Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s participation in the Seventh Forum for the Future in Qatar, along with her recent travel to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen, underscores the Obama administration’s support for civil society and political, economic, and social progress in the region. The United States is committed to partnerships with governments, businesses, and civil society of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) based on mutual interests, mutual respect, and the strengthening of civil society and democratic governance in the region. The United States’ investment in the region demonstrates our commitment to support local actors working to build prosperity, progress, and democracy.
The Forum for the Future
The Forum for the Future is a ministerial meeting of countries from the Group of Eight (G-8) and the Broader Middle East and North Africa to discuss ways to advance democracy and good governance, economic opportunity, and human development. The annual conference brings together leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to advance political, economic, and social reform in the region. The first Forum was in Rabat, Morocco, in 2004.
Secretary Clinton’s participation in the Seventh Forum for the Future, held in Doha, Qatar, on January 13, 2011, reaffirms U.S. support for reform and for civil society’s essential role in advancing democracy and human development in BMENA.
U.S. Support for Reform Initiatives
The United States provides financial support for civil society and democratic growth in the BMENA through a variety of bilateral and regional programs funded through the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The United States supports programs in a number of areas to demonstrate our commitment to promoting progress for the peoples of the region and supporting their aspirations.
· Civil Society, Good Governance, Rule of Law, and Democracy
- $718 million in funding to strengthen civil society and independent media, improve the rule of law, promote political participation and consensus-building, and enhance effective governance that delivers for citizens.
· Human Rights
- $85.5 million to promote human rights advocacy, access to justice, internet freedom, disability rights, and the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities in the BMENA region.
· Women’s Empowerment
- $500,000 toward the creation of the BMENA Gender Institute.
- At least $22.7 million to fight gender-based violence and promote participation in the political process by women and youth.
· Private Sector Development
- $22.2 million in technical assistance to improve the overall business operating environment for West Bank and Gaza firms.
- $35.4 million in Egypt to increase investment by improving commercial laws, modernizing the financial sector, and enhancing Egypt’s competitiveness.
- $2.1 million to promote fair access to economic opportunities and increase respect for the core labor rights for workers of BMENA region.
- $6.2 million to support workforce development, a business-enabling environment, and improved fiscal policy.
· Literacy and Education
- Approximately $175 million for country-specific education programs in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, the West Bank and Gaza.
- $5 million for the BMENA-U.S. Community College Partnership and Entrepreneurship Grants Program, to strengthen the capacity of BMENA partner institutions to respond to local needs and create entrepreneurial learning environments.
- $18 million for regional programs to support basic and higher education, including scholarships for underprivileged Palestinian students from the West Bank and Gaza.