The term “social accountability” has become a token word for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and transnational organizations like the United Nations (UN) to describe a set of processes that hold governments and local institutions accountable for their actions. When functioning properly, these processes increase the weight of citizen voice and encourage active participation. Jonathan Fox, in co-operation with The World Bank Group, defines social accountability strategies as strategies that “try to improve institutional performance by bolstering both citizen engagement and the public responsiveness of states and corporations.” Unlike political representation, social accountability strives to create a direct line of communication between average citizens with policy changers.
There are two common forms of social accountability: tactical and strategic.Tactical social accountability involves “society-side” efforts in which citizens have access to information and use that information to motivate their own collective action.Strategic social accountability, on the other hand, is the process of coordinating information and citizen voice with government reforms. For example, an NGO may use strategic accountability to provide citizens with information on a particular issue before a key vote or referendum. Thus, the citizen, upon receiving the information, has a clear action that they can take to elicit change. This is the most important distinction between strategic and tactical social accountability: information provided to citizens as a part of a strategic social accountability plan must be actionable, accessible, and, arguably the most important of all, the benefits of political engagement must far outweigh the costs or potential dangers.
Alnoor Ebrahim, citing his work with Weisband, argues that accountability manifests in four key areas: Transparency, Answerability or Justification, Compliance, and Enforcement and Sanctions. As described later in this brief, Ebrahim argues that accountability is not just external towards stakeholders like governments and other NGOs, but it is also internal and requires well-functioning NGOs to be under a continuous process of monitoring and evaluation.
The Role of NGOs in Social Accountability:
Many NGOs strive to hold local and national governments accountable for giving citizens their endowed rights. Kumi Naidoo argues that each NGO has three levels of accountability: upward accountability (accountability to donors and general NGO regulations), downward accountability (accountability to the community being served) and horizontal accountability (accountability to peer NGO organizations). All three levels of accountability address a NGO’s relationship to various stakeholders; however, downward accountability, accountability to the community served, is essential to ensuring the safe and productive provision of services to citizens.
When addressing downward accountability, it is essential to perform internal monitoring and evaluation to address whether or not the NGO adequately addresses the needs of the citizens. Lister, in conjunction with United Nations Development Program (UNDP), developed three degrees of citizen engagement: consultation, presence and influence. It is only when citizens have a voice and power that they are able to reach the final stage, influence, and hold members of authority accountable for their actions. Lister encourages NGOs to ask the following questions to ensure social accountability within their organization:
What are the concrete channels through which citizens can express their voice or demands, and are able to hold duty-bearers to account?
Do men and women access these ‘communication’ channels differently?
Do institutions (particularly service delivery institutions) and government officials have the capacity to respond and be accountable?
These questions highlight that the purpose of social accountability is to not only provide a space for voices of citizens to be heard, but it is to also ensure the ability of governments and institutions to receive the voices.
As mentioned, the goal of social accountability is to create a direct means of communication between citizens and the government, but an essential function of NGOs is to make sure that voices and requests for change are directed at the right power-holders who are able to make sure their demands are enforced and answered This process involves establishing sustainable initiatives that encourage active citizenship through a rights-based approach. Lister argues that the best way to do this is through justice and legal empowerment of the poor. She writes, “in the absence of justice, people cannot have their voices heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers accountable.” Thus, organizations like Arab Renaissance for Democracy & Development (ARDD) that provide legal assistance and justice empowerment are at the core of social accountability and advancing societies.
Just as NGOs must be held accountable by those who are receiving their services, they must also hold themselves accountable. This form of accountability, titled by Naidoo as horizontal accountability, must be managed through continuous monitoring and evaluation. Ebrahim argues that productive, internal accountability for NGOs must involve five different mechanisms: reports and disclosure statements, evaluations and performance assessments, industry self-regulation, participation and adaptive learning. NGOs cannot focus solely on end goals but must also consider the process it takes to reach these goals. This involves a considerable amount of flexibility and collection of data to monitor progress and make alterations while a program is running its course. Eventually, this data will not only be beneficial for the proper functioning of the social accountability programs and NGOs in general, but also will also serve as a means of upwards accountability to donors in justification of “organizational purpose and public trust.”
Case Study: Education for the Future: Communities of Learning among Syrians and Jordanian in Host Communities with ARDD and Fafo:
From January 2015 – January 2017, the Arab Renaissance for Democracy & Development (ARDD) along with Fafo, a Norwegian research institute, conducted research in the governorate of Mafraq, Jordan, to better understand the limitations faced by the education sector. Members from both organizations visited 40 schools in Mafraq and found that the key issues faced within the education system include overcrowding and a general cultural disconnect between Syrians and Jordanians which manifests in the quality of education received.
In order to fix the systemic problems, the final research report concluded that there needs to be an increased focus on communication, accountability, decentralization and governance. One specific example provided by the report to increase accountability is the augmentation of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs). PTAs serve as a venue of social accountability where parents have direct contact with policy-shapers in the education sector. Additionally, the more parents that are involved in their child’s education will not only result in accountability towards the school system, but also accountability towards their child and their progress.
A second example of increasing accountability in the education sector was seen at the Learning Event, an event aimed at fostering a culture of accountability in the Jordanian education sector. Organized by ARDD and Fafo, the event brought together members of the government, the UN and local and international NGOs to discuss the results of their research. Representing the government were members of the Ministry of Education and Quality of Education and Accountability Unit (QEAU) established in 2015. The purpose of the Learning Event was to present the findings of the research and establish a call to action for citizen engagement, decentralization and overall accountability and transparency in the education system in Jordan. At the end of the event, Dr Raed Al Alewa, Head of QEAU, stated, “We have to decentralise. Decentralisation and accountability is something the MoE is working on.” Recognition is the first step to change and more research and reports conducted like Education for the Future will continue to result in higher levels of transparency and accountability.
Social accountability requires active citizens executing their voice to elicit change in their communities. It requires direct communication between citizens and officials of the government or local institutions. NGOs play a critical role in increasing social accountability as they can use their resources to create accessible and actionable was to use citizen voice to change policy. As seen through ARDD and Fafo’s work in the education sector in Mafraq, social accountability can manifest in parents holding their child’s school accountable through PTA meetings and can manifest in the collection and presentation of data to key stakeholders in the education community.
 “Voice” is commonly used in discussions on social accountability to describe a “variety of mechanisms – formal and informal – through which people express their preferences, opinions and views and demand accountability from power-holders.” For more information, see: Sarah Lister, (2010), “Fostering Social Accountability: From Principle to Practice,” United Nations Development Programme.
 Jonathan Fox (2014), ‘Social Accountability: What Does the Evidence Really Say?’, GPSA Working Paper Series, The World Bank Group, Paper 1. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in their document “Fostering Social Accountability: From Principles to Practice,” defines social accountability as “Citizens and other rights-holders can demand that governments live up to their obligations through a variety of tools and approaches [other than elections], and governments can respond to such initiatives from citizens” (6). For more definitions of “social accountability,” see: Camargo, et. al. (2013): 7, Malena, C. et. al. (2004): 3, and (Ebrahim) 2010.
 Fox, J, (2014), ‘Social Accountability: What Does the Evidence Really Say?’, 7.
 Camargo et. al. also highlights the importance of the benefits of speaking out outweighing the costs with regards to personal safety. For some marginalized groups, speaking out can cause the fear of danger or, in some cases, actual physical danger. Thus, when citizens participate in programs of social accountability, it is essential for high incentives to participate and proper channels of protection to prevent risk. If these steps are not taken, Camargo et. al. argues that communities are more at risk for elite capture, in which only members of the upper echelons of society are able to elicit change. For more information, see Carmargo et. al (2013) and Clarke and Missingham (2009).
 Ebrahim Alnoor (2010), ‘The Many Faces of Nonprofit Accountability,’ working paper.
 Nelson, Jane (2007). “The Operation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in a World of Corporate and Other Codes of Conduct.” cited from Kumi Naidoo, (2004),. The End of Blind Faith? Civil Society and the Challenge of Accountability, Legitimacy and Transparency. AccountAbility Forum 2: Special Issue on NGO Accountability and Performance. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing Ltd, 2004.
 Nelson, J., (2007), ‘The Operation of Non-Governmental Organizations in a World of Corporate and Other Codes of Conduct.’ Nelson, Jane. 2007.
 Camargo, Claudia Baez, Jacobs, Eelco (2013), ‘Social Accountability and its Conceptual Challenges: An Analytical framework,’ Basal Institute on Governance, Working Paper Series 16, 10. Camargo et. al. define enforceability as “incentives to carry out change” and answerability as “the obligation to provide an account and the right to get a response” as cited in Lister 2010. For more information on “enforceability” and “answerability” see Goetz, A.M., and R. Jenkins (2005) “Re-inventing Accountability: Making Democracy Work for Human Development.” International Political Economy Series. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
 ARDD-Legal Aid, Fafo, Durratalmanal, Norwegian Embassy (2017), “Fostering a Culture of Responsibility and Accountability: Improving the Learning Enviornment in Jordan,” 10.
 Comment at Learning Event, entitled “Fostering a Culture of Accountability for Improving the Learning Enviornment for children in Jordan,” 11 January 2017, Amman, Jordan, co-hosted by ARDD, Fafo and Durrant al Manal and supported by the Norwegian Embassy as cited in ARDD-Legal Aid, Fafo, Durratalmanal, Norwegian Embassy (2017), “Fostering a Culture of Responsibility and Accountability: Improving the Learning Enviornment in Jordan,” 16.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence: Break the social stigma in Jordan
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Christien van den Brink
Although sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a daily struggle that many Syrian and Jordanian girls and women face, the majority of the cases are not reported to authorities. The main reasons that women do not seek legal or psychosocial support, is due to social and cultural stigma.
It is rare to find Dr. Lena Darras in her office. Her work as a psychosocial support counsellor for the Jordanian organization Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development, requires her to travel to ARDD’s seven field offices, where she provides psychosocial support to female beneficiaries, both individually as well as in group trainings.
The doctor, who holds a PHD in counselling psychology, encounters many cases of SGBV in her daily work. The causes, according to her, are rooted in the masculine society of Jordan. Dr. Darras: “The most commonly reported form of SGBV among Syrian refugee women is domestic violence. Men in the Middle East are raised with the idea that violence is an accepted expression of their masculinity. They are taught to be dominant. This starts from a young age onwards. I recently saw a little boy no older than five years old, and he was playing on the street. When his younger sister arrived, he ordered her to go home, taking her arm to drag her off the street.”
Another problem that SGBV victims face is the social stigma that is attached to it. “During the sessions, I encounter many female victims who feel that they can’t speak up. They fear that they will get blamed for being harassed,” Dr. Darras explains.
Dr. Darras provides psychosocial support sessions within Accessing My Rights, a ten-month ARDD project funded by OCHA. The project aims to support vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian women and girls, as well as survivors of SGBV, to access justice and to strengthen community support networks and protection systems.
“During the sessions, we work a lot on strengthening the self-confidence of women and we increase their knowledge on Jordan’s legal protection system. Many of the participants do not realize that they are protected by law. In the case of harassment, the police will investigate the matter and the perpetrator will be punished. Or they can go to the Family Protection Department” (FPD), a police department, part of Jordan’s Public Security Directorate.”
According to Dr. Darras it is important for women to learn what their legal and societal options are. “When a young woman marries, she has the right to negotiate the terms of her marriage contract. If she wants to continue her studies during marriage, she can make that legally binding. Also, if she doesn’t agree that her husband marries a second wife, she can put that in the contract.”
Dr. Darras acknowledges that even though women are becoming aware that they have the law on their side, Arab society has a lot of social rules that can feel even more binding. “We care about each other, but we also care about what others think,” she smiles. “But,” she continues, “I remember the story of a 50-year-old woman who gathered all her courage to report her husband after he had hit her. After this incident, he never hit her again. Never, ever. It took her tremendous courage, but it really helped to speak out,” Dr. Darras says. “She has become a role model for other women to speak out.”
The project includes a media and advocacy campaign, speciﬁcally targeting men and boys to encourage them to engage in the prevention of SGBV in their communities. Dr. Darras: “Working with men in the project is crucial, they are the ambassadors for change. By involving them in the project and by explaining what the effects of SGBV is on victims, we create more understanding among them.”
Dr. Darras, who has been working for ARDD for over 5 years with a never-ending energy, is positive that projects such as Accessing My Rights will support fostering the change that is so needed to put a halt to SGBV. “I do hear a lot of sad cases in my work. But I am positive that change does happen eventually. Ten years ago, there was reluctance for satellite tv, and even for the mobile phone. Now we cannot live without those. I am confident that even if a woman is hesitant to seek justice after we have provided her with the sessions, she will educate her girls in such a way that they will step up for themselves.”
About the project:
Accessing My Rights is a ten-month project with the goal of helping vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian women and girls, as well as survivors of SGBV, to access justice and to strengthen community support networks and protection systems.
Accessing My Rights increases community knowledge about women’s rights and SGBV prevention. The project strengthens the current protection systems for SGBV survivors. The project includes three components:
• Awareness raising on legal rights and psychosocial support.
• Provision of individual legal and psychosocial consultations.
• Referral of women to economic empowerment programs and emergency cash assistance.
The project also includes a media and advocacy campaign, that aims to develop a broader cultural understanding within the community, while speciﬁcally targeting men and boys to encourage them engage in the prevention of SGBV in their communities. The project also mobilizes allies and community leaders to actively support women’s access to justice through local campaigns and capacity building dialogues.
Mobility Partnership Agreements: Pathways for Human Rights-based Mobility
Monday, July 17, 2017
In recent years, largely owing to the mass arrival of refugees and migrants to European Union territory, the EU has been keen on signing Mobility Partnership Agreements (MPAs) with countries throughout the Mediterranean Basin stressing the Union’s commitment “to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders."
Over the past month, the Applied Social Research Unit at ARDD participated in a number of International events aimed at fostering the dialogue on migration in the Mediterranean basin, with a great deal of focus on MPAs. As a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EuroMed Rights,) ARDD participated in the Regional Seminar titled “EU’s cooperation processes on Asylum and Migration in the Mediterranean Neighbourhood” held in Brussels in 17/18 of June, 2017; an event dedicated to discussing aspects of mobility in the region, with specific focus on MPAs signed between the EU and countries in the MENA. The seminar brought together organisations from around the Mediterranean basin to discuss such issues as legal mobility and admission, anti-smuggling legislation and its human rights impact, as well as the state of play for migration, monitoring mechanisms, and accountability in the region.
MPAs are conducted on a bilateral al level between the EU and neighboring countries. They aim to establish agreements with countries over mutual concerns, specifically in areas of securitisation, development cooperation, and mobility. MPAs between the EU and countries in MENA (so far MPAs were signed with Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan) are viewed as central to the EU’s overall migration strategy, where they seem to serve as instruments for the EU’s foreign and security policy interests. From this standpoint, MPAs are positioned to serve two primary purposes, the first of which is to enhance development cooperation, human rights, and efforts to counterterrorism (at least in the case of Jordan), as well as foster the EU’s strategy of migration containment. Given this, an in-depth reading of these mobility partnership agreements is necessary to realize the full developmental potential contained within these agreements as well as to ensure that all parties concerned are able to equally benefit from their outcomes.
This blog provides a brief analysis of the MPA signed between the EU and Jordan, highlighting the Partnership Priorities as well as the Compact which outlines the duties pertinent to both parties of the agreement, with a view to present the obligations of the EU and Jordan under the agreement as well as the foreseen impact of its implementation on both host and refugee communities in Jordan.
The EU-Jordan MPA was agreed on 9 July 2014. It is a declaration that was enacted through a set of partnership priorities as well as compact signed in December of 2016. The agreement frames Jordan’s refugee crisis as a general issue of migration– primarily one of economic migration. Armed conflict is not recognized as a causative factor, rather, as the preamble states: ‘poverty and socio-economic imbalances are among the fundamental causes of migratory movement’. This points to economic solutions to the issue, and has been reflected in the brokering of financial agreements between Jordan, the EU and IMF formulated to boost the Jordanian economy.
Given the centrality of refugees through the EU-Jordan MPA, it is worth summarizing once more the immenseness of the refugee crises that Jordan grapples with. Refugees constitute almost one third of the population in Jordan, making it the second largest host of refugees per-capita in the world. As of July 2017, there are around 655,000 Syrian, 56,000 Iraqi, 4,500 Yemenis, 3,000 Sudanese, and 800 Somali refugees present in Jordan, whom UNHCR have registered as people of concern. However, the true figures of forced migrants seeking protection in Jordan are considerably higher. In addition, there is approximately 140,000 Gazan Palestinians who fled from 1967 onwards and at least 18,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria, living in Jordan, though as stated, the true figures are thought to be substantially higher.
Back to the MPA, it is important to highlight that while the severity of the conflicts that have pushed civilians to seek refuge in Jordan have been well documented, the imperative of forced migration driven by civil war, state violence and resulting humanitarian crises, is not properly captured in the EU-Jordan MPA.
With regards to “partnership priorities” for the EU-Jordan relations, these are focused on: strengthening democratic governance, rule of law and human rights, increasing cooperation in strengthening regional stability and security, countering violent extremism, as well as the sustainable development goals which are manifested in the focus on promoting quality education, job creation, economic stability, sustainable and knowledge-based growth. This certainly represents a unique opportunity for Jordan to enhance its progress in these areas. However, clarification of the monitoring mechanisms for the progress of joint-work in these areas remains lacking aside from the partnership priorities being “reviewed in 2018.” 
With the EU-Jordan MPA comes the Compact that outlines and reaffirms the commitments made by the EU and Jordan at the London Conference in February 2016. The compact commits the EU and Jordan to supporting and improving the living conditions of the 655,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan. Jordan has agreed to provide 165,000 Syrian children with access to education and to increase the opportunities for Syrian youth to undertake vocational training. The scheme also provides for simplifying the rule of origin for Jordanian exports to the EU. This, however, is preconditioned with providing employment opportunities for Syrian refugees as well as Jordanians with a condition that Syrian refugees constitute 15% of the labor force in factories.
While the MPA is a unique opportunity for both the EU and Jordan to address common issues and work towards forging a more beneficial and sustainable partnership, in order to ensure an alignment of the MPA with principles of human rights that are embedded in the text, we see two main actions needed at this point. First, although the MPA has potential to enable Syrians to support themselves, increasing their resilience, further attention is necessary to the unique situation in Jordan. A recent study by ILO covers the pressing challenges that Syrians face in the labour sector in Jordan, including lengthy working hours, non-payment for overtime, delayed payments, and low-wages. It is important, then, that in addition to increasing the number of working Syrians, the MPA also ensures protection mechanisms for laborers are in place. This will ultimately lead to the regularization of Syrians in the labour market In Jordan becoming more sustainable and productive.
Second, but not least, the EU-Jordan MPA needs to state clearly the role that civil society can and must play in it. The MPA, Partnership Priorities and Compact have been drafted, reviewed, and signed with little involvement for civil society in the process. However, civil society involvement is critical given its role in all of the areas covered by these agreements, especially the refugee crisis response. Involvement of civil society is key to ensure the effectiveness and success of the implementation of commitments outlined in the MPA and its subsequent partnership priorities and compact; but it also contributes to better understand and meet the needs of the various groups targeted through the development cooperation goals that the MPA endeavors to achieve.
 Mobility Partnerships and Security Subcomplexes in the Mediterranean : The Strategic Role of Migration and the EU’s Foreign and Security Policies towards the MENA region. / Seeberg, Peter, European Foreign Affairs Review, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2017, p. 91-110.
ARDD supports Jordanian artists to raise awareness about Sadeen’s case
Monday, July 10, 2017
Christien van den Brink
Over 13 Jordanian artists came together at the American Excellence School in Amman on Saturday 8th of July to show solidarity with the parents of Sadeen; the girl who died early May due to alleged medical negligence in Irbid. The event was organized by artist Kamal Ariqat and funded by ARDD and in cooperation with the artists, school administration and Baqa for Culture and Art Association.
During the day, the artists worked on paintings that will eventually be sold during an exhibition to be held at NOFA Creative Space in Amman with ARDD support.The proceeds of the paintings will be donated to Sadeen’s parents.Many children from all ages were also present and received a drawing and painting masterclass from the professionals.
According to several media reports, Sadeen’s death was caused by a delay in obtaining the exemption for transfer to a specialised hospital. “Everybody should have access to healthcare. This should never depend on anybody’s financial status,” Muhareb adds.
The well-known artist Kamal Ariqat, who, as a member of the Baqa for Culture and ArtAssociation was the main organizers for Saturday’s event. Mr. Ariqatcame up with the idea for Saturday’s event after he spoke to Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) about Sadeen’s case. This Jordanian organization represents Sadeen’s parents in court. “After that conversation, I understood that artists should come together and speak out against what happened to Sadeen.”
Mr. Ariqat himself contributed to the event with two paintings. “In my work, I used objects that belonged to Sadeen. Here, you will find Sadeen’s dress, the one that she was supposed to wear for Eid Al Fitr,” he explains, while pointing to his painting.
One of the participating artists is the 28-year old Zina Fanous, who studied Fine Arts and graduated seven years ago. She is now a painter and teaches Arts at the Ahliya School for Girls. For her, it is important to be here today. “Painting for me is a way to express myself. Through our art, we can raise awareness within our society and we can try to make sure that a case such as Sadeen will never happen again,” she explains her motivations to being here.
AbdulraheemWakid, the 72-year old painter from Palestinian descent was affected by Sadeen’s story and wanted to participate by expressing himself throughwhat he knows best: Art. “Sadeen’s story is not a personal tragedy anymore,” he says, looking at his painting from a distance. “It has become a symbol of something bigger. Everybody should know about her. In Jordan, we build hospitals, but if we cannot ensure the quality of those hospitals, what’s the point in having those buildings anyway?” he adds, while cleaning his brush.
Mr Wakid’s painting is full of colour and cultural symbols of Arab culture. “I like to express hope in my painting; by using optimistic colours and music instruments,” he explains.
Sadeen’s parents, who were present during the day together with their children, also drew several drawings and paintings. “Although I will never stop crying, I am also happy to see that so many people came here today to support me and my family,” Sadeen’s mother says.
ARDD, represent Sadeen’s parents in court. The case was registered on June 4, by 24 ARDD lawyers. By having so many lawyers register the case in court, ARDD wants to underline the societal importance of this case. “Further investigations by the general prosecution will hopefully lead to clear answers on what exactly caused Sadeen’s death”, Samar Muhareb, ARDD’s CEO explains.
ARDD would like to sincerely thank all the participating artists for their commitment:
For more information about this event, please contact ARDD’s Communication and Media Unit on 06-4617277
Fourth edition of Arab Renaissance Forum proudly hosts H.E. Dr. Marwan Muasher
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Christien van den Brink
ARDD organized the fourth edition of the “Arab Renaissance Forum”, a monthly event at the lovely NOFA Creative Space in Amman on July 03. ARDD proudly hosted H.E. Dr. Marwan Muasher, former State Minister of Foreign Affairs for Jordan, and vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Dr. Muasher engaged with an interested audience on the challenges that many Arab states face regarding inclusive governance. In his lecture, he explained that socioeconomic deficiencies, polarisation and repression, have ultimately lead to state disintegration, particularly in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. This has partly resulted in conflicts that have caused mass displacement and geopolitical power plays. Mr. Muasher mentioned that to build a successful civic state, political decision-making processes should become inclusive; no political party should monopolize the political space; there should be a legal framework that protects freedom of speech and no religion or school of thought should be enforced by a state. ARDD will publish an article elaborating on this interesting topic.