We have worked in several countries to bring about peace and reconciliation in societies that had to deal with conflict. Some of these are listed below.
Kenya suffered severe post-election violence in 2007. We hosted a high-level seminar at which a roadmap for reforms was adopted. Many changes were made, including institutional reforms, new laws and standing orders, and live parliamentary broadcasts to increase transparency. MPs made personal financial contributions to displaced people, and the Speaker of Parliament was later voted the most popular institution in the country for the firm and impartial stewardship shown.
Sierra Leone experienced 11 years of conflict during which nearly 80,000 people were killed. After the conflict, the Parliament of Sierra Leone was in a particularly delicate situation. This was partly due to a lack of human and financial resources, which made the parliament’s full contribution to the reconciliation process a formidable challenge. In 2009, we organized a national seminar that took a closer look at the specific challenges that the Sierra Leonean Parliament faced. Parliamentarians at the seminar adopted a blueprint for parliamentary action, which included: reforming parliament itself; adopting a comprehensive youth policy and requisite legislation; and organizing parliamentary outreach visits to promote peace and political tolerance.
Rwanda’s genocide left almost 1 million people dead. We organized a national seminar to support the authorities’ efforts to restore peace through the peaceful coexistence of the Hutu and Tutsi peoples. The seminar provided an opportunity to discuss the contribution of parliaments in the region to their national reconciliation and institutional reform processes. At the end of the seminar, Rwandan parliamentarians discussed and adopted a national parliamentary action plan which included commitments to: reform parliament; disseminate laws that promoted national reconciliation and human rights; raise awareness through field visits; and adopt new laws on national reconciliation and civil political, economic and social rights.
Timor-Leste gained independence after having endured annexation by Indonesia and waves of horrific political unrest. Since the early 2000s, we have been working closely with the United Nations Development Programme to strengthen the national parliament of Timor-Leste. Our support has included technical and legal advice about drafting a new Constitution, and workshops on issues such as gender equality and strategic planning. The country remains fragile but the parliament is now better equipped to help build a stable future.
Tunisia has also benefitted from IPU assistance. In early 2011, the IPU provided expertise and advice on electoral systems to ensure that, when setting up the country’s Assembly, representation would be as gender-balanced as possible. Once the Assembly was established, the IPU assessed its needs. We then ran a workshop in March 2012 to support an effective constitutional process. The workshop addressed the organization and planning issues for each phase of a constitution-drafting exercise. Since then, the IPU has regularly assisted the Tunisian parliament by sharing knowledge on issues such as parliament’s legislative and oversight functions, parliamentary administrative and financial autonomy, democratic parliamentary standards and parliamentary administration management models.