“It might be that the one positive phenomenon Syria is experiencing today is the rise of a dynamic, grassroots-based civil society embodying strong potential for positive change inspired by the notions of justice, equality, freedom, democracy and citizenship.”
Peaceful civil society activists have played an important role since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011. Initially convening spontaneously in order to organize demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, they have since established a multitude of groups and networks across the country campaigning for democracy, justice, equality and respect. In response to the dire humanitarian situation, many activist groups have also become engaged in distributing relief aid and providing medical, educational and other services to Syrians in need.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung regards the empowerment of civil society as an essential step in establishing and consolidating democratic structures. It therefore supports Syrian civil society organisations in various ways, including with capacity building initiatives, the provision of training material, and technical advice. The Foundation’s research programme, furthermore, seeks to contribute to a better understanding of Syrian civil society, its role in establishing alternative governance structures, the conditions it operates in, and its needs to work more effectively.
Irrespective of the course Syria takes in the coming years, civil society will continue to hold the government and its agencies accountable for their actions, to oppose dictatorship, to counteract terrorism and to struggle for a better future.