GPG wishes you all a lovely festive season, and a splendid new year! We look forward to sharing more exciting news and projects with you in 2021.
Last month, GPG celebrated its 15th anniversary. It was an opportunity to look back on so many years of growth and collaboration which allowed us to build a strong country experience and a rich network around the world as well as a diverse portfolio of Associates, all experts in their respective fields.
For all of the second half of November, we looked back onto 15 years of strengthening representative politics with daily retrospective posts reflecting on GPG’s major collaborations, publications, and achievements. You can find our retrospective series here. We hope these put into light how our values and commitments came to take shape.
GPG’s December virtual seminar
GPG held a virtual conference on the role of transitional parliaments in making political settlements work, which was held in December 2020.
Our speakers for this event were:
Don’t forget to read and share our latest blogs!
This month, new GPG Director Emily Death reflected on current and upcoming programmes and priorities for GPG on the occasion of our 15th anniversary.
Alongside Dr Hannah White from the Institute for Government and Prof. Cristina Leston-Bandeira of the University of Leeds, Emily Death gave evidence to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointment Committee on the resilience of the Scottish Parliament’s practices and procedures. You can find a report on the session here.
Finally, we published a short report of our virtual seminar on Sudan’s transitional process and the role of transitional parliaments.
To fulfil a top demand of the October 2019 protests, the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, is striving to make the necessary legal and political preparations for the June 2021 early elections. This comes amid political, economic, security, and health challenges as public anger in the streets remains. Earlier in December, at least 7 people were killed and 12 others wounded in ongoing violent demonstrations in the city of Sulaymaniyah and nearby towns. Government workers demanded to receive their salaries, affected by the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the Iraqi Parliament’s Finance Committee in late November called on the government to impose a 12% value-added tax to alleviate budget crisis, starting from 2021. This ignited popular anger and criticism in light of the devastating financial crisis caused by the pandemic and low oil prices. Moreover, the Iraqi parliament completed the first reading of the proposed cybercrimes bill, which civilians and activists label as repressive of freedoms and rights guaranteed in the Iraqi Constitution.
GPG’s Iraq team has started working on Women’s Economic Empowerment in Iraq, which aims to shed light on the importance of ensuring women’s economic rights while conducting the necessary economic reforms in the country. We have worked on Post-Legislative Scrutiny (PLS) session with the Research Department Staff, and this time focused on helping staff set out their own criteria for PLS that would be conducted on the specific law they would select. The Health and Environment Committee has sent out the Water Pollution report to the Speaker of the Parliament and his deputies, the Committee of Services, and the Committee of Agriculture and Water Resources. A copy was also sent to the Health and Environment Ministry. This marked the start of the Post-Parliamentary inquiry’s next steps.
Additionally, GPG continues to develop links and a planning strategy with the Iraqi Parliament’s new Training and Development Department.
It has been a challenging year across the world. Since the start of the pandemic, GPG understood the value of showing adaptability in our approach. The online platform launched during the second quarter of the year allowed us to continue our engagement with our Sudanese contacts as much as possible without meeting physically. Since last month, we were able to deliver a series of sessions with the National Committee for Combatting Trafficking (NCCT) in Sudan. The ‘virtual visit’ sessions we held were created to give the committee the opportunity to work hand in hand with our Associates on challenges it faces.
Some of our sessions this month were developed with the NCCT and Associates Dame Stella Manzie, Dr Mohammed Babiker, Nick Walker, and Lord Jeremy Purvis focusing on coordinating efforts between the state and local governments to combat trafficking or building on previous awareness raising campaigns to continue to fight trafficking in the country, this time with Aileen Walker.
Up until March 2020, GPG worked with the Bahraini Parliament, specifically its lower house the Majlis al Nuwab and individual MPs, as well as other Bahraini political institutions to strengthen the representative function of the Parliament. The GPG project in Bahrain focused both on supporting the Secretariat to streamline its processes and working with specific MPs on their roles within their constituencies and how these related to their function in the Parliament, in order to make policy as responsive as possible to the concerns of citizens.
With support from the UK embassy, the project now focuses on different themes to support the Bahraini parliament: the improvement of legislative follow-up, continued support to the Parliamentary Studies and Training Centre, and the assessment of Covid-19’s impacts on the work of Parliament.
The project builds on progress achieved before March 2020 and on work continued by Bahraini MPs and parliamentary staff. We hope to be able to travel to Bahrain in February 2021 to consolidate our work with our partners before the end of the financial year.
Our FCDO-funded project is currently at the inception phase. Following the busy election period in Kuwait, GPG is holding consultations with the different stakeholders involved to inform the implementation phase. This work focuses on strengthening the inter-institutional relationships between the Kuwaiti Parliament and the Anti-Corruption Authority to tackle corruption in public life.
2020 witnessed several moments of dramatic change in Lebanon, such as an economic crisis and the collapse of the banking system, as well as the October 17 revolution and the August explosion in the Port of Beirut, on top of the pandemic, making it very challenging for Lebanese society to move forward and to regain any sense of ‘normalcy’.
GPG and partners will now focus on the upcoming municipal elections in 2022. We will support women to pursue national leadership ambitions and help them bridge the gap between national parties and other organisations that could potentially support them. A visit to Lebanon will be considered if the situation allows it. It may otherwise be conducted remotely, or divided into a series of smaller regionally-based sessions.
As part of the Stronger With Women project, funded by the CSSF, we are working to strengthen our relationship with six political parties.
Establishing relationships within the Oliy Majlis Human Rights Commission
The GPGF team is currently working to support the Human Rights Commission within the Uzbek Oliy Majlis.
We were honoured to get an opportunity to present our e-learning programme at the first hearing of the Parliamentary Commission on Follow-Up to and Compliance with International Human Rights Obligations. Together with our associate Nick Walker, we introduced the main goals of the programme: to provide the course participants with a versatile understanding of how human rights committees operate, how they build relationships with other actors, and to establish a dialogue about how the acquired knowledge could be applied to the context of Uzbekistan. We emphasized that the key to the successful implementation of the online programme is close cooperation with the Commission.
On the 15th of December, the GPGF team and our associates organised the first event of the e-learning programme. We were pleased to see Mr Torlot, the UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and Mr. Rustamov, Uzbek Ambassador to the UK, at the Opening part of the event. The following session focused on delivery of the content and a discussion about the human rights commitments and obligations of Uzbekistan.