GPG blog series on Parliamentary Responses to Crisis
Due to the great response on our blog series, we continue to bring you new weekly series of blogs titled Parliamentary Response to Crisis. This month we have contributions from our executive director Sue Griffiths, with Virtual Virtues – are remote parliaments here to stay? on the joint paper by The Asia Foundation and GPG;
Jeremy Purvis’ on The Secondary Effects of Covid-19 on Women at Risk to Human Trafficking;
Our Project Assistant Abdal-Rahman Eltayeb wrote on last week’s event Regional Leadership and Transnational Cooperation: Report from GPG ‘Establishing a Regional Approach to HTFL Event, 9 June 2020
And our latest blog written by Maria Peiro Mir, Senior Project Manager at GPG, Covid-19 had other plans: how we got stuck in Sudan.
All of our other blogs are available on our website. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed, if you would be interested in submitting a blog for publication, please contact Maria.
‘First 100 days of a new parliament’ with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front
As part of GPG’s work in supporting the formation of the Transitional Legislative Council in Sudan, the team were able to hold an exciting and successful virtual technical session with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (armed group alliance) on Tuesday the 19th of May hosted by UNAMID, on the important decisions that need to be made in the ‘First 100 days of a new parliament’. The session was led by Lord Jeremy Purvis, Stephen Twigg, and our director Sue. The participants were particularly interested in the role of the Speakership, how to implement the peace agenda through the work of committees, and having a neutral and competent Secretary General to manage the administration of the parliament.
Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19, and the complex political situation in Sudan which has caused delays in the formation of the transitional parliament, the team continues to deliver support to various key groups in order to prepare for the establishment of the parliament, which will be vital in the success of the transitional period and delivering the aims of the revolution.
Increasing women’s political participation in Lebanon in the time of corona and revolution
Unfortunately, the CSSF decided to suspend the project in Lebanon due to uncertainty (now we understand why). We communicated this news with ‘Stronger with women’ partners and agreed with the Embassy’s project manager to use the available funding for June to continue the building and preparation of the gender policy online course. Also, GPG senior management agreed with the British Embassy in Beirut to keep a representation of the project by implementing a footprint activity in partnership with Fiftyfifty. In addition to that, a mapping of local funding opportunities in Lebanon took place in order to introduce GPG and ‘stronger with women’ project to different stakeholders and to search for available funding and collaboration opportunities.
Additionally, our partner LOST implemented 5 sessions in 5 different areas to represent the skills audit exercise as part of the leadership and public speech capacity-building program designed for the local candidates in Beqaa. 77 women from the different areas participated in those sessions. We are expecting to receive the videos on the achievements that the project participation made/initiated in response to COVID-19 in their areas by the end of this week and we will share them once we do.
Against all odds, GPG Iraq Team is launching its Online Learning Courses with the CoR
In early June, the Iraqi Council of Representatives approved the remainder of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s cabinet by passing the candidacy of seven ministerial posts including the Oil, Foreign, Trade, Culture, Agriculture, Justice, and Migration Ministries. Now this government has to deal with a health crisis due to the rise of the COVID-19 cases in Iraq, an oil-dependent economy in dire hardship, the attempted resurgence of the Islamic State, including the US-Iranian tension in the region that reached its peak earlier this year. Our GPG project team and associates have moved forward with the creation of the online course modules and materials for the Parliamentary Directorate on Responsive Parliamentary Oversight, and for the Speaker’s Office on Effective Communications Strategies for Parliaments. We followed-up with the Finance Committee and prepared a short paper to review and decide on next steps while stressing the importance of sticking as much as possible to the current inquiry that addresses the issue of banking sector. Furthermore, we progressed in our ongoing discussions with the Health and Environment Committee on the draft report that tackles Water Pollution and its impact on public health and agreed to fill in the gaps through more Committee and CSOs’ engagement for a better basis of the Committee’s inquiry. We also moved forward with the Women’s Committee on domestic violence law by sending relevant papers for more progress.
GPG first livestreaming event ever!
After emailing relentlessly about it, GPG team was delighted to finally host our event on Establishing a Regional Approach to Human Trafficking and Forced Labour that took place last Tuesday 9 June 2020, you can watch it back and read Abdal-Rahman’s blog about it. Besides some minor technological blips, the event was a success and we got a lot of engagement on the back of it. Thank you specifically to both Alistair and Stephen for participating as speaker and Chair, and our other wonderful speakers and to all of you that tuned in!
This was a milestone for the project as we had been trying to engage with the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice and Chair of the National Committee to Counter Trafficking in Sudan and the Event provided a great excuse and discussion to develop the relationship.
Additionally, the project team and associates have been working very hard in developing the modules that will go into the Online Learning Platform. Next Monday we are testing the platform for the first time with our counterparts in Sudan! Stay tuned for developments on this front.
“Spunky and enjoyable”
Like the rest of the world GPG staff have been spending most of their time staring at screens over the last few weeks, but to good effect. Mostly.
Following a blog published jointly by GPG and the Constitution Unit, Greg spoke at a Constitution Unit event at the beginning of June on the challenges and politics of virtual parliaments alongside former DCMS Secretary of State Nicky Morgan, Doreen Grove from the Scottish Parliament and Sarah Allan from Involve in what was a wide-ranging discussion.
Following this, and the publication of Parliamentary Response to Crisis: Virtual Virtues – are remote parliaments here to stay? Sue wrote for the Asia Foundation, Greg and Sue then gave evidence to the Canadian Parliament’s Procedure Committee on international lessons on virtual and hybrid parliaments. They found themselves in the midst of a cross-party argument about whether the Canadian government was using the crisis to extend the powers of the Executive which the chair summed up at the end of the session as “spunky and enjoyable”. Greg is planning to have the phrase engraved on his tombstone.
Finally, GPG has been doing some strategic positioning work for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) since January, and Greg presented this report to the Members of the IPU executive, whose tour of screens went from Geneva to Mexico City, taking in Islamabad, Harare, Beijing, and Canada on the way. Once lockdown is lifted Greg is planning a world tour of the report.
You can also read an analysis of the technology in parliaments here, a blog written in collaboration with the IPU last month.
GPG wins evaluation of SIPD project in Kyrgyzstan
GPG’s proposal to conduct the External End of Phase Evaluation: Strong and Inclusive Parliamentary Democracy (SIPD) project in Kyrgyzstan for the Swiss Agency for Strong and Inclusive Democracy (SIPD) was successful. This is a small project which should be completed by the end of 2020.
GPG was invited and submitted a full project proposal to CSSF on Establishing a Parliamentary Human Rights Committee to monitor progress on Uzbekistan’s international human rights commitments. This is a result of a conversation that began in 2018, so is a good example as to what type of investment is required when pursuing business development opportunities.
GPG’s internal response to global concerns
Given the global focus on the Black Lives Movement, GPG has decided to increase its focus on diversity and inclusion, in the broadest sense. The steering group will initially focus on ethnic and racial inclusion amongst staff, but will eventually explore other issues including gender, sexual orientation, disability and other relevant areas .