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The Slovak Transition Experience- sharing within Slovak – Tunisian case of Cooperation Civil Society Needs Assessment in Tunisia Katarína Bajzíková (African.

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Presentation on theme: "The Slovak Transition Experience- sharing within Slovak – Tunisian case of Cooperation Civil Society Needs Assessment in Tunisia Katarína Bajzíková (African."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Slovak Transition Experience- sharing within Slovak – Tunisian case of Cooperation Civil Society Needs Assessment in Tunisia Katarína Bajzíková (African Centre of Slovakia, PDCS) 14-16th June 2012, Emerging Africa 2012, Pécs

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3 Introduction Community of Democracies (global intergovernmental coalition of democratic countries) – “Task Force Tunisia” chaired by Netherlands and Slovakia (July 2011) support countries in the process of transition to democracy (Tunisia, Moldova) five realms of cooperation: 1. security sector reform 2. justice reform 3. public administration reform 4.regional development 5. civil society

4 “The role of civil society in a transition period: sharing the Slovak experience with Tunisia” AIM of the project to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and to invest in their leaders, enabling them to play an active role in Tunisia’s democratic transition. special focus will be given to sharing Slovakia’s experiences in CSO development, security sector reform (SSR), women’s empowerment.

5 Methodology The team (PDC – Partners for Democratic Change and PDCS experts on Arab spring need assessment) conducted: – 3 workhops (Tunis, Sfax and Médenine) – semi-structured meetings with 19 key civil society representatives and stakeholders – in total – 53 stakeholders interviewed, including 13 donors and international NGOs, and 36 civil society organizations. Questionnaires prepared for focus groups and interviews undertook in February and March 2012

6 Historical Overview In 1987, Ben Ali assumed the presidency from Habib Bourguiba Ben Ali established himself as the country’s most dedicated reformer. In 1989, Ben Ali banned Islamist parties and reinstated a number of policies from the Bourguiba era. Ran unopposed in 1994 and won by impossibly high margins (over 90%) in 1999, 2004 and 2009 By his last term, Ben Ali’s regime was recognized internationally as one of the most repressive in the world, with consistently poor ratings from human rights and press freedom Ben Ali was overthrown on January 14, 2011 due to mass demonstrations protesting unemployment, inflation, and rampant corruption in the government A Tunisian engineer working in anti- corruption shared with us: “The main catalyst of the revolution is corruption. Democratic demands were called only by the educated while the majority was objecting corruption, unemployment and lack of development.”

7 National Government The Constituent Assembly (CA) was elected on October 23, 2011, and is tasked with writing a new constitution for Tunisia. The Islamist Ennahda party won a plurality of approximately 41% President is Moncef Marzouki, elected on December 12, 2011 by the CA Generally speaking, people described the elections as free and fair Many Tunisians are skeptical about the recent success of Ennahda party and were actually surprised that they won the elections. Many concerns were expressed regarding developing the constitution based on Islamic Foundation. A young activist told us “Tunisian people lack political experience… Ennahda party were very oppressed and tortured during the old regime which triggered people’s sympathy, some people voted for them just for that reason!”

8 Constitution – What’s Next? Divided up into constitution committees tasked with creating a constitution which will guide the elections. In February 2012, plans were announced to hold elections within eighteen months, or by October 2013/ 20 th March Public hearings for the CA were broadcasted on national TV, however the process of drafting the constitution has not been shared with the public. “The constituent assembly are not involving citizens in the drafting process, I guess they think that being elected by the people is enough.” Representative of a local CSO in Tunis

9 Civil Society Organizations Supported by EC, UNDP, WB Diverse programs Well staff + equipped Survived the authoritarian regime Rich experience in civil work Women organizations Poor internal capacities No essence of civic and political engagement Cultural, charity Changed their face after the revolution Young Youthful Dynamic Voluntary based Initially focused on elections unfocused New Emerged CSOs CSOs Affiliated with old regime CSOs with International Affiliations CSOs suppressed by old regime Pre-Revolution Post-Revolution

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11 Women Status Tunisia is known to be the most progressive in women rights among the Arab region. In law, women are protected as young women, single mothers, and have rights in marriage Gender balance is witnessed the streets, civil society, or political presence. The gender requirement in the CA elections specified that every other name on a list must be a woman. In reality, only 49 women have received seats in CA (24%) Women are concerned that liberalization gains under the previous regime may be rolled back by the new government “Women rights which were already adopted by the old regime are a gain and should remain untouched” A women advocate from civil society “We were striving for women rights advancement since the 60s but nowadays we are concerned that women rights will rollback if the constitution was drafted on Islamic foundation”. A feminist and leader of a reputable women based organization

12 Tunisian Youth The Revolution was ignited by the youth because of unemployment and lack of economic opportunities and avenues for civic engagement. Youth are very frustrated and some might think that this will trigger another revolution youth are not deeply engaged in the political processes Youth are “wearing ten hats” “Youth can be contributing in positive and negative ways. They are looking for tangible results. Frustration is growing and is triggering another revolution” Director of an International NGO shared her observations.

13 Security Sector Police Forces Little investment in the army during Ben Ali’s regime Were not described as powerful Played major role in revolution Popular and respected Army No trust between them and civilians Were used as tools of oppression Protected Ben Ali Were feared by people but now they dread revenge from people

14 Lack of Economic Opportunities (unemployment) Poor Engagement in transitional process (lack of transparency and accountability) Absent Youth Civic Engagement Ideological tension (Islamists and Secularists) Inability to Access to Funds ( weak org capacities) Women Rights (weak constituencies base) Transitional Justice (open files and victims compensation) Weak Organizational Capacities (no focused missions, lack managerial skills, etc…) Civil Society Coordination (coast vs. interior, power dynamics) Challenges and Needs of Civil Society in Tunisia

15 Opportunities and Potential Interventions Civil society: (1)organizational development; (2) capacity building in technical areas; (3) and support in creating constituencies to respond to the needs of communities and to lend legitimacy to organizations when advocating with government agencies or actors.

16 Opportunities and Potential Interventions Women’s Empowerment: (1) training and technical assistance to help women’s groups reach out to and communicate with local communities to gain constituents for purposes of political advocacy (2) exposure to international human rights agreements and laws, to help equip leaders with the legal knowledge necessary to effect significant gains.

17 Opportunities and Potential Interventions Security sector reform (SSR) (limited knowledge of the role that civilians can play in security sector reform, CSOs more concerned with transitional justice and access to archives than SSR ): ( 1 ) financial support and training in security sector reform (2) observe and benefit from an international exchange of expertise

18 Conclusions What is the potential of transfer of transition experience of ex-communist countries/ Visegrad countries? – Ongoing process – Local differences Differences (starting point, vision, democratic experience) Possibility to design alternative to Western democracy

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20 Thank you for your attention! Katarína Bajzíková


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