Ten years after the upheavals of the Arab Spring, many hopes have not been fulfilled. Changes in the countries concerned range from democratic awakening to the restoration of authoritarian regimes, open armed conflict and utter collapse. In view of these widely varying developments across the region, the Federal Foreign Office has thoroughly reviewed the funding programmes it established in 2012, Transformation Partnership with the Arab World and Scientific Partnerships with Transition Countries in North Africa / the Middle East, and has relaunched them as the Ta’ziz Partnership for Democracy. The Arabic word “Ta’ziz” means strength or consolidation, and draws attention to the core aim of the project – strengthening democratic reforms and structures.
Reorientation as the Ta’ziz Partnership
The Federal Foreign Office is continuing its support for democracy, good governance and the rule of law in the region under the banner of the Ta’ziz Partnership. The focus is more strongly on countries in which democratic transition processes are actively underway.
In places where there is no political will for democratic and rule-of-law reforms, German support will continue to focus on young civil society stakeholders and enhancing their networks. That will in future be achieved in part by awarding scholarships and primarily through scientific partnerships, which will remain widespread throughout the region as the cultural relations and education policy pillar of the Ta’ziz Partnership.
With the second pillar of the partnership, we intend to offer direct support for reforms that help consolidate democracy. This pillar will focus on civil society, the media and the individual governments. Our support is conditional on the existence of institutions that are democratically legitimated and/or on the holding of free and fair elections in the foreseeable future. It must also be possible to cooperate with governmental and civil society actors.
Partner countries for Ta’ziz second pillar projects are Tunisia, the Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq. The Sudan is a new partner following the latest political developments in the country. In all four countries, we aim to make a tangible contribution to strengthening areas of political participation, rule-of-law structures and good governance. The list of partner countries is under constant review.
Flexible, political and multifaceted
Despite shared cultural factors, there is a very wide range of historical, political and socio-economic conditions in the four partner countries. Because conditions vary so much, the Ta’ziz Partnership is designed to support a very wide range of projects and partner institutions – from strengthening the cultural sector to opening new forums for civil society participation. The focus is on civil society stakeholders. This varied approach will also enable us to respond flexibly to political, economic or social change in the partner countries.
The long-term aim is for Ta’ziz Partnership projects to be put on a more permanent basis, for example by passing into local ownership and being continued by government or civil society stakeholders, or by being followed up under the framework of development cooperation. More information on the Ta’ziz Partnership funding programmes can be found at the end of this article.
Four partner countries, a wide range of projects
Examples from Tunisia, Lebanon and Iraq illustrate the wide range of projects:
Tunisia: A culture of debate
Since 2019, the Federal Foreign Office has supported the project “Tunisia Decides 2019”, run by the Munathara Initiative, a non-governmental organisation. It was thanks to this project that election debates were broadcast live for the first time ever in Tunisia during the parliamentary and presidential election campaigns. The follow-up project, “Debating our Destiny”, is designed to anchor a culture of debate in society, especially among the younger generation. In addition to broadcasting the TV debates, interactive participation by the public is being fostered by means of an online platform and a training programme about civic participation at local level. Projects to promote spaces for discussion are also underway in other countries of the region.
Lebanon: Culture and civil society engagement
ArtEvolution, a project run by the Goethe-Institut in Lebanon, seeks to promote young, socially committed artists. The aim is to foster culture professionals’ skills and networks, as well as social discourse and participation, and to create incentives for continued engagement. At the same time, by promoting selected artistic productions, ArtEvolution seeks to open up access to relevant themes and to inspire discussion and change within society.
Iraq: Culture for equality and change
“Her turn – Supporting Iraqi women in journalism” is a taz Panter Foundation project
that provides further training for 18 female Iraqi journalists and helps them hone their skills.
The project includes a series of online seminars, at which the participants are able to discuss themes of global interest such as the climate, corruption, human rights and internet hate speech with German and Iraqi media experts and civil society stakeholders. On 24 June, the taz published a special supplement with seven articles by participating journalists. (pictures attached)
Also ongoing in Iraq is the Goethe-Institut’s environmental project Guan Eden, which supports artistic campaigns about environmental issues. Children and teenagers participate in these campaigns, which are implemented by the Goethe-Institut together with the school students. In addition, networking and further training measures are organised to foster exchange and cooperation between artists, environmental activists and educational establishments.