On the anniversary of the Police Day in 2011, Egyptians revolted against Mubarak and the ruling regime, calling for political, economic and social freedom and reforms. Most importantly, the key trigger for the revolution was the brutality and oppression of the Egyptian police. Five years after the Egyptian revolution, no substantial steps have been taken towards reforming the security sector. Today, the security sector reform (SSR) in Egypt has been labeled as a “lost opportunity” by policy makers and practitioners in the field. Without addressing the security sector’s problems, the revolution would be doomed to fail and there would be no future for civil society, democracy or development. Therefore, in an attempt to explore new opportunities for reforming Egypt’s security sector, this paper debates whether civil society holds a new window of opportunity for SSR in Egypt. In order to achieve this, the study comprehensively reviewed, conceptualized and operationalized the relationship between the security sector reform and the civil society in transitional post authoritarian countries, as well as its challenges, results and indicators. The study then discussed and methodically assessed the role of civil society in introducing reforms in Egypt’s security sector through examining Egypt’s civil society’s involvement in the security sector field in the period between 2011 and the end of 2015 as per a set of identified indicators. The paper employed a qualitative methodology by analyzing existing data extracted from civil society’s reports as well as conducting a set of in-depth interviews and field observations, targeting local civil society activists, organizations in Egypt and members of the security sector. The paper found that although civil society has had different challenges that were supposed to block its effective involvement in reforming Egypt’s security sector, civil society has been performing, pressuring and struggling to do its role. Yet, as per the assessment conducted, the civil society will not be able to be the catalyst for change towards reforming Egypt’s security sector with the continuation of the current internal and external challenges. Instead, the civil society can help in pushing for the spark to happen, reframing the reform plans and in the implementation process of the reform through maintaining and advancing its involvement. With the current available capacity, resources and restrictions, civil society will be a key supporting tool in the process of opening a new opportunity for the reform.
School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
Public Policy & Administration Department
MA in Public Policy
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(2016).The role of civil society in introducing reforms in transitional countries. Casre study: Egypt [Master's Thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Ebaid, Neama. The role of civil society in introducing reforms in transitional countries. Casre study: Egypt. 2016. American University in Cairo, Master's Thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
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