In concluding his week-long outreach programme to the Netherlands and France, the Chief Executive officer of the ISI, Daryl Swanepoel, signalled that the institute was to work with a number of organisations in the two countries to advance its values of democracy, good governance and inclusive public policy. The ISI met with a range of organisations in The Hague and Amsterdam and Paris.
In this leg of the visit the institute reached out to likeminded social democratic foundations, curators of social history archives and the former Dutch anti-apartheid activists. Significant synergies were discovered in the policy work of the ISI and that of the various organisations that were approached. The Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy, the Max van der Stoel Foundation and the Wiardi Beckman Foundation all share the ISI’s objective not only to strengthen democracy in a citizen-centred manner, but also to create a greater sense of inclusion in public policy.
The ISI also agreed to work with the International Institute of Social History (ISH), which is based in Amsterdam. The ISH hosts extensive archival material on the anti-apartheid movement of the Netherlands (and other countries). It was agreed that access would be given to the ISI to link this material to the liberation archives portal of the ISI. Further areas of cooperation in archiving historic material of the broader liberation struggle will be explored.
The CEO of the ISI also met with the African Studies Centre based at the University of Leiden. Here too, an enormous amount of synergy existed that could be tapped into. It was agreed that joint public policy research projects could be explored, and mechanisms would be developed to link the extensive library and archives of the African Studies Centre to the ISI’s ‘Liberation Archives’ portal.
A discussion was also held with Bart Luirink, Kier Schuringa and Jan-Bart Gewald, prominent former anti-apartheid activists. There exists a sense that the linkages between the former Dutch anti-apartheid movement activists and South Africa has weakened over years, and that a concerted efforts was needed to revive and strengthen this South African conduit into Dutch society. This is a project that the ISI will take to heart.
In Paris the ISI met with both the Fondation Jean-Jaures, which is aligned with the Socialist Party of France, and the Institut Montaigne, a prominent independent public policy think tank. Given France’s heightened interest under President Emmanuel Macron in African public and developmental policy, there was an ardent interest to explore joint projects that the ISI could undertake with these foundations. Initial areas of interest included topics such as gender-based violence, gaining a deeper understanding of inequality in order to pursue greater inclusivity in the economy, and climate change.