Hans Bruning blogs on the Partnership Days 2012 - Day 1
After many months of preparations we opened our Partnership Days. For the fourth time in a row: 2005, 2007, 2009 and now 2012. Even NIMD, only established 11 years ago has its own dinosaurs. One of them reminded me that a first conference was held already in 2002. But to be honest: that was only a small-scale meeting with some people from the Southern African region in giving guidance to NIMD shortly after its start. Real partnership started later...
We have come a long way. In the past 10 years the world has seen small and large waves of democracy. An expression of this we felt during the first day: we welcomed delegations for the first time ever attending our Partnership Days: Colombia, Honduras, Tunisia and Egypt. And we enjoy their contributions and their new perspectives. They are here (The Hague in the Netherlands) together with delegates coming from 14 other countries where we are working with professional partners in long standing programmes. Some countries could not be represented because we are only exploring the possibility to organise a programme in their countries: Benin, Jordan and South-Sudan.
Our first working day (16 April) was needed for technical meetings about our collaboration. All delegates took the opportunity to visit our House of Representatives, Senate and Knights Hall (the meeting place for Upper and Lower House together). The visit was highly appreciated as a lot of interesting information was shared, but it also highlighted some shadows in Dutch politics: members of our Parliament were questioned about the state of our own democracy during the financial crisis, about the way in which we structure our own party laws, and about our approach of affirmative action. Partnership is by definition reciprocal.
During the evening session the Partnership Days were officially opened by our Minister for International Cooperation, Mr Ben Knapen. He highlighted all links between his democracy support policies and the work of NIMD and thus made clear that he is confident and positive about the position and approach of NIMD. That is very encouraging and worthwhile to note. Although NIMD is an independent organisation Mr Knapen’s Foreign Affairs department continues to be the principal funder of NIMD's work.
The promising start of the Partnership Days make us optimistic about the remaining days in which the sharing of lessons will continue and in which critical questions will sharpen our thinking about the democracy assistance that our partners and we are involved in.