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.
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
Increase dialogue among Civil Society actors, youth, and local authorities in Israel and Palestine
The project aims to enable the participants to listen to each other on issues of common concern, going beyond what they think is important, to find the deep drivers that dynamically influence their situation. It will actively engage Palestinian and Israeli civil society actors, youth and representatives of local authorities in a well-orchestrated set of structured dialogue workshops, interactive workshops, action groups for community projects and civil society organisational capacity building trainings. Each activity is designed to foster dialogue with each target group so that they actively engage with one another and increase their communication, collaboration and understanding of each other as human beings and not enemies.
Increase capacity of CSOs in Israel and Palestine to promote Human Rights and Democratic Participation
Through a comprehensive set of basic and advanced civil society strengthening trainings, the projects intends to enhance the capacity of civil society actors within Israeli and Palestinian society. By training local trainers to be multipliers in their own communities, the project contributes to a strengthened role of civil society as a crucial actor in deepening citizen dialogue within and across communities and participation in decisions affecting the region's development. This component of the project aims to provide a highly focused programme of support to a selected number of CSOs. The participating organisations will take an active part in shaping their own development strategies, starting with participation in the design of the methods and tools to be used. They are being accompanied by civil society experts in their assessment and diagnosis of their organisational capacity and in the design and implementation of projects that come from the grass roots and promote human rights and democratic participation. The trainings will target both those organisations that are already involved in human rights so as to strengthen their operational capacity and their partnerships, as well as to invite civil society organisations that are involved in other activities.
Enhance collaboration among civil society actors, youth, and local authorities across Israel and Palestine
The structured dialogue workshops are designed to produce consensual action plans, created by the target group participants themselves. Equipped with the knowledge of what is really driving their situation, they will devise action plans with enthusiasm and commit to working together in carrying them out. The participants, comprised of members of both the Israeli and Palestinian communities, will create joint action groups. Throughout the project, these action groups will work together in shaping their own collaborative actions that bring civil society, youth and local authorities together to work towards mutual interests that benefit both communities while improving inter-personal relationships.
- Project Steering Committee
- Interactive online portal
- Structured dialogue workshops
- Creation of multi-stakeholder Action Groups
- Five trans-national Action Plan support workshops
- 10-day Training of Local Trainers
- Series of Basic Civil Society Strengthening Workshops
- Series of non-formal civil society action workshops
- Series of Advanced Civil Society Strengthening Workshops
- Ten Panel Discussions/ Public Roundtables
- Act Beyond Borders International Conference
Yiannis Laouris presented the theory and practice of the project as a keynote at the 2014 meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences on the invitation of its president Gerald Midgley.
- Increased capacity of CSOs in Israel and Palestine to promote and strengthen human rights and their implementation
- Increased dialogue among civil society across conflict zones
- Increased capacity of local CSOs in Israel and Palestine to resolve conflict and enhance collaboration for common goals
- Strengthened collaboration for the promotion of Human Rights across stakeholders and countries (Israel, Palestine, Cyprus (north and south))