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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dear Friends & Partners
Yet another exciting year for DIPD!
Unfortunately also a year with many examples of democracy under severe pressure around the world. We would like to thank all of you for your support and cooperation, and we look forward to strengthening this further in 2015, for the benefit of democracy.

We wish you an enjoyable and peaceful holiday period!
Warm regards  from the DIPD team!

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DIPD holds political financing workshops in Myanmar

On December 11 and 12, DIPD hosted two workshops at the DIPD Multiparty Dialogue and Resource Centre in Yangon on political party finance. The workshops provided opportunity to discuss existing regulatory framework and options for reform, aided by information about international norms and practices.

Report by DIPD

The first day brought together parties with representatives in parliament and the second day brought together parties outside of parliament. The events were a follow-up of similar events carried out in 2013, and were intended to move the discussion on political finance further. International IDEA held a similar workshop on December 10 with the UEC, including UEC commissioners, having a key role in the regulation of political party finance.

The workshops started with sessions about the “real-life situation” of the political parties in Myanmar and fundraising choices, and then moved to issues regarding regulations and reform. Topics discussed were fundraising, party and campaign finance regulations with comparative practices from Asia, current regulation and approaches to reform, gender, oversight and monitoring.

The diverse group of representatives from 35 political parties participated in the workshops including representatives at the party chairperson and central executive committee level and the group work discussions have provided DIPD with short and long-term recommendations for improving political finance in Myanmar pre and post elections in 2015.

The workshops noted the importance of political parties in democratic political and electoral processes, and the need for political parties to have sufficient and transparent access to resources to be able to play their role in such processes.

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Ideas and  recommendations for consideration:

During the workshops a number of ideas and suggestions were made as listed below:

  • UEC should consider amending the existing regulations to ensure more fairness in political finance through the enforcement of existing rules in an unbiased manner (for example spending limits)
  • UEC could provide clear and transparent procedure for the applications of sanctions and have access to a greater variety of sanctions, i.e. not only de-registration
  • The regional UEC commissioners are in great need of guidance/training to carry out their job professionally and unbiased and also to familiarise themselves with rules and regulations
  • Parties and candidates need to familiarise themselves with the legal provisions and comply with the different requirements
  • Parties need to keep systematic records of their finances and expenses; to make the financial reports transparent; to make sure not to misuse state resources; and to assist candidates in fundraising
  • Parties need strong and predictable sources of funds for party work and electoral campaign and a legal change to introduce public funding should be considered hand in hand with requirements of transparency and accountability.
  • Parties need training on fundraising and the training could be focused on party fundraising committees, which each political party needs to create without delay
  • Parties are encouraged to cooperate with the UEC and all can play a constructive role in ensuring party and candidate compliance
  • There were different opinions about the level of the spending limit. However with many parties agreeing with the level that the UEC has decided (10 million Kyat per parliamentary candidate)

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DIPD had the support of International IDEA in holding the workshops and translated version of the publications on political finance regulations around the world and funding of political parties and election campaigns provided by International IDEA were also distributed to the participants.

Political party financing is a longer-term component of the Myanmar programme. DIPD seeks to strengthen the enhancement of capacities in the field of party financing and to increase cooperation among stakeholders, which is crucial for creating an environment where the law is respected and adhered to.

For more information, please contact Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser at DIPD, hlm@dipd.dk or (+45) 38 40 28 02 and Khin Thazin Myint, Myanmar Programme Coordinator, mmdp2012@gmail.com or (+95) 9 421 009 560.

DIPD empowers political party youth leaders in Myanmar

To support the development of young leaders in political parties in Myanmar, DIPD held a series of youth party leadership training sessions from November 24th to December 2nd. The training program was conducted at the DIPD Dialogue and Resource Center in Yangon and convened 42 youths.

 

Report by Ran Lunn Aung, DIPD Youth Project Coordinator in Myanmar

The youth participants came from three existing party alliances – United Nationalities Alliance, Federal Democracy Alliance and National Brotherhood Federations; and from three major parties – National League for Democracy, Union Solidarity and Development Party, and National Unity Party. Through the training sessions, party youth leaders analyzed different models of party youth wings and leagues, developed strategies for amplifying youth voices in parties, and agreed to seek to implement youth structures, training programs, and other initiatives in parties.

Youth Participation in Parties and Elections is crucial

Youth participation is essential to make Myanmar’s political dispensation more inclusive and democratic due to the high amount of youths within the country –  according to Population Reference Bureau approximately more than a third of the population is between the age of 15 and 35 years. In answering the question “Why should parties care about the youth?”, a participant in the training answered, “Youth are many in numbers… as it is said youth constitute one third of the population. And we, as youths, can mobilize our peers to vote for us and to join our parties.”

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Political parties can be a valuable channel of participation for youth in Myanmar. However, youth have limited access to decision making processes in parties and to meaningful roles in parties and party activities.  Few parties have youth wings, and most of those wings are inactive. Youth representation in leadership is low, with few seats on Central Executive Committees of political parties, and youth representation in the National Assembly less than 5% of elected representatives. In the light of this, the training program aimed at strengthening the role of youths in party structures and increase youth participation in parties’ decision-making and policy formulation by helping them develop strategies, techniques, and action plans that address increased youth participation in these key areas.

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Building trust among youth leaders

Jeremy Liebowitz, who is the political party expert of DIPD Myanmar shared different models of party youth wings and organizations from a range of developed and developing country contexts, including Denmark and South Africa. During the last session, participants developed individual party action plans, drawing on the SWOT analyses, models of youth organization in parties, advocacy strategies, inclusiveness, and the stakeholder influence mapping exercise. Common areas of focus identified by the groups were increasing youth participation in leadership and policy formulation, building youth structures and increasing opportunities for youths as campaigners and candidates.

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The training session not only provided valuable information on models of youth wings based on the DIPD publication ‘How To Build a Youth Wing’, but also helped the party youth leaders build trust within and across parties.  As a participant said, “The training not only enriched our knowledge but we [also] feel that we (youths of different parties) are more close to each other after sharing our experiences. I found that they (youths of the other parties) are quite open to us.”

The way forward for DIPD is to empower political youth leaders so that they can take on new roles and bigger responsibilities within their parties and also build youth structures to increase youth participation.

For more information on DIPD and Myanmar

Contact Senior Advisor at DIPD, Hanne Lund Madsen at hlm@dipd.dk

or Coordinator for Myanmar, Thazin Myint at ktmyint.ide@gmail.com

International Human Rights Day 2014 – Human Rights 365

December 10 marks the international Human Rights Day which is perceived as a special occasion at DIPD where human rights are a crucial part of the Strategy 2014-2017. The annual event is a relevant occasion to reflect on the human rights and their compliance on a global scale.

Since 1950 the United Nations has proclaimed 10 December as the Human Rights Day in order to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The focus this year has been titled, Human Rights 365, emphasizing the notion that every day must be perceived as human rights day internationally. This idea builds on the notion that for human rights to be fully respected and complied with, one day of commemorating the Human Rights Declaration is definitely not adequate. As UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, puts it “I call on States to honour their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. I call on people to hold their governments to account”.

No democratization without human rights

The SG’s statement is highly recognized by DIPD where human rights are a crucial aspect of the activities in our partnerships around the world. As one of the core principles in the new Strategy 2014-2017 respect for human rights is emphasized as being of crucial importance in democratization. In particular civil and political rights, and rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom to organize, freedom of expression and the protection of minorities stands out as some of the fundamental pillars in the DIPD partnerships. However, in some of the countries where DIPD supports projects these political rights are frequently violated and many citizens, political party members, trade union members and journalists have lost their lives or experienced harassment while seeking to exercise their internationally recognized human rights.

Whether in Myanmar, Tanzania or Swaziland human rights protection is important for the development and safeguarding of democracy and each day offers an opportunity to work for the promotion of human rights for all.

For more information on this years International Day of Human Rights visit the UN Human Rights at http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/2014/statements.shtml

Strong Tunesian women in politics participating in workshop by KVINFO and DIPD

A delegation of powerful female Tunisian politicians is visiting Denmark this week to get inspired by the Danish democratic model and share their experiences and insights from Tunesia. The women are all active in KVINFO’s partner organisation “Ligue des Electrices Tunisiennes (LET)”.

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