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Surveying Public Attitudes of Security Sector Reforms in the Arab World

One constant in the ebb and flow of the Arab Spring has been the increased influence of public opinion on public policy. Few areas of public concern have had more resonance than the role of state security services in shaping and preserving undemocratic regimes. The notion that the security sector's primary responsibility is to protect and preserve autocratic Arab regimes is widely discredited today. Arab citizens are now calling for security sector reform to make security services more accountable to citizens and to democratically elected governments. Through applied survey research, this project will measure public response to security services changes in Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Yemen, and West Bank and Gaza. The project will aim to enhance the role of public opinion in security sector reform by providing evidence-based information on public perceptions, and in so doing, encouraging civilian oversight and transparency in the sector. Specifically, it will achieve the following objectives: -build a cumulative, comparative, and policy-relevant knowledge base; -document and expose cases of security services abuse and promote greater accountability; -highlight gender and minority experiences to provide insight into the security sector's effectiveness in providing security to those who need it most; -engage senior policymakers in a discussion about public attitudes and provide oversight tools for a more just and accountable Arab security sector; -share the project findings with policymakers and stakeholders through reports, workshops, and meetings; and, -build security sector reform skills and knowledge in partner institutions in the Arab countries of focus. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, an independent Ramallah-based think tank, will lead the research. The project will build on the center's work on security sector reform in West Bank and Gaza. Through surveys, researchers will capture public perceptions and expectations toward the security sector. The surveys will focus on the sector's performance, capacity, response to developments on-the-ground, and its effectiveness in working with the justice sector. The research team will assess and document vulnerable groups' perspectives, including women and children, to provide insight into how effectively the security sector: -provides security to those who need it most; and, -addresses public security concerns rather than serving the ruling class' interests. Outputs from this three-year project will include a series of country reports, annual comparative reports, and a comprehensive index of public perceptions toward the security sectors of the region.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
36 months
IDRC Officer
Roula El-Rifai
Total Funding
CA$ 733,800.00
West Bank and Gaza
Governance and Justice
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
West Bank and Gaza
Project Leader
Dr. Khail Shikaki
Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research