Amongst its strategic objectives, ARI seeks to open a space for informed dialogue between representatives of different communities of each state to reflect their desire to live together and define the governance mechanisms to manage inter-societal relations. Depending on the priorities in each national case, such dialogues will identify the need for creating or reforming national institutions to enshrine the rights and needs of all components of society, and will build on the new patterns of governance and leadership that have emerged at the local level in different contexts, particularly in the war-torn societies.
A key aspect in this process and in building the social democratic agenda in the Arab world is to allow societies to re-shape administrative shape and distribution of power between the central state and different regions. Arab public opinions, however, are divided between those who fear for the integrity of the national territory and hold on to centralized governance on one hand, and those who equate the central state with authoritarianism and call for deep decentralization and often federalism as a response to the aspirations of minorities and effective participatory democracy.
In order to survey various experiences and inform dialogue, the project takes a regional approach to the issue of decentralization. It involves case studies on the experiences of decentralization in Morocco, Tunisia, and Iraq that will then inform the potential for a decentralization process in Syria. In addition, the project involves a seminar on Syrian decentralization and the publication of a comprehensive report outlining what such a model would entail.
Project Sponsor – Open Society Foundation