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Weekend Reading: Egypt's Transition?

February 11, 2011

Egypt_celebration With President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, the popular uprising in Egypt enters a new phase of what everyone hopes will be a peaceful transition to a more democratic form of government. Here are a handful of foundation-sponsored reports in our PubHub catalog that explore aspects of democratization, political transition, and nation building in other countries around the globe.

But first: From the organizing of protests via social networking sites, to the Internet shutdown that reportedly sent more people into the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, to the outcry over the detention and abuse of journalists by the state security apparatus, the role of the media in recent events in Egypt and Tunisia cannot be ignored. Against that backdrop, the Carnegie Corporation of New York has posted an extended version of the article "Arab Media: The Web 2.0 Revolution," which originally appeared in 2008 in the Carnegie Reporter.

Also worth a second look is Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah, which is based on a spring 2010 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Among other things, the survey found that 59 percent of respondents in Egypt said democracy was preferable to any other kind of government, while 22 percent said in some cases non-democratic governments might be preferable. The survey also found that 61 percent of Egyptians were either very concerned (20 percent) or somewhat concerned (41 percent) about Islamic extremism in their country, while 31 percent agreed that there was a struggle in their country between modernizers and fundamentalists.

An earlier analysis from Carnegie, Russia: Facing the Future, looks at Russia's economy, military, and democratic reforms, societal problems, and possible futures, ranging from the fragmentation of the Russian Federation to the reimposition of Soviet-era totalitarianism.

Often held up as a model of a peaceful transition, South Africa is the focus of Local Democracy in Action: A Civil Society Perspective on Local Governance in South Africa, a report from the Good Governance Learning Network, with support from the Mott and Ford foundations. The report evaluates South Africa's municipal governments in terms of democracy, responsiveness, and accountability; planning and budgeting; and poverty reduction; discusses priorities and challenges; and offers alternatives.

Developing a Strategy for Kosovo’s First 120 Days: Conference Summary Report, a report from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, with support from the Mott Foundation, summarizes discussions from a conference convened to help the new government of Kosovo develop a strategy for governance during a 120-day transition period following the United Nations Security Council vote that transferred administrative control from Serbia to the government.

Reconciliation after the fall of a brutal regime is the subject of So We Will Never Forget: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a report from the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The report, which was funded by the German Civil Peace Service, German Development Service, and Open Society Institute, analyzes the findings of a survey that asked Cambodians about crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, the work of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the outlook for reparations and justice in that Southeast Asian country.

Two other reports from the Human Rights Center, Transitioning to Peace: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Accountability and Social Reconstruction in Northern Uganda and Building Peace, Seeking Justice: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Accountability and Social Reconstruction in the Central African Republic, examine citizens' views with respect to transitional justice, accountability, and conflict resolution in those two African countries. Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Humanity United, and USAID, the reports offer recommendations in a range of areas, including reconstruction and development, national dialogue, and regional security.

What has been the philanthropic sector's recent contribution to the building of civil society globally? Peace and Security Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations, 2008-2009, a report from the Peace and Security Funders Group that was funded by the Carnegie Corporation, provides an overview of trends in grantmaking by U.S. foundations for civil society peace and security initiatives worldwide by issue area, strategy, and foundation and grantee characteristics.

The Baltic-American Partnership Fund: Ten Years of Grantmaking to Strengthen Civil Society in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, a report from the Open Society Institute and USAID, reviews the outcomes and lessons learned from the fund's efforts since its creation. In addition to a grant summary and grantee profiles, the report includes essays by some of the fund's officers and partners.

This is just a sampling of reports related to civil society and national reconciliation, broadly defined, that you can find in PubHub. If you know of others, foundation-sponsored or otherwise, feel free to share them in the comments section, or drop me a line at pubhub@foundationcenter.org.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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Posted by Christopher Hinn  |   February 11, 2011 at 07:02 PM

After all what people had gone through in Egypt, it finally paid off. They are now free from the hands of a dictator. They are now hoping for a brighter future and economic growth for the country which was monopolized and was not enjoyed by a great number of people. I know it will be hard to start all over again but I believe the country will rise if they will choose a good leader whose sentiment is for the people and not for his own gain.

Posted by Renee Westmoreland  |   February 11, 2011 at 09:45 PM

Chris, I hope you're right. Call me optimistic -- or naive -- but I think the Egyptian people have demonstrated that nonviolent mass action can change the world. We don't know what the final outcome in Egypt will be, but anyone who has been following the events there and in Tunisia surely is inspired tonight by the power of the people to change the course of history.

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