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The Role of Syrian Civil Society in Dismantling Conflict Economies

On the 8 and 9 of July 2019 the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) hosted a dialogue workshop titles ” The role of Syrian civil society in dismantling conflict economies”

This workshop is part of the Development Policy Forum Dialogue workshops, through which the Forum seeks to formulate a number of proposals and policies aimed at dismantling the economies of violence and building peace in the Syrian community in a participatory and collective manner.

This workshop attempts to track the transformations of civil society as an essential component of analyzing the economies of violence. This is based on the assumption that the plurality of parties involved in violence or conflict, and the multiplicity of their motivations and interests, render the restriction of analysis to the opposition and the government a constraint on research and distortion of objectivity. Instead, this analysis targets the operational context of Syrian civil society. It examines its frameworks in each of these contexts, to arrive at a review of its direct impact as well as the impact linked to its work context. To this end, civil society is considered a primary actor, no less important than the rest of the actors on the political, economic, and social map.

In this context, the workshop will aim to identify the Syrian civil society that has been subjected to restrictions, reductions of its scope of operation, and interference. These transformations have taken place over recent years marked by the dominance of executive authority over state and society, and exclusion of vital and active forces in society from participation and expression, within a context of armed conflict in which powers of authoritarianism and violence overwhelmed all aspects of the social space and worked to marginalize civil society and its role.

It also seeks to learn about the level of organization and capacities of civil society organizations; their independence from the forces of domination; their needs for empowerment and the skills required for an active role in dismantling the economies of violence, to establish networks among them and to transform into a dynamic development role. It seeks further to understand the mechanisms of work and intervention of these organizations; the most important sectors within which they operate; and the possibility of developing these mechanisms and expanding the role of organizations and their influence in decisions and public policies and give them greater effectiveness and ability to achieve their goals and programs to dismantle the economies of violence and build communal peace and development.

Finally, it examines the capacities, means, and mechanisms of civil society for an economic approach to dismantling the economies of violence, determining the nature of the actors, the scale of their incentives as well as their impact on the developmental situation and the intersection and conflict of interests between local, regional, and international forces involved in the conflict. This is seen as a preliminary stage for overcoming the emerging social tensions at the local and national levels and consolidating the values of justice and social participation in the post-war period. It is achieved through the development of mechanisms and policies that empower civil society organizations to overcome the societal rift and the divisions resulting from violence, and elevate their role in mitigating violations of the rights of civilians and restoring community peace and confidence in social and national cohesion through the promotion of the values of justice, human rights, and citizens’ rights. Accordingly, we seek to define the role of civil society organizations and their participation in building a future Syria, through their contribution to providing alternatives to public and development policies in particular, and exercising a role of monitoring the performance of public institutions, accountability mechanisms, and the restoration of rights and consideration for those affected.