Towards establishing a think tank to support the Iraqi Parliament (2009-2011)

Arab Forum for Alternatives (AFA) in cooperation with Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and Association for University Lecturers in Iraq (AUL) The Iraqi institutions and people are at cross-roads and will be thinking about the political System they need to restore. There is a need for a comprehensive political strategy to ensure that the state is built on legitimate institutions capable of ensuring stability and the rule of law. Parliaments play a fundamental role in establishing the rule of law and overseeing transparent governance processes. Hence, the effectiveness of the Iraqi Parliament (here after referred to as the Council of Representatives) in representing the people’s needs and interests will be one of the main emerging issues in the future of Iraq. However, the complexity of the operational, political and sectarian environment in Iraq affects the Parliament’s ability to perform and to fulfil its main functions: legislative, representative and oversight.

The main demands of the Iraqi parliament in the period following the current legislative elections are:

  • Enhancing the institutional capacities of the parliament, and providing the necessary experience and resources.
  • building the capacities of the Iraqi parliamentarians themselves, on the political and the legislative aspects.

Therefore, the general objective of the project is to enhance the capacities of the Iraqi Council of Representatives and its specialized committees in the fields of: education, public health, gender, transparency and accountability.

This objective can be met through the establishment of a think tank specialized in parliamentary affairs, providing consultancy, lobbying and providing the parliament with the necessary studies and policy recommendations in the fields mentioned, through university professors specialized in Parliamentary Affairs and public policies.


Project entitled: “Supporting Egyptian political parties and Parliament’s development” (2011):

Following the elections, the parliament will face a wide variety of challenges. It will be populated by many new politicians with limited parliamentary experience, and those who operated under a different political culture. There will be no commonly-accepted parliamentary culture. Its procedures and rules will need to be revised, and possibly overhauled. The committee system will need to be reformed. The roles of key parliamentary figures, such as the Presiding Officer and committee chairs will need to be agreed and established quickly. The staff in the parliament, though experienced, will need to adapt to the needs of a variety of politicians and parties.

At the same time, the institution will face high public expectations in addressing a wide range of problems. And it will be expected to address these issues quickly. The AFA and the Global Partners and Associates (an independent institution based in the UK), will seek to address many of these issues before the parliament is elected. It will aim to work with key figures in the political parties during the months leading up to the elections, and in the months afterwards.


Project entitled: ” Policy Papers” (2011):

In cooperation with Freiderich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the porject is based on issuing policy papers discussing various social and political problems related to current events, such as: subsidy policies, the explosion of protest and social movements, Security sector reform; or as policy recommendation papers on drafts of laws being discussed and waiting to be adopted, such as: Anti- discrimination laws, political parties law, political rights law… and so on. These policy papers are presented and discussed in scientific seminars, then being reviewed and published accordinly.


Study on “unsual means of political participation in Egypt” (2011):

In cooperation with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS), and Development Support Center (DSC), the AFA research team has conducted a number of research papers which have “the unsual means of political participation in Egypt” as a main theme. the papers discussed topics such as: the unsual means of political participation used by the youth from different political affiliations (leftists- islamists- liberals- or even coptics); political participation using cynicism, political participation through songs; participation through cyberspace; and through talk- shows; also, the study included a paper on the obstacles facing traditional means of political participation in Egypt. It is expected that these papers will be published in a book (in Arabic).


Project entitled “Media Reform in Egypt” (2011):

In cooperation with Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and BBC Arabic, AFA works on a very important topic for Egypt currently which is media reform. The project seeks, on one hand, to evaluate the performance of the Egyptian media institutions in the last period; on the other hand, the project also attempts to hold a training program for a group of young people working in media insitutions, in order to enhance their capacities and professional performance. The project also aims to issue policy papers which may be used to develop this field.


Project entitled “Sharing know-how and best practices : advancing   multiparty and democratic institutions in Egypt” (2011):

In cooperation with Westmisnter Foundation for Democracy (WFD), AFA takes part in this project in order to enhance sharing information and responding to fundamental policy issues about the role and working of Parliament and the development of the constitution in Egypt, through a number of workshops and meetings, as well as policy recommendation papers.


Project entitled:”Welfare State” (2011):

In cooperation with Danish- Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI), this project will aim to transfer the various aspects of the Nordic Model to the Egyptian community, through putting the mechanisms of this experience in the Egyptian context to be presented to the Egyptian stakeholders, such as the political parties, the governmental actors, and civil society organizations.


Project entitled: ” Developing transparency, access to information and open government in Egypt” (2011):

In cooperation with Global Partners and Associates, this project will lay the foundations for improved government transparency and access to information in Egypt.This will be achieved through a group of academics, civil society activists, politicians interested in this issue to work on increasing the level of transparency in the decision- making process, as well as putting pressure on the decision- making circles to increase the degree of freedom of circulation of public information.

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