Republic of Tajikistan Final Project Report: October 1, 1997-September 30, 2002

INTRODUCTION

Under Cooperative Agreement EE-A-OO-97-00034-00, the International Foundation for Election Systems conducted a number of projects designed to support its ongoing mission in Tajikistan. This mission focused on bolstering democratic development through support for electoral sector reform, political party development, emergence of civil society, and civic education. The Agreement began after the signing of the Peace Accords in June of 1997, which set in motion a series of internationally-monitored actions designed to bring about the reconciliation of the population, culminating in the election of a professional parliament and instituting a system of representative democracy in the country. The signing of the Accords provided the impetus for establishment of an IFES on-site presence, and in January 1998, IFES formally opened a country office in Dushanbe. The Agreement afforded IFES an opportunity to engage in activities designed to support the national reconciliation process, such as creating a positive environment for the holding of multi-party elections through technical election assistance, helping political parties to prepare for the elections and create sustainable networks, encourage the emergence of women in politics, assisting the development of non-governmental organizations, and embarking on a school-based civic education project. At the end of the Agreement, IFES focused on civic education activities and political party development in the post-election environment. The stage was set for future work as IFES worked intensively with high school students through the development of a textbook and accompanying materials for a course on civics and democracy.

IFES established a working relationship with a number of partners during the period of this agreement. One of the most important local partners became the Central Commission on Elections and Referenda (CCER), the government body charged with overseeing the presidential, parliamentary and local elections, as well as nationwide referenda. Though IFES had worked with the commission prior to the Agreement, the CCER essentially had no (meaningful) mission during the latter part of the Civil War. The conclusion of Peace Accords abruptly changed that, and the relationship with IFES took on new meaning. Political party development efforts would soon follow, and in 1998 IFES made its initial foray into this sector of assistance. Initial analyses, gained from meeting with all registered and non-registered parties and movements, would lead to concrete assistance activities in advance of the national elections as mandated in the Peace Accords. Such activities included election law reform, constitutional law reform, electoral grievance adjudication seminars for judges and lawyers, and development of pollworker training materials. Other forms of technical assistance would be offered, such as a computerized system of voter registration, which would be met with varying levels of success. Education efforts would gain prominence in this period, including voter education efforts in support of elections to the new Majlisi Oli as well as civic education efforts for high school students. Woven throughout the programs was the issue of gender equality, a particularly relevant topic in the post-independence period in Tajikistan. Projects were designed with special attention to the needs of women in the country, including the School of Political Leadership for Women, emphasis on gender issues in the civic education programs, and focus on women in party politics. While not part of a separate gender program per se, the efforts as suggested were incorporated into "regular" IFES programming wherever possible.

Local NGO partnerships formed were numerous. A number of women's NGOs emerged as strong partners for a variety of civil society and civic education activities, such as Traditions and Modernity, MODAR, and the Bureau for Women in Development. The relationship with the NGO SHARQ, with whom IFES collaborated on its 1996 baseline public opinion survey, reached new levels as collaboration on several research projects was realized. New local partners appeared in the sphere of civic education, such as the NGOs Mehr and Chasmoi Hoiyat. These same NGOs as well as others worked with IFES on election observer training projects and civic education for students.

Relationships with all parties and movements, large and small, were forged through political party development activities, which were designed to be inclusive of all political interests. Ties were established with both national and local branches of the parties and movements. IFES established a working relationship with the new parliament and encouraged their professional development through discussion groups and roundtables. Media partnerships were created through a series of nationally televised interviews with national and local party leaders. IFES found willing local partners in the legal sphere as well during the conducting of regional seminars on adjudication of electoral grievances, which included a close working relationship with the Supreme Court. Partnerships were forged with universities, schools and individual teachers and professors in support of the civic education program, and with the Ministry of Education and other governmental education institutions.

IFES also worked in partnership with a number of international NGOs in the conducting of its projects, including both USAID-funded and non-USAID entities. Major partners among USAID funded groups included the American Bar Association, AED/Global Training, Eurasia, and to a notable extent Counterpart Consortium and Internews. Non-USAID international partners included the George C. Marshall Center, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations, the Aga Khan Foundation, CARE International, UMCOR, the Soros Foundation/OSI, and others.

The following report is designed to provide a comprehensive, theme-oriented overview of IFES's work under this Cooperative Agreement in Tajikistan, from 1997-2001. Work under this agreement was continued post-September 2000 under the no-cost extension to the Cooperative Agreement as granted by USAID. Funds were expected to expire in late 2001.

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