The world today is faced with diverse challenging and multifaceted issues which have led to the rising of wider range of new questions and ideas. This developing situation has inevitably made legislative bodies to come up with pressing demands for establishment of academic and research centers/ institutes in order that legislations can be enacted with reliance on expert opinions and studies in response to the current prevailing needs.
Parliaments blessed with such well-versed academic and research mechanisms are distinctively different “in both working procedure and outcome of their work” from the parliaments whose members are engaged in the exercise of parliamentary duties by merely relying on their own experimental and academic potential. This was raison d'être requiring the Islamic Parliament of Iran to pass the legislation for establishment of Majlis Research Center (MRC).
Since the first legislature, the Islamic Parliament of Iran sought expert advices on a casual basis when deliberating a bills or motion as parliamentarians mostly relied on their personal understanding and experiences. However, the Parliament Presiding Board, having identified crucial needs of the parliament to research services, decided to set up an independent center entitled "Majlis Research Center"
in late 1992, in order to duly provide parliamentarians with constant fruitful grounds to benefit from expert advices. Legal procedure for the creation of such a center was finalized in 1995.
A) Objectives, duties and organizational structure
The purpose for establishment of Majlis Research Center as specified in the relevant Act includes:
Duties and responsibilities:
- Preparing necessary grounds for an in-depth expert examination of enactments,
- Extending academic and research supports conducive to the duties and responsibilities of the Islamic Parliament of Iran
- Applying efficiently research inputs in the legislating process.
Major duties and responsibilities:
- To conduct studies, researches and offer expert opinions to the parliament members and Standing Committees in respect of all the bills and motions on a timely manner.
- To collect and scrutinize the opinions offered by academic researchers, research centers, executive bodies, academic and specialized associations, political parties and people at large on current demands of the society in terms of legislating.
- To study and scrutinize smooth application of the laws and offer expert opinions on how to cope with barriers and problems
- To provide the information needed by Standing Committees and Parliament Members and to set up an informative system.
- To conduct case studies needed by the Presiding Board, Standing Committees and MPs
- To deal with the missions assigned in relation to Majlis Library,
- To release research products through:
• Publication of books and related bulletins,
• Holding regular meetings,
• Transmitting views and opinions to the concerned units and departments,
- Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees of the MRC is composed of the Majlis Speaker, members of the Presiding Board and Head of the Center. Board of Trustees shall, inter alia, be responsible for the approval of the overall policy of the Center as proposed by its Head, approval of the budget, organizational structure, recruitment and financial rules, as well as appointment or dismissal of the Head.
- Head of the Center
Head of the Center is appointed by the Board of Trustees for 4 years from among the qualified persons with high academic degrees and sufficient experiences, subject to the provisions of Article 7 of relevant Act on” functions of the Majlis Research Center”. Major functions of the Head of the Center include: To introduce policies, propose necessary budget and oversee at the highest level the executive and research affairs.
For the past 21 years since its establishment, following individuals have served as the Head of the Center:
• Dr. Mohammad Javad Larijani (PhD in Mathematics), founder of the Majlis Research Center, who held the office during the 4th and 5th legislatures (1992-2000).
• Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami (Nephrologist) during the 6th legislature (2000-2004).
• Dr. Ahmad Tavakoli ( PhD in Economics) during the 7th and the 8th legislatures (2004-2012),
• Dr. Kazem Jalali ( PhD in Political Science) the incumbent Head of the Center since the beginning of current legislature,
- Research Council:
Research Council is composed of the Head of the Center, 5 academicians selected from among the Parliament members by the Board of Trustees and 5 specialist researchers, holding at least the position of Associate Professor on the recommendation of the Head of the Center and approval of the Board of Trustees.
The Council’s duties, inter alia, include:
• To examine and confirm research plans and projects,
• To cooperate for drafting annual programs of the Center,
• To oversee the academic and research publications of the Center,
• To draw executive plans of the Center in order to create academic linkage with other research and educational centers inside and abroad.
B) MRC Organizational Structure
i) Research Deputy Offices
Studies and researches are mainly defined, planned and conducted as required by the following four Research Deputy Offices through their affiliated specialist sections. Each deputy office has its own specialist sections that work under the direction of the Research Deputy Offices and each of them has several specialist groups. Each section consists of a director, an assistant, and research assistants for study groups as well as researchers and senior researchers. Sections shall define, supervise and, if necessary, direct research projects. Moreover, the sections shall report the work in progress, achievements and final outcome of their activities to the related Research Deputy Offices. Meanwhile, the studies conducted by the specialist sections and their affiliated groups are assessed by the "Specialist Advisory Council". These Deputy Offices and their own specialist sections are as follows:
- Office of the Deputy for Economic Researches
- Office of the Deputy for Infrastructural and Production Researches Office o
- Office the Deputy for Political and Legal Researches
- Office of the Deputy for Social and Cultural Researches
In addition to the activities mentioned above, the Deputy Offices also deal with the following general tasks:
a) Examination of the bills and motions:
All the bills and motions are examined and scrutinized within the domain of Research Deputy Office and the products of expert studies are made available to the Parliament Standing Committees and Parliament Members.
b) Research demands of the Parliament Members and Standing Committees (and how such demands are dealt with):
Such demands are prioritized in three categories as follows:
• Urgent demands
• Short term demands
• Long term demands
c) Case studies:
Research Divisions prioritize their research work subject to the plans and exigencies of the Parliament, important emerging issues and priorities identified by the Center. Such researches may be regularly done on a specific issue e.g. functional assessment of various government bodies (conducted once a year) or released in the form of books and compact discs.
d) Special Studies (Research projects):
Major research studies on economic, political and cultural issues etc. are assigned to the related Deputy Offices upon approval by the Research Council and confirmation of the Head of the Center, taking due consideration of the effectiveness and necessity of such studies to be provided in compliance with scientific research methods.
Studies and researches are generally planned and conducted by the Research Sections. The Research Sections work under the direction of the Office of Research Deputy and each has several specialist subsections. Each section consists of a director, an assistant, and research assistants for subsections as well as researchers. Sections shall define, supervise and, if necessary, direct research projects. Moreover, the sections shall report to the Office of Research Deputy the work on progress, achievements and final outcome of the activities. The "Specialist Advisory Council" makes an assessment of the research studies conducted in various fields by the concerned specialist sections.
Titles of the Specialized Sections
Majlis Research Center is currently composed of 9 research sections and one specialist subsections as follows:
Duties of the Specialist Sections:
- Social Studies
- Cultural Studies
- Economic Studies
- Energy, Industries and Mine Studies
- Infrastructural Studies
- Legal Studies
- Modern Technologies Studies
- Plan & Budget Studies
- Business-doing Studies Subsection
- Political Studies
A diverse spectrum of activities is done by the Specialist Sections conducive to the responsibility and demands of the Parliament Standing Committees. The activities, inter alia, include as follows:
ii) Office of Executive Deputy
- Expert studies of bills and motions,
- Necessary studies aimed at drafting legislations in the form of legal motions to be submitted to the Parliament by the representatives,
- Preparation of the reports on legal gaps or weaknesses hurdling execution of law,
- Annual evaluation of the performance of ministries and government bodies for submission to the Parliament,
- Participation in Parliament Standing Committee meetings and specialized sub-committees to render consultation and to meet the Committees' demands.
- Contacting pundits to create a network of experienced academic advisors in order to respond to the demands of Parliament, Standing Committees and representatives,
- Holding specialist sessions and academic seminars,
- Holding joint expert meetings with branches of Executive Body to narrow attitudes in various levels and dilute divergences at decision-making levels,
- Creating Constant linkage with civil and non-governmental bodies to seek opinions of stakeholders in drafting bills and motions as well as their contribution to the legislative and oversight process.
Office of Executive Deputy is tasked with supporting activities of the Office of Research Deputy and its subsections. This Department consists of three divisions entitled" Finance, Administrative, Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
This Department shall deal with smooth running of the affairs, proper functioning of different divisions, supervising financial and administrative affairs, creating a suitable working environment, responding to the logistical needs, evaluating functional abilities of the staff and assigning them training programs, maintaining computerized systems and administrative automation, rendering internet and intranet services.
- Research Papers:
All the research papers prepared and finalized by the Research Center on a wide spectrum of political, economic, legal and cultural issues etc. are made available to the parliament members. Since its establishment, the Center has released 10,000 expert reports. The papers have been sent for the Parliament Presiding Board, Standing Committees and the representatives. Certain government institutes as well as research and academic centers have also received such papers.
- Academic/Research Quarterly
It is the responsibility of the Division for Publication of Quarterly to release outcome of the Center's research studies in the form of books and bulletins. The main purpose of this division is to create direct contact with parliament members, state officials, decision-making experts, senior directors of the executive departments as well as the concerned academic researchers.
Titles of the books and bulletins shall be specified with due respect to the policies dictated by the Research Deputy based on the researches and studies conducted by the specialist divisions.