The Kawakibi Democracy Transition Chair : The First Preparatory Meeting

Report - Rabat, Morocco 26-27 March 2007

The 2005 Rabat International Colloquium on Political Pluralism and Electoral Processes in the in the broader Middle East and North Africa, held on October 2005, recognised that "free, public and diversified information represents the best way to open up the public space to debate, which characterises democratic pluralism" as well as the fundamental role that can be played by the promotion of best practices and information sharing in the view of the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, political participation for all and the empowerment of women and their full participation in public life. In the framework of the second year of activities within the Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD) partnership, No Peace Without Justice aims to provide adequate followup to the commitments undertaken during the 2005 Rabat International Colloquium. On the 26 – 27 March 2007 No Peace Without Justice organised, together with the "Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center" (KADEM) and with the "Moroccan Organization for Human Rights" (OMDH) and the "Arab Institute for Human Rights" (AIHR), the first preparatory meeting of the "Kawakibi Democracy Transition Chair" aimed at promoting democratic reform and strengthening the basis for non-state actors' interactions with state bodies by reinforcing their contribution to the democratic process, promoting dialogue with decision- makers as well as increasing the capacity of civil society to enter into effective interaction with state structures. In consultation with local partners, No Peace Without Justice identified the transfer and sharing of knowledge related to democratic reforms as a fundamental theme to be developed in order to support and facilitate effective interaction between non-state actors and state structures as well as to promote the role of non-state actors as a legitimate counterpart of dialogue within the democracy building process. The event was designed to offer a progressive strategy toward the establishment of a lasting system of dialogue and consultation between non-state actors and state bodies on issues related to the establishment of systematic peer-to-peer consultations between government representatives and democracy advocates.
Objectives and Agenda of the first preparatory meeting of the "Kawakibi Democracy Transition Chair"
The first preparatory meeting of the "Kawakibi Democracy Transition Chair" therefore aimed at institutionalising the transfer and learning processes of the knowledge of democracy transition in the MENA region, facilitating partnership and cooperation between civil society and universities and developing the professional skills necessary for civil society to enter into effective interaction with state structures, as well as mainstreaming and systematizing the contribution of civil society to the decision-making process. The first preparatory meeting of the "Kawakibi Democracy Transition Chair" was opened in the morning of 26 March 2007 by the interventions of the organisers’ representatives, notably Ms Amina Bouayache (Moroccan Organization for Human Rights); Mr. Taieb Baccouche (Arab Institute for Human Rights); Mr. Gianluca Eramo (No Peace Without Justice) and Mr. Mohsen Marzouk (Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center). Moreover, a message of H.R.H Prince Al Hassan Ibn Talal’s (Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center) was read. The opening ceremony aimed at presenting the objectives and format of the meeting.
Following the opening ceremony six Panel sessions have been held during the two-day seminar. The Panels were designed to offer a brain storming on the various issues and needs that the promotion of best practices and information sharing face within the MENA region and allow an open and frank debate. Participants agreed that the efforts of the academic institutions and civil society have to be assembled in order to develop and facilitate close-to-reality teaching programs, to establish such knowledge, as well as to determine the beneficiaries and the channel of transmission of this knowledge. In fact, development of the knowledge of democratic transitions requires: (1) the codification of the concrete, accumulated regional political reform experiences; (2) handing the knowledge gathered by other populations in the same field over to the regional actors; (3) creating the institutions, and the teaching and training spaces capable of hosting the knowledge seekers. The knowledge to be bestowed to the regional actors is not to be theoretical, academic or abstract, but rather a concrete rendering of the advocacy for democratic change. The regional actors would, thus, be provided with the necessary concepts and methodology that would enable them to diagnose the democratic change issues in their countries and suggest alternative solutions adapted to their own contexts. In this regards, devising ways of teaching the experiences of democratic transitions is not only an essential part of the democratic education, but also a major part of the creation of the operational, economic and human capacity to change.
During the closing ceremony Ambassador Yousuf Amrani, Director General of Bilateral Affairs at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, intervened to salute the participants of the meeting and to stress the importance that the Moroccan Government attribute to the Democracy Assistance Dialogue partnership, which has been recently joined by Morocco, and to regional role of Morocco in the dialogue between institutions and democracy advocates. Ambassador Amrani contribution to the debate also constitutes a further example and a model of consultation between civil society and government institutions for other countries.
Participants agreed that a second preparatory meeting of the "Kawakibi Democracy Transition Chair" will be held in Amman (Jordan) on the 18-19 June 2007.
The meeting gathered almost 30 participants, selected among academicians and civil society representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon and European countries.
A drafting committee has been formed during the meeting with the aim to collect all the suggestions and proposals emerged by the two-day debate and prepare a working paper to be distributed among participants as a preparatory background paper for the Amman meeting. Organisers will also investigate the possibilities to develop a website template with the aim to facilitate the dissemination and the distribution of relevant academic material related to democracy transition, with the purpose to reach and link together as much as possible universities and non-state actors.