The challenges of drug trafficking, armed violence and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, as well as the ongoing political violence and instability in West Africa call for an increased attention to parliaments as peace building and conflict prevention institutions. Therefore, the UNDP Democratic Governance Group and Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, in close consultation with key actors and UNDP’s partners in the West Africa region, are launching a dedicated initiative and strategy towards empowering parliaments as actors in violence and crisis prevention and post-conflict recovery, through a series of activities in West Africa with the financial support of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The aims of this initiative are to:
- Strengthen regional parliamentary activities in West Africa through parliamentary fora and parliamentary working groups;
- Develop mechanisms and approaches to facilitate swift response to parliamentary assistance requests in Africa;
- Knowledge Sharing and dissemination of good practices. This new West Africa initiative will be closely linked to similar UNDP efforts, with a focus on developing initiatives that promote more effective action towards empowering parliaments as actors in conflict and violence prevention, as well as post-conflict reconstruction, in Central America and the Arab States region.
UNDP will host a regional seminar in Accra “Towards Strengthening the role of Parliaments in crisis prevention and recovery in West Africa” on June 28-29 2010 To prepare for the regional seminar, UNDP will produce a series of research papers to identify good practices and lessons learned in the sub-region on parliamentary performance in crisis prevention and recovery:
- Paper on existing regional Crisis Prevention and Recovery (CPR) mechanisms in place (including parliamentary diplomacy) and how such systems impact parliamentary performance on CPR oversight and legislative work. The paper will identify usefulness, challenges and bottlenecks in the implementation of such mechanisms in terms of parliamentary performance. The paper will also review the work of the Africa Union and activities in West Africa.
- Study of the issues generating violence, political violence and where political parties and parliaments stand vis-à-vis those structural and triggering factors (for example in 3 case study countries); identify change agents and possible ways of supporting them. Dedicated attention will be paid to electoral violence, and the issues of trust and confidence building between citizens and national parliaments.
- Gender-based violence and parliamentary functions: how the parliamentary functions respond to the challenges of GBV in the region (existing laws, parliamentary hearings, interactions with women’s organizations).
The research papers will use, when applicable, the framework of the UNDP guidelines Parliaments, Crisis Prevention and Recovery and the draft self-assessment tool on the role of parliament in addressing crisis / conflict.
Objectives and Outcomes of the June regional seminar
- To establish a forum for parliamentarians of the region to reflect on past capacity development activities in the field of crisis prevention, armed violence and community security: what has been successful and the impact of such activities.
- To present, review and discuss the findings of the above mentioned research papers highlighting best practices and lessons learned in the region, and use the findings of the regional studies to initiate and develop a dialogue and open space for MPs’ and parliamentary staff to identify critical challenges and priorities regarding violence prevention and peace building in the region.
- To identify and debate how parliamentarians see their role in overcoming obstacles to effective parliamentary oversight and performance in CPR and SSR issues, including collection of concrete examples for sharing good practices and experiences
- Present a draft self-assessment tool on parliamentary performance on CPR and SSR, ascertain its relevance and identify 3 potential country-case studies to be developed in the second semester
- Development of a Joint Action Plan for partners to be put in place at the regional and national levels in the region. The Joint Action Plan will identify issues that parliamentarians want to address, existing mechanisms and bottlenecks to effective action on those issues, and identify what support is needed from UNDP and key partners in the region to empower parliamentarians to address priority issues.
The report of the seminar and key recommendations will be posted on this page after the seminar.