The ICHD, as one of the leading think tanks in Armenia and in South Caucasus provides policy advice on various issues on the national agenda. One of the most effective instruments that ICHD uses to voice voicing public and expert opinions on various critical economic, political, social and educational issues are Off-the-Record discussions (OTRs) followed by its "Policy Papers". Up to date, ICHD has organized over 60 OTRs and produced over 100 policy papers.
The instrument of OTR discussions has already been acknowledged as extremely useful in decision making by many parliamentarians and government officials who keep receiving resulting policy papers after each OTR. The ICHD monitors the get feedback on various policy briefs developed and distributed. Both the quantity and quality of the feedback has significantly increased in recent years, as online data such as e-mails and offline subsequent discussions prove. In 2007 ICHD started its blog at http://blog.ichd.org, which has been used as a feedback platform ever since. The feedback is being provided not only by decision makers, but also by other experts and the wider public, which shows the active interest in policy discussion.
Another important instrument used by the Center is the Town Hall Meeting mechanism, one of the most effective models of facilitating public participation in decision making process in local communities. Town Hall Meeting creates meaningful opportunities for citizens to participate in public decision making. This unique process is based on the experience of the organization "America Speaks", which developed the methodology of town hall meetings to address the needs of citizens, decision makers and democracy.
Decision makers often find it difficult to gauge how the majority of "general interest" citizens feel about important issues. In turn, citizens feel disregarded and less inclined to participate in public life, creating a dangerous cycle. The THM process restores the citizens' voice in public decision making by creating an opportunity for the general public to give those in leadership positions direct, substantive feedback on key public issues. Each meeting effectively restores the balance of the "political playing field" by engaging hundreds of "general interest" citizens at a time, effectively and quickly summarizing citizen input and widely disseminating the results through media coverage. The strengths of the THM model, in particular include: (a) scaling up; (b) everyone participates; no idea is lost; (c) iterative discussions; (d) clear articulation of priorities. The critical success factors of the mechanism include: (a) every voice is at the tables; (b) decision-makers involved at each step; (c) right content, structure, and process; (d) outcomes that make a difference.
Town Hall Meeting focuses on discussion and deliberation among citizens rather than speeches, Q&A sessions or panel presentations. Technology transforms the individual table discussions into one large group discussion. Each table submits recommendations and ideas using wireless groupware computers. At each table there is a note-taker who records all the ideas exchanged around the table and submits to the head operator who moderates the incoming messages to display for public attention. At the end of the discussions each participant can vote on specific proposals using polling keypads/computer program. The entire group responds to the themes generated from table discussions and votes on their final recommendations to decision makers. Before the meeting ends, final recommendations are compiled into a report, which is distributed to participants, decision makers and the media. Decision makers actively engage in the meeting by participating in table discussions, observing the process and responding to citizen input at the end of the meeting.
The ICHD also has vast experience in creating, developing and transforming various networks including communities of practice. One of the key networks created by the ICHD is the MOMENTUM network of professionals trained in facilitation and negotiation skills. The network provides an extensive pool of highly qualified facilitators and operators of the THM mechanism.
More than twenty representatives of civil society institutions and think tanks, private businesses and development partners participated in the off-the-record discussion.more >>
Armenian Atlantic Association (AAA) together with its youth branch Armenian Youth Atlantic Association (AYAA) will host a youth conference “The Black Sea Region: Bringing future decision makers together in the changing world”, to take place in Yerevan, on 14-15 March, 2013.more >>
International Center for Human Development (ICHD), supported by RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and the UNDP implements public debates on development agenda. THMs on development agenda are based on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.more >>
10 public discussions on Millenium Development Goals: post 2015 development in 5 regions of Armenia and in Yerevan
From 2 September to 2 November 2012, with the support from the UN Population Fund and in close cooperation with the RoA Government the International Center for Human Development completed the International Conference on Population and Development Beyond 2014 survey questionnaire. Within the framework of that undertaking, consultative and focus group meetings with competent State bodies, civil society organizations and private companies were held and a desk review was conducted.