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Inclusive Dialogue on Policy Reform

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Sergio Rodríguez Prieto27 June 2014

This page is about inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue on policy reform in contexts of democratic transition. It is addressed to donors, implementers and beneficiaries of democracy assistance measures that work on Policy Dialogue, Mediation and Peace Building, and technical assistance/institution building.

Policy Dialogue has become a key tool in promoting substantial changes in developing and transition countries, but one of its problems is that it is too donor driven. We believe that policy reform priorities need to be collectively agreed through a locally-driven dialogue process in which the key stakeholders are involved. In this respect, donors should provide an open space for dialogue at local level rather than setting the reform agenda together with governments only. To prepare the ground for a more inclusive dialogue involving all relevant stakeholders including from civil and political society, there is a need to put in place facilitation mechanisms that may help to build trust amongst otherwise confronted stakeholders. For the sake of ownership and long-term sustainability of policy reform, these dialogue processes should help local stakeholders to jointly identify priorities for institution building that could feed the programming cycle of donors, ensuring the pertinence and consistency of the technical assistance provided to partner countries.

INSPIRED, a programme funded under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), has put this multi-stakeholder dialogue approach into practice over the last 1.5 years. It is implemented by a consortium of seven organisations: European Partnership for Democracy (EPD, lead organisation), Club de Madrid (CdM), Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Ghana; East Europe Foundation (EEF), Moldova; Centre des Etudes Méditerranéennes et Internationales (CEMI), Tunisia; and Institute of Constitutional Policy (ICP), Kyrgyzstan. 

The programme operates at two levels of intervention: In Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tunisia, national projects have been promoting a culture of dialogue and trust by facilitating cooperation between the key stakeholders on a collectively identified policy issue (differing from country to country). At the global level and in order to go beyond the INSPIRED country projects, the programme will aggregate and coordinate the outcomes of these four pilots with a view to developing an operational model for facilitating inclusive policy dialogue processes in contexts of democratic transition. This operational model will take the form of a Handbook for practitioners.

The approach that INSPIRED will set forth in the handbook is twofold: it aims, on the one hand, at enhancing the culture of dialogue in transition contexts, which are often polarised and lack a political environment conducive to building trust and mutual understanding. On the other hand, the handbook will provide the EU and other donors with recommendations for long-term support to policy reform, resulting from home-grown dialogue processes. The handbook will include information on and testimony from the consortium partners and their work in INSPIRED and will address issues that were reflected in the three phases of the programme methodology:

1.Collective Assessment: mapping of stakeholders, setting of indicators, theoretical framework, inclusiveness

2.Trust Building and Dialogue: building trust and promoting dialogue among stakeholders, role of different stakeholders (political parties, CSOs, government institutions, private sector organisations), accountability, maintaining dialogue and promoting consensus

3.Monitoring, advocacy and donor alignment: role of advocacy and its impact on policy reform, accountability, and sustainability of the dialogue process.

EPD and its partners have recently started to evaluate the INSPIRED experience and its impact and effectiveness to reach consensus and promote dialogue in order to ensure a higher level of commitment and accountability. In this context, we would like to invite democracy assistance practitioners to share their expertise in an open debate among organisations, institutions and individuals. Our aim is to identify a set of key findings on what works and what does not work in multi-stakeholder policy dialogue.

If you are interested to participate in this knowledge sharing process, please to get in touch with us on Capacity4Dev or via the INSPIRED website (www.inspired-democracy.eu), which was designed to enable users to share information on projects and initiatives related to the INSPIRED approach in a more structured way.

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Club de Madrid and EPD are organising a 2-day workshop in Madrid on 3-4 July in the framework of the EU-funded programme INSPIRED.

The workshop will bring together practitioners and experts from the fields of policy dialogue, mediation and peace building, and institution building to share their knowledge and experience in facilitating inclusive policy dialogue. The objective is to gather input for the development of the INSPIRED handbook on facilitating inclusive dialogue on policy reform in contexts of democratic transition.

To participate in the INSPIRED knowledge sharing process, please visit our programme website at www.inspired-democracy.eu.

VIDEO INSPIRED Handbook update:

Please find below the video with insights from our local partners on the INSPIRED programme in their respective countries and particular contexts.

http://youtu.be/gwTSLuKtfSk

The INSPIRED Handbook, with a detailed examination of the Operating Model and of the programme’s experiences and lessons learnt from the different country contexts, will be published next month. For more information, read the executive summary attached. To reserve a free copy of the Handbook, please contact communications@epd.eu.

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