American University of Beirut

Civil Society Actors and Policymaking



    This program was launched in 2015 as part of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy & International Affairs’ ultimate vision of bridging the gap between produced knowledge and policymaking platforms in Lebanon and the Arab region. This program examines the role that civil society actors play in shaping and making policy. Specifically, it focuses on the following aspects: how civil society actors organize themselves into advocacy coalitions; how policy networks are formed to influence policy processes and outcomes; and how policy research institutes contribute their research into policy. The program also explores the expanding role of the media, which some claim has catalyzed the Uprisings throughout the region. Additonally, the program examines the role of funding in impacting activism and the relation between activists.


    1. ​​​​​Conduct a systematic analysis on issues relating to the role of civil society in the Arab countries that witnessed political and social changes;
    2. Explore the effect of the civil society on tracing policy change and improving public awareness in relation to social, political and economic rights;
    3. Facilitate communication between Arab civil society actors and the governmental entities responsible for current issues;
    4. Trace policy research institutes' role in translating knowledge into policies;
    5. Accomplish rigorous research on issues related to gender and women's rights in the region​.
    The program’s ultimate aim is to bridge the permanent and widened gap between civil society actors, academics working on civil society and policymaking issues, and journalists from one side and relevant policymakers on the other side. To ensure this aim, the program discussed and analyzed major cases where civil society actors stepped in to influence policy making processes or to initiate them/ alter their trajectories. Our findings were always employed in a manner that speaks to the Lebanese and Arab citizens, encourages their questions and engages them in related debates, either through public conferences, policy dialogues or through our publications and visual products. 

    The program adopted a research vision based on mapping activism in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This vision led us in a timeframe of two years to complete 92 case studies from these countries. Our strategy for the coming year is to analyze the data generated through these 92 case studies in order to extract main and novel themes in civil society science. Our strategy also aims at building visual communication and accessible data for the Arabic reader and to grow the general interest about this. It will also keep addressing gender issues from both theoretical and practical aspects.  ​

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