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Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht PAX

Meld grensoverschrijdend gedrag: reactie PAX op berichtgeving ambtenaar BZ

29-09-2018

Grensoverschrijdend gedrag komt overal voor. (Oud-)medewerkers van o.a. Cordaid, PAX en WO=MEN dienden in 2016 een klacht in naar aanleiding van ongewenst gedrag van een ambtenaar van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken.

Zes klachten zijn gegrond verklaard door de interne Klachtencommissie Ongewenste Omgangsvormen van het ministerie. Tegen de betrokken ambtenaar zijn disciplinaire maatregelen genomen. Na deze ervaring pleiten wij voor een laagdrempelige en toegankelijke externe klachtenprocedure bij ministeries en een grotere transparantie in de opgelegde strafmaatregel. NRC en De Reporter berichten hier dit weekend over.

Onze medewerkers ervaarden de gevoerde klachtenprocedure als zorgvuldig en grondig. Toch pleiten wij voor een toegankelijke externe klachtenprocedure. Dit verlaagt de drempel om een klacht in te dienen. Daarnaast pleiten wij voor transparantie voor de betrokkenen over de aard van de disciplinaire maatregelen. Na afronding van de klachtenprocedure bespraken wij dit herhaaldelijk en uitvoerig met het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken. We zijn blij dat de huidige secretaris-generaal van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken inmiddels het initiatief genomen heeft voor een Rijksbrede klachtenregeling voor externe partijen. Binnen deze regeling wordt ook gezocht naar een betere balans tussen bescherming van de privacy van daders en herstel van het rechtsgevoel van slachtoffers. Mede door de moedige interventies van de betrokken medewerkers binnen onze organisaties worden nu deze stappen gezet. Zij verdienen hiervoor alle waardering.

De journalisten van het artikel in de NRC en de uitzending van Reporter Radio onderzoeken deze zaak al geruime tijd. Zij hebben contact gezocht met een aantal van de betrokken medewerkers en de directeuren van de drie organisaties. In vertrouwelijke achtergrondgesprekken zijn de journalisten geïnformeerd over de ervaringen met en reactie op het grensoverschrijdend gedrag. Uiteindelijk besloten betrokken medewerkers geen verdere medewerking te verlenen aan publiciteit vanwege de emotionele belasting die opnieuw hierover praten met zich meebrengt. De drie directeuren hebben vervolgens ook afgezien van medewerking.

Grensoverschrijdend gedrag is onacceptabel. Altijd en zeker voor organisaties die zich inzetten voor de bescherming van rechten en die opkomen voor slachtoffers van machtsmisbruik. Het is belangrijk dat mensen zich vrij voelen om grensoverschrijdend gedrag te melden en daarbij ten alle tijden steun van hun organisatie en leidinggevenden krijgen. Organisaties moeten zich daarbij altijd laten leiden door de belangen van slachtoffers van grensoverschrijdend gedrag. Melden helpt!

Voor meer informatie:

Janneke Juffermans, PAX, 06 1292 4873, juffermans(javascript needed for readable email)paxforpeace.nl
Mickael Franci, Cordaid, 06 3390 3774, mickael.franci(javascript needed for readable email)cordaid.org
Jantien Kingma, WO=MEN, 06 1203 2246, communicatie(javascript needed for readable email)wo-men.nl

Gender, vrede en veiligheid, Nederland

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IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

Promoting EU leadership for democracy: Celebration of the International Day of Democracy 2018

The Office of International IDEA to the European Union celebrated the International Day of Democracy (15 September) by co-organizing a high-level conference on, ‘EU leadership for democracy’, at the European Parliament in Brussels on 18 September 2018. Organizing partners were the European Endowment for Democracy, European Partnership for Democracy and European Network of Political Foundations, with the support of the European Parliament, European Commission, and European External Action Service. Participants included democracy support practitioners, EU and national policy makers, diplomats, civil society organizations, academics and interested citizens.

In a pre-recorded video message, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Federica Mogherini, called for increased efforts and engagement to strengthen democracy. The keynote address of the conference was delivered by the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, who referred to the relation between democracy and human dignity: “Human dignity is not a western concern but a global concern. A universal concern. We’re not animals, we are human beings and democracy is based on it”. Lambrinidis emphasized the need to guarantee four elements of democracy: fair elections, inclusive participation, space for civil society, and checks and balances.

Plenary Session I focused on, ‘EU Leadership for Democracy – Internal and external dimensions’. The speakers underlined different challenges that confront democracy today. Mr Edward McMillan-Scott, a former Vice-President of the European Parliament and Patron of the European Movement, and Ms Veronika Mora, Director of the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, discussed the threat of the rise of populism in Europe, especially in Hungary and UK. Mr Salam Kawakibi, Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, referred to the Syrian crisis and highlighted shortcomings in the EU’s response. He acknowledged some democratic progress in the Arab-speaking world, and called for the support of genuine local civil society, and to address root causes of terrorism and extremism.

Plenary Session II focused on, ‘Democracy through inclusion’. The moderator, Ms Shada Islam, Director at Friends of Europe, pointed out that the lack of inclusive participation and declining respect for the rule of law threaten democracy. The panel included speakers with different backgrounds and experiences in the field of inclusion and democracy. Ms Apolmida Haruna Tsammani, Founder of the Haly Hope Foundation – Nigeria, referred to the societal and democratic exclusion of women with disabilities. “Persons with disabilities have their rights, and societies should invest in guaranteeing those rights. (…) There is a general lack of funding in this area, at all levels of policy”, according to Haruna. Ms Véronique de Keyser, Former Member of the European Parliament, emphasized that citizens’ engagement is fundamental for democracy. Promoting this at the European level implies investing in young people to build knowledge on European history and institutional frameworks. Mr Mehdi Yehya, Founder of Peace of Art – Lebanon, explained how art is being used to fight discrimination against children of different backgrounds.

     Photo: European Union; From 3rd left, Edward McMillan-Scott, Véronique de Keyser, Shada Islam,
Apolmida Haruna Tsammani and Mehdi Yehya.
 

Plenary Sessions were followed by four interactive workshops, the first of which focused on, Technology and its impact on public sphere. The speakers, Mr Sean Evins, Team Leader Politics and Government Outreach at Facebook, and Mr Matt Stempeck, Former Director of Civic Technology at Microsoft and Digital Mobilization Team Leader at ‘Hilary for America’, discussed the role of social media in elections and politics in general, and how foreign interference in elections and the fight against fake news can be addressed by social media companies. Issues related to reinforcing the positive role of social media on participation, and minimizing its harmful effects on democracy, were also debated.

On International IDEA’s work on ICTs and democracy, check this link: https://www.idea.int/our-work/what-we-do/ict-elections-democracy

The second workshop on, Political leadership for engagement, was facilitated by the Office of International IDEA to the EU. The objective of the workshop was to identify ideas and tools to improve the political engagement of citizens, especially young people, and the relationship between politicians and citizens, in order to restore trust in politics and in democracy.

Mr Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of EU law, HEC Paris and Director of The Good Lobby, spoke about ways to increase citizens’ participation in, and impact on decision-making. When public interest in politics is growing, and especially online, participation in conventional politics has decreased. Alemanno proposed citizen lobbying as a way to fix democracy and get peoples’ voices heard: “Time has come to rethink the relation between the electorate and the elected”, he said. “This can be done by any citizen. People need to change from spectators to actors.” He presented the highlights and conclusions of his book entitled, ‘Lobbying for change’, in which he provides coaching techniques and tools for political lobbying by citizens, as an avenue for participation and representation. To democratize lobbying, authorities should invest in resources to support citizens, e.g. via an EU Lobbying Aid Fund to finance policy research to inform European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI). The ECI can be made more user-friendly and efficient, e.g. by creating a mandatory public hearing in ECI petitions.

Photo: European Union; Andrew Bradley, Véronique Arnault, Alberto Alemanno, Kristen Aigro.
 

Remarks and questions from the audience were moderated by Ms Véronique Arnault, former Director of Human Rights and Democracy at EEAS, and related to new forms of democracy by random selection of citizens for parliamentary activity, and the priorities for leadership to connect with citizens. Rapporteur Ms Kristen Aigro, Board Member of the European Youth Forum, provided a summary of the actionable ideas generated by the workshop.

The third workshop was moderated by Ms Corinna Hörst, co-author of, ‘Women leading the way in Brussels’. Ms Virginia Garcia Beaudoux, Professor of Political Communication and Public Opinion at Universidad de Buenos Aires, and author of ‘Dancing Backwards in High Heels’,  highlighted some conclusions drawn from exchanges with women in leadership positions, such as the need for equality of power and influence on top of numerical equality, and the persistence of double standards and stereotypes on female leadership. The development of a political action plan was proposed as a concrete step to advance women’s empowerment.

The fourth workshop on, ‘The State and Future of Democracy’, included a presentation by Ms Anna Lührmann, Deputy Head of the V-Dem Institute in Gothenburg. Based on V-Dem research, democracy has remained attractive and strong, despite recent autocratic tendencies, which is a key challenge of the early 21st century. An important setback, however, is that for the first time since the 1970s there are as many states with declining as improving democracies.

For its Global State of Democracy flagship publication, International IDEA collaborated with V-Dem on data collection and interpretation. An Overview of the publication, as well as the full Report and its database can be consulted on www.idea.int/gsod .

During the Concluding Session, youth rapporteurs of the workshops offered an overview of  conclusions, providing at the same time youth perspectives on leadership for democracy. The International Day of Democracy conference offered an opportunity to discuss how leadership can improve democracy, and to promote cooperation among democracy support actors.

                                                                           Photos: European Union; Salam Kawakibi, Shada Islam, Apolmida Haruna Tsammani and Mehdi Yehya.
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Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht PAX

Vredesweek, wat was je mooi

25-09-2018

De Vredesweek 2018 is voorbij, en wat was het mooi. Van de inspirerende uitreiking van de PAX Duif tot aan de vele Walks of Peace… overal in Nederland werd vorige week de vrede en diversiteit gevierd.

We kunnen het succes van de Vredesweek samenvatten in cijfers, natuurlijk. Er waren meer activiteiten dan ooit waar ook meer mensen aan meededen. 377 activiteiten door heel het land. De inmiddels meer dan 80 Ambassades van Vrede werkten daar goed en hard aan. Op 31 plaatsen was een Walk of Peace en 45 keer trokken PAX-collega’s het land in om te vertellen over hun werk.

Maar… we kunnen het succes van de Vredesweek ook samenvatten in een paar simpele woorden: We gaven samen een hartverwarmend signaal van verbinding. De Vredesweek laat zien dat er in Nederland veel behoefte is aan verbinding als antwoord op verdeeldheid, uitsluiting en polarisatie. Hoe dat eruitziet? Kijk op onze Facebookpagina naar de foto’s van de vele activiteiten.

Aan iedereen die mee heeft gedaan tijdens de Vredesweek: heel erg bedankt en tot volgend jaar!

Nederland

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Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht PAX

PAX Duif 2018 uitgereikt aan tien vredeshelden

21-09-2018

PAX heeft vandaag, op de Internationale Dag van de Vrede, de PAX Duiven uitgereikt. Daarmee zet de vredesorganisatie bijzondere vredesinitiatieven in de spotlights. Onder de ontvangers dit jaar zijn Claudia de Breij, Mo & Moos en Sinan Can.

Dagelijks worden we geconfronteerd met berichten over oorlog en geweld. PAX wil daar iets tegenover stellen en juist positieve verhalen laten zien. Verhalen van mensen die een verandering teweeg brengen, op grote of juist kleine schaal. Zij steken hun nek uit om geweld te voorkomen. Daarom waarderen wij hen met de PAX Duif.

Ambassadeur van Vrede Vincent Bijlo zocht mee naar mooie initiatieven die positieve aandacht verdienen: “Alle mensen die een PAX Duif krijgen schudden ons wakker uit ons vanzelfsprekende, vredige bestaan. Ze laten ons zien dat oorlog en vluchten nooit ver weg is. Ze leren ons dat ook wij iets kunnen doen om bij te dragen aan vrede.”

De Vredeshelden
In het Volkshotel in Amsterdam werden de PAX Duiven uitgereikt aan tien bekende en minder bekende Nederlanders die allemaal een stap extra zetten voor vrede.

Cabaretière Claudia de Breij ontving de PAX Duif vanwege haar engagement voor vrede die ze in haar shows steeds weer laat zien. Door de rol die De Breij aan vrede geeft in haar voorstellingen inspireert ze mensen.

Mo & Moos is een groep Amsterdamse moslims en joden die al een aantal jaar samen optrekt. Mo & Moos verdient een PAX Duif omdat zij de nadruk legt op de overeenkomsten tussen de joodse en islamitische gemeenschap in ‘Mokum’ in plaats van op de verschillen.

Sinan Can is een Nederlandse journalist en programmamaker van Turkse afkomst. Hij maakt belangrijke televisiedocumentaires, zoals ‘In het spoor van IS’. Vertellen over het leven van mensen in conflictgebieden is voor hem het allerbelangrijkste. Voor de durf die hier voor nodig is heeft Can vandaag de PAX Duif gekregen.

Omar Munie is een Haagse designer die steeds meer furore maakt in de modewereld. Met zijn ‘omarmband’ vraagt hij aandacht voor diversiteit en steunt hij projecten in instabiele landen aan de buitengrenzen van Europa. In zijn atelier geeft hij mensen zonder werk kans om een ambacht te leren en begeleidt hij hen naar een baan. Zo bevordert Munie inclusiviteit in de samenleving.

Nora Bosscher i.s.m. 1u=uall, samen zorgden zij voor vredeslessen op twee basisscholen in Gouda. Op school wordt reken-, taal- en biologieles gegeven, maar waarom geen les over vrede? Daar hebben zij verandering in gebracht, en PAX hoopt dat dit landelijk zal worden ingevoerd op alle basisscholen.

Marjolein Visser, jonge schrijfster en onderzoekspsychologe die naar Mali is gereisd om een verhaal over vluchtelingen te schrijven, en schrijflessen voor ouderen in verzorgingstehuizen en jongeren in AZC’s verzorgt.

Bright Richards, acteur, theatermaker en ondernemer, kreeg de PAX Duif voor zijn bijdrage aan vrede en verbinding. Onze ambassadeur Vincent Bijlo: “Wat ik zo goed en verbindend vind is dat Bright in zijn show ‘oude en nieuwe Nederlanders’ aan elkaar koppelt. Je koopt niet alleen een kaartje voor de voorstelling voor jezelf maar ook een kaartje voor een vluchteling. Tijdens de show wordt je aan diegene gekoppeld.”

Cynthia Martens, studente ‘Docent Muziek’, die haar hele zomervakantie besteed heeft aan vrijwilligerswerk, o.a. op Lesbos, waar zij muziekles aan vluchtelingen heeft gegeven.

De organisatoren van de Walk of Peace Leeuwarden: Solidair Friesland en de Friese Raad van Kerken, samen met de organisaties in de wijk. Zij leggen tijdens deze wandeling de verbinding tussen vrede en (het oplossen van) concrete armoede in de wijk. Daarmee maken zij vrede heel concreet. 

En tot slot Enschede voor Vrede, die al 22 jaar elk jaar de Vredesweek organiseren. Dit jaar hebben zij zoveel activiteiten dat zij er zelfs een Vredesmaand van gemaakt hebben!

Vredesweek
Van 15 t/m 23 september is het Vredesweek. Kijk op vredesweek.nl voor alle activiteiten.

Nederland

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IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

Democracy and Peace – symbiotic and mutually reinforcing

Looking at the news around the world today, one cannot help but wonder if peace is being taken for granted? While some of us are fortunate to enjoy peaceful lives, others live in conflict zones where livelihoods are endangered and families are threatened. Like democracy, peace has to be nurtured, promoted and protected.

As we commemorate the International Day of Peace on 21 September, it is only apt to reflect on how our work and day-to-day activities help promote and sustain peace in our communities and beyond our respective countries’ borders. Just as International IDEA supports sustainable democracy worldwide, we also champion peace and conflict prevention.

The relationship between democracy and peace is perhaps one of the more researched topics in political science. Is democracy good for peace? Or is it peace that leads to democracy? One of the foremost theories on this is the Theory of Democratic Peace, originally conceived by Immanuel Kant. The theory suggests that the more democratic two regimes are, the less likely they will engage in conflict. Dan Reiter, in his article “Is Democracy a Cause of Peace”, looks more closely into this relationship by addressing critics of the theory argue that the “observed correlation between democracy and peace does not mean that democracy causes peace”. Reiter concludes firstly, that there is enough evidence to show that democracy does cause peace at least between democracies and secondly, several factors (including democracy) cause peace and that the causality among the factors of democracy and peace is likely to be bidirectional.

The Theory of Democratic Peace when related to International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy publication, which put forward that from 1975-2015 democracy has advanced with most electoral democracies established during this period surviving, can help explain why there is more peace and lesser conflict. This is further qualified in Inclusive Peace – or not peace at all, which advances that within countries, inclusive governance and adherence to fundamental rights can help a great deal in overcoming challenges to peace and parting ways with a violent past.

This is also empirically supported by “Conflict Trends and Conflict Drivers: An Empirical Assessment of Historical Conflict Patterns and Future Conflict Projections” by Szayna, Thomas, et al., which highlights that overall levels of conflict have been declining in the past two decades. On the one hand, inter-state violence has decreased the most, both in incidence and intensity of armed conflict. On the other hand, while intra-state conflict and low intensity violence are declining, they are doing so in a slower pace.

International IDEA’s commitment to peace is clearly expressed in the video message from our Secretary-General. In the message, Yves Leterme also highlights the prominence of intra-state conflicts and puts forward pointers to help mitigate it.

To nurture and protect peace, International IDEA helps to enable and equip democratic actors and institutions with the knowledge, frameworks and tools for dialogue, engagement and peacebuilding. In Helmets are not enough: What West Africa today tells us about the realities of conflict prevention, we zero in on organized crime and how its corruptive influence can undermine democracy. One foremost lesson is that by identifying the areas that are most vulnerable to the influence of organized crime and political corruption, it is possible to prioritize conflict preventive actions that strengthen governance and democracy. The IntegriTAS Threat Assessment System can precisely help government and Civil Society do this. In Substate constitutions in Myanmar, we look closely at how sub-state constitutions can be used as an effective framework for sustainable peace in a country that is divided by ethnic and territorial conflict. Informed by the policy paper, Substate Constitutions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings, International IDEA’s office in Myanmar hopes to help set the tone and establish a framework for constructive engagement for all stakeholders. In Planting elections in barren soil? Timing and sequencing of elections after violent conflict, we are presented the dilemmas that democracy support organizations face when invited to assist a country that has recently undergone a conflict. While it is clear that trusted and capable electoral management and electoral justice institutions are necessary for the conduct of peaceful and credible elections, how does one know that a post-conflict country is ready to take the next step by holding elections? Finally, in Enhancing the peacebuilding role of political parties and parliament in Haiti, we present our work on enhancing the role of democratic actors and institutions in addressing the political divide in order to shape and sustain a culture of accountability for the country. Other than just meeting the demands for integrity, accountability and responsiveness to democratic institutions, political parties and parliaments are ultimately expected to be a stronger bridge for political stability and peace.

We all have a role to play in promoting peace. As citizens, in nurturing our democracy, we also nurture our peace and that of our neighbours’.

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IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

Substate Constitutions and Peace Negotiations

With the vision of promoting and strengthening democracy and democratic culture, International IDEA, through the MyConstitution programme, is supporting constitution building process as an integral part of the democratic transition in Myanmar. By working with various state institutions, ethnic based organizations, political parties, civil society organizations and academia, International IDEA is promoting a more inclusive and well-informed debate on constitutional issues and creating a common understanding of federal and constitutional principles. The right to draft a state’s constitution has been widely discussed in Myanmar as part of the drive for self-determination of ethnic minorities and one of the federal principles proposed by the ethnic armed organizations.

Myanmar’s government, ethnic armed groups and political stakeholders are attempting to halt a 70 year civil war between Myanmar’s army and ethnic armed groups, partly by moving toward consolidating democracy and establishing a federal state. One of the options to achieving the latter is to amend the 2008 constitution based on the outcomes of the Union Peace Agreement, as mandated in the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). The NCA has to date been signed by 10 ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), and another dozen are still negotiating with the government whether they will sign the NCA, seek a separate ceasefire agreement, or continue the armed struggle.

The NCA aims to be a stepping stone for the peace process, with the goal to secure both a peace agreement and a new political settlement among Myanmar’s stakeholders, which would transform Myanmar into a federal republic. It provides a formal channel for political dialogue, where not only the EAOs and the government are able to discuss federal and democratic principles, but where public participation will also be allowed to some extent.

The NCA included a roadmap to achieve national reconciliation and peace for the country. To implement the latter, the government of Myanmar has organized a nationwide peace conference—the XXI Century Panglong Peace Conference—which has taken place 3 times since October.  Key to these negotiations has been the demand of EAOs for ethnic states to be granted self-determination, including the right to draft their own state constitution. While this was in principle agreed to by both the government and the military, EAOs were in return required to agree to a clause explicitly eschewing the right to secession, which they failed to do.

According to Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong, member of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee and vice chairman of the Chin National Front, the EAOs’ demand to be able to draft and adopt their own substate/state constitutions is based on historical factors since gaining independence from Britain. State constitutions are generally defined as legal documents that “limit and structure political power at the sub-state level” to enable stakeholders at the substate level to organize and implement powers allocated to the substate entities. In the eyes of ethnic groups they provide the states with a high degree of self-governance and allow them to respect the rights of minorities in each of the states. Historically and politically, this demand stems from the 1947 Panglong agreement, signed by General Aung San and ethnic representatives from the Frontier Areas. This agreement guaranteed full autonomy to the ethnic states regarding their internal administration and included the fundamental principles to be accommodated in the future (1947) constitution of the Union. However, the 1947 constitution, which was enacted after independence, and which gave the rights to the states to draft their own constitutions (articles 165, 179, 194, and State Legislative List II), was never fully implemented, including the guarantees for self-determination that can be found in the Panglong Agreement, which is one the reasons for the beginning of the civil conflict.

At the same time, substate constitution making is not a new subject for many ethnic minorities in Myanmar. Along with the military government’s constitutional drafting conference, called the ‘National Convention’ in 1990, the exiled ethnic armed groups and other democratic forces who fought against the government in Thai-Burma border drafted a parallel constitution. This constitution was later abandoned as there were no agreement between the groups that it should include and protect the interest of ethnic people. In 2000, the leaders of some ethnic resistance groups—Chin, Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan—started drafting their own state constitutions, establishing their own drafting committees. Due to the status of these ethnic groups and limited control over the territory, it was difficult for the committee to have inclusive involvement, which impacted the legitimacy of the committee and its drafting process. While these substate constitutions were never formally adopted, they all reached different stages of development. The Chin State Constitution Drafting Committee, for instance, has drafted and amended its state constitution four times and has been working on its fifth draft since 2000. And it’s not only ethnic states that are interested in drafting sub-state constitutions – some regions within Myanmar have shown a similar interest. Since 2015, for instance, stakeholders in the Thanintharyi region have been negotiating a Tanintharyi Nationalities State Constitution, starting the drafting process, which has included different interest groups, civil society organizations, and was later joined by political parties and legal professionals.

International IDEA recently published a report on Substate Constitutions in Fragile and Conflict-affected Settings, which provides an analysis on how substate constitutions have been developed and designed in conflict-affected states after 1991 (or after the end of the Cold War). The report looks at both federal and unitary states that have adopted substate constitutions after the end of Cold War. The two key messages of the report are firstly, the right to draft and adopt sub-state constitutions does not necessarily mean that the substate entity has a high degree of autonomy, and secondly “constitutional space” is what determines the level of autonomy of a substate entity in structuring political power and designing its own substate constitution. Constitutional space is often the result of political negotiations among parties to the conflict, and it is always provided for in the central-state (or national) constitution.  Furthermore, the paper also discusses the process of substate constitution building as well as design options for substate constitution makers. Interestingly, the design of substate constitutions mostly coincides with the central-state constitutional design. This paper was translated into Myanmar language with the aim of allowing the people in Myanmar to access this knowledge resource and be able to learn from comparative experiences.

With growing interest in the subject throughout Myanmar, International IDEA’s MyConstitution Programme organized a public launch of the Substate Constitutions in Fragile and Conflict-affected Settings policy paper in Myanmar version in June; participants from civil society organizations, government institutions, political parties, academia, legal professionals, and international organization attended the event. The purpose of this event was to support a better understanding of the content and issues around adopting substate constitutions. In addition, International IDEA intended to provide comparative case studies where the audience could learn from different approaches and challenges in the constitution-building process. Thus, International IDEA conducted separate one-day workshops with the Civil Society Forum for Peace, the Constitutional Tribunal, and the Attorney General’s Office to discuss the role of substate constitutions in federal states and the relationship between constitutions at both sub and central-state level.

Most participants in these workshops stated that Substate Constitutions constituted a new subject they did not know much about before. They also stressed that the workshop provided useful knowledge for their day-to-day work and research on constitutional issues. One of the participants, Tin Ko Ko Oo, a leading member of Tahnintayi Nationalities State Constitution Drafting Committee, said that “they even discussed and amended the draft state constitution based on the knowledge learned in the workshop”.

Based on the comments from the participants to the workshops and partners, International IDEA already plans to support further activities and workshops on sub-state constitutions to reach out to other stakeholders from both national and states/regions.

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IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

Helmets are not enough: What West Africa today tells us about the realities of conflict prevention

Democracy is pivotal in the pursuit for peace. The global conflict-prevention agenda that the UN Secretary-General seems committed to revitalizing is largely based on this assumption. The Security Council’s Presidential Statement of 10 August, which calls for adequate resources for conflict prevention in West Africa, given the region’s prevailing terrorist and organized crime threats, is but the latest reminder that this approach might be more complicated than it seems.

We know that democracy can be messy. In the short-term democratic transitions can lead to instability, and in the long-term democracies are less likely to engage in conflict with one another. The outstanding issue these days, however, is not so much how countries behave outside their borders but rather within, as most armed conflicts are currently intra-state. They are also more difficult to resolve, not least because they are largely fuelled by organized crime and corruption.

In the recent report Pathways for Peace—which provides the main guidelines for the new global approach to conflict prevention—the UN and the World Bank deal with these corruption and organized crime dynamics head-on. The report not only acknowledges how transnational organized crime has become a key engine of instability by sprouting new conflicts and exacerbating existing ones, but how traditional avenues for conflict resolution do not necessarily work in these instances. Instead, the report highlights that these types of conflict dynamics render a new approach that involves fighting political corruption and strengthening accountability.

Indeed, curbing the corruptive influence of organized crime over critical areas of democratic governance, like political parties, elections and public service delivery, is a necessary precondition for resilience in some of the most fragile contexts. This requires a dual strategy that connects the global and the local levels.

Granted, as organized crime is by nature a transnational phenomenon, any coherent approach needs to bring the international community to the discussion. But, while organized crime stretches its arms across borders, it has its feet firmly at the local level. These networks need to control the territories where their production and distribution chains are located, from border to port towns, from poppy cultivation fields to forestry zones. Cities too, given current urbanization trends, are increasingly becoming the new conflict battlefields.

A serious conflict prevention approach that includes organized crime and corruption into the equation thus requires an assessment of these threats at the local level. This is particularly true in contexts like that of West Africa, where, as the Security Council stated in August, conflict prevention is largely a governance issue. The new International IDEA IntegriTAS Threat Assessment System is built under that premise. Only by identifying the spots that are most vulnerable to the influence of organized crime and political corruption is it possible to prioritize conflict preventive actions that strengthen governance and democracy.

This not only makes the approach more effective; it also makes it more manageable. Conflict prevention may entail actions in a myriad of countries and localities that are not yet under the peacebuilding community’s radar. This may, in turn, be a costly affair. By focusing on the zones most at risk, the conflict prevention approach captures the local needs and prioritizes actions accordingly.

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IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

Enhancing the peacebuilding role of political parties and parliament in Haiti

Significant progress has been made in democratizing politics and governance in Haiti during the past two decades. Several challenges however, including extreme poverty, wide economic inequalities, weak democratic institutions and a polarized political landscape remain. Opposition political parties and citizens often express their frustrations through protests, which regularly degenerate into violence. This polarization of politics impedes sustainable peacebuilding efforts and government effectiveness, as witnessed during 2015 political deadlock that lasted almost a year, with the country returning to a constitutional order only in February 2017.

“Haiti is back on the path to democracy…today is not the victory of one camp over other camps, but it’s the victory of democracy, it’s Haiti’s victory and that of all Haitians”, declared Jovenel Moïse, President of the Republic of Haiti in his inaugural presidential address on February 7th, 2017.

The quality and effectiveness of representative democracy largely depend on the quality of political parties.  Beyond the demands for integrity, accountability and responsiveness, democratic institutions—parties and parliaments are also expected to be stronger bridges for political stability—an attribute that is extremely important in Haiti context. Clare Castillejo (2016) argues that in conflict/post-conflict contexts, ‘political parties give political expression to grievances that may otherwise be expressed through violence, and they aggregate and articulate the interests of citizens during both peace negotiations, transition processes and more broadly in post-conflict state-building’.

International IDEA places emphasis on, among other things, strengthening the capacities of political parties and parliaments to be more representative, accountable and responsive to citizens’ needs; and to peacefully manage diversity and conflict. For each political party to effectively perform its role however, it needs to first be a viable institution with democratic values, a clear vision and programme for society. At the system level, the effectiveness largely depends on whether parties advance public issues rather than personal ones and the degree to which they appreciate and practice dialogue and consensus-building across the political divide in national policy discourse and reform processes. The capacity to effectively balance healthy competition and dialogue is particularly critical in Haitian context. In practice, political parties in Haiti generally exhibit weaknesses in most—if not all the above aspects.

It is against this background that International IDEA implements programmes aimed at strengthening the organizational viability, policy-making and dialogue capacities, as well as promoting mechanisms for gender mainstreaming and inclusion by political parties in Haiti. Since 2012, the institute has convened and facilitated dialogues between political parties on a wide array of issues, from electoral legal reforms, to political party financing, to mechanisms for gender equality within political parties and national policy-making processes, to building trust and confidence between political parties and amongst them and their representatives in parliament. The objective of International IDEA’s interventions is to contribute to enhancing the role of these democratic institutions in shaping and sustaining a culture of accountability and responsiveness of public institutions and generally building a shared roadmap towards democratic consolidation and sustainable development in Haiti.

Some of the knowledge resources and tools used to facilitate these processes in Haiti include:

  1. Strategic Planning Tool for Political Parties: A Practical Guide
  2. Interparty Dialogue Skills Training Module
  3. A Framework for Developing Gender Policies for Political Parties
  4. Les partis politiques dans la construction de la démocratie en Haïti
Categorieën
IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

Planting elections in barren soil? Timing and sequencing of elections after violent conflict

Large-scale violent conflicts are devastating in many ways. They cause death, suffering, destruction of infrastructure and resource depletion.  Somewhat less visible though, is how they tear apart the delicate social fabric within and between communities. Comprehensive peacebuilding efforts are therefore multidimensional, aiming to sustain peace, support economic consolidation, promote reconciliation, and to restore or establish democracy and the good governance. In achieving the latter, elections are an indispensable instrument.

It is now well established that appropriate electoral rules, which for example set a level playing field for elections, may alleviate social tensions, or if otherwise, exaggerate them. Further, trusted and capable electoral management and electoral justice institutions are necessary (although not sufficient) for the conduct of peaceful and credible elections. As a result, it is common for peace agreements to include specific provisions about the organization of democratic elections (for example in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1995, East Timor 1999, Bougainville 2001, Liberia 2003, the Central African Republic 2013). On the implementation side, the international community often avails electoral assistance throughout the electoral cycle

While the mechanics of international electoral support – implemented by international governmental and non-governmental organizations – have advanced through decades of practice, one recurring question remains difficult to answer, namely: “When is a good time to conduct the first election after violent conflict, and how to sequence it against other peacebuilding processes”? 

Organizing elections quickly after violent conflict can be risky, because of non-existent or weak electoral institutions, the need to register a large number of internally displaced persons and refugees, security challenges, and unresolved grievances. On the other hand, long-delayed elections will prolong the establishment of legitimate and representative government and undermine prospects for receiving international development support. Also, the momentum for positive change attained in the peace process may be lost. In either case, if the decision on the timing and sequencing of the first post-conflict elections is not conflict sensitive, it may lead to the relapse of violence.  Stark examples are Liberia, following the 1997 elections which were marred with irregularities, or Angola, following the political turmoil and outbreak of violence between the two rounds of the 1992 presidential elections.  

To contribute to the debate and formulate policy recommendation on this topic, International IDEA has reached out to high-profile experts and organizations involved in providing mediation, peacebuilding and electoral support in countries experiencing democratic transitions (including shifts from war to peace).  Key findings, that draw on experts’ inputs and discussions, confirm that decisions on the timing and sequencing of transitional elections will always need to be context specific. However, such decisions need to be the result of a thorough thought process in which all options are carefully weighted. These and other findings will be elaborated in the International IDEA policy paper on the Timing and Sequencing of Transitional Elections, forthcoming in 2018.

Categorieën
IDEA Maatschappij en Cultuur Mensenrechten Nieuwsbericht

IDEA Internacional y el INAI exploran posibilidades de colaboración

En el espíritu de fomentar la rendición de cuentas y la transparencia, a finales de agosto de 2018, el jefe de la Oficina para México y Centroamérica, el Dr Miguel Ángel Lara Otaola, se reunió con el Dr Francisco Javier Acuña Llamas, comisionado presidente del Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales (INAI) de México, para explorar posibilidades de colaboración entre ambas instituciones.

This article is available in English

El INAI es el organismo autónomo encargado de garantizar el derecho de los ciudadanos al acceso a la información, de velar por el cumplimiento de las obligaciones de transparencia de múltiples actores y de implementar políticas públicas sobre rendición de cuentas y transparencia en México.

La transparencia permite –por medio de sistemas de participación, nuevas tecnologías y accesibilidad a datos públicos– exigir más a los gobiernos, lo que se traduce en mayor rendición de cuentas. Un gobierno transparente y que da cuenta de sus acciones fortalece intrínsecamente las políticas, prácticas y leyes que hacen que una sociedad sea más igualitaria, inclusiva y justa; por el mismo efecto, diseña mecanismos más efectivos para atender las necesidades de la población.

Parte del trabajo de IDEA Internacional se ha encaminado a fortalecer los principios de transparencia y rendición de cuentas. Así, en 2014 elaboró una metodología –Rendición de cuentas democrática en la prestación de servicios. Una guía práctica para identificar mejoras a través de la evaluación– para ayudar a superar los obstáculos que impiden a la población involucrarse más para exigir mayor rendición de cuentas a sus autoridades: problemas de acción colectiva, falta de capacidad, mala administración y corrupción. Por otra parte, en 2016 publicó Building Back Better: A Democratic Accountability Assessment of Service Delivery After Typhoon Haiyan, que ofrece una valoración de los mecanismos de rendición de cuentas en la prestación de servicios de vivienda y reubicación después del paso devastador del tifón Haiyan por las Filipinas en 2013. Por último, en abril de 2017 editó Open Data in Electoral Administration, documento destinado a ayudar a los organismos de administración electoral a cumplir con los principios de datos abiertos en la publicación de información sobre elecciones.

Es importante recordar que México cofundó la Alianza para el Gobierno Abierto (AGA), plataforma internacional para países comprometidos con los principios de transparencia y acceso a la información, rendición de cuentas, participación y colaboración ciudadanas e innovación y tecnología. Para seguir siendo ejemplo internacional en la materia, el país debe consolidar lo alcanzado y avanzar en los temas pendientes. El trabajo del INAI constituye una aportación fundamental en esa dirección.

IDEA Internacional celebra el espíritu de apertura mostrado por el INAI y aguarda con entusiasmo la oportunidad para colaborar estrechamente en un futuro próximo. Como es su tradición, IDEA Internacional pone a disposición todo su expertise, conocimiento técnico y capacidad (conceptual, metodológica y práctica) para impulsar mejores prácticas y diseñar mejores políticas en la materia.