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Review and Evaluation of the Forum’s Initiative

Review and Evaluation of the Forum’s Initiative

David J. Kramer, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

Closing Remarks at the Forum for the Future Ministerial Session

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

October 19, 2008

We applaud the courageous and determined work of the leaders here today from governments and civil society, who represent a cross-section of the thousands of organizations throughout the BMENA region that are working peacefully to strengthen their countries and institutions.

We recognize the DAD civil society and the governments of Yemen, Italy, and Turkey for their sustained focus on advancing and regularizing dialogue between civil society and governments on critical reform topics in the BMENA region, including women’s empowerment, freedom of expression, and electoral and political processes.

Since its inception more than four years ago, the DAD has facilitated effective and successful relationships between willing governments, NGOs, the media, political leaders and civil society experts in the region, and has created a collaborative and transparent environment in which to accomplish this partnership. I would like to acknowledge that DAD partners’ work on in-country programs focused on women’s empowerment in Algeria, Jordan and Pakistan, and as well programs in Morocco and Yemen that are focused on freedom of expression, political party and electoral reform.

We thank the DAD partners, the governments here today, and civil society leaders for their contributions to the “Partnership Document” which outlines the parameters and standards for a fruitful relationship between civil society, BMENA governments and the G8. This document is a product of substantive discussions and deliberations between civil society and governments that began nearly two years ago. The DAD is to be commended for taking on this initiative and developing this set of principles, which are drawn from existing international conventions and documents. The United States endorses these principles.

We hope that with this latest initiative, the Partnership Document, the integral work in promoting freedom, democracy and human rights reform in the BMENA region will continue. I hope that ministers and civil society leaders alike will offer their support for the principles today.

The U.S. reiterates its support for the creation of a Gender Institute and a Diversity Center, and we call for the implementation of many of the ideas brought forward during the Forum.

The U.S. will continue to support both civil society and government reform efforts in the Middle East on multiple levels. The role played by indigenous civil society actors calling for peaceful change is critical, and these citizens require a protected, legal space in which to operate and prosper. It is critical that civil society be included in a permanent, ongoing manner in all BMENA activities, such as in our meeting today.

G8 BMENA initiatives are continuing to make significant strides in reforms throughout the Middle East and North Africa. We welcome Morocco’s agreement to host the 2009 Forum with its G8 partner Italy, and the U.S. welcomes Germany’s pledged $1 million contribution to the Foundation for the Future. However, we reinforce civil society’s point that, though continuing dialogue between governments and civil society is important, the objective of these initiatives is concrete progress in reforms in the region and not just holding periodic talks.

ENDS

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