Act Beyond Borders
The Civil Society Act Beyond Borders Project is co-funded by the European Commission, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights EIDHR and was carried out in collaboration with Palestinian Dialogue Center (PDC) from West Bank and Association for Progressive Education in Honor of Meir Yaari (YAARI) from Israel.
- 1 Background
- 2 The vision of this project
- 3 Activities
- 3.1 Project Steering Committee
- 3.2 Interactive online portal
- 3.3 Structured dialogue workshops
- 3.4 Creation of multi-stakeholder Action Groups
- 3.5 Five trans-national Action Plan support workshops
- 3.6 10-day Training of Local Trainers
- 3.7 Series of Basic Civil Society Strengthening Workshops
- 3.8 Series of non-formal civil society action workshops
- 3.9 Series of Advanced Civil Society Strengthening Workshops
- 3.10 Ten Panel Discussions/ Public Roundtables
- 3.11 Final Human Rights Conference in Cyprus
- 4 References
The modern day violent conflict between Israeli and Palestinian factions has lasted for more than half a century. This conflict exists at the political as well as the civic level because there have been repeated human rights violations within the two communities which have created a culture of mistrust, hatred and demonization. The political instability that exists within and between the two communities further polarizes Israeli and Palestinian civil society. Even though the conflict is engrained in the psyche of the people, the hope from many CSOs is for peaceful co-existence and increased respect for human rights. While recent political developments have been attempting resolution, especially since the most recent outbreak of violence, there is need for strong support for CSO collaboration to advocate for positive change at the society level regarding issues ranging from human rights, cooperation, and integration to democratic representation that will shape national developmental policies and a willingness to accept the other. The time is now for the civil society actors to be supported in their efforts to be strengthened in their capacity building exercises and continued dialogue. Experts in and on the region have begun to turn to civil society as a new direction to solve the age old problem. Civil society is a possible answer to the question of how society and state can interact and reinforce each other in a manner that creates and sustains a democratic system. CSOs can play a crucial role in raising awareness about democratisation, civic participation and human rights, including rights of citizens, and in mobilising citizens to stand up for these rights and to raise support for issues of concern to their respective political leaders if supported in these endeavours. Palestinian and Israeli civil society can utilise the experience of European civil society organisations and implement its model that has had a positive effect on governments across Europe to improve the capacity of civil society in various European countries and use these in Israel and Palestine to increase the strength of democracy and human rights.
Cyprus has experienced many of these same situations over the period of its conflict. In recent years the CSOs in Cyprus have begun to work together in a collective manner to achieve what the political apparatus has not thus far, namely cooperation and trust building measures. This is why FWC has chosen to propose this action. It is oganization's strong belief that if the cypriot experience can be shared with the colleagues from Israel and the Palestinian territories, it can be developed a real change from a bottom-up approach at the civil society level. Utilising the strategies that have proved most effective from their years of conflict resolution work, namely structured dialogue and capacity building trainings for CSOs, Future Worlds Center deem it relevant to contribute to the capacity building efforts of civil society in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The vision of this project
Project Steering Committee
A Project Steering committee was created and has been monitoring as well as offering feedback and ongoing communication with the partners and the lead applicant. An advisory board of esteemed members all of whom are experts in conflict resolution topics was created as well.
Advisory Board Members:
- President, Dr Aleco Christakis, Founder, Institute for 21st Century Agoras.
- Dr. Harry Anastasiou - Professor of International Peace and Conflict Studies in the Conflict Resolution Graduate Program and International Studies Program at Portland State University.
- Dr. Hrach Gregorian - President of the Institute of World Affairs.
- Mr. Marios Michaelides, Acting Head of Cyprus Intercultural Training Initiative.
Interactive online portal
A website has been created with all relevant information about the project and the partner organisations as well as newsletters, informative material, publications, links, and various news articles. Also available on the website are all deliverables produced throughout the project (reports of the structured dialogue workshops, workshop reports, etc) 
Also created was a closed facebook group where participants can freely communicate with each other to exchange ideas, information, actions as well as keep in touch with each other on a personal level.
Structured dialogue workshops
Bringing the leaders together
A six day long workshop was held in Cyprus at the Sandy Beach Hotel in Larnaca, Cyprus from 25 July - 31 July 2010. Ten Palestinians and eleven Israelis attended. The participants were a unique combination of civil society actors, local business people and youth. In total, there were 21 participants and 2 partners that took part in the process. On the first day a project orientation workshop took place so the participants could learn and understand what is required from them and how they can capitalize throughout the project. In the following days, the the participants were engaged in a Co-Laboratory using the Structured Dialogic Design Process (SDDP) methodology.
The SDDP approach involved the organization of 3 Co-Laboratories (also referred to as Co-Labs). These included developing:
- The Tree of Vision
- The Wall of Obstacles
- The Action Tree to penetrate the wall and approximate the Tree of Vision.
In each Co-Lab, stakeholders responded to a Triggering Question:
- During the first Co-laboratory, the participants focused on the Triggering Question: What are descriptors of a mutually beneficial co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians?
- To define the Wall of Obstacles,and identify obstacles that are preventing them from reaching their vision, participants used the Triggering Question: “What are obstacles to what “ought to be” to create an ideal, mutually beneficial model of coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians?”
- Finally, in order to develop actions, the participants were self-organized in multi-stakeholder action groups according shared interests.
The aim of this small gathering was for the participants to be able to experience firsthand conflict resolution cases from these two communities and thus relate some of these issues to their own problem.
Launching the project On July 29 2010 at the Cyprus Community Media Centre at Ledra Palace, Nicosia, Future Worlds Center organized for the participants a Cyprus Peace Makers Act Beyond Borders Conference. Several key individuals were invited from peace building projects in Cyprus to give a small welcoming speech, all of whom attended and gave small speeches about their experiences in Peace Building projects between the Turkish-Cypriot communities and the Greek-Cypriot communities.
The keynote speakers were: Mr. Marios Michaelides] member of the Advisory Board, Mr. Mustafa Damdelen, a prominent businessman who leads the Turkish Cypriot business community’s efforts to promote resolution of the Cyprus conflict and to normalize relations between Turkey and Greece and member of the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group. As a director of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, he works to educate the people of his community about the benefits of European Union accession and supports conflict resolution training and other activities that seek to advance integration of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Following was Ms. Canan Öztoprak who was the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Cabinet Minister appointed in April 2005 by the Government of Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer. Her portfolios were National Education and Culture. She has been an active peace activist also member of the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group. Mr. Lellos Demetriades then spoke to the Palestinian-Israeli group. Mr. Demetriades served as Mayor of Nicosia for 30 consecutive years from 1971 – 2001. During his long term in office as a mayor he initiated a harmonious joint venture with Mr. Mustafa Akinci on the Turkish Cypriot area of Nicosia in setting up a general Town Planning (Master Plan) of Nicosia and a public city Sewage System, which was a very difficult exercise in the divided city, the beneficial results of which have been noted by the U.N. Secretary General and appreciated by the people of Nicosia. Certain International Organisations (Europa Nostra, Habitat and very recently (22 September 2007) the Aga Khan) granted awards and medals to Lellos Demetriades and Mr. Mustafa Akinci, for their contribution in the cause of their common endeavour in particularly difficult times. Mr. Mustafa Akinci, the final speaker, was elected Mayor of Nicosia (north) by the Turkish Cypriot residents of the Northern half of Nicosia. Mr. Akıncı, was re-elected twice and served for 14 years, during which he established a fruitful dialogue and cooperation with his counterpart Mr.Lellos Demetriades. The projects –within the framework of the Nicosia Master Plan-which were initiated jointly with Mr. Demetriades, they received wide recognition and were also awarded by various prestigious international organizations.
Creation of multi-stakeholder Action Groups
The participants chose to separate into 4 groups with different categories about the actions in which they believe are needed. The categories are Business, Non Formal Education, Women, Students.
Business: This action group focuses on the business aspect; their target is to open a center of both Israeli and Palestinian businessmen who can openly work with the Arab countries, Europe and the States. The main point they agreed upon was to focus on marketing strategies that will open the markets between Israel and Arab countries, and to open the markets of the west, Europe to the Palestinian side. This action group believes that they can create jobs this way and they focused on mutual agreements and programs in order to create mutual basis of understanding. Other ideas include to find a way to produce and export things together; the support by the Israeli side to the exportation of Palestinian products; and to create a group of people, students, economic organizations who would be interested in this program, which will result in creating positive public relations and increase the marketing possibilities. The target is to achieve these goals and then the corporation itself be able to overcome all the difficulties that exist for exporting and getting products across the checkpoint, and when this finally comes through then this will build trust and create jobs.
Non-Formal Education: The entire group has experience working with youth. The goal is to begin with trainings, first in their own region and the jointly on both sides. This event will include also social activities and a seminar.
Women: The women view women as leaders in society and leadership in the field of education, so they thought to create a model of twinning’s schools. The twinning model means that all people involved, the school students, the teachers, the principal, and the parents know that this includes introducing certain things from each side. The first step is to find an elementary school, and start the process with the principal so that they commit to the process. Then they will have a meeting with the teachers about social issues and education and the problem of education in the two societies and about the two cultures of the communities. From these meetings they will develop a team of Palestinian and Israeli teachers. Each team will follow a certain process, and each teacher will have activities for the pupils that will teach them the cultures, sports, arts of the other community. Their goal is to try to touch 3 target groups: teachers as leaders in the field of education, pupils; 30 pupils in each class and the third group will be the parents who are related to their community. Then at the end of the process all the groups will convene for a big festival. They haven’t decided yet the exact content to include, but the target is to create a role model of corporation between two schools and each pupil in these schools will know that their school cooperates with another school whatever their political opinion is.
Students: This group decided to talk about creating a program between two universities in Jerusalem. They did not decide on the specificities but agreed it will be about cultural issues, religion, language and other. The aim of this program is to engage young Palestinian and Israeli students and to raise a generation that cares about the “other”. A generation that cares about the others’ culture, issues, and has the opportunity to get to know one another. The course will take place over three months, throughout the duration of a semester. Israeli and Palestinian students and professors will have the same content and the same curriculum. This idea is directed towards the obstacle of prejudice that Israelis have towards Palestinians and Palestinians have towards Israelis.
Five trans-national Action Plan support workshops
The workshops took place on the 20th – 21st of December at Talita Kumi. The aim of the workshops was to cover topics such as Project Planning, Project Development and developing detailed and concrete action plans for the implementation of the action projects. Under the guidance of the lead applicant team members, the action groups divided themselves accordingly to discuss project ideas. The businessmen discussed the problems that prevent business cooperation is due to a lack of trust but also differences between the two business cultures.
In the Non-formal education group, they discussed ways to be successful in creating a peaceful society. They believe that educational programs on both sides can lead to two states for two nations, by strengthening the culture of peace through education. The participants envision writing shared educational programs, discussing environmental issues and the ways to work together towards a better environment. The participants also discussed cooperated projects dealing with social and legal rights to help produce a better economy.
The students divided themselves into two separate groups. One group decided to focus on the proposed ideas from the Cyprus workshops, and the other on media projects. They agreed to contact the newspapers at their respective universities and that all involved participants are to write articles about the project.
Finally the women’s group; they agreed that in order to develop project ideas, it is important to build relationships first. As a result, the women spent the evening familiarizing themselves with one another and later expanding their project ideas.
10-day Training of Local Trainers
10 local trainers, 5 Palestinians and 5 Israelis, met on 28th-30th July 2011 in Talitha Kumi, West Bank, for the first phase of the training. The aim of the training is to empower local trainers to take a lead in promoting Human Rights and Democratic participation within the CSOs and within their societies and to act as multipliers within their communities. The ToT involves CSO leaders and the partner organisations as well as other civil society actors in Israel and Palestine, who are interested in developing their skills and understanding effective training for CSOs and play an active role within the project. The effectiveness of the TOT is to equip 10 prospective local trainers with the skills, tools and creative techniques to deliver interactive training events in a way that makes learning enjoyable and effective. It provides the local trainers with an introductory understanding of the theory and practice of civil society strengthening, organisational development and capacity building. The participants who complete the training course will form the pool of trainers that will conduct the Basic and Advanced Open CSO Training Workshops in Israel and Palestine.
So far the participants had the chance to try different tools of teambuilding and to reflect on the mission and the vision of their own organizations. After creating 2 groups, the participants build up their own organizations with shared vision, mission and common goals and they started to use some tools of strategic thinking to improve and promote their new organizations. The second phase of the training will take place in Cyprus and will focus on the training and facilitation tools.
Series of Basic Civil Society Strengthening Workshops
The aim is to offer both basic and advanced courses so that there are more choices available to civil society actors and authorities in Palestine and Israel to participate. They can choose to take only one course in which to enhance their skills or complete the entire set which would significantly increase their capabilities. The workshops are conducted over a period of 5 days with a total of 18 hours of training per topic. In Palestine and Israel the courses will focus on
- Networking and Relationship Building
The aim of this course is to examine the different ways of working together for development. Networking, building coalitions, social partnerships are processes which are evolving, and assuming a bigger role in social development, and promoting human rights and democratic reform. Over a period of three days, participants will learn about the nature of the different processes, and using examples from different contexts, look at the advantages and issues from a strategic perspective.
- Civil Society Project Design and Planning
This course focuses on skills in project formulation, preparation, implementation planning and evaluation. It ensures that there are effective project controls and risk management throughout the life of the project. Without these skills, good worthwhile projects may never be realised because of a lack of financial support and insufficient confidence in the project leadership and management team.
- Advocacy and Campaigning for Human Rights
The aim of this course is to help participants and their organisations to be more effective advocates for change in the areas of promoting human rights and democracy. Participants will learn how to analyse the policy-making environment within which they are operating and subsequently explore a range of approaches to advocacy strategy, planning and implementation.
- Communication and Outreach for CSOs
The aim of this course is to enhance communication skills. Effectively communicating with stakeholders is one of the vital components for the success of any organisation. If an organisation has the capability to communicate the right messages, to the right target groups, through the right communication channels and tools, this means that the organisation is more likely to have a solid profile and support from its constituency, funders, CSOs and other external actors.
- Strategic Thinking and Planning in CSOs
The process of strategic thinking and development is a dynamic process, primarily about looking to the future. The aim of this course is to enable participants to be responsive to changing circumstances, and to make choices from a longer-term perspective, taking into account how the investment of limited resources may have the greatest impact.
- Managing Staff and Volunteers in CSOs
Volunteers and paid staff are vital to the success of Israeli and Palestinian CSOs. The aim of this course is to help CSO leaders and board members develop a strategic approach to managing such a treasured resource and to develop and improve the management capabilities of CSO staff and development workers. During the course, participants will not only improve their management capabilities, but also gain an awareness of the impact of their management style, develop greater insight into their leadership role, and increase their confidence in being able to facilitate organisational change.
- Fundraising for CSOs
This course is concerned with building the capacity of other civil society organisations to develop those skills that will enable them to engage appropriately as serious players with the different sectors of society in which they operate. It also focuses on identifying and securing resources by civil society organisations from within those societies in which they operate.
The comprehensive set of trainings will be effective to build capacity in Israeli and Palestinian CSOs, covering seven themes, thus equipping CSOs with highly valuable, relevant knowledge and skills that will be beneficial for a stronger civil society.
Series of non-formal civil society action workshops
These workshops will be based on the action plans of the multi-stakeholder action groups and will include the action projects designed by these groups. The action workshops may include a range of non-formal methodologies such as art, sports-based workshops, theatre/ drama, peace education and conflict resolution, as well as others that the action groups deem effective. The action workshops will be designed and planned by the action groups and will be supported by the local partners. Each workshop or community action will be carried out by both the Israeli and Palestinian members of the action group, and will take place both on the Israeli as well as on the Palestinian side. If possible, the workshops will be held in a bi-communal setting, allowing both Palestinians and Israelis to join. Moreover, the action workshops will be planned and scheduled in line with other events promoting peaceful coexistence organised in the region, so as to avoid duplication, and rather build on already existing actions. The workshops aim to reach out to the wider community and will be organised in coordination and collaboration with municipalities in the region, so as to ensure local ownership. They will be effective to enhance trans-national cooperation of civil society and to encourage especially the active engagement of groups underrepresented in social and political life, thus strengthening their stand and making them active promoters of human rights, democratic participation and reconciliation
Series of Advanced Civil Society Strengthening Workshops
The comprehensive set of trainings will be effective to build upon the basic workshops already carried out in order to go deeper in the seven themes. In the advanced workshops participants will review the material from the basic courses and then make action plans that will be supervised by the partner project coordinators which will led to actual real-life scenarios of course material put into action utilising the skills they have learned in the basic courses.
Ten Panel Discussions/ Public Roundtables
A series of events (roundtables, panel discussions) will be organised across different cities in Israel and Palestine on Human Rights, reaching to stakeholders across the region to bring in ‘other’ perspectives which will be effective to enhance communication across different stakeholders within and across the societies, as well as to publicly advocate for stricter enforcement of international human rights standards and democratisation with the aim to engage civil society as well as relevant local, government and religious authorities in a public debate around the issue of Human Rights and Democratisation. Different stakeholders and speakers will be invited to the events so as to cover a wide range of civic actors. Special attention will be given to otherwise under-represented groups, such as women organisations, refugees and those working with refugees. In addition to civic actors the speakers will cover representatives of local and government authorities.
Final Human Rights Conference in Cyprus
An international conference with different stakeholders from Cyprus, Israel and Palestine to reflect on the progress made during the project, discuss the action plans and their implementation, exchange experience and best practices from within the project and beyond. It will be effective to strengthen and promote reconciliation across civil societies from the partner countries and to re-affirm joint strategic and coherent action plans for Human Rights, Democratisation and Conciliation. The aim of the final symposium is to include many of the stakeholders who participated in the project activities, as well as local authorities from Israel and Palestine. The final symposium will bring together many stakeholders that have participated in the various project activities to create a link among all those that became actively engaged for stronger Israeli and Palestinian civil societies. During the conference there will speeches by a European Union commissioner, a highly-respected human rights civil society actor from Cyprus as well as speeches by leading CSO leaders from Israel and Palestine. There will be panel discussions with CSOs actors who participated in the ToT and the Civil Society Strengthening Workshops about the current state of civil society and the promotion of human rights and democratic reforms in Israel and Palestine. CSOs will also exhibit their materials and highlight their current and future projects. Local Authorities will be involved in roundtable discussions with CSOs about how to strengthen their relationships and future prospects of working together. CSO actors, local authorities and the general public will share their views and knowledge on issues concerning the role of civil society in the international setting and the significance of its involvement in decision-making and policy formulation of human rights and democratisation in Israel and Palestine.