Concept Note

Forum for National Dialogue

Policy Research and Strategic Studies

(Shaping the Debate, Empowering the Action)

Concept Note (0-Draft)

Background and Rationale

One of the outcomes of the National Consultative Conference (NCC), held in Nairobi on 27-29 November 2015, was to establish an Ad Hoc Contact Organ with the responsibilities to:    

  • Draft a common vision and program of action, in close consultation with political organisations, for a smooth transition to a democratic order.
  • Prepare for the next all-inclusive meeting of opposition organisations to discuss ways and means to accelerate democratic transition.

In its first meeting the Ad Hoc Contact Organ recognized the need for expert advice and support; hence, decided to establish an Advisory Panel. The scope of work of the Advisory Panel was to draft key discussion documents on the following areas:

  • National vision and Common plan of action to change the status quo;
  • Outline of political Transition;
  • The root causes of the Challenges within the Opposition; and
  • To provide expert advice to the Contact Organ in the process of preparing for NCC-II.

Composed of highly qualified and competent Eritreans, the Advisory Panel met every two weeks for more than five months between May and October 2015. During this period, the Advisory Panel managed to complete the first two tasks and presented the Ad Hoc committee with two comprehensive documents. Attempt to carry out the third task was unsuccessful due to lack of cooperation from the primary respondents.

Encouraged by the experience and the outputs of the Advisory Panel and acknowledging the imperative of research and knowledge in political action, the FND established within its Executive Committee a Committee for Policy Research and Strategic Studies.  This w will provide opportunities for Eritrean professionals and academics to contribute to the ongoing debate around pertinent national issues and thereby shape the ongoing political actions aimed at effecting positive change in Eritrea.

The Initiative

The FND’s Policy Research Strategic Studies is an open initiative for all Eritreans and friends of Eritrea capable and willing to engage on and constructively contribute in pertinent national issues of their interests. It is guided by principles and values of:

  • Intellectual rigour and integrity;
  • Human rights and human dignity;
  • Social Justice and Equality; and
  • Openness and accountability;

Strategic Objective

The Strategic Objective of the Policy Research and Strategic Studies is to assume centre stage in future Eritrean policy debates and decision-making processes by providing evidence-based analysis and policy recommendations that puts the wellbeing of the people and the national interest of Eritrea at the centre.

Specific Objectives

The initiative specifically intends to:

  • Carry out targeted researches on current political, economic and socio-cultural affairs of Eritrean and its people;
  • Generate evidence-based policy alternatives and recommendations;
  • Draft key discussion documents on critical aspects of political transition and future political, economic and socio-cultural development;
  • Engage with and inform political leaders, civil society actors, public officials and wider members of the society on pertinent national issues through varied media and available forums.

Priority Areas

At this critical juncture of Eritrea’s history, there are a number of competing and urgent issues that require in-depth and comprehensive analysis and evidence-based policy recommendations that would empower political actors and the wider public in their engagement with national issues. However, the following areas have been identified as priorities:

  • Research
    • Opposition Politics and Struggle for Democracy;
    • State Institutions: Security Sector Governance; Public Sector, Public Goods and Services;
    • Constitution: Constitutionalism, the Rule of Law; Justice System; and Human Rights;
    • Foreign Relations: International Relations, Regional Integrations and Geopolitics;
    • Healing the Wounds: Transitional Justice; Social Cohesion; Healing and Reconciliation; Rehabilitation and Reintegration; Peace Education; etc.
    • Forced Migration and its Concomitant Consequences; Diaspora life and its Challenges and Repatriation programs.
    • Dealing with Marginalization: Youth; Gender Equality, Minorities, and People with Disability;
    • Land , Natural Resources and Environment;
    • The Economy: Fiscal and Monetary matters; Productive Sector; Private Sector; Mining and Extractive Industry; Agriculture; Marin Resources; Tourism; etc.
    • National Identity: History, Languages, Cultural Heritages, Customs, etc.
  • Awareness: in collaboration with the Committees for Media and Advocacy and Diplomacy
    • Holding of Seminars;
    • Interviews; and
    • Opinion pieces.
  • Capacity-building:
    • Development of civic education materials;
    • Leadership skills for Youth, Women and leaders of community-based organizations; and
    • Coaching and advisory services for leaders of political organizations;
  • Policy Proposals:
    • Preparation of key discussion documents for Transition.

Activities for 2018

Immediate activities to be carried out in the coming months are the following:

  • Establishment of the core group of the Initiative and adopting operational guidelines;
  • Calling on all capable and willing Eritrean professionals and academics to join;
  • Incremental Formation of specialized research task teams;
  • Creation of Data-base of Eritrean Professional and Academics; and
  • Working towards the establishment of an on-line periodical.

Conceptual Approach

In order to achieve its stated objectives, the initiative will employ a conceptual approach that will help to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice. This means, debates, policy decisions and political actions have to be informed and based on evidence. At the same time, the knowledge generated through varied ways has to be also contextual and societal relevance; meaning they should be aimed at helping diverse stakeholders to gain deeper understand and converse from an informed position and take actions that are thought through. 

 

Implementation Mechanism

In order to achieve the above stated objectives, work in the identified priority areas and planned activities, the initiative will have the following implementation mechanism:

Given it institutional embedment of the initiative, the FND Board through the Executive Committee and its Chief Executive Officer will have an oversight responsibilities; i.e., approving nomination of affiliates, overall activity plan, budget and monitoring progress. The initiative is however directed and implemented by the Committee for Policy Research and Strategic Studies. Within the FND Bylaws and internal guidelines, the Committee enjoys relatively high level of autonomy in professionally designing its activities, including and especially in the selection of affiliates, the identification of topics, editorial responsibilities and internal communication within the Committee and its relevant sub-committee and research sub-groups.

The Committee: it is the driver of the initiative for Policy Research and Strategic Studies. It is led by a Chair who is the member of the FND Executive Committee and a Secretary. It will consist of 9 members with diverse academic, professional and social background. The Committee has the role of guidance and management of the initiative. Within the Committee there will be the following sub-committees:

  • Editorial: it will be responsible to reviewing, commenting and approving publication materials;
  • Outreach: it will be tasked to identify, reach out and motivate and encourage Eritrean and non-Eritrean intellectuals, professional and academics to contribute towards the objective of the initiative.
  • Capacity-building and Awareness Raising: it will have the role of thinking, developing capacity-building and delivering capacity-building and awareness raising measures on gaps that have been identified through workshops, seminars, counselling, mentoring, coaching, public media, etc.

Thematic Working Groups: these are groups of individuals with related expertise backgrounds. They will be tasked to work on particular theme complex or discipline for the purpose of developing Eritrean knowledge through generation of publications and documentation.

Ad Hoc Research Teams: These teams will be established as and when needed to work on specific theme. They will be expected to be a small group and highly specialized on particular area.

Activity Plan and Budget

Once it is established the Committee will develop its activity plan and budget.

Version – 20171110