American University of Beirut



SHAPEDEM-EU – Rethinking and Reshaping the EU's democracy support in its Eastern and Southern Neighborhood – is a multi-national and multifaceted research consortium of twelve academic, think tank and civil society institutions based in Europe and the Southern and Eastern neighborhoods, one of which is IFI. This EU-funded three-year project sets out to rethink, reshape, and review the EU's democracy support policies in its Neighborhood countries. The project's first phase reconceptualizes and provides clear definitions for EU democracy and democracy support as social practices that engender contestation at all levels. In its second phase, the project empirically maps democracy support and contestation practices (discursive and behavioral) in the European southern and eastern neighborhoods. In the final phase, the project connects researchers, policymakers in EU institutions and member states, practitioners, civil society representatives and citizen groups in the EU and its Neighborhoods in order to promote action. It synthesizes the overall project analysis and provides policy recommendation.

Within the scope of the SHAPEDEM-EU project, and working closely with all the partners, IFI seeks to critically engage with EU practices, power dynamics and discourses of democracy support in the Arab world, particularly over the last decade. It will consider three main case studies, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia; and focus on the EU's role and programs there with their multiple and (often) contradictory meanings and diverse impacts at the local level. IFI will map and analyze local struggles and voices in these three case studies, as well as 'gate-keepers' that mediate interrelations with the EU and their practices of adaptation and resistance to EU democracy support practices. It considers the EU not as an impartial actor but rather one with specific interests that sometimes support democratic practices in the Arab region and other times suppress them. The IFI team will also explore mechanisms for a more effective and inclusive democracy learning loop to ensure closer interrelationships between the local visions/local ownership and the EU to improve tools to support practices of democracy in the target countries.

Project Expected Outputs

  • Synthesis paper on the chronology of EU-Arab engagement and cluster of thematic contextual papers on EU-Arab relations 

  • Country case studies detailing local democratic politics, including in Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia

  • Series of roundtables and policy dialogues with national stakeholders and senior EU representatives to discuss policy challenges and 'gate-keepers' who mediate between local voices and EU institutional actors

  • Course module on the EU-Arab world history and relations

For more on the project, visit the SHAPEDEM-EU website.

Contact Persons

Karim Makdisi, Principal Investigator (PI);​  ​

Contact Us

For various questions, please try contacting us via social media first!
read more

Privacy Statement

We take data privacy seriously and adhere to all applicable data privacy laws and regulations.
read more

Copyright and Disclaimer

Written permission is needed to copy or disseminate all or part of the materials on the AUB website.
read more

Title IX, Non-Discrimination, and Anti-Discriminatory Harassment

AUB is committed to providing a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment to all members of its community.
read more