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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

"Informing Democracies: How Better Access to Information Improves Lawmaking and Oversight" - SUNY/CID's seminar in Tunisia Makes National News

His Excellence, Mr. Mohamed Ennaceur, the President of the Tunisian Parliament gives the opening remarks

His Excellence, Mr. Mohamed Ennaceur, the President of the Tunisian Parliament gives the opening remarks

On February 27, 2019, SUNY/CID Tunisia organized a seminar held in Tunis titled "Informing Democracies: How Better Access to Information Improves Law-making and Oversight". The seminar took place at the University of Carthage (UC) and was organized in partnership with the UC’s Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences (FSJPS), and the International Federation of Library Associations/Library and Research Service for Parliament Section (IFLAPARL). The seminar focused on information provision for parliaments and how access to objective, quality information and studies can improve law-making and oversight functions of a legislature.

His Excellence, Mr. Mohamed Ennaceur, the President of the Tunisian Parliament gave the opening remarks, stressing the importance of drafting quality laws and in adapting a participatory approach to law-making to include inputs from legal and civil society experts, and other stakeholders. Mr. Ennaceur also reckoned that today’s socio-economic challenges require specific subject expertise, and that Members of Parliament (MPs) may require access to such expertise in order to deal with complex and highly specific laws of today.

His Excellence, Mr. Mohamed Ennaceur, the President of the Tunisian Parliament gives the opening remarks.

His Excellence, Mr. Mohamed Ennaceur, the President of the Tunisian Parliament gives the opening remarks.

SUNY/CID brought two international experts to present at the seminar: Mr. Steve Wise, Director of Information Management at the UK’s House of Commons Library, and Mr. Iain Watt, formerly Head of Policy Department at the European Parliament, both members of IFLAPARL. The presenters stressed on the fact that MPs’ needs have changed as they cannot be experts in all matters of legislation, and that they require qualified assistance. In the words of Mr. Wise, “Better informed legislators make better laws”. The two presenters drew on their extensive professional experience serving their parliaments, emphasizing that legislators need to be assisted with good quality research and therefore their staff needs to be trained to provide quality information. The speakers also emphasized that objectivity and independence of studies is paramount, and that it is a challenge to build trust and to assert independence. Independence can be exercised through transparent processes and by acknowledging other studies that might contradict the findings of parliamentary information and research services.

The seminar was hosted by the University of Carthage’s Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences, whose Dean, Ms. Neila Chaabane, opened the seminar. Two other UC professors also presented on the lawmaking process in Tunisia. The event was attended by approximately 100 participants including UC faculty and students, and members and staff of Parliament. The importance of the seminar attracted media attention, and the event received coverage at the nation’s evening news on Tunisia’s main TV station, Tunis 1. Recording of the full coverage can be viewed at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JEEN5sTklg

Translation of the recording is provided below by SUNY/CID.


News coverage duration: 01: 37 minutes


"Reporter"
(0:00-00:15) The quality of law, a matter that has been investigated by several specialists in the legal field at the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences in Tunis, initiated by the University of Carthage, and in cooperation with the State University of New York.
 "Reporter"
(0:00:16-0:00:36) In a discussion about the constitutional laws of Tunisia and their connection with international sponsors, the President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People "Mohamed Ennaceur" expressed that the effectiveness of the constitutional laws is complemented by the quality of its policies and their simplicity, the ability to respond to the needs of citizens in all fields, and should embody the reforms that are affirmed by the country" constitution.
 "Mohamed Ennaceur (President of The Assembly of the Representatives of the People)"
(0:00:36-0:00:58) As long as law begins with being precise and created on a foundation of principle, it will continue to proceed in a comfortable manner. Rather than creating laws for today, and then changing them after two months, and then changing them again a month later, it is necessary that stability, continuation, and with increased responsiveness to the needs of society are ensured.
"Reporter"
(0:00:59-01:10) A number of specialists in the legal field believe that the laws that have functioned for the year, under the dome of the parliament, are missing the quality and dependence that makes them eligible for funding.

"Neila Chaabane (Dean of the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences in Tunis)"
(0:01:11-0:01:36) It is the work of encouragement that is important. Many of the laws that are issued are not of this nature. This can be compared to a magazine that may have 300 sections. Is the benefit from the number of sections or from their quality? We are in need of texts that are clear, precise, and that are executed immediately.

Posted April 4, 2019