Global Institute for Transitions
Monitoring economic and political developments in Tunisia

Former Minister Hakim Ben Hammouda and activist Khalil Ben Cherif have created a think tank to develop research and analysis and enable ongoing public debate on democratic transitions issues.


It was prior to the 2019 presidential elections in Tunisia that the former Minister of Economy and Finance Hakim Ben Hammouda launched the ECON4Tunisia programme, gathering together economists, university professors and other eperts to work on concrete policy recommendations for the presidential candidates.

The recommendations were co-signed by more than 50 prominent Tunisian experts and communicated through a press conference to all candidates, some of whom adopted them as part of their electoral programmes.

Hakim then teamed up civil society activist and communications consultant Khalil Ben Cherif, who had previously launched The Huffington Post Maghreb in 2013, to launch a series of high-level monthly seminars to put economics issues at the heart of public debate.

More t This article reflects the views of the grantee featured and does not necessarily represent the official opinion of the European Endowment for Democracy, the European Commission or any other European State or other contributors to EED.han 1,000 people attended these in-person seminars before Khalil and Hakim were forced to run them online during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the initial period of the pandemic, the online seminars also reviewed the government’s response to the virus, and the pandemic’s impact on the tourist, cultural, agricultural, and digital sectors of the economy.


From webinars to the Global Institute of Transitions

In 2021, thanks to EED funding, Hakim and Khalil officially launched a think tank: the Global Institute for Transitions, to provide an official structure for their work.

“Before EED’s support, our initiative had potential, but our work was more informal. EED gave us the opportunity to develop and consolidate our project,” explains Khalil.

He notes that GI4T has unique access to Tunisian policymakers, public institutions and media outlets, thanks their experience and connections. Importantly, the think tank is independent of all political parties, which means the public sees it as a trustworthy source of information.

“Hakim was minister during an era of national dialogue,” says Khalil, “This means he is held in high regard across the political spectrum. His reputation helped us gain credibility at the beginning, and then the team’s hard work did the rest.”

Today, GI4T continues to hold both in-person and online seminars, and the think tank has expanded its activities to include regular policy papers. Its work targets both experts and the general public, and it also engages with university students from Tunisian and international universities. It has tackled a wide range of topics relevant to Tunisia’s political and economic situation, from the energy crisis to irregular migration and the IMF’s relationship with Tunisia.

“We want to put the questions we discuss at the heart of the general public, as well as policymakers. That’s why we organise many open events and try to get good media coverage for them. One of our latest conferences, on irregular migration, made national news,” says Khalil.


A changing public space in Tunisia

GI4T is closely following the recent political changes Tunisia is experiencing. Last summer, ahead of the constitutional referendum to replace the 2014 constitution, GI4T organised ahead of the vote a seminar with constitutionalists and former ministers dissecting the proposed amendments, highlighting the risks to the stability of Tunisian democracy.

“We are following those changes, and we want to contribute to defend the values of Tunisia’s democratic transition,” says Khalil. “The recent events have also prompted us to give attention to the topic of press freedom, which is increasingly under attack.”

In 2023, GI4T will continue to focus on monitoring and analysing these transformations in Tunisia’s political and governance system. The think tank will also develop its research and policy programme and focus on the economic crisis, on freedom of the press, and on sustainable development. Khalil notes that despite todays’ difficult political circumstances, GI4T’s main goal remains to contribute to the development of a democratic Tunisia.


 This article reflects the views of the grantee featured and does not necessarily represent the official opinion of the European Endowment for Democracy, the European Commission or any other European State or other contributors to EED.


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