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NDI’s work in Syria aims to assist the many Syrians who remain deeply committed to building a democratic future for their country. As the Syrian government has collapsed and the civil war has expanded since 2011, millions of citizens have been left bereft of local authority, community services, and government institutions to meet their basic needs. Communities throughout the country are coming under increasing strain from unprecedented numbers of internally displaced people, coupled with a lack of food, electricity, and other essentials. NDI currently works with Syrian civil society organizations (CSOs), local and provincial councils, and individual activists to build their understanding of the fundamentals of democracy, strengthen local governance structures and processes, and develop their ability to organize and advocate for change. Through these efforts, NDI hopes to identify the Syrians that may form the nucleus of a future democratic governance structure, and to equip them with the skills, experience, and resources they need now to better administer civilian life in areas no longer controlled by the Assad regime. Such efforts to improve community resilience and foster democratic subcultures at the local level can be a powerful model for the country’s future once the conflict has subsided.
Working from Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, NDI has spent more than a decade building long-term partnerships with Syrian organizations, developing an extensive network of civil society leaders and opposition activists. Since 2011, NDI has intensified its assistance to local councils, civil society organizations, women's groups, and youth activists seeking democratic reform. Working through local partners, NDI builds the operational, management, and governance capacity of local councils in opposition-held areas, and supports civil society organizations to conduct civic education, needs assessments, and local-level advocacy campaigns. At the outset of the conflict, NDI organized two major conferences that brought together a diverse spectrum of Syrian opposition groups and activists to identify common priorities and develop a transition strategy. NDI has also provided targeted support to nascent political parties and developed an online portal for Arabic-language resources and Syria-specific training materials.
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NDI's work upholds the idea that democracy is a human right – a principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But it's a human right that many around the world still struggle to attain. You can be part of the solution. Join the movement for democracy.