The Arab States region is going through an historic moment of change that is taking different forms and shapes in pursuit of expanding democratic space. UNDP supports Arab countries across the region as they work on building inclusive societies and sustaining peace through good governance and conflict prevention interventions tailored to address today’s development challenges in individual country contexts.

Several countries have already taken very concrete steps to address this transformation: first free and fair elections with increased women participation, initial steps towards constitutional or legal reforms, all with very different results and experiences. Some of the other governance challenges include improving social accountability, ensuring greater participation from civil society, better access to information, and in some cases improved enjoyment of fundamental rights such as citizenship and gender equality.

The region cannot be approached as a homogenous bloc and the types of transitions differ greatly from one country to another. In a still very fluid context that still includes occupation, protracted internal conflicts and unresolved issues of power and wealth sharing, the ongoing changes will take time to complete, and much remains to be done. For example, while political participation particularly that of women, has improved in some countries (e.g. 27% of Parliament seats in Tunisia are attributed to women), sustainable change requires stronger participation of all segments of society to the decision-making processes to ensure equitable development.

UNDP works in the Arab States with governments, the private sector and civil society to support these processes of change, strengthening the capacity of institutions and individuals to protect human rights, enhance social cohesion and expand public space for dialogue between governments and citizens.