Hivos International

Since the outbreak of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2011, the region is undergoing tectonic shifts. The pace, quality and quantity of political and social changes are unprecedented. In short, the MENA region is the scene of historic revolutions and counter-revolutions. In such a rapidly changing context, conventional wisdom about static societies and states in the MENA do not make sense and are out of context. There is no shortage of knowledge produced in the West about MENA. But there is however a chronic lack of knowledge products from researchers and activists in the region itself.

Knowledge from the MENA

This knowledge deficit inspired Hivos to invest in knowledge co-creation on the MENA region. A large bulk of research in this dossier stems from the Knowledge Programme on Civil Society in West Asia, an academic-practitioner collaboration between researchers in Europe and the region, established by Hivos and the University of Amsterdam in 2009. The purpose of the programme was to generate and integrate knowledge on the roles and opportunities for civil society actors in democratisation processes in authoritarian environments. During this period, our focus was mainly on Iran and Syria. A widening of topics and countries have informed our research efforts since the popular uprisings of 2011, when we saw the region transitioning from great hopes for democratisation towards a spiral of violence, fragmentation and fragility.

Case Studies across Two Continents

Furthermore, you can find case studies across two continents: from North Africa towards West Asia and the Gulf. Our (mostly local) researchers have offered insights on a wide range of topics, from processes of ‘authoritarian upgrading’, to terrorism, foreign funding dilemmas, refugees, migration and local women’s movements. To ensure accessibility of these insights, we provide a selection of our papers in both English and Arabic.

For insights about our work on transition in the Middle East and North Africa, do browse through this dossier! 

Related Publications

كان التعليم أكثر أدوات النظام السوري في ضبط المجتمع السوري، كما أنه البنية الأكثر تضررا من الأزمة السورية، وسيبقى أحدى أهم التحديات التي تواجه الدولة السورية التي تريد إعادة تكوين نفسها

This paper, entitled "Unity in Diversity", provides an academic background on the protection of diversity in both the international (UN experience) and regional (European, US and African) frameworks, and then assesses national, religious and...

مع انهيار منظومة “الدولة المركزية” في سوريا، كأولى وأهم نتائج
مجريات “الثورة” المندلعة في البلاد منذ قرابة الثلاث سنوات.
منظومة الدولة المركزية في الحالة السورية، كانت تعني بجوهرها
قدرة وسلطة الدولة وأجهزتها على السيطرة التامة على كافة أشكال
الحراك المجتمعي. مع انهيار تلك المنظومة الأمنية، فأن جل
الجماعات الأهلية السورية، بدأت تسعى لترتيب صيغها الخاص
للحماية الذاتية، ومنهم الأكراد السوريون .

Related Articles

Early 2011 waves of protest started rolling through the Middle East. Though in many states the status quo was only shaken without any actual transformations, the popular uprisings, which have since become known as the “Arab Spring”, did manage to remove a series of leaders from their figurative thrones.

On the occasion of the 12.5 years anniversary of its exchange programs with the Middle East and North Africa, the College of Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam and Zeytun in collaboration with Hivos held a debate on the fast--changing strategic landscape of the Middle East entitled Beyond Frontiers: The Implosion of the Middle East. Professor Anoush Ehteshami, professor of International Relations at University of Durham talked about catalytic events and new realities that are reshaping the region. Hivos' and Carnegie's Kawa Hassan highlighted the need for conceptual innovation, academic and activism imagination that rise to the challenge of the transforming Middle East. 


An article recently published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting tells about the plan to create a separate internet for Iran that could leave web users confined to a closed domestic network, cut off from the rest of the world. 

Other Knowledge Dossiers

We are constantly seeking to improve our understanding of the world's workings and our place in it. To us, social innovation is a means to an end, or better yet, a way to contribute to a free, fair and sustainable world. But what does that mean in practice?