Defense Sector Transparency and Tawazun
Defense Sector Transparency and Tawazun
09 Dec 2020
Nathan W. Toronto

The Tawazun website improves defense sector governance with systematic data and analysis on Arab civil-military relations.

The decade of turmoil in Arab states that began with the 2010 uprisings has raised critical questions about governance, structures of power, and crisis mismanagement in the region. The popular uprisings in Egypt and Bahrain; the civil wars in LibyaSyria, and Yemen; the governance crises in Lebanon and Iraq; the military involvement in public order missions across the region; and the persistent threat of radical armed groups have all highlighted the shortfalls in structures of governance, the relations between civilian and military actors, and the changing social contracts in the region.

Analysts and policymakers approach these questions differently. The Tawazun website examines Arab civil-military relations in an attempt to inform and improve security sector governance. It clarifies pathways for policy intervention by providing quantitative indicators of efficiency in civil-military relations, providing the knowledge for information-based policy design. It also moves beyond simply identifying problem areas, highlighting influence pathways where decisionmakers can build on the efficient practices and policies already in place. The knowledge that the Tawazun website presents will enable actors to make informed decisions that influence institutional stability, national defense, nation building, and related economic and social factors.

Defense Sector Transparency

Tawazun works toward transparent and accountable governance of defense sectors in Arab states and the professionalization and modernization of Arab armed forces. It enhances nonadversarial dialogue between civilian and military stakeholders, which is key to transforming attitudes on both sides and achieving win-win outcomes. It also encourages civilian expertise and involvement in defence affairs—among civil society and research organizations, parliaments, government civil services, and defense sectors—which underpins mutually beneficial civil-military relations.

The elements of Tawazun respond to the needs of its users. Policymakers and defense professionals might be more interested in the quantitative results of the Index, whereas analysts and academics might be more drawn to the qualitative insights in the country profiles. Together, these components enable positive engagement between civilians and the military, inform policy analysis, and enhance public scrutiny.


The Index measures the efficiency of Arab civil-military relations. Efficiency is defined as the ability of civilian and military actors to negotiate, formulate, and coordinate coherent policies in the sphere of national defense, in ways that further effective governance of the defense sector and assist its professional development. To do this, the Index provides 123 quantitative indicators of efficiency levels in the domains of governance, military professionalism, social perceptions and cultural attitudes, defense finances and economics, and civilian competences. The Index demonstrates the usefulness of civilian engagement in defense affairs and of data-driven analysis in a field that is usually constrained by the lack of data.

Country Profiles

Country Profiles assess the outcomes of civil-military relations using qualitative analyses of institutional stability, the political system, nation building and citizenship, budget and economy, and national defense. They offer insights into key considerations in a country's civil-military relations. The analysis is supplemented with statistics and explanatory graphs that can direct users to areas for further inquiry.

Given the scarcity of data on civil-military cooperation and on the defense sector in the region, from both primary and secondary sources, the analysis in Tawazun relies on input and validation from defense professionals and experts. Profile assessments are thus indicative of the current state of civil-military relations.

Tawazun Blog and Other Resources

Apart from the Index and Country Profiles, the Tawazun Blog offers a forum for dialogue between civilian and military actors. Blog entries focus on specific issues of policy concern and direct users to emerging challenges and opportunities in civil-military relations and defense affairs. In addition, the resources section on the website is a searchable database of publications that provide larger and wider analysis covering diverse topics and different countries in the region.

Empowering Action

Tawazun is an attempt to inform and empower civilian and military actors. Dialogue, analysis, and direct engagement between these actors can improve governance in the defense sector. Greater participation by civilians and uniformed personnel in civil-military relations builds trust and contributes to sustainable crisis management and conflict transformation. Previously, actors had access to limited information on Arab defense affairs, but Tawazun expands and harnesses this information, offering reliable analysis and presenting actors with priority areas for policy intervention. The goal is that efficient civil-military relations in Arab states will contribute to sustainable governance, enduring prosperity, and effective crisis management.


Nathan W. Toronto is commissioning editor for the program on Civil-Military Relations in Arab States at the Carnegie Middle East Center and the author of  How Militaries Learn: Human Capital, Military Education, and Battlefield Effectiveness