The recent political uprisings in the Arab region have sought to dismantle authoritarian political regimes and address profound societal inequities. Calls for dignity, freedom, and social justice have triggered fundamental questions about state–citizen relations, while existing social contracts are being renegotiated through new constitutions and varied institutions promoting societal and political dialogues. At the same time, the landscape of civic activism has been dramatically transformed. New social networks, new actors, and new alliances are now challenging existing power relations and utilizing varied strategies to renegotiate citizen rights.

The Carnegie Middle East Center held the first of its Citizenship and Social Justice dialogues, which aim to take stock of different approaches to social justice and citizenship in Arab countries and to weigh the emerging challenges and windows of opportunity of these transitional times. Experts and policy makers discussed regional and country-based approaches to social justice, its link to the rights of citizenship and the challenges to achieving just societies.