Legitimacy and Civicness in the Arab World

in collaboration with the Arab Association of Constitutional Law (AACL)

LSE PI: Dr Rim Turkmani
Duration: October 2023 - September 2025

The international normative framing of civil society and its values does not always match the local perceptions in the Arab world where civic action and values have historically unfolded differently. The inside understanding of this local context and connotations and often excluded from the literature or brought in as a 'local voice' to reinforce a narrative that they, otherwise, have no part in formulating.

The current gaps between the perception and the production of knowledge regarding legitimacy, civil society and civic values lead to three main impediments. The gaps in understanding can obstruct the efforts of local civic actors pushing for equal rights and inclusive societies as they work to overcome local and international misconceptions and that undermine their agency and ownership. It can also limit scholarly understanding of key social and political processes as well as hinder the effectiveness of democratisation efforts.

This project aims to explore the gaps in understanding civicness and legitimacy between external policymakers and local citizens by working closely with partners and scholars from the region to produce nuanced knowledge, publish policy and academic papers as well as provide capacity building for early career researchers and integrate them into the knowledge production process.

The project builds on previous research conducted by the team with LSE IDEAS. Research findings from previous phases are published on the project's purpose-built website. The project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation New York through its International Peace and Security programme.
Elections Mural (C) Gigi Ibrahim, Flickr (2012)

Research Team

Rim Turkmani

Rim Turkmani | Principal Investigator

Rim is Senior Research Fellow in the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, directing the Syria Conflict Research Programme and publishing several papers and reports on the Syrian conflict. 

Ibrahim Draji

Ibrahim Draji | Consultant

Ibrahim holds a PhD in International Law and has an extensive background in human rights, refugee rights and IDPs, international humanitarian law, mainstreaming gender, gender equality, child rights, human trafficking and constitutional issues.

Ninar Fawal

Ninar Fawal | Research Assistant

Ninar is an MPhil student in International Relations at the University of Oxford. Prior, she was a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, working on their Middle East Program.