Middle East & North African Program

ICNL’s Middle East and North Africa program promotes an enabling environment for civil society across the region. We strive to advance civic freedoms through our partnerships with local civil society leaders, government officials, lawyers, academics, and other stakeholders with whom we cooperate on initiatives ranging from legal reform to advocacy campaigns. We currently have active projects in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia, and we maintain up-to-date reports on the legal framework for civil society in ten countries.

Be sure to browse our Country Overviews and Key Resources.

15 years

Working in the region, making ICNL a leader in the area.

16 countries

ICNL has worked in across the region.

22 reports

On a diverse range of issues affecting civil society.


Freedom of Expression Online in Jordan

In Jordan, seventy-five percent of adults use social media daily. Since October 2017, Jordan’s government has repeatedly attempted to amend the law on cybercrimes to regulate the use of social media in ways that would limit or inhibit free expression online. To foster deeper understanding of the laws and regulations aimed at social media use, ICNL developed a guide that explores the right to online freedom of expression in Jordan, as well as a suite of videos that explain the issue. The guide (available in English and Arabic) can be downloaded here, and the videos can be viewed on our Facebook page.

A speaker at an ICNL-supported workshop on crowdfunding in Morocco, May 2018. One participant concluded that the legalization of crowdfunding “could have a truly positive impact on Morocco’s development.” (Photo credit: ICNL)
Turning Research into Action

From 2016-18, ICNL worked with partners to conduct a landmark study of civic freedoms in Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait. The report crunched data from nearly 4,000 surveys of the public and civil society actors to reveal how people experience civic freedoms in their daily lives. Moving beyond research, ICNL used these findings to take action. Together with our partners, we used what we learned to develop pilot projects to address some of the challenges that came up in our research. Read the full story here.

After the 2014 war with ISIS, Iraqi Kurdistan’s government increased restrictions on civic space, hampering civil society’s ability to do meaningful work. A turning point came in 2017, when Kurdish CSOs were able to successfully engage with the government to rebuild trust. (photo credit: funky-data)
Building Cooperation after Conflict in Iraqi Kurdistan

After the war with ISIS in 2014, Kurdistan’s regional government began to increase restrictions on civil society organizations – ostensibly for security purposes. Registration became burdensome and the government was difficult to engage with in dialogue. The restricted space hampered civil society’s ability to do meaningful work. A turning point came in 2017 when the government agreed to create several joint committees with civil society to explore ways to work through these problems. Read the full story here.

Country Overviews

ICNL currently has active programs in five countries.

Key Resources

The Right to Freedom of Expression Online in Jordan

Since October 2017, the government of Jordan has repeatedly attempted to regulate the use of social media in ways that limit free expression. ICNL’s guide provides a deeper understanding of the laws and regulations aimed at social media use and the right to freedom of expression online.

Civic Freedoms in the Middle East & North Africa

This in-depth study assesses the effect of formal and informal restrictions on the viability of civil society organizations in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait.

Government Supervision in Jordan

This white paper explores the nature of government supervision of civil society organizations in Jordan from 2010 to 2016, including the inconsistent and at times excessive official practices that limited organizations’ ability to achieve their full potential.

Government Cooperation in Morocco

These guidelines examine legal mechanisms that facilitate cooperation between civil society organizations and national, regional, provincial, and communal governments in Morocco. Included are recommendations for putting the guidelines into practice based on successful models of cooperation from around the world.

Explore our full global resource collection, which includes reports, legal analysis, and curated collections of materials covering an array of issues affecting civic space around the world.

Civic Freedom Monitor

The Civic Freedom Monitor provides current information on civil society law in fifty-four countries and eight multilateral organizations, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Yemen, as well as the League of Arab States and Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

ICNL's Digital Legal Library - landing page button

Digital Legal Library

Our library houses domestic and international laws, reports, treaties, and court decisions that affect civil society. It has nearly 4,000 documents in more than sixty languages from every United Nations member state and several autonomous territories.

Work With Us

There are many ways to work with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and our broader alliance. If you have questions or wish to partner with us on an initiative, please feel free to contact our team.