Supporting Iranian civil Society

A toolkit for democratic colleagues in the international community

Iran’s rich and varied civil society is the most likely source of meaningful democratic reform in Iran, but it requires increased international support and solidarity in its effort to achieve these aims. The loose alliance of journalists, academics, students, women’s groups, and other voluntary organisations that work under the heading of civil society has in recent times proved itself one of the few forces able to pressure Iran’s ruling theocracy towards political reform.
Democratic reformers in Iran face new challenges in making the transition from a movement protesting an electoral process to a force campaigning for broader democratic reform. A young and educated population, an active women’s movement, and perhaps most importantly, the internet and other new forms of social media, have provided Iranian civil society with some of the resources they need to continue their democratic struggle under conservative rule.   
Waiting until support can be provided easily, and without complication, is waiting until it is no longer necessary. The time has now come for the international community to act in support of Iranian civil society at this crucial juncture in the history of the country’s democratic movement. We hope this document will serve as a useful resource to those Supporting Iranian who wish to heed the call of Iranian civil society leaders and provide them with the support they need right now.
Download the booklet Supporting Iranian civil Society: A toolkit for democratic colleagues in the international community
- Public Hearing on "Supporting Iranian civil society", European Parliament, Brussels, 15 March 2011
- Conference on “Digital Democracy: Using Virtual Ways to Promote Real Rights”, Palais des Nations (United Nations Office), Geneva, Switzerland, 27 September 2010
- Conference on "The Democratic Movement in Iran: Pitfalls and Potential", Italian Parliament, Rome, 29 June 2010

Within the framework of its MENA Democracy campaign, the NPWJ Iran Project, begun in 2007, aims at reinforcing and supporting domestic civil society actors, democracy advocates and reformers working for the promotion of democratic values, the respect of human rights and the rule of law and advocating for greater public participation in the political process, while leaving it up to local actors to determine objectives, strategies and methodologies and ensure that political and democratic reform in Iran comes from the efforts of Iranians working inside the country. NPWJ intends to pursue these goals both directly with in-country partners and through coordinating its work with and providing assistance to other international organisations that have the capacity and the political will to do the same.
For further information, please contact: Gianluca Eramo, email:, phone: +32 (0)2 548-3925