Arab Democracy Barometer Network
A project of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue
This project aims at establishing an Arab regional network of researchers and civil society activists for the purpose of measuring and evaluating the state of democratic reforms and progress in the Arab region. The project goal is to produce an annual Arab Barometer report describing the status of democracy regionally using a number of well-defined indices.
Attempts to measure democratic reform in the Arab region is of special importance these days due to the lack of rigorous indigenous research endeavors in this area of inquiry and due to the political sensitivities caused by the research topic itself.
Year 1 of this project is limited to seven Arab countries: Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. In each country, there will be a 3-person project research unit. Each research unit will subcontract with other in-country organizations and individuals for the purpose of carrying out specific project activities.
We have chosen this 7-country geographical unit, both for research and political reasons. This project will need to develop the same methodology and research tools in all 7 countries thus helping us arrive at a more precise evaluation of the “democratic” conditions in these countries. The political reasons lie in the fact that Arab democrats require objective facts to assist them in their efforts to build new experiences with democratic practices, on the basis of a strong legal framework. All organizations and individuals who are concerned with democratic evolution in the Arab world require an accumulation of research that lets them conduct a scientific comparison and measurement of evolution over successive chronological periods. This process will provide a database and analysis that can function as an observatory of democratic activity or a “thermometer” for democratic progress in the Arab region.
A first meeting of the regional research network was held in Beirut, Lebanon in February 2006. In Beirut, the research network finalized a project concept paper listing five areas of research inquiry: political, socio-economic, legal-judicial, cultural-educational and environmental, urban and public space planning. Within each sector, the laws will be reviewed and analyzed and the implementation of these laws will be assessed.
The project will rely on a combination of research methodologies including a review and analysis of the legal framework in each country, interviews with public opinion leaders, focus groups, and small-scale public opinion surveys.
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