One of the main problems with processes of peace-making and constitution-drafting is the gap in understanding legitimacy between external policy-makers, who are more likely to hold a procedural notion of legitimacy, and local citizens who have a more substantive conception, based on their lived experiences. Moreover, external policymakers often assume that conflicts in the Arab world are caused by deep-seated divisions usually expressed in terms of exclusive identities. People on the ground see the conflict differently and often perceive it as collusion against the general populace.
Our project aims to bridge these gaps and advance our understanding of political legitimacy, thus improving policymaking and constitution writing to achieve sustainable peace and state-building in the Arab world. It also investigates how exclusive identities are deliberately constructed by ruling elites as a way of deflecting democratic demands and hindering the prospects of substantive legitimacy.
While Syria is the project’s focus, a comparative analysis is also being conducted to draw relevant lessons learned from post-war Lebanon and Iraq where ethno-sectarian power-sharing agreements were the basis of peacebuilding processes and constitution writing.
The research is based on qualitative and quantitative methods, including:
- Participatory research, such as focus groups, meetings, and workshops;
- Fieldwork interviews;
- Social media content analysis;
- Comparative case studies.
Our core project team is based at the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit (CCSRU) at the London School of Economics and Political Science and is led by Dr Rim Turkmani with support from Professor Mary Kaldor, head of the Unit. We also have team members in the region and in Europe. The project also benefits from the vision and advice of an advisory board of senior academics, policy, media and expert figures.
This project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and is part of Carnegie’s work in Transitional Movements and the Arab Region.