This position paper is submitted to the Maldivian Parliament by the Civil Society Organisations (CSO)-Parliament Dialogue Group, which was formed in December 2014 under the Parliament Accountability Project run by Transparency Maldives (TM) and funded by the British High Commission.
The aim of this position paper is to highlight the essential role civil society organisations (CSOs) play in the policy process, and bring to attention the importance of strengthening the interaction between civil society and the Parliament.
This paper contains two main sections. The first section gives a brief overview of the CSO-Parliament Dialogue Group, including its objectives and the challenges faced in its formulation.
The second section identifies problems in the parliamentary system that hinder the participation of CSOs in the policy process, and also lists key recommendations the Dialogue Group believes will help CSOs to fulfil their function as non-state actors representing public interests and concerns.
1. CSO-Parliament Dialogue GroupThe Dialogue Group, to date, consists of eight CSOs and three MPs:
- Transparency Maldives
- Islamic Foundation
- Hope For Women
- Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC)
- Maldives Association for Physical Disables (MAPD)
- Society for Health Education (SHE)
- Care Society
- Ali Hussain (Kendhoo Constituency)
- Imthiyaz Fahmy (Maafannu Uthuru Constituency)
- Anaaraa Naeem (Makunudhoo Constituency)
The primary objective of the Dialogue Group is to provide CSOs and the Parliament with a platform to engage and collaborate together. Current reality in the Maldives is that civil society engagement with the Parliament is almost non-existent. This lack of engagement between CSOs and the Parliament is due to various reasons:
- A lack of available platforms and mechanisms for both parties to engage in constructive discussion.
- A lack of formalised space or established framework through which CSOs can effectively influence policy and provide subject-specific policy advice.
- A lack of knowledge and capacity of CSOs to engage in the policy process.
- A lack of political will to build a culture conducive to creating and nurturing a participatory civil society.
- A lack of trust between civil society actors and MPs.
The Dialogue Group was formed to address these issues, and more importantly, to forge a collaborative partnership between civil society and the Parliament.