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Comparative Analysis of Civil Society Participation in Public Policy Formulation in Selected Arab Countries

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In the past decade, civil society organizations in the Arab region have achieved significant improvements in performance and capacity to request change with respect to certain issues. However, that improvement was neutralized by an improvement in the capacity of the authorities to contain the voices of civil society and deprive its organizations of the human capacity necessary for their survival, by appointing their leaders and activists to ministerial, administrative and diplomatic posts, thereby dissuading them from claiming the integration of civil society demands into public policy. In order to make recommendations aimed at improving the performance of those organizations and strengthening their role in influencing the policymaking process, ESCWA has conducted this comparative analysis of civil society participation in public policy in selected Arab countries. The comparative analysis was based on case studies in four ESCWA member countries, namely Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen. The case studies covered the activities undertaken by civil society organizations and their working patterns in organizing advocacy campaigns and demand-driven protests, and in achieving concrete results in influencing public policy, with the aim of analysing their capacity to participate in public policy and in the policymaking process. The analysis concludes that civil society organizations need to focus on building their institutional capacity, enhancing their knowledge tools, improving their competencies in conducting negotiations and finding alternatives, and also need to move forward from monitoring and analysis to demand-driven action and pressure for advancement and change.