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The third quarter of 2009 was marked by the celebration, on the 15th of September, of the International Day of Democracy. Celebrated in many countries across the globe, the Democracy Day was an occasion to highlight the role of parliamentary institutions in consolidating democratic practices that ensure the equality and prosperity of peoples and nations. The Lebanese parliament commemorated this day by opening its doors to the public and organizing a series of events including discussions with MPs and guided visits. In our third issue, we are pleased to share with you the experience of Ms. Aseel Al Awadhi, who has honored us with an enlightening contribution on her experience as one of the first four Kuwaiti women to enter the National Assembly. It provides a glimpse of the challenges women face and accomplishments achieved, giving hope to woman across the Arab world and motivating them to continue their struggle to get their voices heard. Anti-corruption bodies have recently gained increasing attention as a means to curb corruption. The UN Convention Against Corruption recommends the establishment and reinforcement of independent anti-corruption entities. One of our articles sheds light on the experience of some Arab countries in this area, particularly on the laws regulating these bodies and the role played by the parliament in the legislative process. Another article examines the role that civil society is playing in overseeing national parliaments in some Arab countries, and how this relatively recent trend can potentially promote transparency of accountability in Arab parliaments, and reinstate citizen’s confidence in the legislative institution. Two important publications have been added to the list of Arabic-language knowledge materials on strengthening democracy and promoting human development. First, the 5th volume of the UNDP Arab Human Development Report (2009), focused on the theme of human security, was launched in Beirut in July. It identifies seven challenges to human security in the Arab region and provides recommendations for action, improvement and reform. The second knowledge product titled Towards Strengthening the Role of Arab Parliaments in the Reform of Political Party Legislation was published by PDIAR. It compiles the knowledge built in the framework of the Working Group on Parliaments and the Reform of Political Party Legislation launched by PDIAR in 2006. In addition to workshop reports, the publication includes the regional studies commissioned by UNDP on key issues affecting political party life, such as party finance and internal governance. One of the goals of this working group was to build consensus over minimum standards for political party legislation in the Arab countries. The final version, approved by representatives of over 40 Arab political parties, has also been published. We thank our readers for the continuous demonstration of interest and support for this e-bulletin and reiterate our invitation to MPs and practitioners to send us their contributions in the form of articles, news briefs, or updates on recent parliamentary events in the region. Arab Parliaments’ News Arab Legislation In the Spotlight: Anti-Corruption Commissions in Arab Legislation Parliaments of the World In Focus: Parliamentary Monitors: An Emerging Trend in the Arab Region Towards Strengthening the Role of Arab Parliaments in the Reform of Political Party Legislation The Road to Parliament By MP Aseel Al Awadhi, Member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries 2 3 8 9 10 7 6 Quarterly newsletter published by UNDP’s Parliamentary Development Initiative in the Arab Region (PDIAR) with the contribution of Arab parliaments and parliamentarians. 3 E U S S I 9 0 0 2 R E B M E V O N L A I R O T I D E IN THIS ISSUE Y R A T N E M A I L R A P B A R A N I T E L L U B WE INVITE YOU TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE: www.arabparliaments.org

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Page 1: A RABP ARLIAMENTARY B U L L E T I N · “Open Doors” at the Lebanese National Assembly The Lebanese National Assembly, in cooperation with UNDP, organized a day of ... Morocco

The third quarter of 2009 wasmarked by the celebration, on the15th of September, of theInternational Day of Democracy.

Celebrated in many countries across the globe, the Democracy Day was an occasion to highlight the roleof parliamentary institutions in consolidating democratic practices that ensure the equality andprosperity of peoples and nations. The Lebanese parliament commemorated this day by opening itsdoors to the public and organizing a series of events including discussions with MPs and guided visits.

In our third issue, we are pleased to share with you the experience of Ms. Aseel Al Awadhi, who hashonored us with an enlightening contribution on her experience as one of the first four Kuwaiti womento enter the National Assembly. It provides a glimpse of the challenges women face andaccomplishments achieved, giving hope to woman across the Arab world and motivating them tocontinue their struggle to get their voices heard.

Anti-corruption bodies have recently gained increasing attention as a means to curb corruption. The UNConvention Against Corruption recommends the establishment and reinforcement of independentanti-corruption entities. One of our articles sheds light on the experience of some Arab countries in thisarea, particularly on the laws regulating these bodies and the role played by the parliament in thelegislative process.

Another article examines the role that civil society is playing in overseeing national parliaments in someArab countries, and how this relatively recent trend can potentially promote transparency ofaccountability in Arab parliaments, and reinstate citizen’s confidence in the legislative institution.

Two important publications have been added to the list of Arabic-language knowledge materials onstrengthening democracy and promoting human development. First, the 5th volume of the UNDP ArabHuman Development Report (2009), focused on the theme of human security, was launched in Beirut inJuly. It identifies seven challenges to human security in the Arab region and provides recommendationsfor action, improvement and reform.

The second knowledge product titled Towards Strengthening the Role of Arab Parliaments in theReform of Political Party Legislation was published by PDIAR. It compiles the knowledge built in theframework of the Working Group on Parliaments and the Reform of Political Party Legislation launchedby PDIAR in 2006. In addition to workshop reports, the publication includes the regional studiescommissioned by UNDP on key issues affecting political party life, such as party finance and internalgovernance. One of the goals of this working group was to build consensus over minimum standards forpolitical party legislation in the Arab countries. The final version, approved by representatives of over 40Arab political parties, has also been published.

We thank our readers for the continuous demonstration of interest and support for this e-bulletin andreiterate our invitation to MPs and practitioners to send us their contributions in the form of articles,news briefs, or updates on recent parliamentary events in the region.

Arab Parliaments’ News

Arab Legislation

In the Spotlight: Anti-CorruptionCommissions in ArabLegislation

Parliaments of the World

In Focus: ParliamentaryMonitors: An EmergingTrend in the Arab Region

Towards Strengtheningthe Role of ArabParliamentsin the Reform of PoliticalParty Legislation

The Road to ParliamentBy MP Aseel Al Awadhi,Member of the KuwaitiNational Assembly

Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries

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3

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Quarterly newsletter published by UNDP’s Parliamentary Development Initiative in the Arab Region (PDIAR) with the contribution of Arab parliaments and parliamentarians.

3 EUSSI9002 REBMEVON

LAIROTIDEIN THIS ISSUE

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WE INVITE YOU TO VISITOUR WEBSITE:

www.arabparliaments.org

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“Open Doors” at the Lebanese NationalAssemblyThe Lebanese National Assembly, incooperation with UNDP, organized a day of“Open Doors” in the Parliament on 15September 2009, commemorating theInternational Day of Democracy that wasproclaimed by the United Nations GeneralAssembly in 2007 as a way to celebratedemocracy, and as a reminder of the need topromote and protect it. The event reflectedthe Parliament’s commitment to democracyand provided more than 150 Lebanesestudents from various universities andaffiliations the opportunity to spend a day onthe premises of the Lebanese Parliament. TheDay was launched with a presentation on thehistory of the Parliament, followed by aguided tour of several departments in theparliament, including the main hall wherediscussions with several MPs took place.TheSpeaker of Parliament addressed a messagestressing the importance of maintaining thedemocratic system and called forincorporating democracy as the basis of theLebanese school curriculum.

Arab Transitional Parliament RegularSessionThe activities of the Arab TransitionalParliament’s second regular session werelaunched in Damascus, Syria on September 13and 14, 2009. The discussions focused on thedraft permanent Arab Parliament’s Statute,which includes the Parliament’s goals,election process, membership andrepresentation of member countries, inaddition to representation of women in theParliament, and the Parliament’s oversightand legislative role.

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Algeria Approves Draft Law on thePrevention of Crimes Related toInformation and CommunicationTechnologiesThe National People’s Assembly of Algeriaapproved a draft law in July 2009 on theprevention of crimes related toinformation and communicationtechnologies. The new procedure will helpthe government formulate the necessarytechnical arrangements and put in placethe legal framework which should enable itto prevent any criminal and terroristattacks on information systems ofgovernment institutions. The draft lawalso aims to prevent organized crime,pirating, and attempts by terrorists toincite hatred and promote violence. TheAlgerian Minister of Justice assured thatindividual freedoms will not be violated asany action by the government requiresjudicial approval.

Accession of Iraq to the UnitedNations Convention to CombatDesertification The Iraqi Parliament has approved a lawon May 11th, 2009 for the accession of Iraqto the UN Convention to CombatDesertification. The law aims to preventdesertification and enhance the process offlood control and in reducing the silting upof river beds, reservoirs, and irrigationcanals, and would allow recovery of theforest after cutting. Programmes have alsobeen designed for developing existingforests and creating new ones. Anestimated 2000 hectares of natural forestsare depleted annually in Iraq due to theproduction of firewood and charcoal,which remains within the capacity offorests to supply so long as adequate laws,arrangements, and measures have beenadopted

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In recent years, corruption1 has receivedincreasing worldwide attention, moreparticularly in developing countries. Corruptionis a worldwide phenomenon which underminesdemocracy and the rule of law, threatens thesecurity of citizens, hinders social andeconomic development and hampers theachievement of the Millennium DevelopmentGoals. In this regard, parliament plays a crucialrole in drafting legislation establishing andregulating anti-corruption commissions. Thisarticle sheds light on the experiences of someArab countries in establishing such entities, andthe role of parliament in building the legalframework that regulates the functioning ofregulating anti-corruption institutions.

International InstrumentsThe international community has contributedto raising awareness about the dangers oftransboundary corruption. Several regional andinternational conventions have been adopted,namely the United Nations Convention AgainstCorruption (UNCAC)2 . To date, 140 countrieshave signed this convention, 16 of which areArab countries3. This convention provides aglobal and binding anti-corruption framework,and highlights the need to take institutionalmeasures to combat corruption. As per article 6of the Convention4, each State Party shall, inaccordance with the fundamental principles ofits legal system, ensure the existence of a bodyor bodies that prevent corruption. According toarticle 36, State parties shall “ensure theexistence of a body or bodies or personsspecialized in combating corruption throughlaw enforcement.” Article 65 highlighted theneed to take the necessary administrative andlegislative measures to ensure theimplementation of the state parties’obligations under this Convention.

International ExperiencesDrafting laws on anti-corruption commissionsposes several challenges, as choosing the bestmodel for an anti-corruption commission toserve the best interests of the State is not asimple task. Some countries have established anew anti-corruption commission, while othershave altered the duties of existent bodies toinclude combating corruption. Some havemerged both models, depending on the needsand the available human and financialresources.

Laws on Anti-Corruption Commissions inArab CountriesDuring the past few years, several Arabcountries, such as Jordan, Algeria, Iraq, Qatar,Morocco and Yemen5, have establishedanti-corruption commissions. Internationalexperiences provide a number of successstories and lessons learned and are likely toguide the choices made by countries in creatinganti-corruption bodies and enacting legislationwhich determines the prerogatives and degreeof independence. A quick review of the lawsregulating anti-corruption commissions in theabove-mentioned countries shows someinteresting differences in this area.

Independence of the CommissionsThe anti-corruption commission is linked to thePrime Minister in Jordan, to the Heir in Qatar,to the President of the Republic in Algeria, andto the Prime Minister in Morocco, while it isunder the supervision of the Parliament in Iraq.These commissions in Jordan (Article 3), Algeria(article 18), Yemen (article 6) and Iraq are amoral entity with financial and administrativeindependence, according to the law. InMorocco, the law provides for including thebudget of the commission under the budget ofthe Office of the Prime Minister (article 16).

thgiltopS ehT nIAnti-Corruption Commissions in ArAb LegisLAtion

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Duties and AuthorityAnti-corruption commissions seek to promotetransparency and good governance, bydeveloping national anti-corruption policiesand strategies and coordinating with the localand international community to achieve thisgoal. In Morocco, the goal of the commission isrestricted to the prevention of bribery, while inJordan it covers a wide array of issues includingpreventing defamation.

Different prerogatives were given to thecommissions in the countries chosen in thisarticle, namely: • Requesting information

The law in Jordan (article 17), Algeria (article20) and Yemen (article 33) grants thecommission the authority to requestinformation from any party.

• Investigation In Jordan (article 7), Qatar (article 3) andYemen (article 34-35), the commission isentitled to investigate any corruption case orcomplaint received from citizens regardingcorrupt practices, by collecting informationand questioning the concerned, as necessary.In Algeria, the commission has to refer to theGeneral Prosecutor’s Office to collectevidence and conduct inquiries oncorruption-related facts (article 20).

• Disclosure of Financial AssetsIn Iraq, the anti-corruption commissionannually receives disclosures of financialassets from the President, parliamentarians,ministers and other civil servants. It reviewsthe information submitted and makes themavailable to the public (section 7). In Yemen,the commission receives disclosures of

financial assets from civil servants both in thelegislative and executive authorities (article8). The Commission in Algeria receivesdisclosure of properties owned by thepresidents and members of elected localassemblies, while the President, themembers of Parliament, the Prime Minister,the ministers and a number of other civilservants submit it to the President of theSupreme Court. The information, in the caseof Algeria, shall be published within 2 monthsafter the appointment or elections in theofficial gazette (article 6).

• Seizure, trial and recovery of public fundsIn Jordan, the anti-corruption body is entitledto prosecute any person violating theanti-corruption law, seize their fixed andunfixed assets, prevent them from traveling,suspend them, halt the payment of theirpaycheck, bonuses and all financial benefits,if necessary (article 7). In Algeria, theanti-corruption body, when faced withincriminating facts, transfers the case to theMinister of Justice, who informs the GeneralProsecutor to file a public lawsuit, if necessary(article 22). The commission in Morocco,upon receiving information related to acts ofbribery sanctioned by law, informs the judicialauthorities (article 8).

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INDePeNDeNT COMMISSIONAGAINST CORRUPTION

(ICAC) – HONG KONGIn 1974, Hong Kong established an Independ-

ent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC),

one of the first established independent

agencies in the world to combat and prevent

corruption and raise awareness. Political will

and the prevalent culture contributed to the

success of this experience, as Hong Kong had

adopted anti-corruption and bribery laws

since 1897, and had set up the Police Force’s

Anti-Corruption Branch. The independence,

wide authority to conduct investigation, effi-

cient internal management, and the system

of checks and balances implemented, also

contributed to the success of the commission.

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The laws both in Algeria (article 51, 57-71) andYemen (article 32) provides for the recoveryof assets, revenues and illegal money, and theimportance of international cooperation andcoordination in this field.

• SanctionsThe law in Jordan (article 22), Algeria (article25-50), Yemen (article 40-41), Iraq (section 6)provides for sanctions on perpetrators ofcorruption crimes by imposing a fine and/orimprisonment.

• Drafting lawsThe commission in Iraq (section 4), Qatar(article 3) and Yemen (article 8, 20) is entitledto assess legislation and draft new laws toprevent and combat corruption in line withinternational agreements. In Yemen, thecommission is also entitled to conduct studieson the establishment of specializedadministrative courts, and ask relevantauthorities to establish these courtsaccording to the legislations.

Several Arab countries are still discussing thelaws on anti-corruption commissions such asBahrain, Lebanon, Tunisia and Kuwait. Thougha one-fits-all model does not exist, manyfactors contribute to the empowerment of suchcommissions. In addition to the factorsmentioned above such as the independence,authority and financial and human resources ofthe commission, political will and support fromdifferent civil society organizations areimportant for the fulfillment of its role.Coordinating the efforts of these commissionswith other supervisory bodies such as theOmbudsman and the Auditor is also crucial.

Many experiences have proven that in additionto laws on anti-corruption bodies, otherlegislation are necessary to guarantee theirsuccess, such as the laws on financialdisclosure, access to information, prevention ofmoney laundering, and other laws contributingto promote transparency and goodgovernance.

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1. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)defines corruption as: the misuse of public power, office orauthority for private benefit – through bribery, extortion,influence peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money orembezzlement.

Fighting Corruption to Improve Governance: Policy Paper.UNDP, 1998.

2. Adopted by the United Nations General AssemblyResolution 58/4 of 31 October 2003, and came into force on14 December 2005.

3. Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, the Comoros, Egypt, Jordan,Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria,Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Thefollowing countries ratified it: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt,Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, the UnitedArab Emirates and Yemen. 3 countries are in the accessionphase: Iraq, Lebanon, and Mauritania.

4. Article 6 of the Convention: 1. Each State Party shall, in accordance with the

fundamental principles of its legal system, ensure theexistence of a body or bodies, as appropriate, thatprevent corruption by such means as:

a) Implementing the policies referred to in article 5 ofthis Convention and, where appropriate, overseeingand coordinating the implementation of thosepolicies;

b) Increasing and disseminating knowledge about theprevention of corruption.

2.Each State Party shall grant the body or bodies referredto in paragraph 1 of this article the necessaryindependence, in accordance with the fundamentalprinciples of its legal system, to enable the body or

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References: Regional Support Unit for the Arab Anti-Corruptionand Integrity Network

http://www.nazaha.iq

Institutional Arrangements to Combat Corruption:A Comparative Study. UNDP, 2005.

The establishment of Special Anti-CorruptionBodies: Overview of International Practice. Centerfor the Study of Democracy.

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6Secretaries-General Forum of Asia-PacificParliaments (SGFAPP)The first ever Secretaries-General Forum ofAsia-Pacific Parliaments was held in Seoul on July 8 -9, 2009. The Forum, hosted by the National Assemblyof the Republic of Korea, was attended by 42delegations of parliamentary assemblies from 32countries. Under the slogan "Beginning of a newAsia-Pacific era” the Forum provided a platform forexchange of information and practices on the topic ofe-Parliament, as well as for participants to appreciatethe technologies used in the digital chamber of theKorean legislature and at the Library of the NationalAssembly. The Forum agreed on a final document -the Seoul Communiqué - which stresses theimportance of inter-parliamentary cooperation in theregion.

International Day of DemocracyOn September 15th 2009, the Inter-ParliamentaryUnion (IPU) and parliaments across the worldcelebrated the second International Day ofDemocracy. The choice of September 15 for theInternational Day of Democracy corresponds to theadoption of the Universal Declaration on Democracyby the IPU in September 2007.

Fifth Annual Meeting of Women Speakers ofParliamentThe Fifth Annual Meeting of Women Speakers ofParliament was organized by the National Council ofAustria and the Inter-Parliamentary Union and heldon July 13 – 14, 2009 in Vienna, Austria. The two-daymeeting focused on the challenges of achievinggender equality. It particularly focused on two mainthemes: violence against women and the impact ofthe global financial crisis on women. The meetingaimed to evaluate and document progress made andchallenges faced in achieving gender equality tocontribute to the preparations of the fifteenyear-review of the implementation of the BeijingPlatform for Action 2010, the MillenniumDevelopment Goals 2010, and the Third Conferenceof Speakers of Parliament 2010.

stnemailraPdlroW eht fo

bodies to carry out its or their functions effectively and

free from any undue influence. The necessary material

resources and specialized staff, as well as the training

that such staff may require to carry out their functions,

should be provided.

3. Each State Party shall inform the Secretary-General of

the United Nations of the name and address of the

authority or authorities that may assist other States

Parties in developing and implementing specific

measures for the prevention of corruption.

5. The laws on these anti-corruption bodies were chosen as

an example for comparison.

Jordan established the Anti-Corruption Commission as per

Law No. 62 of 2006.

Iraq established the Commission on Public Integrity by the

Iraqi Governing Council as authorized by the Coalition Pro-

visional Authority's order 55 (2004); it was then included in

the 2005 Iraqi Constitution (article 102).

Qatar established the National Commission for Integrity

and Transparency by Royal Decree No. 84 of 2007.

Yemen established The Supreme National Anti-Corruption

Commission as per Law No. 39 of 2006.

Algeria established the Anti-Corruption Association as per

Law No. 06-01 of 20 February 2006.

Morocco established the Central Commission for the Pre-

vention of Bribery as per Decree No. 2.05.1228 of 13 March

2007.

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As one of the main functions of parliament, “par-liamentary oversight” creates a system of checksand balances and ensures the smooth functioningof democracy; however, the question that has re-cently been gaining increasing attention is: whooversees parliament and monitors its perform-ance? Monitoring parliament has its numerousmerits, especially as it leads voters to elect theirrepresentatives based on a rational and well-in-formed choice, and increases parliamentarians’ ac-countability towards their constituents.

Media and Parliamentary TransparencyCurrently, the task of covering parliamentary pro-ceedings and activities is, by and large, securedthrough the efforts of the media; an effective toolin countries that practice transparent democracy,but one that is impeding to a vibrant politicalsphere in the case of parliaments that restrictmedia access to parliamentary information andproceedings and constrain what can be publicallyreported. In this regard, Arab media institutionsand agencies are becoming increasingly involvedin covering parliamentary news and activities, andthe practice appears to be gradually gaining mo-mentum. Several Kuwaiti newspapers, for in-stance, include a section to cover parliamentarynews, a practice that has contributed to enhancingcitizen’s interest and involvement in parliamentarylife. This, and other practices, confirms the rolemedia can play in parliamentary monitoring in theArab Region.

NGOs Overseeing the Parliament Similarly, in striving to achieve transparent and ac-countable democracy, a number of civil society in-stitutions have been focusing their efforts onmonitoring their national parliaments to create astrong connection between the represented andthe representative. The work logic of these organ-izations is based on providing abundant and acces-sible information on parliaments,

parliamentarians, legislation processes, and parlia-mentary activities and documents; a process thatwould enhance the emergence of informed citi-zens and transparent representatives.

One such example is the Openpolis Association inItaly, which has developed a web-application formonitoring parliament, enabling the public to fol-low an act or law from the time of its proposal toits final approval, in both chambers. The applica-tion also tracks the voting process and, and pro-vides access to related documents, speeches andthe space for citizens to interactively discuss legis-lation while it is occurring. Within the Arab region,monitoring parliamentary performance is a rela-tively recent trend which was instigated by theLebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peacethrough its “Lebanese Legislation Monitor” (2004-2007) in an effort to monitor the compatibility oflaws being drafted or reviewed. A number of initia-tives have followed, including the Lebanese Parlia-mentary Monitor, and the Jordanian ParliamentaryMonitor.

The Lebanese Parliamentary Monitor has beencarrying out its activities since 2005. It compilesparliament and parliamentarian-related informa-tion and organizes meetings between citizens andtheir representatives. Through making this infor-mation accessible, the Monitor aims to spread aculture of transparency and accountability, holdparliamentarians to account, spread politicalawareness concerning legislation and parliamen-tary activities, and enhance citizens’ active partic-ipation in the political sphere.

Similarly, the Jordanian Parliamentary Monitor(JPM), launched by Al Quds Center for PoliticalStudies in cooperation with NDI and USAID, aimsto contribute to increased parliamentary open-ness, transparency, and accountability, throughconducting national surveys and ongoing

sucoF nIpArLiAmentAry monitors:An emerging trend in the ArAb region

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consultations with civic groups, citizens, and mem-bers of parliament. The JPM also keeps track ofvoting records, attendance, member participationand other indictors, and has recently published aseries of unprecedented reports on parliamentarymonitoring in Jordan. The reports provide informa-tion and analysis to citizens and civil society on var-ious elements of the Jordanian Parliament’sperformance.

Similar project are currently being developed in anumber of other Arab countries including oPt andYemen. Such promising projects will undoubtedlycontribute to increasing the transparency in Arabparliaments, building trust between them and civilsociety, and enabling better-informed citizens tohold their representatives accountable.

Finally, it is worth noting that several factors arevital to the success of such good practices, includ-ing the legal framework that enhances the acces-sibility and transparency of parliamentaryinstitutions. Many Arab parliaments have recentlypassed or are currently debating Freedom of Infor-mation (FOI) laws in an effort to further strengthenand entrench democratic values and practices intheir societies.

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Knowledge buildingTowards Strengthening the Role of Arab Parliamentsin the Reform of Political Party Legislation

In an effort to strengthen capacities of Arab parliamentarians and initiate thematic Arabparliamentary networks, the Parliamentary Development Initiative in the Arab Region (PDIAR)

launched in 2006 the Working Group on Parliaments and the Reform of Political Party Legislation. This working groupbrought together more than 80 parliamentarians, experts, and representatives of political parties from eight Arabcountries to review and assess existing and proposed Arab political party laws, their impact on the political scene, and therole of parliaments in proposing and amending party legislation.

The three-year consultative process has resulted in a wealth of knowledge products compiled in this publication, as a newcontribution to PDIAR’s mission to build and disseminate knowledge on parliamentary development. Available in Arabic,and partly in English, it includes the studies presented in the three regional meetings and the focus group meeting, as wellas the reports of those meetings. The publication also includes the General Principles for Political Party Legislation in theArab Region endorsed by the Working Group members in 2008.

A CD-Rom is also enclosed and includes additional knowledge products such as the Arab Political PartiesDatabase with information on over 100 political parties in four Arab countries, and the Legislation Databasewhich provides access to constitutional texts and related legislation of most Arab countries (political partylaws, electoral laws, media laws, association laws).

This publication is available online at:http://www.arabparliaments.org/publications/books/politicalpartieslegislation-e.pdf

A PARLIAMeNTARY ReSPONSeTO VIOLeNCe AGAINST WOMeN

This report, recently published byIPU, includes the proceedings ofthe third conference for mem-bers of parliamentary bodies

dealing with gender equality ithad organized in 2008. Titled “A ParliamentaryResponse to Violence Against Women” the con-ference tackled key issued such as approachesto end violence against women, and recenttrends and emerging forms of violence againstwomen. It also emphasized the internationaland regional legal frameworks established toaddress violence against women, and ways toensure funding for implementing these legisla-tion, and means to monitor governments’ ac-tions in implementing them. In addition to theexperts’ presentations, case studies, andoverviews of the debates, the report containsthe recommendations of the conference.

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A successfulexperience mightbe easy to recall.However, as muchas my journeymight have beenunique andenriching, Ialways try to keepin mind that theroad toParliament was asteep, rocky path.

Deeply rooted insociety and

adopted by both men and women, thechauvinistic culture was the first challenge Ifaced. Separate roles are assigned to men andwomen, giving men the exclusive privilege ofbeing involved in politics. After years of womenbeing deprived of their political rightsconsecrated by the Kuwaiti Constitution, it washard for those who grew up and adopted thismindset to vote for a female candidate. I mustalso mention that the electoral Law was onlyamended recently, giving women the right tovote and run for office in the Kuwaiti elections,and that posed an additional challenge to manyof the women candidates, the May 2009elections being the second time Kuwaitiwomen were able to vote or run for office.

Despite these challenges, the 2009 electoralrace was a truly unique experience, allowingKuwaiti women to overcome most of thesedifficulties. My campaign did not end in a merevictory but in a triumph, as I came in the secondplace in a highly-competitive constituency.

Victory was possible as Kuwaiti citizens ralliedaround our cause and believed in the role ofwomen in politics. It was also possible thanks toa non-traditional electoral campaign proposinga different political agenda and style. I had tobe a female candidate representing womenand defending their causes, and simultaneouslya citizen representing the nation and defendingits causes. That was my first challenge. Myintention was not to be compared to otherfemale candidates, but rather to be seen as atrue competitor to both men and womencandidates.

In a tense environment characterized by fiercecompetition, it was necessary to put forwardsomething different. As such, my campaignpresented a different model of rational andcalm political discourse, based on logic andfacts rather than slogans. I had the duty to offera different model, not as a woman, but as acitizen with a vision for a new country. I wantedmy campaign to reflect the aspirations ofcitizens longing for a better life. During thecampaign, we communicated with citizens in asimple and straightforward language, weraised the issues we both faced as citizens andavoided petty political bickering. We deliveredan optimistic discourse, expressing faith in ourcapacity to introduce change. At that historicalmoment of our nation’s history, each and everyone of us had to be aware of theirresponsibilities.

I believe that success was also possible thanksto the team of young leaders I had the honor towork with, which defined the style and politicaldiscourse of the campaign. This was not AseelAl Awadhi’s campaign; this was the campaignof the Kuwaiti youth, carrying their hopes,ambitions and style. Competent young menand women ran the entire campaign and

the road to parliament

By MP Aseel Al Awadhi,Member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly

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succeeded, proving the ability of the Kuwaitiyouth to lead and innovate in politics.

We live in a country that has survived severalchallenges over time. This was not just another

political campaign; it reflected the attitude ofKuwaiti citizens, who are able to build a strong,secure and prosperous country whenever theyare given the chance to work hard.

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Challenges to human security in the Arab Countries5th Volume of the Arab Human Development Report

The United Nations Development Programme launched the 5th volume of theArab Human Development Report series on July 21st, in a two-day event held inBeirut. The report, entitled Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries,was prepared by independent scholars from across the Arab region.

The launching ceremony was organized in the Beirut Grand Sérail, with the participation of Mr.Fouad Siniora, Prime Minister of Lebanon, and Mr. Abdel Rahman El-Solh, representative of theSecretary General of the League of Arab States.

Mrs. Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Assistant UN Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP RegionalBureau for Arab States, presented the main findings of the Arab Human Development Report 2009and highlighted the necessity to focus on the security of the citizen as an entry point andfundamental condition both for the security of the state and for human development.

The Report identifies seven challenges for human security in the Arab world and providesrecommendations that could help Arab countries improve the situation focusing on: protecting theenvironment; strengthening the rule of law; safeguarding the rights of women; addressing the weakstructural underpinnings of the Arab oil economy; tackling poverty and ending hunger; boostingpublic health; and ending occupation, armed conflicts and military interventions.

Over a one-year period, and in an effort to promote regional dialogue on the key issues addressed inthe report, a series of roundtables and public debates will be organized across the Arab region. Thefirst of these debates was held in Beirut on the day following the launching ceremony, and focusedon the conceptual framework and various definitions laid out in the 2009 AHDR. These dialoguesand discussions, organized in collaboration with the well-known magazine “Weghat Nazar”, willprovide a unique opportunity to a large number of decision-makers, opinion leaders, and civil societyorganizations to study and discuss options to address the issues put forth by the Report.

As part of its continuous efforts to engage Arab members of parliament in key regional policydialogues, UNDP’s Parliamentary Development Initiative in the Arab Region (PDIAR) facilitated theparticipation of a dozen MPs (including six prominent women MPs) in the launch and post-launchpanel discussions which took place in Beirut.

the initiativeThe Parliamentary Development Initiative in the Arab Region(PDIAR) is a joint project launched by UNDP’sGlobal Programme on Parliamentary Strengthening (GPPS) and the Programme on Governance in the ArabRegion (POGAR), with the support of the Belgian government to address the increasing demand forparliamentary assistance in the Arab Region. It builds on recent activities, findings, and lessons learned, andaims at promoting democratic governance through enhancing the role, capacity and image of the legislativeinstitutions in the Arab countries and supporting the work of their members and administrations.

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