History remembers well big events of political change. Pictures of big protests, with brave men and women demanding their democratic rights, are a standard part of every article or book telling the story of democratic transitions. But we cannot forget that after change has been achieved and the dust of the big demonstrations sinks, there still remains a lot of work to be done to consolidate the democratic norms, practices and institutions.
Every state that has passed through a process of democratic transition (and many such states are members of the Community) can testify that this process of consolidation is long, hard and frustrating, carrying many challenges to the stability of the young democratic regime. A partnership of mutual learning and support is essential, and can be crucial to the success of the process. It is exactly this kind of partnership that stands at the heart of the Democracy Partnership (DP) project.
Encouraging a “race to the top”, the DP is an exclusive project, aimed only at countries that have showed serious commitment to significant progress towards democracy. They are joined by a group of states, established democracies together with young ones, who together form special Task Forces to support the chosen country. The work of the Task Forces is unique and innovative- they work closely with the chosen country to define specific proposals and projects, find funding for them, implement them, and report on their progress.
The DP Task Forces embody the holistic and inclusive vision of the Community of Democracies. Different stakeholders of society – government, civil society, parliament and the private sector – take part in the dialogue, and all countries contribute from their own particular knowledge and experience. The core of the project is the leadership role given to the so-called “recipient” country: the whole process is based upon the needs, wishes and priorities of the applying country. Countries that opt to take part in the project must first submit an application in which they outline their particular objectives and propose a short list of initiatives that will help them reach the next stage in their democratic consolidation (for example- help in conduction of elections, trainings for civil servants, etc.). These are the projects escorted by the Task Forces Member States, always bearing in mind the priorities of the recipient state.
Who is who?
Two countries, Moldova and Tunisia, were chosen as the first ones to take part in the Democracy Partnership .
In Tunisia, a special mission to the country was carried out by the co-chairs of the Task Forces, the Netherlands and Slovakia, already prior to the beginning of the Task Force’s action. The initial meeting of the Task Force took place on February 9-10 2012 in Tunis. It formally established a new framework for donor coordination within the Task Force, and created coordination mechanism between the CD Task Force members and the Tunisian government and civil society. During the initial meeting, the Task Force members confirmed their commitment to help Tunisia to implement necessary reforms in the five areas defined by its Government: Security sector reform; judicial reform; public administration reform; regional development; and promotion of civil society.
The inaugural meeting of the Task Force for Moldova took place in Washington D.C. in December 2011, with the participation of the two co-chairs of the Task Force, Poland and the United States. In the meeting, several sector-specific teams were defined, and to these, common objectives were identified:
Local Governance: To establish the Information Center for Local Authorities in Moldova. The Centre is expected to strengthen capacity of the Moldovan local authorities and NGOs oriented on local development in order to improve their effectiveness in finding relevant external funding and fulfilling donor’s application requirements.
Justice Sector Reform: To support Moldova's Justice Sector reform (including law enforcement reform), according to the Action Plan developed by the Ministry of Justice.
Transparency / e-Governance: To consider the activities/projects in areas identified by the E-Government Center.
Security Sector Reform: To support the reform of the Ministries of the Interior and Defense, and in particular the reform of the armed forces, and secret services.
Moldova has officially graduated from its Democracy Partnership Task Force on March 2014. A special statement
on Moldova's graduation was released by the Task Force's co-chairs and the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies.