'Participation for What' is about meaningful participation in development. How and when does it work? What are the downsides? And what does it imply for development practice and research? This book brings together a rich collection of essays on participation by Phd -  students from the Institute of Social Studies

South Africa grapples with serious social and economic inequalities, including inequality in access to basic services. At a  time of rising social tensions, the country’s institutions are in danger  of losing the legitimacy they gained in the wake of democratic  dispensations of the 1990s. This book presents  the findings of five research projects that address  these key areas in  partnership with practitioners, which were  presented at an international  conference organised by the Hivos-ISS  Knowledge Programme on Civil  Society in November 2009 in Johannesburg.

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.

Crisis is a much-overworked word in social sciences generally and in politics in particular. Phrases such as ‘democracy promotion is in crisis’ or ‘civil society can never be a force for democratization’ are simplistic overstatements. However, one cannot deny that there are serious challenges on the road to democratization, both of a conceptual and of a practical nature. The second issue of the newsletter of Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia deals with the challenges faced by the concept of civil society and the much-debated concepts in the ‘democratization industry’.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia. 

The Middle East and North Africa are known to be one of the least democratic regions in the world. The authoritarian regimes in the region have demonstrated their adaptability to changing political circumstances, and aspirations for a democratic transition have so far failed to materialise. Yet the lack of democracy in the region should not be mistaken for a rejection by its citizens for such reform. Various opinion polls show that the majority of the population in the region are in favour of democratic government and want their voice to be counted. Furthermore, requests for support from political and civil organisations in the region - for increasing public and political democracy in their societies - underscore this desire.

The political landscape of the Middle East is undergoing its most dramatic transformation in sixty years. Through the force of popular uprisings, consolidated authoritarian regimes have been overthrown in Tunisia and Egypt. Popular militias are pushing toward the overthrow of Muammar alQadhafi in Libya. In every other country from Morocco to Iran governments confront popular demands for democratic political change.

While celebrating a historic turning point in Egypt and Tunesia, it is also clear that authoritarianism will remain a prominent feature of Middle East politics. The spectrum of regime types in the region will expand. It may even come to include democracies. Yet as the cases of Syria and Iran demonstrate, not all regimes will experience political openings. Eventhough the region might be transformed in the years ahead, the cases of Syria and Iran remind us that the political landscape of the Middle East will retain familiar and troubling features. This paper presents some key parameters for a rethinking of democracy and reform promotion in this part of the region.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

Despite the sustained and genuine efforts of committed civic activists, and a ‘surge’ of civil society organisations and democracy promotion over the course of the past two decades in the Middle East, hopes for genuine and far-reaching democratic reforms have reached an apparent dead-end.