Tag Results

Transitional Justice

Study Tour

One of the participants on the transitional justice study tour that the FNF hosted from the 6th till the 12th of November in Brussels and Berlin was Zimbabwean human rights lawyer, David Coltart. Coltart, who is also a founding member of the political party ‘Movement for Democratic Change’ (MDC), is well-known for the sterling work he did as Zimbabwe’s Minister for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture from 2009 to August 2013.

Coltart had had the good fortune of visiting Berlin before the study tour and has a real soft spot for the city. He now has what he can call a ritual – on each visit to the German capital, Coltart celebrates the fall of the wall by straddling the cobblestones which mark where it once stood and divided people. Doing this, he says, reminds him that tyrants do fall. This is particularly poignant given the book Coltart published earlier this year: The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe. Living in Zimbabwe, Coltart recounts, one must remind oneself that tyrannies do eventually come to an end.

The study tour, comprising of six strategically selected participants – two from Zimbabwe, two from Tanzania and two from South Africa, started in Brussels with a broad overview of ‘transitional justice’, a field that has been receiving growing attention mainly since the mid-80s and is thus still considered relatively new.

Transitional Justice

 

Wikipedia usefully defines the term as follows:

“Transitional justice consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Such measures “include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs, and various kinds of institutional reforms”.[1] Transitional justice is enacted at a point of political transition from violence and repression to societal stability and it is informed by a society’s desire to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system, and build a democratic system of governance. The core value of transitional justice is the very notion of justice—which does not necessarily mean criminal justice. This notion and the political transformation, such as regime change or transition from conflict are thus linked toward a more peaceful, certain, and democratic future.”

[Source]

 

Transitional Justice

Each country represented has a unique past (or present) of injustice with which it must grapple. The idea behind the study tour was to expose participants to transitional justice measures implemented in dealing with, in particular, Germany’s Third Reich and German Democratic Republic past. The group was also briefed, from a European Union perspective, on the events in the Western Balkans giving rise to the need for very particular transitional justice there. Of course, while each situation is unique, there are many similarities in the types of atrocities committed and so much space for sharing experiences, both around the awful events that unfolded as well as around corresponding transitional justice measures. Ultimately, and very importantly to note, the human experience of suffering is universal.

In Berlin, the tour met with government institutions that deal with the compensation of victims of injustice not only for the loss of property, but for the loss of loved ones (lives lost) as well as for lost freedoms (concentration camps, emprisonment). We also learned about compensation for various consequences injustices have had on the mental and physical health of victims as well as how compensation was and is calculated in addition to such technical intricacies as evidentiary burdens.

Transitional Justice

Complimentary to the above were our meetings with with organisations involved in what are often termed ‘softer’ (and consequently erroneously underrated) measures such as school curricula and how society more broadly remembers the past (memorials, days of remembrance, public art, museums etc) so that it never repeats itself. Of particular interest was our meeting with the Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and Future which fosters a very bottom-up and personal approach to dealing with the past, emphasising the need to ‘dig where you stand’, i.e. to uncover and reflect upon the stories in one’s own neighbourhood.

All in all, the tour offered profound insights and lessons for the study tour group from a multitude of perspectives (the state, civil society and individuals). Of course, members of the group were also able to share their own experiences with the organisations in Brussels and Berlin and, importantly, with each other.

 

Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice

 


More information:

 

 

 

 

 


 

How to Negotiate, Manage and Consolidate Coalitions – Programme for Political Partners from West Africa

Not long ago, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom welcomed a West African delegation from Senegal and Cote d`lvoire who wanted to be informed about how coalitions are negotiated, managed and consolidated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The programme aimed at giving the delegation members, who mostly had already attended a coalition training seminar in Dakar, some insight into the German political landscape and to exchange their views regarding the factors for stable coalitions with experienced liberal politicians.

The program started in Brussels a few days earlier, where the group met several representatives, who have been dealing with that subject at the European level. >> Read more about it here.

referenten

In Germany the group had its first meeting in the town hall of Leverkusen. Monika Ballin-Meyer-Ahrens, chairwoman of the Leverkusen FDP-council group, took her time to show the delegation the council’s meeting room. She then shared her experience with multi-party coalitions at the local level, using the example of the so-called Jamaica Coalition.

The German political system and coalition-building in Germany were the main subject of the workshop with Roland Werner, former Deputy Minister and State Secretary in the Saxon State Ministry. Topics of the workshop included human factors in coalition negotiations, different conditions in the new and old German states, channels of communication and the position of the FDP.

participants

A special highlight was the visit to the regional parliament in Düsseldorf. Being guests at the plenary meeting, the participants had the opportunity to listen to the national chairman and regional chairman of the FDP in NRW, Christian Lindner addressing the low economic growth in North Rhine-Westphalia. His speech was followed by a heated debate about the root causes, as NRW currently ranks lowest among the German states. Angela Freimuth, vice chairman of the FDP’s parliamentary group in the regional parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia shared her experience in working in a government coalition with the delegation. A tour of the parliamentary building rounded off the visit.

At the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach the delegation had the opportunity to discuss the subject of future coalition-building with Jan-Frederik Kremer, Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. In 2015 the Selfkant-opposition consisting of SPD, Pro Selfkant, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen had appointed Mr. Jan-Frederik Kremer as their joint candidate for the mayoral election in Selfkant. That coalition process was discussed lively.

work

The questions of liberalism at the international level, the history of Germany and why another political landscape has established in Germany were in the focus of the workshop with Wulf Pabst, seminar leader of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

On the last day the delegation visited Ralph Sterck, leader of the FDP group in the Cologne Council. Being a long-time liberal politician, he was able to talk about many coalition-building processes of the FDP in Cologne. The delegation was particularly interested in the alliance formed between the CDU and the Greens to support the election of the current mayor Ms. Henriette Reker. When taking a look at the campaign publications, the participants got an idea of the different interests, needs and sensitivities of the allies. The alliance is still working successfully. Finally Mr. Sterck showed the delegation the town hall and the council’s meeting room.

groups1

The delegation had the opportunity to exchange views on the various types of coalitions with liberal politicians of the regional and municipal level. The fact that the meeting partners had different backgrounds was very helpful for the Delegation’s understanding of the federal system of Germany and to take home many new ideas.

 

 

 


 

International Visiting Program with delegation from Tunisia

A delegation consisting of seven representatives from the Tunisian liberal party “Afek Tounis” recently came to Germany to participate in a study trip on “New perspectives for Tunisia – EU/Germany relations”. The aim was to discuss the international relations with Tunisia with German experts in order to establish new contacts and networks for future cooperation.

The program covered several visits to institutions and think-tanks in Brussels and Berlin. At the German Federal Foreign Office the group met with Barbara Wolf, director of the Maghreb-division, to discuss the current state and future of German foreign policy towards Tunisia. Among the focal points in the debate were initiatives like the partnership for transformation and Germany’s diplomatic reactions to the revolution. This topic drew lots of questions from members of the delegation who were questioning Germany’s foreign policy strategy in comparison to the U.S. or Great Britain.

At the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development the delegation had the chance to exchange information and experiences with Christiane Bögemann-Hagedorn, Deputy Director General for North Africa, Middle East, South Eastern and Eastern Europe and Latin America. Dr. Martin Henkelmann, director of the German Chamber of Commerce abroad in Tunisia and his colleague, Philipp Simon Andree, head of division for North Africa at the Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), analyzed the pitfalls and potentials for ever closer economic relations between Germany and Tunisia during a working lunch. The topic was continued during a discussion with the experts Alexander Knipperts, Patrick Meinhardt and Rainer Ptok from the trade association (Unternehmerverband Deutschland).

German, European and American policy towards Tunisia was intensively examined from a scientific perspective during a meeting with Isabelle Werenfels, director of the study group on the Middle East and Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP).

Ulrich Niemann, head of the international division of Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom and Beate Apelt, director of regional division North Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe, welcomed the group in the FNF-headquarters and gave a presentation on the international work of FNF in North Africa and in the world.

 

 


More information

➤ Tunisia – has the city on the hill lost its shine? – by FNF Europe

Website of FNF Tunisia

 

 

 

Liberals and Education in the 21st Century – Common Woes and Diverse Solutions

 

Enlightenment, participation and progress—these three powerful words were not just the title of the workshop on Education at the IAF. They also represented what the participants felt were the key objectives of education in the 21st century. And in light of increasing intolerance and radicalization, they added a fourth—peace.

Heated arguments, passionate discussions and intensive sharing characterized the event that brought together 18 participants from 15 countries, an event that hoped to find some light at end of the tunnel on a topic that was very much close to their hearts. While 11 of the 15 countries had adult literacy rates of over 90%, the quality left much to be desired. The event didn’t begin in Gummersbach but online almost three weeks before. The online phase enabled participants to connect not just to each other but also with the topic in a deeper way. Participants shared their perspectives on the fundamentals of education, collated relevant country wide data on education, and also offered ideas on how they would address the most critical problems they see in their countries.

collage1

Overall the participants were connected by their anger and frustration about the existing state of education in their countries and general mistrust in the state as the only solution—the low and declining standards, lack of quality education universally available to all, low quality teaching, low prestige and lack of interest in supplying vocational training services and the lack of political will to improve education systems. At the same time they were hopeful about innovative civil society solutions (from small budget private schools to publicly listed education providers) and reviving the tradition of civil society provision of education (something that was wiped out with the advent of compulsory education by the state 1)James Bartholomew, Education Without the State: British private and charitable schooling in the 19th century and beyond and James Tooley, RTE & Budget Private Schools-What would Gandhi Think? ). Almost every region showcased inspiring stories of edupreneurship (India, Egypt, Brazil)—individuals who despite the domineering state and the existing conditions were breaking new ground and showing that quality and cost do not always mutually exclude each other.

 

The WHY AND WHAT of education: purpose of education is primarily self development!

1Apart from equipping people for employment in a constantly changing environment dominated by technology and information (the information society), very important functions of education include the ability to learn and think for oneself, to develop one’s powers of reason, to be able to interact with other members of society peacefully and productively, to be able to resolve conflicts using peaceful means, to participate in democracy and public decision-making processes, to share knowledge and work cooperatively in groups. So education serves to meet ALL three objectives—social, political and economic. Seen together, these transcend the classroom and education can thus be seen as part of a life-long learning process with equal importance attached both to early childhood education and adult education. Therefore, the objectives of education are manifold, there cannot be a single definition of “quality” or the “best school or university”.

In order to be successful education must also be a pleasurable experience. More attention needs to be given to incentives not only for learners but for all stakeholders. The focus of all educational institutions should be to encourage independent thought, innovation and excellence.

 

Liberal Values: The Foundation of a Good Education System

2Participants agreed that education plays a very important role in liberal thought and that all values that are important for liberalism have implications for education. For instance, tolerance often needs to be taught. When you talk about choice you cannot exclude education (Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “…Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”). There is no one “best school” for all. Subsidiarity as a liberal value implies a decentralized system of education. Reason demands that pupils and student develop their ability to think critically. The idea that every one is equal under the law implies that access to (quality) education must be open to all.

The desire for the respect for individual rights also raised some questions. Can the parents’ judgment about their children’s education always be trusted? Must the state make choices instead, choices for the purported good of children? What if parents send children to schools that are academically poor, but offer other important things like safety, community spirit? And what if parents don’t want to send their children to school and teach them privately instead? Such questions suggest a paternalistic approach liberals do not share. Choice for liberals is an important end in itself even though it may not always lead to the “desirable outcomes” social engineers would like to see. The liberal approach is “to let many flowers bloom.”

 

The HOW of an Effective and Efficient Education System

3The education system of the 21st century must satisfactorily tap into the number of opportunities for education, opportunities that technological and economic progress bring forth in terms of greater demand for skills, greater financial resources for investment, the emergence of edupreneursip, greater access to content, specialization, and an increase of diversity in the classroom. At the same time there are worrying threats to education today that need to be addressed: increasing costs, declining standards, extremism, radicalization, technology overload.

No matter how much one believes in the role of the state in education, private schools and universities are a reality and also reflect parents making conscious choices towards accessing quality education for their children. Teachers of tomorrow, in responding to such challenges, will have to play a greater role as facilitators, coaches, mediators and mentors.

Though there was universal agreement on the objectives of education, it was in the HOW that differences lay: How much of a role should the state and civil society play in critical functions of education? There are radical approaches, e.g. privatization and decentralization of the education system and moderate approaches that are incremental in nature, e.g. how to increase competition in the interests of increasing quality. This is something that was emphasized by Sascha Tamm, an expert working for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). There was an overwhelming agreement that the state has an umbrella role in policy making, financing and regulation and that civil society, on the other hand, must play a leading role in the delivery, curriculum 2)An example of government indoctrination of children from Argentina highlighting the danger of government’s role in curriculum design and assessment. Overall the state and civil society need to work together and cooperate in using each other’s experiences and know how, even in matters such as teacher training.

There was agreement that the principle of subsidiarity must apply to education. There are many examples showing that successful schools are schools that cater to local needs. This is also the case of Germany where school facilities are provided by the municipalities and the legal framework, curricula, and teachers are provided by the individual state governments. The federal government plays a very minor role.

Read the rest of this entry »

References   [ + ]

1. James Bartholomew, Education Without the State: British private and charitable schooling in the 19th century and beyond and James Tooley, RTE & Budget Private Schools-What would Gandhi Think?
2. An example of government indoctrination of children from Argentina highlighting the danger of government’s role in curriculum design

Transparent, accountable urban governance and administrative systems

Berlin, Cologne, Aachen amd Düren – these were the stations of the visiting program titled “Transparent, accountable urban governance and administrative systems”. The aim of the one-week program was to showcase how health, transport and finances are handled on the municipal level in the Federal Republic of Germany. “Respect for the rule of law is a main reason why German municipalities succeed in spite of financial deficits”, said Anjali Srivastava, Program Officer at Praja Foundation from Mumbai. She, together with her fellow travelers, enjoyed the meetings with German officials and experts and also the sightseeing like here at the historic Cathedral of Cologne.


 

More information on our work in Southasia:

Website of FNF South Asia

Facebook Page of FNF South Asia

 

 


 

Human Rights and Child Protection

On October 20, 1989 the United Nations General Assembly approved the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC. On September 2, 1990 it became effective. This document defined for the first time a worldwide standard for child protection and rights. 195 out of 197 countries endorsed the convention. An approval that largely outreaches all other UN conventions. Thus the convention acquired almost universal relevance.


The legal scenario, threats and protection possibilities regarding minors were also core elements of the course held this year on international law in terms of human rights delivered by the René Cassin International Institute for Human Rights (Institut International des Droits de l’Homme– René Cassin) in Strasbourg. This 3-week course allows each year the conveyance of current knowledge and topics concerning international law in terms of human rights, based on international conventions and mechanisms. Around 300 participants from numerous countries attended this meeting that offers each year a venue for intense learning and engaged debates. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom invited 9 experts in human rights from Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali and Turkey to take part in the course and acquire updated knowledge. The purpose is that knowledge and contacts should be useful for those projects in which participants are actively engaged.

Introductory seminar on July 5, 2015 with seminar facilitator, Enikö Gal

Introductory seminar on July 5, 2015 with seminar facilitator, Enikö Gal

In the topic courses the notion of “child” was addressed from the most varied perspectives: children in violent conflicts, protection of children against sexual exploitation, religious practices and children’s rights, children as victims of human rights abuse in wars and civil wars, children’s rights and criminal law related to young offenders, legal scenario regarding international kidnappings, protection of non-accompanied children during migration, child protection and new technologies, fight against forced labor of minors.


Particularly current in the last decades was the issue concerning the recruitment or forced use of “child soldiers”. Unfortunately, many countries and militias involved in war or civil war conflicts do not want to leave the practices of recruiting children and teenagers for fighting purposes. The UN child convention prohibits their direct and active engagement in violent conflicts. However, their provisions are not accurate, mainly as to age limits. This was one of the reasons why the USA, almost in solitaire, did not endorse the convention. (Another reason probably lies on the prohibition of death penalty for children.) The practice of military schools to recruit extremely young candidates would particularly collide with the convention.

The core question “What is a child?” is replied in the convention with a “mild” answer. A child is a person who has not reached 18 years of age, provided the states’ national laws do not determine otherwise. Establishing an age limit is thus left to discretion of the national law, which –regarding the recruitment of child soldiers– leads to extremely unsatisfactory results. Some verdicts of the International Criminal Court and other courts have restricted even further the engagement of children and teenagers in combats. According to the statute of the special court for Sierra Leone, engaging child soldiers is considered a war crime.

Summer course participants in front of the Strasbourg University School of Law

Summer course participants in front of the Strasbourg University School of Law

A few years after the Convention was approved, it was generally agreed that protection-related provisions were not enough to control the acute threats faced by children. Therefore, three additional protocols were signed:

1. Additional protocol against child exploitation, child prostitution and child pornography (2002)
2. Additional protocol about children in armed conflicts (2002)
3. Optional protocol on individual appeal procedures (2002)

An interesting aspect in the evolution of documents refers to the fact that –unlike the Convention– the additional protocols were endorsed by the USA.

From the extensive provisions set forth in the Convention, five basic core rights for children are derived:

– The right to survival
– The right to development
– Non discrimination
– Advocacy of children’s interests in all relevant decisions thereof
– The right to participation

All the contractual parties in the Convention are committed to use their available resources to enable the children’s development (education, instruction, health) and gradually engage them in social processes.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) considers the possibility that a state could ratify a treaty without granting its agreement to the contents, but only “under reserve”, which restricts the engagement. This option has led to a generalized practice of restricting the rights granted by the Convention by means of extensive restrictions. Thus Iran endorsed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with the condition that the sharia and the national criminal law should remain unaffected. That is why a 9-year-old child in Iran can still be sentenced to death. Singapore endorsed it with the exception of its national law; Saudi Arabia did it under reserve of the sharia. In Brunei, the Convention is only valid if it does not interfere with the Constitution and Islamic law. That means, a generalized tendency to subordinate the bonding nature of the international conventions to national law can be perceived. An evolution that does not precisely benefit the children’s development opportunities and that infringes the Vienna Convention’s spirit. There is still a lot left to do!

For the Foundation’s participants, efforts have resulted worthwhile. Despite a heavy workload under summer temperatures of up to 44 ºC and in spite of Ramadan, which Muslim attendants abided by, almost all the participants passed the difficult final test.

 

by Dr Gabriele Thöns

Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s participants at the European Council

Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s participants at the European Council

 

 

 


 

Delegation of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Republic of Indonesia, visits Germany

 

A delegation consisting of eleven representatives from the Public Relations Bureau of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights went to Germany on a Study Trip on “Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights: German International Cooperation”.

After arriving in Germany the delegation was greeted with an opening dinner attended by H.E. Dr.-Ing. Fauzi Bowo, the Indonesian Ambassador to Germany. The Ambassador welcomed and supported the study trip as Indonesian trade with Germany is one of the most active one to date.

1_medium

The delegation at the Truman House, the FNF Headquarters in Potsdam.

 

The program covers visits to the German Federal Ministry of Justice, the Berlin Constitutional Court, the Head Office of Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit in Potsdam, a dialogue with the Indonesian diplomats at the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin, a discussion with a former German Human Rights Commissioner, and a city tour of Berlin.

At the Federal Ministry of Justice, the delegation was greeted by the Head of a Department at the Ministry, Mr. Mathias Hellmann, followed by a dialogue on the topic of ‘International Legal Cooperation and Rule of Law.’

At the Berlin Constitutional Court, the delegation had a discussion with the Vice-President of the Berlin Constitutional Court Dr. Robert Wolfgang Seegmüller on the topic of ‘The Role of the Judiciary: How to Ensure the Rule of Law’.

During the visit to FNF Head Office, the delegation was greeted by the Desk Officer for Southeast Asia, Mr. Wolfgang Heinze, who gave a presentation on the international works of FNF in the world and in Asia.

The Dialogue with the former German Human Rights Commissioner, Mr. Markus Löning, focussed on the how Germany maintains its fulfilment of citizen rights, including safeguarding tolerance and pluralism. This is a topic that drew lots of questions from members of the delegation who were curious about how Germany manages religious tolerance.

The study trip is one of the activities set out in the cooperation between Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia, and was the first activity within the scope of the cooperation this year.

 

Jakarta, 19 May 2015
Nur Rachmi
Program Officer

 

2_medium

In front of the German parliament, Berlin

 

Further information:

Website of  FNF Southeast and East Asia

 

 

 


 

Freedom of the Press 2015

The IAF International Seminar on Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Information 2015 took place from April 19th to May 1 in Gummersbach, Bonn, Cologne and Hamburg. Twenty-six participants from twenty-five countries world-wide explored the current state of media freedom in their respective countries and identified core threats like political oppression, religious fundamentalism, self-censorship and digital surveillance.

Media, unfortunately on the decline in recent years in a number of countries, was identified as an indispensable part of liberal democracy driving political liberties and fundamental rights. The optimism still linked to social media and the versatility of new mobile digital devices has been seriously cautioned by new authoritarianism and an increase in physical violence towards information-doers and practicing journalists in war-torn or conflict-prone societies. Digital spying and surveillance motivated by commercial or security interests add a new dimension of global danger to the freedom of information and the protection of privacy.

Visits to the Deutsche Welle in Bonn (read more about our visit here) and to leading German media houses in Hamburg complemented the academic part of the 12 days programme. The participants met various interlocutors who shared their practical experiences, insights and professional concerns.

In a final proactive work group the participants identified and drafted a number of concrete interventions and projects to enhance media freedom in their countries and regions in accordance with the concurrent UN World Press Freedom Day 2015 theme:

Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age.

 

The group visited the German news magazine DER SPIEGEL during their excursion to Hamburg as part of the ongoing IAF seminar “Freedom of the Press”. There, they met with Matthais Streitz, Managing Editor of the Editorial Board and responsible for SPIEGEL ONLINE mobile. The picture shows the group in front of “Sagen, was ist.” (“Say, what is”), the maxim by the founder Rudolf Augstein.

 

Further information:

 

 

 


 

IAF group visits Deutsche Welle

An international delegation of young leaders from politics, media, academia and civil society visited the Deutsche Welle in Bonn.

There, the participants in the momentarily ongoing IAF seminar “Freedom of the Press”, which is being held from 19 April until 01 May 2015 in Gummersbach, had the opportunity to meet with a larger group of members of the Deutsche Welle.

The group was welcomed by Klaus Bergmann, Deputy Head of International Relations, and received an interesting overview to the upcoming Global Media Forum 2015 by Ralf-Werner Nolting and Annelie Gröniger, both Manager Global Media Forum.

Ingo Mannteufel, Head of DW Department for Europe and Russia, Philipp Bilsky, Head of DW Chinese service, and Nina Wieczorek, Assistant DW Sales and Distribution introduced the visiting group to a variety of issues, such as the program activities, the language services, the media offers and distribution strategies, giving them a detailed insight to the DW’s role and mission in the world.

The seminar participants were thrilled to hear more about the DW Academy projects from Holger Hank, Head of DW Akademy Digital Innovation & Knowledge Management, and Andrea Küppers, DW Akademy Training and Communications, such as the Media Freedom Navigator (soon to be launched). The visit was concluded by a lively Q&A, a quiz and …many new and personal contacts to be followed up on.

 

 

Further information:

 

 


 

Delegation from Cambodia visits Germany

From March 14 through March 21, 2015, a group of 7 Cambodian politicians, including two women, visited Germany. The group was composed by 6 parliament members and the deputy director of the Public Relations Department of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The participants are members of the parliamentary committees led by the CNRP. The CNRP is the only opposition party with 44% of votes, versus the ruling Cambodia Popular Party with 48% of votes. The topic of the 1-week academic trip was “The Constructive Role of Opposition Work in the Parliament”.

The primary goal of the visiting program focused on getting acquainted with and discussing those instruments employed by the Parliamentary opposition’s work in Germany, as well as particularly knowing the work performed by the committees led by the opposition.

This visit included Berlin, Brandenburg/Potsdam, and North Rhine-Westfalia/Düsseldorf. Our Cambodian visitors learned first about politics, state administration, federal system, and the panorama of the political parties in the Federal Republic of Germany. Particularly significant was for them the opposition work and the efforts conducted by committees in the following areas: politics, human rights, fight against corruption, health, budget, education, as well as press and public relations work at federal, regional, and municipal levels. They also exchanged experiences with their German peers about the parliamentary work. The culminating part of the trip was the visit to the German Federal Parliament in the Reichstag Building in Berlin.

The study group visited the headquarters of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, where they received information about the liberal-oriented work performed internationally by our Foundation.

At the end of the academic trip, all the participants were very satisfied with the obtained results. Topics such as politics and state administration, party structure, media work, education, health, etc. were greatly welcomed. They thanked the Foundation for the organization and opportunity to make the trip; they will use the knowledge acquired to perform their political activities in Cambodia, in order to foster freedom and more democracy in their country.

by Sophanna Khim and Hans-Georg Jonek