This paper first sketches the historical background and the economic, social and political context in which civil society operates in the region. It describes the work CSOs do in each country, the challenges they face and their capacity needs. Common issues facing civil society across the region are analysed.
Drawing on information gathered from available secondary sources, from semi-structured interviews with cpapcity building providers and recipients and analysts of civil society, this paper covers most nations of the Arab World. There has been no previous region-wide assessment of civil society capacity and there are enormous knowledge gaps. It is hoped that this paper will contribute to debate and information exchange between civil society activists in the region and capacity building providers such as INTRAC.