Final evaluation of the Dialogue for Stability Programme

Between 2016 and 2020, NIMD partnered with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Dialogue for Stability (DfS), a programme aimed at supporting inclusive and legitimate political processes and furthering the development of democracy in fragile and conflict-afflicted countries.

Over a five-year period, NIMD implemented initiatives in Burundi, Jordan, Tunisia, Colombia, and Ukraine. NIMD tailored the programmes to country-specific contexts, with a key aim being the fostering of knowledge and the sharing of skills between NIMD and their local partners to create a sustainable platform on which to build.

To facilitate the ongoing learning process for NIMD and our partners, an independent evaluation of the Dialogue for Stability took place when the programme ended, contributing valuable insights into our processes, achievements and lessons for the future.

Background and Key Achievements

When a nation faces conflict, instability, and insecurity, a host of new challenges emerge. The political environment is extremely polarised, there is often a deep lack of trust between politicians and supporters from different parties, and the threat of violence hampers the functioning of a free democracy.

At NIMD, we believe that inclusive political systems are the best remedy for instability, and these can be fostered by training and supporting political actors in these fragile contexts, providing platforms for non-confrontational dialogue, and advancing the participation of all groups of society.

Over the course of the DfS programme, NIMD worked with local partners in the five participating countries to set up Democracy Schools, with nearly 3,000 aspiring politicians – including 1,200 women and young people – passing through their doors. At the Democracy Schools, alumni from across the political divides sat down at the same table, where they bridged differences and established common aims and goals for the future. Around 170 political parties also took part in training programmes aimed at developing their skills and strategic policy goals, and more than 150 interparty dialogues took place.

Some key achievements over the four-year programme include:

  • Training 54 out of the 217 members of Tunisia’s Parliament in the Tunisian School of Politics, with alumni reporting greater tolerance of different political perspectives.
  • Supporting the implementation of Colombia’s Peace Agreements, providing electoral reform recommendations and assisting in mediation to prevent a return to violence.
  • Helping political parties in Burundi prepare for elections during a turbulent period, with NIMD workshops credited with promoting peaceful intervention techniques.
  • Facilitating the creation of a community of female politicians from across party divides in Ukraine, with the aim of improving gender representation in the political arena.
  • Training 200 participants across twelve of Jordan’s governorates on political theory and debate, in a joint programme with the Ministry of Youth.

Evaluation Findings

The evaluation found that the DfS programme interventions were relevant and responded well to each country’s specific needs, with NIMD also viewed as a credible and knowledgeable player in the field of democracy development.

More specifically, the evaluation found:

  • Interventions aimed at facilitating interparty dialogue were effective in fostering relationships between representatives of opposing parties and promoting dialogue and peaceful resolution methods.
  • Training and capacity-building activities had been successful in strengthening parties’ organizational capacities.
  • The Democracy Schools were effective in enhancing participants’ understanding and knowledge of political systems, transmitting the values of dialogue and peaceful coexistence and fostering increased interaction across party lines.

Our takeaways

NIMD was proud to see that DfS was impactful in all of the areas relating to our core values. But there were also important lessons for future learning. The evaluation found that while NIMD was committed to gender quotas and women’s participation in the DfS programmes and events, it was also crucial to continue to ensure that the women had a genuine and impactful voice in these events. It is clearly not enough just to have a quota of women around a table unless the structures are in place to ensure that those voices continue to have an impact outside a specific programme.

Overall work needs to continue on making sure our programmes remain sustainable in the long term. Training for partner organisations must be tailored to the specific socio-economic and political context, while the encouragement of dialogue outside the parameters of formal programmes will also help ensure that the leaning and development continues.

Drawing on the lessons from the Dialogue for Stability, NIMD looks forward to new collaborations in the area of fragile and conflict-affiliated settings in the future. Moving ahead, NIMD is partnering with organizations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East on Leap4Peace and the Power of Dialogue. Much of this work will take place in conflict-afflicted settings. In these programmes, the role of women and inclusivity of other marginalized groups will be a central to the development and implementation of the programmes, to ensure that our work focusses on having an impact on the political structures in the long term.

The full evaluation can be downloaded below. If you would like more information about the evaluation, or to access the full set of annexes, please contact our Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) team at [email protected]

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