The Danish-Arab Partnership Programme (DAPP) has supported freedom of speech and freedom of the press since 2011, whilst focusing on youth unemployment and entrepreneurship in Tunisia

DAPP has supported the Tunisian transition process since 2011 and contributed to economic development and employment. This has been achieved through a wide range of projects implemented by Danish, Tunisian and international partners within DAPP’s priority areas.

The 2011 revolution triggered a democratic transition, and a number of central institutions have since come into being. Tunisia has a new constitution, a number of transparent elections have been held, and peaceful handover of power took place. DAPP has supported the convening of the first constitutional assembly and subsequently parliament via the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A number of partners have contributed to the drafting of the constitution to ensure that parliamentary and presidential elections proceeded peacefully, and to prepare for the establishment of a number of constitutional institutions.

Current projects

One of the largest and most solid advances since 2011 is the establishment of a well-functioning freedom of speech and freedom of the press, even if there remains a need to improve current legislation and ensure its implementation. Since 2011, International Media Support has worked with several key organisations to ensure provision of the required capacity. The rise of an active Tunisian civil society is another major step forward that has played a decisive role over the past six years, and EuroMed Rights (EMHRN) and the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights (EMHRF) have played a major role in helping to strengthen new organisations throughout the country, whilst EuroMed Rights has facilitated an important dialogue between the civil society, the government and the EU. A civil society act from 2011 ensures a high degree of freedom and lays down requirements for transparency, but there is a need to strengthen the section of civil society that is based in, and derives its legitimacy from, the heart of the country. There is likewise a need to strengthen the formation of networks and internal collaboration. Danish DAPP partner Danner is one of the organisations seeking to actively contribute to this process via its collaboration with a number of organisations on prevention of violence against women.

The new constitution safeguards the human rights of Tunisian citizens, but there remain practical challenges in a number of areas, and various DAPP partners have played key roles in ensuring the implementation of the constitution. The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) is a key partner of the national human rights bodies, whilst DIGNITY (the Danish Institute against Torture) collaborates with civil society and the Tunisian government on the prevention of torture. With regard to equality and women’s rights, since 2011, the constitution and a new election act have consolidated the legal status of men and women; something to which KVINFO and its Tunisian partners have actively contributed.

When the Tunisian rebellion came to a head in 2011, many hoped for, and believed they would, see change. Six years on, the popular mood in Tunisia is less optimistic, as the scale of the problems the country faces has become apparent, together with the difficulty of addressing and resolving them and the multitude of interests at stake. Tunisia is experiencing slow economic development, a lack of investment, uneven distribution of wealth and job opportunities and youth unemployment levels approaching 50% in the worst-hit areas. This is a source of disillusionment amongst young people and recurring social unrest in the central and southern parts of the country, and it is vital for the democratic transition process that these trends are reversed. DAPP partners, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the African Development Bank (AFDB) have helped put focus on youth employment and entrepreneurism, in particular via the Souk At-tanmia Partnership, which has created jobs for young people throughout the country; work which the Tunisian Scout Association has also supported by encouraging young people to participate actively in their communities. Additionally, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and SEGES have collaborated with the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture to develop and consolidate the dairy sector in north-western Tunisia by supporting dairy farmers and facilitating development of a future quality-linked payment system for milk to help boost employment.

DAPP’s achievements in collaboration with various partners between 2011-2017:

  • The Tunisian Institute for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (NEBRAS), with the support of Danish partner DIGNITY, opened Tunisia’s first rehabilitation centre for survivors of torture, while the Tunisian Ministry of Justice joined forces with its Danish counterpart to devise special guidelines to help judges identify, document and address cases of torture.
  • Association Beity (the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation), with pan-Nordic financial support and technical input from Danner, opened a crisis centre for homeless and vulnerable women in the city of Tunis. The centre provides counselling and activities intended to promote the reintegration of women into the Tunisian labour market.
  • Over a period of five years, CILG-VNG International has provided technical support in the Tunisian decentralisation process, and worked locally in 18 municipalities on integrated economic development and capacity building of local structures. 
  • With financial support from DAPP, the AFDB and the Souk At-tanmia Partnership have supported a large number of male and female entrepreneurs throughout the country in setting up new businesses.
  • DIHR has supported the Tunisian government in setting up a new inter-ministerial mechanism for reporting to the UN.
  • In 2013, DAPP partners the LO/FTF Council (the Danish Trade Union Council for International Development co-operation) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) actively assisted the Tunisian government and labour market partners in signing the first social contract, which covers areas such as employment policies, social security, regional development and institutionalisation of the social dialogue. In 2016, the ILO followed up on this by providing support for the implementation of a national dialogue on employment.