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Lunching Phase II of the initiative on dialogue, consensus building, electoral reform and democratic governance


Lunching Phase II of the initiative on dialogue, consensus building, electoral reform and democratic governance
The Arab Thought Forum (ATF) and The Carter Center (TCC) started Phase II of the joint consensus building initiative in December 2010. The new phase will focus on three objectives: i) To regularize the appointments to municipal councils and promote future municipal elections. ii) To design and agree on possible mechanisms for facilitating community reconciliation once a political reconciliation agreement is reached and iii) To enhancing electoral dispute resolution.

The Project’s main outputs would include:
- Specific recommendations on regulating the process of appointments to  the proposed local councils
- Political consensus, built around regulating the process of appointments to local councils
- A proposed system for addressing community reconciliation
- Political consensus, built through the Steering Committee, on a means for addressing community   reconciliation in the context of a political reconciliation agreement
- Consensus built around mechanisms to enhance Palestinian electoral dispute resolution

The project will produce an analytical study on the appointment process and the legal framework of local elections. The study will examine data on the appointed councils as well as their legality, focusing in particular the party affiliation of the appointed mayors or council members, and of those who were dismissed.
As such, the project will do initial research on best practices surrounding community reconciliation systems which have been used in Palestine and in other conflict zones.  The findings of the research will be discussed with members of the experts Working Group, followed by the Steering Committee, initially in individual meetings and subsequently as a group. 

The end result of the consultations with the SC and the public fora will be the development of a set of concrete recommendations for the political factions on a specific mechanism designed to address grievances of common citizens.  Ideally, the SC members could reach a common position, adopting this as the policy of their respective parties.

One of the current weaknesses of the Palestinian electoral system is the capacity for electoral dispute resolution (EDR).  The Carter Center will assess the Palestinian capacity for EDR and issue specific recommendations on how the legal and judicial systems need to be amended, both through new legislation and implementation of existing regulations.  ATF will work with members of the experts Working Group to discuss the findings and refine the recommendations.  ATF will then hold individual Steering Committee meetings, followed by general group meetings to discuss its findings and to try to forge a political consensus on their implementation. 

Phase II will end with a final workshop to include Steering Committee and Working Group members, as well as individuals from key civil society organizations, consultants and others who have been involved in the project, as is deemed appropriate.  The final workshop will afford an opportunity to assess progress on each of the three objectives, and to develop a clear set of further recommendations for future programming on these issues. The report will be disseminated to interested government officials, activists and civil society groups.

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