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Société civile, associations et pouvoir local au Yémen

Sarah Ben Nefissa
Maggy Grabundzija
Jean Lambert

Chapter 3: NGO’s and Local Governance

Civil Society and Local Authorities (abstract)

Mohammed al‑Hammadi

Entrées d'index

Texte intégral

1The fourth congress of Local Assemblies (majālis mahallīya) met recently with a view to encourage ‘the evolution of decentralization’ and ‘the participation of society in development’. On this occasion, the question was raised about the definition of the very concept of civil society. Three levels of definition were suggested:

  • A very broad one, including all non-governmental organizations (by John Hopkins University).

  • A very narrow one, taking into account exclusively the spontaneous forms of solidarity among the citizens (by Alexis de Tocqueville).

  • An intermediate one, considering all non-governmental organizations with the exception of religious communities or those founded on ties of blood (by Sa‘ad al‑Dīn Ibrāhīm).

2The concept of participation (sharāka), stipulated in the Yemeni Constitution (particularly, in article 34), was elaborated in connection with a number of other concepts, such as better integration of marginalized communities, participation of the beneficiaries into decision-making, etc. The necessity of close collaboration between civil society and local authorities was stressed. Such collaboration would confer legitimacy to collective decisions which would enable to set up a social contract. The government, civil society and the private sector should work together in public affairs, each one dealing with the issues of its competence.

3On the judicial level, their respective roles are well defined by the decentralization law promulgated in 2000:

  • The State is the guarantor of infrastructures; it prepares an ideal environment for economic and social development, facilitating the functioning of associations.

  • Civil society controls by way of transparency the utilization of public property and the redistribution of wealth in order to improve the living standards of the population. Besides, the civil society pays attention to immediate priorities and needs in the first place. Local administrations, elected by universal suffrage, are given wide powers.

  • The private sector launches long term development programs and long term investments. It contributes at the same time to the creation of more working places and to the development of local economy. Its responsibility is to find an appropriate equilibrium between its own interests and those of the society.

4In this light, the goal of the decentralization politics in Yemen is to set up a proper administration in the villages in order to respond to their concrete needs, particularly in assuring a certain number of public services. Such structures are indispensable to allow civil society to contribute to the process of development. However, recently, the role of local assemblies has not been equal to the expectation. In fact, they still encounter numerous problems:

  • The local administrative structures, being completely new, are not yet acknowledged or recognized by the beneficiaries; their functioning as formal structures, are still out of their awareness.

  • There is still lack of communication and balance between different sectors.

  • Because of the fact that social traditional structures are still preferred, personal and family ties are still more favored than the institutionalized relations, and this engenders clientele.

© Centre français de recherche de la péninsule Arabique, 2008

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