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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, P écs. Introduction.

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The Slovak Transition Experience-sharing within Slovak – Tunisian case of CooperationCivil Society Needs Assessment in TunisiaKatarína Bajzíková (African Centre of Slovakia, PDCS) 14-16th June 2012, EmergingAfrica 2012, Pécs
  • CommunityofDemocracies(global intergovernmental coalition of democratic countries)
    • “TaskForceTunisia” 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
“The role of civil society in a transition period: sharing the Slovak experience with Tunisia”

AIM oftheproject

  • 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.
  • The team (PDC – PartnersforDemocraticChangeand PDCSexperts on Arab springneedassessment) conducted:
    • 3 workhops(Tunis, Sfax and Médenine)
    • semi-structured meetings with 19 key civil societyrepresentatives andstakeholders
    • in total – 53stakeholdersinterviewed, including 13 donors and internationalNGOs, and 36 civil society organizations.

Questionnairespreparedforfocusgroups and interviewsundertook in February and March 2012

historical overview
Historical Overview

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.”

national government
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 MoncefMarzouki, 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
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
Civil Society Organizations



women status
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

tunisian youth
Tunisian Youth

“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.

  • The Revolution was ignitedby 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”
challenges and needs of civil society in tunisia
Challenges and Needs of Civil Society in Tunisia
  • Lack of Economic Opportunities (unemployment)
  • Poor Engagement in transitional process (lack of transparency and accountability)
  • AbsentYouthCivicEngagement
  • 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)
opportunities and potential interventions
Opportunities and Potential Interventions
  • Civil society:
    • 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 interventions1
Opportunities and Potential Interventions
  • Women’sEmpowerment:

(1) training and technical assistance to help women’s groups reach out to and communicate with local communities togain 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 interventions2
Opportunities and Potential Interventions
  • Securitysectorreform (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

  • 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