Foreign Ministers of the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition met in New York on September 28. The United States, as chair of the G-8 in 2012, issued the following statement:
1. As Chair of the Group of Eight in 2012, the United States continues to emphasize the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition (the Partnership) as an effective vehicle to mobilize and coordinate international support for societies in the Middle East and North Africa going through transitions.
2. The Partnership is an important forum that brings together Middle Eastern and North African countries in transition, regional partner countries, G-8 members, and international financial institutions. As such, it is uniquely placed to promote regional stabilization, job creation, regional integration, trade and investment, democratic consolidation, accountability and the rule of law, and the governance reforms that will underpin all these goals and establish good conditions for successful democratic transitions. The Partnership actively supports entrepreneurship, including women in business, and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are key to addressing unemployment.
3. In the Camp David Declaration, G-8 leaders called for a meeting in September of Foreign Ministers to review progress on the Partnership. Accordingly, the Foreign Ministers of the Partnership met on September 28, 2012, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to review progress ongoing in the Partnership; affirm multilateral commitment to the political and economic transitions in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia, and support reform actions being taken by these transition countries.
4. The Ministers agreed that the violent events in the region in September 2012 served to underscore the urgency of effective, coordinated international support for stability and reform. The Ministers expressed profound sympathy for and solidarity with the United States for the loss of its diplomatic personnel. The Ministers condemned the attacks on diplomatic premises and personnel and the violence that claimed many civilian lives. We are determined to adhere to certain principles that are fundamental to the functioning of the international order and thus to our capacity to partner together toward shared goals. Those principles include the responsibilities to reject violence and protect all persons living within their territory regardless of faith, ethnicity, or gender, including diplomatic missions and personnel; to promote tolerance and freedom of expression; and to uphold the rule of law and security. The Ministers expressed deep concern about issues of religious intolerance, discrimination, and violence and reaffirmed the importance of implementing UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 of April 12, 2011. The Ministers stressed the importance of respect and understanding for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world.
5. Multilateral institutions are providing significant support to Deauville initiatives. The African Development Bank, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the International Monetary Fund, the OPEC Fund for International Development, and the World Bank, as well as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have each brought expertise and resources to assist transition countries.
Highlights of that progress include:
6. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) begins funding projects in the Middle East and North Africa: The EBRD activated its “special fund” for investment, enabling it to invest up to $1.3 billion for building robust private sectors in Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. Egypt is also on track to become a beneficiary of this fund.
7. Cooperative efforts to promote the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): As a follow-up to the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in meeting in Rome on July 18, transition countries have worked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to develop country-specific concept notes for near term policy measures to improve the regulatory environment for SMEs. In addition, a $1.2 billion regional fund for SMEs administered by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development is active with major donations from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
8. Transition Fund: In order to complement existing bilateral tools, the Partnership is creating a new Transition Fund that will provide grants for technical assistance to help transition countries strengthen public institutions and build the capacity to advance country-led reforms. We are pleased to report that the World Bank Board of Directors formally approved the Bank’s role as Trustee and coordination body of the Transition Fund on September 25. In keeping with the multilateral nature of the Partnership, the Transition Fund will leverage and complement support from other partners, including bilateral donors, regional and international organizations, and other stakeholders. The Ministers look forward to advancing this process, and the Chair encourages additional contributions to this fund.
9. Arab Forum on Asset Recovery: Over 200 senior officials and experts from 36 countries met in Doha this month to inaugurate the Forum. The Forum could serve as a coordinating framework mechanism for follow-up on the Asset Recovery Action Plan, providing a network of expertise to facilitate stolen asset recovery. Bilateral case meetings held among expert practitioners from transition countries and financial center countries significantly advanced cooperation. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and the U.S. published guides on their asset recovery regimes, all available in Arabic. Russia, as it committed itself at Camp David, is working to complete the legal framework that will permit compilation of such a guide. The U.S. provided $1 million to the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative to support training, mentoring, and other follow-up.
10. Governance Leadership Training: Partnership members are developing professional exchanges for leaders in transitioning countries, including members of legislative bodies, judicial officials, municipal and regional government officials, and labor unions.
11. Participation in the Open Government Partnership: Transition countries are working, with the support of the OECD, towards meeting eligibility for participation in the Open Government Partnership, which aims to secure concrete commitments from participant governments in order to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Jordan is already a participant and is implementing a National Open Government Partnership Action Plan, Tunisia pledged to join the Open Government Partnership, and preparatory work is underway in support of Morocco’s participation. Similarly, Libya also has engaged to develop an implementation strategy.
12. Deployment of Economic Governance Volunteer Experts: The Partnership is exploring a new Financial Services Advisory Corps to help public officials improve public financial management, tax administration and public procurement so that public resources are protected from fraud, and tax evasion is reduced.
13. Good Governance and Promotion of Anticorruption Reform: With the support and participation of Partnership members, and within the framework of the OECD coordination, regional programs, such as the ones implemented by the UNDP, will be developed to share good practices and build capacity to undertake anticorruption reforms consistent with the Open Governance/Anticorruption Action Plan. Capacity building activities will also be promoted by the Governance Regional Training Centre set up in Caserta by the Italian National School of Public Administration and the OECD in the framework of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme. The newly established MENA-OECD Public Procurement Network is expected to facilitate the compliance of Transition countries’ public procurement systems with the OECD related principles.
14. Effective and Efficient Coordination: The Ministers underline the benefits of strengthening coordination of support to the transition countries, and look forward to receiving proposals from specific countries, as appropriate.
15. Accountability: The Ministers reiterated the importance of clear expectations and shared accountability for commitments undertaken under the Deauville Partnership. Building on the G-8’s accountability efforts, G-8 members, regional partners, and the countries in transition themselves also committed to transparently report on progress achieved in the Partnership.
Priorities for 2013:
16. Participants look forward to continuing the critical work of the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition. At the meeting, Foreign Secretary Hague addressed the ministers on the UK government’s priorities for the Partnership under its presidency of the G-8 in 2013. He stated that the theme of the UK Presidency of Deauville will be “Open Economies, Inclusive Growth” and achieving this would entail: help to boost investment in the region; support for small and medium enterprises to set up and grow; encouragement for women’s participation in the workforce; and enhanced cooperation on asset recovery. Under the UK Presidency, the G-8 will also take forward development of the Transition Fund, expansion of the EBRD’s mandate to the region and work on international exchanges, education and training, regional trade and economic integration, and open governance.