Slovak experience for Tunisia* Civil Society Needs Assessment in

The Slovak Transition Experiencesharing within Slovak – Tunisian case of
Civil Society Needs Assessment in Tunisia
Katarína Bajzíková (African Centre of Slovakia, PDCS)
14-16th June 2012, Emerging Africa 2012, Pécs
• 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
“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
• 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
Historical Overview
In 1987, Ben Ali assumed the
presidency from Habib
Ben Ali established himself as
the country’s most dedicated
In 1989, Ben Ali banned
Islamist parties and
reinstated a number of
policies from the Bourguiba
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
A Tunisian engineer
working in anticorruption 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
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!”
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/
20th March 2013.
• 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
Civil Society Organizations
• Young
• Youthful
• Dynamic
• Voluntary based
• Initially focused
on elections
• unfocused
• Survived the
authoritarian regime
• Rich experience in civil
• Women organizations
• Poor internal capacities
with old
by old regime
CSOs with
• No essence of
civic and political
• Cultural, charity
• Changed their
face after the
• Supported by EC,
• Diverse programs
• Well staff +
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
• Women are concerned that liberalization gains under
the previous regime may be rolled back by the new
“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
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
• 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.
Security Sector
• Little investment in the army during
Ben Ali’s regime
• Were not described as powerful
• Played major role in revolution
• Popular and respected
Police Forces
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
Challenges and Needs of Civil Society in
• Lack of Economic Opportunities (unemployment)
• Poor Engagement in transitional process (lack of transparency and
• 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,
• Civil Society Coordination (coast vs. interior, power dynamics)
Opportunities and Potential
• 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.
Opportunities and Potential
• 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.
Opportunities and Potential
• 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
• 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
Thank you for your
Katarína Bajzíková
[email protected]

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