NEWS // 
ICHD has started the second phase of the project “Enhancing public participation in the decision making process in Armenia: initiating a community experience to anchor people’s involvement in the public policy making culture” which is being implemented with the support of the European Commission Delegation to Armenia. From December to January ICHD has organized public discussions of local budgets in the following communities: Ashtarak (Aragatsotn region), Rind (Syunik), Hatsik (Shirak), Achajur (Tavush), Sarukhan (Gegharkunik), Nor Kharberd (Ararat), Margahovit (Lori)and Arevik (Armavir). In February the series of THMs will be concluded in Kotayk and Syunik regions.

Each Town Hall Meeting (THM) brought together about 100 community members who were discussing the possible projects which could be implemented with local budgetary resources in 2008. Prior to the THMs ICHD experts would meet with the community members and representatives of local governments and find out about the urgent needs in the community, which could be addressed with the available financial resources. Based on the needs relevant project descriptions were developed in a concise and simple language, to initiate discussions at the THMs.

The results of these discussions are subsequently being summarized at ICHD and presented to the local authorities for consideration during the budgetary hearings in February.
On December 17 a Town Hall Meeting (THM) was organized to find out the perspectives of young people regarding the upcoming presidential elections: what the youth think of the election processes, how they see their role, how youth activism should be enhanced, what role should youth NGOs play, etc. About 50 young people from Yerevan and three neighbouring regions participated in the discussion which focused on the following questions: (a) What the youth think of the election processes in general and their role in these processes in particular?;(b) How should youth activism be enhanced? How to motivate young people to be more expressive in decision making processes, especially in the regions? (c) What role should youth NGOs play? (d)What incentives can be nurtured and activities promoted to increase youth participation in election processes?
To conclude the series of trainings organised by CESS and ICHD throughout 2006 and 2007, a wrap-up conference was held in the Hague, on December 10-16, 2007. The conference called "Democratic Governance in the Security Sector: Lessons of the Starlink Programme in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine" looked at Starlink’s contents and its potential for further development and wider use. In addition, the problems of democratic reform in the security sector were discussed. The conference brought together training participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Armenian team comprised seven members, representing public and non-governmental sectors.
Since January 2007 ICHD has launched the implementation of the project “Enhancing public participation in the decision making process in Armenia: initiating a community experience to anchor people’s involvement in the public policy making culture”. The goal of the project is to enhance public participation in decision making processes through community’s direct involvement in the budgeting process of the community. The project will be implemented in ten regions of Armenia.

In order to ensure the success of the project, ICHD planned to enhance local capacities and involve regional NGOs in the project implementation process. Thus, ten partner organizations had been identified, one from each region. ICHD trainers then developed a training package on project relevant capacities, that was to address the needs of the staff from these organizations in initiating public participation. The training module consisted of two parts: introduction to the instrument of Town Hall Meeting (THM) and effective facilitation skills.

From August to October five training sessions were organized. About 100 staff members from partner organizations in Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Aragatsotn, Armavir, Ararat, Kotayq, Gegharkunik, Lori, Shirak and Tavush participated in these sessions. They were introduced to the concept of participatory democracy and THM. In addition, ICHD trainers shared their experience in organizing a THM for the discussion of the budget of Sarnaghbyur village in Shirak, the successes and lessons learnt and trained the participants in effective communication and facilitation skills: key to meaningful implementation of a Town Hall Meeting.

The next phase of the project is the organization of Town Hall Meetings in ten communities of the above-mentioned regions.
Does business have any role protecting human rights and the environment, investing in the professional development of their employees and fighting corruption? What is the situation in Armenia and where does the society want it to be? About 50 residents of Yerevan, both business owners and employees, were discussing these questions at the Town Hall Meeting organized by ICHD and UN Global Compact, which strives to introduce the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into the private sector of the country.

The Global Compact in Armenia was launched on 17 November 2006. 19 companies and civil society organizations made commitment to implement the Global Compact principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. To facilitate the process of promoting the concept of CSR the UN Global Compact and ICHD regularly implement different activities to start a policy dialog among the various stakeholders. This Town Hall Meeting was the second attempt to maintain the dialog.
What is and should be the role of men in maternal health? This was the key issue discussed at the Town Hall Meeting in Yerevan on July 24. About 80 residents of Yerevan were sharing their perspectives on the issue, occasionally referring to the four scenarios which outlined recommendations on the ways to encourage men and women to effectively share responsibilities in the household in order to be able to develop a healthy family. The scenarios suggested the following solutions: improved state support, increased community involvement, redistribution of roles of men and women and mentality and culture change, i.e. men and women negotiating over the productive and reproductive roles. The final vote revealed that the majority of participants were certain that the state support in the form of legislative acts to promote women’s rights, introduction of a package of benefits during pregnancy and financial assistance to young families would be the most effective intervention to change the current situation when men are reluctant to undertake more responsibilities during the pre- and post-natal period.

The Town Hall Meeting was organized with the support of UNFPA within the framework of the World Population Day, the theme of which for 2007 is “Men as Partners in Maternal Health”.
On 13 July the International Center for Human Development was granted the membership of Policy Association for an Open Society (PASOS). The association is a network of policy centers in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. PASOS promotes and protects open society values, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance, respect for and protection of human rights, and economic and social development, by supporting policy centers.

To read more on what this membership implies, please, visit this link on PASOS website.
A round table was held on July 3, 2007 within the framework of the project “Support to Migration Policy Development and Relevant Capacity Building in Armenia” implemented by British Council Armenia, Migration Agency of the RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and International Center for Human Development (ICHD) with the support of the European Commission. Findings of two research studies developed and conducted within the framework of relevant projects of the OSCE office in Yerevan were presented to the representatives of the key state agencies, international organizations and local NGOs, specifically

  • the evaluation of the RA migration legislation, and
  • the interim report on the qualitative and quantitative study of labor migration from Armenia in 2005-2007

  • The participants highlighted the importance and urgency of a number of issues, such as regulating labor migration and the legal relations characterizing the entry to and exit from the country, updating the concept on state migration, assuring its relevance to the current requirements and improving the efficiency of the system. They were requested to get actively involved and to support the development of the migration system with their expertise and skills.
    ICHD, together with the Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) of the Netherlands and with support from the OSCE Office in Yerevan, organized the second training course on Democratic Governance in the Security Sector. The training was organized within the framework of Starlink program (Security, Transparency, Accountability and Reform: Linking the Security Sectors of Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia to the European Mainstream).

    The course targeted democratic governance of the law enforcement sector. It was held from June 28 to 30, 2007 in Tsagkhadzor, Armenia. The three-day training course was planned for 20 participants who represented the RA Police, media and NGO sector. In addition to the theme of democratic governance in law enforcement agencies, there were a number of other significant topics, such as integrated border management and policing.

    According to the participants, it was an excellent learning opportunity which allowed them to gain new ideas and tools for securing democratic practice of governance.
    On May 18th and 22nd ICHD organized a series of seminars on early cancer prevention and detection. The participants were about 80 family doctors from all the regions of Armenia. The seminars were conducted with the support of the American Cancer Society. This is the second phase of the training, the first being implemented in 2006 when the first group of family doctors participated in four seminars on the same topic.

    During these seminars ICHD experts worked with the Armenian National Institute of Oncology. The presenters provided some materials on different types of cancer, namely, breast, prostate and cervical, as well as brief information leaflets on early cancer prevention. These materials were developed for the general population with the support of UNFPA, and the presenters encouraged the doctors to disseminate those among their patients, which will enhance the awareness campaign.
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