Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD): Political Pluralism and Electoral Processes in the broader Middle East and North Africa

Background Paper - Venice, 21-23 July 2005

Within the DAD consultation process, No Peace Without Justice organises a Civil Society Workshop on Political Pluralism (Venezia, 21-23 July 2005).  The Workshop is conceived as a building block of the DAD program on the theme of political pluralism / electoral processes, designed to integrate civil society concerns into governmental discussions on reform.
The Workshop will be held at the Monastery of San Nicolò, in Lido di Venezia, which hosts the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC), a centre of education, training and research activities in the area of the promotion of human rights and democracy that brings together the human rights and democratisation programs of twenty-five different European universities.
The Workshop will be developed in three panels and the conclusions of each panel will be discussed in plenary.  Specific themes, one for each panel, will be:
I. Standard, Status and Role of the Political Parties;
II. Electoral systems, passive and active electorate, electoral monitoring in BMENA Countries;
III. Access to the Media for political parties and civil society organisations.

The discussion will be focused on national and regional problems and develop a deeper understanding of the issue and a common capacity to pursue and implement reform efforts.  Participants will be asked to share political experiences and national prospective, propose and envisage possible ways to articulate a coherent and fruitful agenda for dialogue with Governments in the region and to work on specific research projects and documents to be decided at the seminar.

Participants will reflect diverse backgrounds and opinions and include civil society representatives, academics, intellectuals, media editors and other opinion leaders who have the stature and authority to be able to interact with Governments at the highest level and the willingness and potential to implement, lobby for and monitor the implementation of reform on the specific themes.

The workshop will develop priority points on political pluralism / electoral process, which may constitute a basis for an open discussion with MENA Governments.

The meeting could also generate a continued dialogue within a wider civil society context and strengthen informal networks that can continue work on the issues raised on a national or sub-regional basis.  Individual experts and organisations may also undertake to implement research and writing programs as part of the DAD program, including for example assessments of the state of progress on political pluralism in each MENA country, which could work as a baseline for continued monitoring in the future.