The promotion of social democratic values, including democratic and inclusive decision-making, social justice, sustainable economic development, the preservation of the environment for everybody, and peaceful international relations, are at the core of FES’ activities in the MENA region. In an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, more and more challenges for the societies, such as political stability, economic development, social justice, security and many more surpass the national level. Increasingly, answers to new challenges have to be found on a regional or global level. Therefore, FES regional projects try to lead the way for improved and enlarged regional cooperation and coordination.
The work of FES in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) dates back to the end of the 1950s, when first contacts to trade unions and co-operatives were started. However, it was only in 1999 that the MENA department was established as part of the FES division for international cooperation. This department gave FES the possibility to strategically address the challenges of this diverse region. By 2017, FES has successfully established eleven country offices, which implement conferences, workshops, trainings, studies and many other activities in a total of 14 countries in the region.
Working in the region, FES was always confronted with the enormous differences between the countries of the region. In 2017, some of the project countries are in war or other forms of armed conflict, while others have tightened the operational space for international organizations as well as their domestic civil society.
The offices in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco, in particular, have become regional hubs for FES activities, being home to different country and regional projects. The Tunisia office is the biggest of FES international offices.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has a network of nine offices in the MENA region and implements projects in a total of 13 countries. Some offices, such as Egypt or Sudan, look back at a history of more than 40 years of cooperation.