Activism in Difficult Times

Civil Society Groups in Syria 2011 - 2014

Rana Khalaf, Oula Ramadan, Friederike Stolleis
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung | 2015

62 Civil society activities in Syria have been severely restricted over the past four decades under the Assad regime, and the few non-governmental organizations that existed during this period have always been subject to strict governmental control. The recent emergence of a variety of non-governmental groupings, organizations and institutions is a new phenomenon. While many of these champion the quest for freedom, justice, democracy and peace, others have stepped in to fill the void created in several areas across the country by the abuse of public services as war tools. This study presents and analyses the results of a quantitative and qualitative mapping of 94 civil society groups (CSGs) and Local Councils (LCs) representing the vast majority of local activist groupings in nongovernment- controlled areas of Syria whose focus is mainly on issues other than humanitarian aid. The research pursues three objectives: (1) to identify the characteristics of local CSGs in Syria, (2) to understand their identity and dynamics and (3) to analyze their challenges, opportunities and needs. The research data has been collected from discussion groups, interviews with individuals, semi-structured questionnaires and, as a secondary data source, from the media.

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