The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has been working since 2013 to enhance the capacity of government and political leaders, civil society actors, women’s groups and citizens at the grassroots level to support the establishment of inclusive and effective democratic processes and institutions in Syria.
The current program focuses on dual pillars seeking to foster participation and reengagement of Syrian citizens in transitional dialogue. One facet of the project supports Syrian citizens inside Syria through the creation of Civic Education Centers (CECs), safe spaces at established civil society organizations, while the other focuses on dialogue activities for Syrians living in Turkey and farther abroad. CECs serve as neutral venues for Syrians to engage one another on topics related to civic education, governance, conflict resolution, and reconciliation, and house educational and support resources. IFES has also partnered with a number of Syrian organizations in Gaziantep, Turkey, to host Musharaka, a forum focusing on grassroots level engagement and fostering participation and dialogue among the Syrian population in Turkey. Musharaka draws together Syrians from across the spectrum of stakeholders to engage on issues of citizenship, political transition and democratic norms. Musharaka maintains a permanent venue in Gaziantep and holds continual events under its four program streams: women, youth, adolescents and political dialogue.