Between 2008-2010 ARI, in collaboration with ARI member the Gulf Research Centre, explored the role of the private sector in economic and political reform explored to what degree the private sector is capable of being a political force for change and to what degree it is dependent on the government.
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This ground-breaking project, carried out from 2007-2011, consisted of sustained and open dialogue among diverse civil society groups, political leaders, and senior officials in the military and security services. The project provided a forum for these diverse actors to discuss citizen control over police practices, the role of the military in the political system, and governance of intelligence agencies in a democratic context.
In Tunisia, security sector reform (SSR) has received great attention since 2011 and genuine efforts have been engaged; however, the occurrence of two major terrorist incidents in 2015 poses important new challenges to effective SSR in the country. ARI is working with partners to facilitate societal dialogue around the issue of SSR, build a consensual understanding of national security priorities and develop a sense of ownership of the reform agenda for the security sector.
With the adoption of a new constitution in July 2011, Morocco took a further step towards participatory democracy, enshrining the principles of consultation and citizen input in the formation of public policy.
From 2008 to 2011 ARI led a dialogue process between leading figures of different political opposition groups in Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, serving as an umbrella for critical dialogue between diverse political actors on the most delicate and complex of topics.
From 2011-2014, the Governance of Diversity project explored the question of citizenship and how the diversity in Arab societies is managed by the political regimes. The project aimed to propose concrete models of national contracts, constitutional arrangements, public policies, and other measures to ensure genuine equality, recognising that management of the rights and status of minorities and women is primarily the government's responsibility.
From 2012-2014, ARI convened discussions between Arab constitutional lawyers, sociologists, economists, political scientists and experts in conflict resolution as well as experts in comparative constitutional law, in order to discuss constitutional reform and its processes. The ultimate objective of the project was to promote the principle of constitutionalism, a dynamic and ongoing process that needs to be sustained after a constitution is adopted to help relate the text to the day-to-day practice of citizenship.
The construction of stable, accountable civil-military relations is essential for the transition to democracy, but this re-balancing of power relations can be very difficult to achieve while also guaranteeing public security. From 2011 to 2014, ARI analysed the challenges and options for protecting public security and handling security sector reform (SSR) during transition focusing in particular on Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia.
In December 2011, ARI launched the Arab Research Support Programme (ARSP), which aimed to promote through financial grants quality research in Arab countries in order to guide policy debates and empower individuals and new institutions. In the first round of the ARSP, a total 28 individual researchers and 9 organisations were funded through the programme.
From 2011 to 2015, ARI investigated the new forms of mobilisation that emerged during the Arab Spring and the ensuing evolution in political organisation, focusing in particular on Egypt and trends stemming from the January 25 revolution.