Kifah Zuhour and Iyad Riyahi
Al Marsad. The Social and Economic Policies Monitor
Level of involvement in the CPDE:
Active participation through partnerships with the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
Download relevant case study documentation
Which is the most significant and paradigmatic story of a development
partnership that you have experienced?
The Palestinian civil society has been attentive to all activities related to the Palestinian Authority in meeting their obligations and commitments concerning Human Rights Treaties, Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development Goals, and matching them with the National Development Strategy. In this regard, Al Marsad has monitored the process of decreeing several social and economic laws – the Social Security Law (SSL) was one of these laws.
Al Marsad through proactive research, advocacy initiatives, and inclusive partnerships led the Social Security National Campaign (SSC) that influenced the duty-bearers and held them accountable to alter the law in order to meet international standards and adhere to their commitments.
The role of civil society in developing a social movement in Palestine to demand a just social security law was significant. The Social Security National Campaign (SSC) is considered to be one of the largest and most prominent campaigns organized by the Palestinian Civil Society. This all started with the initiative of a number of researchers and academics concerned with social protection in Palestine to put their efforts together to closely monitor the work of the national team that was assigned in 2012 to develop the Social Security Law (SSL) and the level of integrating the socio-economic needs of Palestinians and international standards within this national development strategy.
The campaign consisted of a vast coalition of professional and workers unions
in addition to non-governmental organizations. This campaign was outstanding due to the fact that it was built upon an extensive research base presented by the Social and Economic Policies Monitor (Al Marsad), in addition to other research institutions, whom collaborated together to increase awareness on the Social Security Law (SSL) that was ratified in March 2016.
One of the main influences that led to the ratification of unjust law is the existing alliance between the government and the private sector representatives. This was noticeable when they agreed on the contribution percentages where they decided the worker’s contribution to be 7.5% and the employers’ contribution to be 8.5% which isn’t a fair distribution in comparison with other countries in the region.
The campaign succeeded through daily interaction with the people to gather thousands to participate in protests against the law. This movement obliged the government to initiate a dialogue with campaign members, after all attempts in minimizing the size of the efforts put in examining the law and creating awareness.
The Social Security National Campaign (SSC) succeeded after five months of comprehensive social dialogue with the Parliamentarians, the ministerial committee in amending a vast number of sections in the draft law with the support of a vast social movement that protested against the law in its initial format.
How was the process of Monitoring this Development Partnership?
Through utilizing monitoring- evidence based research, Al Marsad research team has conducted a field visit to the Social Security Organization in Jordan to get further understanding of social security systems in the region. Between 2012 and 2016, the research team has also conducted comparative analysis on several related issues to social security systems to attain in-depth interpretation of how the law should be articulated (a number of infographics were designed as advocacy messages to create awareness on the pitfalls of the law).
During this process the research team issued several position papers to highlight the pitfalls of the process. One of these pitfalls – the assigned national team didn’t adhere to the social dialogue and drafted the law behind closed doors in favour of the private sector representatives’ interests, disregarding the voices of the active researchers and activists.
The drafted law didn’t ensure inclusion of the most marginalized and vulnerable, such as workers in informal economy and People with Disabilities (PwD). Despite the CSOs observations and efforts, the Social Security Law (SSL) was decreed in March 2016. As a result, Al Marsad has sent out an invitation to inclusive development partners and active role players in order to discuss next steps. Collectively, they decided to hold a national conference to discuss the pitfalls and related observations of the decreed the law and develop the awareness of all workers and employees – the direct beneficiaries. The national conference took place on April 5, 2016, in which more than 500 participants attended this conference – it is worth mentioning that usually a maximum of 100 participants attend this type of events -from different union sectors, organizations, private sector, private schools, universities and civil society representatives.
As a result of the size of the conference and the voices of the public opinion,
these discussions were arranged by the Minister of Labour, Palestinian Legislative Council, the Legal Department at the Presidential Office, not to mention the call for meeting by the International Labour Organization, whom intended to provide an explanation on their standpoint due to the critics to their role in the formulation of the law. Unfortunately the meeting was cancelled and never rescheduled.
Accordingly the campaign called for a large protest, to demand an inclusive comprehensive social security law that guarantees decent living standards for the retirees. More than 10,000 Palestinians participated in the protest – this protest is considered to be the biggest social movement that took place in the past twenty years. The Palestinian Cabinet assigned a ministerial committee to discuss the demands and observations of the national campaign. No serious actions or dialogue took place; therefore another protest took place on May 10, 2016.
The two protests imposed the social dialogue to take place between the Social Security Campaign (SSC) members, the private sector representatives, the ministerial committee, and the Parliamentarians. This dialogue took more than five months to reach consensus on most of the demands.
The new format of the decreed law has adhered to international standards and has met the minimum requirements to qualify as a “just law for all workers and employees”.
Details on the Social Security Campaign as a successful method of proactive research and advocacy in the following link:
Which was the monitoring role of the CSOs?
Al Marsad’s role was through knowledge production and proactive advocacy efforts to mobilize the right-holders to claim their rights and to influence the duty-bearers to adhere to their commitments to the society.
Al Marsad research team and other development partners shared their observations and findings on several occasions with some members of the National Team of Social Security Al Marsad took the initiative to call for a meeting with different groups affected by the law to discuss next steps to be taken in this regards. A group of social activists, unionists, legal experts, civil society members participated in the meeting to discuss action points to strengthen the advocacy intervention.
What type of monitoring of government-led DPs is occurring in your country?
"As mentioned, the national team for social security lacked inclusive social dialogue. This team has only met four times over a period of four years, not to mention that the final draft that was raised by the representative of the national team to the cabinet was never shared with national team members. The employer-employee contributions’ sheet was the one and only document shared and signed by only two workers’ unions – that are officially assigned by the PA. However, the massive social movement organized by the SSC members – the campaign consisted of 32 professional associations and federations such as trade and labour unions, NGOs, INGOs, CSOs, CBOs, women and youth groups and associations, PwD movement, academics and faith-based organizations – took things in another direction and social dialogue was imposed on the duty-bearers and active role players to discuss the demands of the campaign and right-holders. Even after reaching consensus and decreeing a more favourable SSL, the secretariat members of the campaign will continue their activities and interventions to assure that the by-laws will adhere to the agreed upon commitments"
Open to all stakeholders,
and include their ideas
Open to all stakeholders, but doesn’t include their ideas
Open to a few, chosen stakeholders, and include their ideas
Open to a few, chosen stakeholders, but does not include their ideas
Not open at all
Which are the actors or development agents that had participated in
the Development partnership that you describe in this story?
The national team of the SSL that was assigned by the Palestinian cabinet in 2012 consisted of:
1) The government representative,
2) private sector representatives,
3) International Labour Organization Representative in Palestine,
4) two workers’ federations and associations that are influenced directly by the government.
The concerned researchers and observers found this alarming due to the fact that more independent representatives of civil society were excluded from the process and this national team insisted on overlooking the observations of the legal and social experts in this regards”
How could you define the dialogue process between the
multistakeholders involved in the Development Partnership?
Lack of proper listening, cycling the same arguments, no learning.
Encouraging listening and taking voices into account
Could you explain how the four-development effectiveness principles were used
as monitoring criteria in the experience you are presenting?
By clicking on the round circles in the graphic you could read more about how the principle has been used.
Key Primary Tool
Principle not used in the monitoring
“Whenever there is a national priority, it is shaped in favour of the corporate interest groups, and most likely these priorities don’t provide means for alternative and sustainable development, and social justice. Meanwhile, the power of investors and big corporations has weakened the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) role and its ability to promote human rights and sustainability. This was clear and evident during the process of formulating the Social Security Law”.
The SSC has focused on results and on sustainable impact. In fact, the intervention of the campaign hasn’t ended yet. The SSC will act as a watchdog to ensure that the related bylaws will adhere and comply with the agreed upon social dialogue in this regards
“The Palestinian Authority continues to fail developing national priorities due to the fact lack of will in strengthening coordination and cooperation between relevant parties from national and international institutions and ensuring inclusion of civil society and other implementing development partners. The civil society is always excluded from the formulation and implementation of these plans”.
The coalition of civil society members and related active role players will continue to act as an effective watchdog to hold the government, international actors and donors accountable for their contribution to the formulation of the Social Security Law, and utilize available tools such as the NGO shadow report to monitor the means of implementation
Ownership of development priorities by developing counties
Recipient countries define the development model that they want to implement.
Focus on results
Having a sustainable impact should be the driving force behind investments and effort in development policy making
Partnerships for development
Development depends on the participation of all actors, and recognises the diversity and complementarity of their functions.
Transparency and shared responsibility
Development co-operation must be transparent and accountable to all citizens.
How has the Human Rights Based Approach been used as
monitoring criteria in the monitoring experience you are describing?
Al Marsad believes that without dealing with the political reality, ending the occupation, and the Palestinanians' ability to live their freedom and independence, the issue of achieving the social justice will remain a far-reached matter. Any progress that is being made on the ground by the Palestinians is washed away the next day by the occupation army. The increase in poverty rates, the absence of a universal and quality health service, and the declining levels of education are still prominent phenomena. In addition, making Palestinian cities safe and resilient under occupation attacks, the apartheid wall, the suffocating siege, and military checkpoints will not be possible.
That being said, Al Marsad utilized Human rights based approach lens to examine and monitor the process of the formulation of the Social Security Act and successfully identified the gaps between current and proposed laws and legislations, and the level of their relatedness to international standards (Human Rights Treaties and ILO standards).
During the Social Security Advocacy Campaign, Al Marsad and other development partners effectively identified all related role players to develop appropriate messages to educate right holders on their rights and to push duty bearers to commit to their obligations
How did the government or other stakeholders react after
you have presented the monitoring initiative/some monitoring results?
“During the Social Security Campaign (SSC) the government didn’t take the coalition and the movement seriously and tried to stall the process and the social dialogue. However, through advocacy and awareness efforts the right-holders joined the social movement to demand inclusion of all marginalized groups and a just system that adheres to the minimum requirements of international standards. The government was obliged to listen to the observation and demands of the SSC, so they assigned a ministerial committee led by the Minister of Labour to initiate a social dialogue and strive to positively respond to the demands and observations of the SSC, and take them into consideration to modify the social security law”.
Monitoring experiences from CSOs like the one in my story happen in my country...
The Social Security Campaign successfully ensured inclusion and representation of the most marginalized and vulnerable in this campaign – this was attained through focusing on particular thematic focus areas and alliances. There are several advocacy campaigns that take place in Palestine, however, the Social Security Campaign is known to be the largest social movement in the past 20 years.
Which capacities do you consider as key in order to realise this monitoring experience?
Capacity to relate, by participation in coalitions and networks of CSOs to engage engaging at multiple levels,
with the community and a variety of stakeholders
Capacity to foster dialogue with government and other stakeholder. Convene around a common landscape
Communication and outreach capacity. Counting with media in reaching and influencing public opinion.
Capacity to conduct evidence-based research and policy papers.
Capacity to commit and act, through a well-elaborated strategy for lobby and advocacy.
Capacity to conduct Lobby and Advocacy representing right-holders, from a legitimate, accountable and trustworthy representation.
Capability to mobilise public support and create and maintain operational space. Contributing to the public debate and maintain legitimacy of representation.
Capability to ensure organisational sustainability (with financial sustainability and capability to attract and retain qualified staff)
Capacity to adapt and renew, pro-act to changing external contexts. Organizations should be able to monitor changing circumstances and respond accordingly.
Capacity of culture of learning and innovation in the organisation. Developing an own learning agenda
The capacity grown through the organisation trajectory:
Al Marsad has a strong and influential network that includes a vast group of, social activists, researchers, and academics – Working on knowledge production and proactive advocacy since 2012.
In addition to solid relationships and partnerships with a number of universities, think tanks, policy and research institutes locally and regionally. Al Marsad in partnership with its regional partner – Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) – contributed to the “Arab Watch Report on Social and Economic Rights and Policies; Social Protection in the Arab World: The Crisis of the State Exposed”. Al Marsad team also took the lead to coordinate the production of a regional study on Tax Justice in four Arab countries, and it takes part in the working committee of this and other region reaching these goals
“A group of professional researchers and academics dedicated to exploring potential avenues for alternative development, utilizing knowledge production to mobilize right-holders, and influencing duty-bearers to adhere to their obligations in regards to Human Rights Treaties, and Sustainable Development Goals and their targets. The ideal team should possess Advanced Research and Advocacy skills in addition to a network of related and influential role players to develop appropriate strategies to tackle the relevant policies to monitor.”
Which are, in your opinion, the capacities needed to conduct a good monitoring of Development partnerships?
"The capacities needed are proactive and progressive human resources that require customized training and development programs on means of instituting rights and building effective coalitions and other related fields…”
To which extent has this experience been articulated through networks and
shared at regional level in other countries?
“The success story of the national movement and proactive inclusive social dialogue was shared with regional and international platforms as a model of efficacious proactive research and advocacy efforts”.
Which is the projection of the organisation/network at the moment
in their national and international context?
The Social Security Campaign will continue to monitor the implementation of the law and the establishment of the Social Security Fund. Currently the national development strategy is tackling social protection; Al Marsad is striving to ensure inclusion of Social Security Law on the policy level
Nevertheless, the organization and network will strive to build upon previous successes and follow-up. Al Marsad will build up on previous successes by expanding the thematic areas and follow in depth other policies and policy changes in order to effectively monitor the implementation of SDGs and identify related actors to mobilize and/or influence them.
In the future, Al Marsad will utilize similar methods that were applied in monitoring the formulation of the Social Security Law (SSL) and the means in which the assigned national team was held accountable for the shortcomings of the incomprehensive social dialogue and unjust law. In the meantime, to reach its goals, Al Marsad necessitates innovative development and support.”