CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Civil society in Morocco: ripe for change?

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 4, 2011

CIVCUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index Analytical Country Report from Morocco. The report, authored by L’Espace Associatif in Morocco, was made possible by the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Social Development, Family and Solidarity in Morocco.

The report presents a picture of a country with a credible and effective civil society sector, but one which operates within some strict parameters. As the report puts it, “Freedom of speech is limited by ‘red lines’ imposed on all kinds of media (from written press to mass media). Those ‘red lines’ are the King’s sanctity, Western Sahara and Islam.”

The Civil Society Diamond resulting from the CSI gives a visual expression of the five dimensions that the CSI studies, presenting a more optimistic picture than the initial perceptions of the Advisory Committee. In the diamond, the perception of impact dimension gets the highest score (61.8%), ahead of the practice of values dimension (59.2%). The external environment for civil society is ranked slightly worse (57%), while the level of organisation (50.5%) and civic engagement (43.1%) get the lowest scores. In absolute terms, when compared to the maximum theoretical score of 100%, these performances remain modest.

Turning to the strengths and weaknesses of civil society, the report finds that the three main assets CSOs have are proximity and involvement in citizenship, a track record in social and human development, and credibility, independence and a willingness to engage. The key deficits reported are inadequate financing, opportunistic behavior, and lack of independence and favoritism.

In addressing these obstacles, CSOs suggest they need to improve their efficiency in searching for financing, to improve their human resources skills and bases, and to promote more active civic engagement. Significantly, the report notes that improvement in the legislation for civil society is also needed.

The CSI report, a milestone for the North African country at a time of potential upheaval, reveals a picture of a Morocco civil society which has experienced huge and diversified development and which is founded on participation and volunteer work, with its purpose and impact highly valued by both the population in general and key external stakeholders.

This high potential for development is however held back by lack of finance, lack of workforce, and the barriers these present to autonomy and professionalisation.

The focus of global attention shifted to North Africa and the Middle East while this report was being prepared. Coming at a critical moment, this report casts new light on citizen action in Morocco, suggesting that the path ahead for positive transformational change lies in collective work, shared structures and democratic partnership.

To read the full report, click here.

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