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Co-operation activities in the southern Mediterranean

  • Introduction
  • Latest updates
  • Highlights
  • Opinions and co-operation activities
  • UniDem Campus for the Southern Mediterranean
  • Intercultural Workshops on Democracy
  • Co-operation with the Organisation of Arabic Speaking Electoral Management Bodies

 

- Useful links:

 

Co-operation between the Venice Commission and Southern Mediterranean countries started before the Arab spring. Algeria and Morocco became full members of the Venice Commission in 2007, and Tunisia in 2010.

The Arab Spring gave new impetus to the co-operation between the Venice Commission and the countries of the Southern Mediterranean region. Since then, cooperation with countries of the Southern Mediterranean Region has steadily increased. 

The Venice Commission’s co-operates with countries of the Southern Mediterranean region in areas such as: democratic institutions and fundamental rights; constitutional justice and ordinary justice; and elections, referendums and political parties.

Co-operation may take many forms, such as requests for opinions; contributions to or co-organisation of conferences, seminars, workshops or other events; and exchanges of views or contacts with authorities, institutions or independent bodies. Co-operation may be bilateral or multilateral.

Recent examples of requests to the Venice Commission for opinions by a country of the Southern Mediterranean region are the two requests made by Tunisia in 2015. Following the request for an opinion from the Tunisian Foreign Ministry, the Venice Commission adopted the Opinion on the draft institutional law on the Constitutional Court of Tunisia, at its 104th Session (Venice, 23-24 October 2015) (CDL-AD (2015)24). Following the request by the Truth and Dignity Body of Tunisia for an opinion, the Venice Commission adopted the Interim Opinion on the institutional aspects of the draft law on special procedures concerning reconciliation in the economic and financial fields in Tunisia at its 104th Session (Venice, 23-24 October 2015), (CDL-AD (2015)032).  

Those requests were related to the implementation of the new Constitution, which was adopted on 26 January 2014, after two years of close and fruitful co-operation between the Venice Commission and the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia.  In this context, in 2013, at the request of the Constituent Assembly, the Venice Commission had also adopted an opinion on the final draft Constitution of Tunisia (CDL-AD (2013) 032).

The Venice Commission regularly contributes to or co-organises conferences, seminars, dialogues and other events in the countries of the Southern Mediterranean region dealing with subjects such as constitutional reform, judicial reform, electoral reform, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the functioning of parliament.

A recent example of such cooperation is the UniDem (University for Democracy) Campus for the Southern Mediterranean. The co-operation between the Venice Commission and the Ministry of Public Service and Modernisation of the Administration of the Kingdom of Morocco led to the launching of the UniDem Campus for the Southern Mediterranean countries, a legal capacity-development project for high level civil servants in the MENA region (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestinian National Authority and Tunisia). The first UniDem Med seminar, which focused on “Human Rights and public service”, was held in Rabat in September 2015. The second UniDem seminar, which focused on “Open Government”, was held in Rabat in April 2016. Other seminars focused on the "Reform of the General Statute of the Cvil Service" (Rabat, 27-30 November 2016) and on the topic of "Performance, Merit and Equality in the Civil Service" (Tunis, 27-30 March 2017).

Another example of such co-operation is the Venice Commission’s co-operation with the Office of the Mediator of Morocco, in which the Venice Commission supports training sessions for the staff of the Ombudsmen. Other examples include participation in conferences or meetings on the subjects of justice and constitutional justice (Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon); electoral issues (Tunisia and Lebanon); human rights and fundamental freedoms (Tunisia and Morocco); and the functioning of parliament (Morocco).

The Venice Commission is regularly asked to contribute to dialogues in the region that focus on subjects that are important for democracies.

The success of the intercultural workshops on democracy shows the importance of providing a forum for new democracies to share their common experience.  These workshops enable lawyers, politicians, and academics from different Arab countries and European colleagues to hold fruitful exchanges of views.

In the context of regional co-operation, one should also mention the Venice Commission’s co-operation with the Organization of Arabic Speaking Electoral Management Bodies. On 24 October 2015, the Venice Commission and the Organization of Arabic Speaking Electoral Bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the terms and conditions for their cooperation.

Activities for the Southern Mediterranean countries are organised with voluntary contributions from France, Italy, Norway and Turkey, and with the financial support of the European Union, in particular, within the framework of the Joint EU/Council of Europe South Programme. This programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe, was launched in 2012 and stepped up for 2015-2017.

 

 

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[1] Activities in Morocco were financed by a voluntary contribution from the Government of Norway unless otherwise stated.

[2] Activities in Tunisia were financed by voluntary contributions from the Government of France and Norway unless otherwise stated.

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