International conference in Tunis: IES researcher Jan Völkel brings Arab parliamentarians and academics together

IES researcher Jan Claudius Völkel organised an international conference on 15-16 December 2018 in Tunis with ca. 30 participants from different Arab countries, who were invited to discuss aspects of “Parliamentary work and scientific counselling” (so the conference theme) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The conference was one of the main deliverables of his EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship “The role of national parliaments in the Arab transformation processes”, that Jan is currently conducting at the IES [grant number 706113].

Co-organised and generously sponsored by the Tunis office of the German “Hanns Seidel Foundation”, the conference brought together parliamentarians, parliamentary staff members and academics from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. In a number of lectures, panels and presentations, they shed light on chances and challenges for MENA parliaments in their provision of better expertise for their members – a requirement that is indispensable for enhanced parliamentary effectiveness.

Over the last years, many MENA parliaments have established own research services and in-house parliamentary academies. However, these research services follow very different models and structures, which all came to the discussion during the conference. An added value was the participation of representatives from the respective research services of the European Parliament, the German Bundestag and the Greek Hellenic Parliament, who shared insights and overviews of their own institutions. Besides other aspects, conference debates dealt with financial limits of MENA parliaments, the work loads of parliamentarians and staff members, and the potential inclusion of external universities, think tanks and research centres into the parliamentary decision-making processes.

Picture: “The conference participants were parliamentarians, parliamentary staff members and academics from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as from Germany, Greece and the European Parliament.” (Copyright: Hanns Seidel Foundation, Tunis Office)