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Training Toolkit for Parliamentary Staffers

Training Toolkit for Parliamentary Staffers

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DCAF Parliamentary Staff Advisers Programme in Southeast Europe

Professional staff equipped with information, knowledge and skills is fundamental for the work of parliamentary committees. The Parliamentary Staff Advisors Programme (PSAP) was initiated by DCAF in 2004 to assist newly-established Defence and Security Committees in Southeast Europe to develop in-house expertise.  Parliaments from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania and Serbia participated in PSAP.

Parliamentary staff advisors were hired through public competition to serve these committees. Salary payments were sponsored by PSAP for an initial minimum period of one year, allowing parliaments to gradually integrate the positions administratively and financially.  In parallel, a training component of the project was designed to build up advisers’ professional capacities. The training provided information about oversight models, good practices, and thematic topics relevant for security oversight, and also developed individual skills like writing, public speaking, and analytical capacity. A total of 55 participants from ten countries attended 28 training sessions held in 15 different capitals. Over an eight year period, a total of 115 days of training were held.

Disseminating information, knowledge, and tools within the same group of parliamentary advisors over a significant number of years, has produced an expertise appreciated as a valuable asset for the work of committees. This has allowed for better-informed and objective analysis, which helped committees become more independent of the executive. The advisors have ensured a degree of continuity in the technical approach of security legislation and oversight, and the emergence of institutional memory in the respective committees, in spite of the high turnover rate of members after elections. Such emancipation of parliament can only contribute to democratic consolidation and good governance of security sector.

The staffers participating in the programme are today a solid team of professional experts who provide each other mutual support, ideas, and inspiration. They are able to share good practices and lessons learnt and thus to multiply the informational resources available to their parliament.

The programme ended in August 2011. It was funded by DCAF, the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.