Accepted paper:

Civic activism, participatory engagement and community peacebuilding

Author:

Ibrahim Natil (Society Voice Foundation)

Paper short abstract:

It investigates of this question: Do non-governmental civil society organisations succeed to promote concept of civic engagement and community peacebuilding, enduring violence? It focusses on the individuals' initiatives and civil society to promote active grassroots 'participatory democracy'.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses citizens' active participation and engagement in local organisations, student unions, political groups, movements and NGOs if was it as a form of "participatory democracy" in responding to the 'Arab Spring'. Young people attempted to use the "Arab Spring" opportunity to overcome the shortcomings of representative democracy that had failed to achieve their inspiration of ending occupation, violence and internal division. However, young leaders have not participated in regular public elections to elect their representatives for more than 7 years now owing to division and occupation in Palestine and Libya. Specifically, this will discuss if the participation of young people was a form of "participatory democracy" in the absence of regular elections in reference to the definition of Aragones & Sánchez­ Pagés (2009). Young women, however, view their representation as an outcome of empowerment according to the cultural context of their society. However, their engagement and empowerment can be understood through the lens of security, transformative change and participation (Porter, 2013). Participatory civil society is reflected to meet the vision of empowering young leadership in civic engagement and freedom of expression. Their narratives also contribute to the introduction of long-term changes in attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices, and to promote women's rights, foster tolerance and understanding of the "other" by applying lessons learnt from other conflicts in the world. The new social media tools and older forms of communication are employed in civil society activities to promote ending the violence and encourage active participation, tolerance & better understanding.

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