printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Second Meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee for Secretary Clinton's Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society

January 17, 2012



Date: January 17, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the Advisory Committee on the Secretary of State's Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society convened in Washington, DC, on January 17, 2012. The objective of this meeting was to discuss the recommendations of the five working groups proposed to the committee.

Agenda items: (1) Welcome and Demonstration of New Communication Platform, (2) Presentations of Second Reports by Working Group Chairs, (3) General Discussion and Debate, (4) Public Comment, (5) Closing Remarks (6) Adjournment. 

MR. TILLEMANN: (In progress) and it’s my distinct pleasure to welcome you all to the second meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee for Secretary Clinton’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. And over the last few months since our first meeting, events in the world have demonstrated very powerfully the importance of civil society, and we have witnessed a continuation of the devolution of power that we’ve spoken about in the past in which individuals and groups outside of government are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the world we live in. And I think that the history we have witnessed certainly amplifies the importance of our work within the context of this initiative, and I know the Secretary is very grateful to all of you for your participation and advice as this strategic dialogue is really at the forefront of the Department’s efforts to come to terms with the new world in which we live and with the important role that civil society plays.

One of our key roles in gathering together is to act on the recommendations that several of your working groups have made, and before we get to that, we would like to demonstrate how we have attempted to act on one of the recommendations we heard at the first session of this committee, where we heard from a number of you about the need for a platform to facilitate communication and cooperation among members of the committee outside of these meetings. We recognize that inevitably some of the best work that goes on within this initiative is not going to take place in the context of these meetings, but will occur as you all interact with each other and with other representatives of civil society when you’re not participating in these formal discussions.

And we’ve worked with a number of partners in the technology world to come up with something that we hope will facilitate that interaction, and I just want to quickly go through the tool that we’ve developed, and we hope all of you will be able to take advantage of it. We’ve developed this in cooperation with a large Canadian software company called OpenText. And this is a platform that was originally developed to facilitate work in conjunction with the G-20 Summit, and they have been kind enough to let us use it. We hope that it’s going to amplify the work that all of you are doing in your working groups and in this committee. It is called Public Service without Borders, and it is an extremely powerful information sharing platform, and we’re just going to run through it briefly. We have some of the screen shots up behind you, and then everyone should also have a printout about how it’s going to work.

When you log in – and all of you should have received login information – there are a number of communities that you’ll see representing the various working groups. And as you go through into these various communities, you’ll find a number of different ways to share information. The first thing you’ll see is a feed, and this shows you everything that’s going on in the community as a whole, all of the different actors that are participating, information that’s being shared, files that have been uploaded. It’s kind a snapshot of everything that’s taking place at one time. The next thing you will see is a compendium of forums, and these will allow us to hold detailed discussions surrounding the activities of the various working groups.

Following that, we will have a catalogue of different presentations that have been made to this group, and some of the information that’s been shared by the working groups will then have a tab that focuses on videos, and we’ll have here video of all of the meetings that this committee and also the launch of the dialogue for anyone who needs to review that for any reason. We also have a file sharing mechanism that will allow you to upload documents. If there are items that you would like to distribute to other members of the group, this is a very easy way to do so. There’s also a photo library and then, finally, an idea section. And this will be, we hope, quite helpful.

We will upload all of the recommendations that are forwarded to the committee to this idea section, and it provides an informal mechanism for weighing in on those recommendations. You can either promote or demote ideas if you think they are particularly worthy of attention or, for whatever reason, unworthy of attention, and it will allow us to ensure that there’s an active conversation around these issues and the work that’s taking place in the working groups even when we’re not convened at these meetings.

We also have a wiki, which may become helpful as we try to craft joint statements later on. This will allow for group editing of documents and any statements that we should try to assemble and also a blog where we will post information about the group and its activities.

Finally, there’s a calendar where we will outline upcoming meetings and other events related to the activities of this strategic dialogue. So it’s a lot of information, but it’s also quite easy to use, and hopefully as all of you log on and participate in the online forum, you’ll be able to have questions answered and have it as a tool to enhance you’re productivity. If any of you have questions about the online platform, please talk to Dara, who has done great work working with OpenText to develop this tool, and we look forward to your active participation.

With that, we have the pleasure of turning now to our various working groups for their reports, and I know many of you have been quite active. We’re going to begin with the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.

Ambassador Johnson Cook, we’d be grateful if you could lead us off.

AMBASSADOR JOHNSON COOK: Thank you, Tomicah. Good morning, everyone. The Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group is co-chaired by Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois who is here with us today, and myself. Under Secretary Otero is currently on official travel and unable to be here today. I’m pleased to represent our group which debuted on October 18th in 2011.

Approximately 25 civil society leaders – 20 domestic and 5 international – comprise our working group. The working group civil society partners included diverse religious leaders, academics and leaders from faith-based and secular nongovernmental organizations and other government agencies also participate – NSS, USAID, et cetera. The core group is engaging through three topical subgroups. Senior U.S. Government officials and civil society representatives co-chair each of the subgroups, which are Religious Freedom, Security, and Democracy; Religious Engagement and Conflict Prevention Mitigation; and the third group is Faith-Based Humanitarian Assistance and Development.

And the Working Group recommendation to the Secretary is to develop literacy among State Department and other U.S. Government officers regarding the positive role that engagement with religious communities might contribute to the promotion of America’s values and interests via its foreign policy, not least the importance of partnering with religious leaders and communities to help build religious freedom, to prevent and mitigate conflict, and address social, economic, environmental, and other challenges. We’re hoping to provide more extensive and systematic training on religion and foreign policy issues at FSI and online for State Department and other officers, and we also wish to clarify the U.S. Government’s application of the establishment clause for diplomatic engagement with and support for religious communities.

What’s next for all of our groups? Well, the core group and the subgroup meetings are going to be held this month periodically at the discretion of the members, but this week all three subgroups will hold their respective meetings – ours tomorrow and another one tomorrow and then the third one on Thursday and then through the year. And the participants will focus on deliverables from their respective groups and from the core working group at large.

It’s my pleasure to have also Bill Vendley here and also Chris Seiple who are co-chairs along with us and the subgroups and also to thank Victoria Alvarado, our director for the International Religious Freedom office and our entire staff who have helped us to pull this together. What has been expressed is a need for SOPs so that we have standard operating procedures that everyone could abide by. But it’s my pleasure to represent the group today. Thank you.

MR. TILLEMANN: Well, thank you very much for that presentation and the work that your group has engaged in is incredibly important. The launch of that was extremely impressive, and at one point I thought that the heavens might open. There was so much religious talent present in that room and really an excellent discussion, and I think there’s a great deal of anticipation, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from Chris and Bill and also Joshua about the recommendations that have been put forward in the course of today’s meeting. So thank you to all of you.

AMBASSADOR JOHNSON COOK: We have a webchat also during the meeting.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

MR. TILLEMANN: Marvelous. Thank you very much. We turn next to our Democracy and Human Rights Working Group, and we’re very fortunate to have Assistant Secretary Posner with us to report on their activities.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Thanks, Tomicah. Well, we’ve also been very active on a couple of fronts, and I want to thank Steve Moody who’s been leading the charge on our part out of – in DRL. We had a meeting in December in Vilnius – couple of meetings, actually, around the OSCE annual meeting, and one was a meeting with the Secretary and a group of activists from Belarus. We also participated actively and helped organize a meeting of civil society activists from throughout the OSCE region, a two day meeting in which they launched something called the Civil Society Platform, which will be a kind of more organized way for civil society members to interact with the OSCE throughout the year. The Secretary also came to that – to the end of that meeting.

Tom Melia, one of the DASs in DRL was – and Eric Falls both participated in that. And then in Bonn also in December, we co-hosted with Ambassador Grossman a meeting – a breakfast meeting for 41 Afghan civil society representatives. The Secretary was there, Lady Ashton from the EU, and Foreign Minister Baird from Canada. It was a really good, lively meeting. And then with Melanne and Anita we organized – we were – participated also with some – two sets of meetings with people – women from Afghanistan, which is really also really important. We also have done a lot more on, which was – is the website we set up last year. There’s quite a bit of material there, and I just urge people to take a look at the way in which the civil society issues are being dealt with.

A couple thoughts just about what’s coming up in this year. We are, again, working with Melanne and Anita on Afghanistan, thought of organizing some kind of a strategic dialogue with Afghan women and activists, which is something, again, we’re going to be keen to get the Secretary to be part of. In Africa, Judith Heumann in our office is working very hard, who is the special advisor on disability rights, to have an African-based meeting with the theme of disability rights. In Asia, Dan Baer, Susan O’Sullivan and others in our office are looking for a regional meeting in Asia in the summer focused on restrictive environments. We’re looking at Cambodia. There is an ASEAN regional meeting going on. And then in Latin America, we’re trying to organize around the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, a meeting that would focus on indigenous and Afro-Latin communities. So there’s a lot going on. There’s also a range of things in the Middle East, but no specific regional thing. Clearly, in the Secretary’s travel, there’s going to be a set of meetings with activists in Egypt and other places. So we’ve got a lot going on. And I also want to just welcome and thank again Tad Stahnke from Human Rights First, who is always a great partner and collaborator. Thank you.

MR. TILLEMANN: Well, we’re thankful both to you and Tad for the great work that’s going on within DRL on these issues. I had the privilege in participating in some of these discussions, particularly the meeting you shared in Vilnius, which was really outstanding and great opportunity to hear from a diverse array of activists from around the world, and we look forward to more of that in the year ahead. So thank you very much to DRL.

Let’s turn next to the State Department’s Special Representative for International Labor Affairs Barbara Shailor. And as I was telling Barbara a moment ago, I’ve heard tremendous praise for the work that’s going on within your working group, and we’re eager to hear your report and discuss later in this meeting the recommendations that you’ll be bringing to the group.


MS. SHAILOR: Thank you very much, Dr. Tillemann, and we want to express, as a working group, our appreciation, ongoing appreciation to you, to the State Department, to all of you for participating in this dialogue. We really have had the opportunity over the course of the last two months to have several both working group conference call meetings as well as an in-person meeting on the margins of the G-20 meetings that just took place. And I think the engagement that we’re having with working people, working people’s representatives, some of the most renowned labor economists not only in our own country, but in the world is really a reality based in what we’re seeing in terms of the economic environment in the world. Everyone believes jobs and employment issues are front and center stage, and that’s very much reflected in the discussions that we’ve had.

So our first conference call, since we have had this discussion before, our working group set out what we believed would be the most important priorities to accomplish from now and over the course of the next year, and not to repeat myself, but certainly the issues affecting working people and the jobs crisis in so many countries as well as the reality that that economic and political circumstance was at the root of many of the political transitions going on. So we don’t separate out the political from the economic; they are very much the reality of what is going on, and we discussed that at length. We paid particular attention to precarious work, informal work, because of the impact on women and young people. And so we’ll be doing a tremendous amount of work on these issues over the course of the life of the working group.

We had a remarkably good meeting in Khan around the G-20. The global labor leaders have had the opportunity to meet with President Obama. It was the largest group of global labor leaders that the President had ever had the opportunity to meet with. And then we met – and those leaders also met with 14 other heads of state. So what we saw over the course of a three-day conference was a formal government declaration that focused on many things, but jobs moved from the back of the paper to the first nine paragraphs of the paper. And I think that was a reflection of the persuasion that many of these leaders had with their own heads of state. We then met with these federations in the actual working group. And rather than repeat what was already in the G-20 declaration, we looked at very country-specific situations. And the deeper that you dig the more practical the kind of recommendations become. And so I thought we were informed and educated very well.

We then had another conference call on the 20th of December, and that conference call laid out the recommendations that we will make to you as the formal recommendations. Sharan Burrow and Cathy Feingold co-chaired this working group. Just to remind you that Sharon is the General Secretary of the entire global labor movement, and Cathy represents the AFL-CIO and 13 million working people and people wanting to work in the United States. And Cathy will speak to these recommendations when we come to that part of the meeting. So we appreciate it again.

MR. TILLEMANN: Excellent. I want to thank you very much, Barbara, and I want to thank you also, Cathy, for being here. We will turn to those recommendations in just a moment, but first we have two more working groups. We’ve heard a little bit already about Mike Posner about the work that Melanne Verveer and Anita are engaged in. And Anita, we would be very grateful if you could tell us a little bit about the activities of the Working Group on Empowering Women.

MS. BOTTI: Thank you very much. I am representing Ambassador Verveer who is travelling currently with the Secretary in Africa and I am delighted to be here. This is a very important series of working groups. As may have been reported on – I’m not sure since this is my first time here – we have chosen to work in the Middle East and North Africa on women’s issues. In addition to what was stated by Assistant Secretary Posner, we continue to focus on this because, as any one of us knows, at any given moment it keeps changing in that part of the world vis-à-vis women. So to that point I will share with you what we have done and what we plan to do.

There was a meeting in May that was convened, the working group convened a civil society leaders group meeting, and in attendance were Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon. There were some very robust recommendations, which, because you all have it in front of you I hope, you can go through them. You will see – my sense is, knowing something about that part of the world and the whole issue affecting – issues affecting women – these are not necessarily exclusive to that part of the world. These are very, very good recommendations regardless of where we are; for example, we could be Afghanistan, we could be in Africa, we could be anywhere.

I think the way we go forward, we plan to hold two more meetings, this can be key as to how we really plan these. Because as Barbara Shailor knows very well, we sat down to talk about Egypt and labor issues affecting women, and God knows we now have to reevaluate what we do vis-à-vis the whole area. So the next two meetings I think are going to critical. They’re going to be critical as to how we shape them, and I would appreciate any comments that you choose to give us today on that point.

The other point I wanted to make – also just for purposes – we have worked very closely with the G-20 on women’s issues, the economic issues. We think a lot of this, the work that’s being done by each of these working groups is key, they’re not mutually exclusive, we have to really integrate for the purposes of our working group what all is being done. So I look forward to working with all of you whether I’m in the room or not in the room, and I’ll just close on that note. Thank you.

MR. TILLEMANN: Thank you very much, Anita. These are obviously critical issues and we appreciate the work that you are engaged in. One of the reasons that we’re excited about this new online platform is that we hope that it can facilitate cooperation among the different working groups as well, and we realized that as you alluded to and Mike alluded to, in many instances there’s going to be a great deal of overlap. You were discussing how the labor group and your group might collaborate and hopefully we’ll be able to do that more effectively now that we have a place where we can all come together and share information.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s turn to our Working Group on Governance and Accountability, and we know that Under Secretary Hormats had an issue arise this morning and is not able to join us, but we are very grateful that Joel Wiegert, from his office, is here.

MR. WIEGERT: Thank you, and again, I’m sorry the under secretary couldn’t make it this morning. He’d been travelling last week and things started shifting around the end of the week, so I apologize for that.

The last – since the last meeting, I think, kind of working in the office in the office of the Under Secretary has been a very interesting time, because it’s been kind of a restructuring period. And we wrote a little bit about this in our report but I think one of the interesting things that’s come out of this restructuring is not just a movement of bureaus and offices but kind of a rethinking of how we’re doing business. And that’s exactly I think what the Secretary was driving at through the QDDR.

One of the things that’s come out of this is kind of a rethinking on how this group can kind of do business and who we should be working with and what actors we should be talking to. And if I were a public diplomacy person I’d say the new line is collaboration over confrontation or collaboration, not confrontation. And I think that’s exactly where we’re going to kind of take this group and drive it to.

So if the Under Secretary were here he would talk a lot about kind of 21st century challenges and the idea that it’s impossible for government or the private sector to basically do business, to do their jobs, without kind of grassroots information coming out through various channels. And that information has been important and is just growing in importance as the complexity of the issues we’re facing in a 21st century change. And so I think we’re – he’s been thinking a lot about how you do this, and then looking at this group as the perfect vehicle to have this conversation.

So on Thursday we’re going to have a meeting with a group of NGOs to talk about this and what we’re really kind of driving at is best practices that we can basically kind of shop around to folks to think about how you work to get your information into government in an effective way to make change happen, or how you work with the private sector to get that information in to make those changes. And the one example I think is a great example, we’re going to look to develop a whole lot more than what we put into this is the FedEx example. And so we’re going to be looking for lots of kind of connections there that we can be driving. So we’re having a meeting on Thursday and then the Under Secretary’s travelling to California in early February and we’re looking to have a meeting there on the margins of a U.S.-sponsored event on Rio+20, so we’re looking at that as another opportunity to engage.

So I think this group in particular has been looking at a number of different issues and I think through this kind of shift in the office we’ve kind of got some clarity on where we want to go and I’m really excited about kind of digging into this. So --

MR. TILLEMANN: Excellent. Well, I know that the new constellation of issues within the purview of Under Secretary Hormats office provides a very rich terrain for collaboration, and I hope that with Jennifer’s help and the work of many of the other participants, you’ll be able to develop some great recommendations for us going forward.

All right. Well, thank you all for those excellent reports. We’re very grateful and we now have the opportunity to turn to some of the concrete recommendations that have been sent forward for consideration. By way of just a process note, our hope is that after our review today and a discussion within this group, the recommendations that are deemed worthy of the Secretary’s attention will be forwarded to the Secretary, and then we’ll do that in very short order. But we wanted to first bring them up for discussion in the context of this committee, and I’d like, if possible, to start with Bill and Chris if you could tell us a little bit about the recommendations that have been put forward by your working group and civil society’s feelings on these topics.

MR. VENDLEY: Thank you very much. The recommendation, which was already presented by Ambassador Susan Johnson Cook, was dealing with equipping, educating, and equipping relevant parts of U.S. Government, State or essentially, in terms of the religious and multi-religious capacities, potentials for partnership. Like when we realized that behind that very simple recommendation, there’s actually a lot of unpacking.

We recognize State has come to the position to want those partnerships, we wouldn’t be in this dialogue, but there’s been an effort to understand what the rationale is. Contrarily, the religious communities have been building their case: Why are they interested in engaging in partnership with State? We shouldn’t simply, naively presume that. That has to be disciplined. There are shared principles. Our discussions here talked about U.S. Gov policy values language as the more natural language, in when you’re dealing with very diverse partners, religions, and so forth.

So we’ve moved to try to sort that out, understand common principles, push them to the next level of, how would, in fact, the religious communities engage State very concretely? There are very diverse departments represented here, how would that happen? And then very importantly on both the government side and on the religious communities side, where are the natural points of insertion? Where would we naturally engage? Already in State where are the points to engage? But let’s go through that exercise with the religious communities as well.

So housed in that recommendation are education is actually a process and we’re going to reiterate that with further concrete recommendations as we go down the path.

MR. TILLEMANN: Let me ask, if I can, one introductory question. I know that a lot of hard work by Suzan Johnson Cook’s office and others in DRL, a course was recently launched at our Foreign Service institute to discuss issues of religion and engagement with the religious communities. I recognize it’s a good step in the right direction but it also may be necessary and not sufficient. Was there any discussion with the working group of that course and if and how it should serve as a platform for expanding this recommendation?

MR. DUBOIS: I can jump in here. I’ve had the pleasure of actually attending the course a few times, and speaking on behalf of previous Religion and Global Affairs working group, and the overwhelming impression is one of pent up demand there. They are often subscribed. There is a desire for more. And the diversity of folks that are attending the course from around – folks who have interest around the globe is – was pretty surprising to me. And so that’s – I think there – we should also note that USAID has also built out their training capacity in this space as well. So I think it provides a really good platform on which to build.

MODERATOR: That’s encouraging. Please Chris.

MR. SEIPLE: Thank you and I just agree with what Bill and Josh have said. We’ve all spoken at the course and that’s a tangible organizing principle to move forward and build out from this one recommendation that’s we’ve submitted today. But I did want to ask you a three part question and I’ll make it quick, and we don’t have to have full answers today, but just about the process because we’re getting a lot of questions from our civil society members and I’m excited to learn about this; I think this is phenomenal.

But how does it work? Once we submit the recommendation I heard you say earlier that it would be debated or wikied on here, then you also said we’re going to take a vote to see what goes to the Secretary. So that’s one question. What happens once we put it into the pipeline? The second is, whatever the pipeline is that gets it to the Secretary, is there a feedback group where we understand where we understand that she’s reviewed it. We’re not all expecting her to agree with everything we’ve said, but what is the process through which we know that she’s looked at it and she’s decided to ignore it or take out elements, or – I think that’s helpful to encourage participation to keep coming back to the table. And then the last part is: What is success for this group?

Whatever happens in November, Secretary Clinton, according to the press, is not going to be here, and part of the many – one of the reasons that I’m participating is that this is so important, so vital, so nonpartisan, how does this transcend into the next administration; whether it’s a reelected administration or it’s a new one, it’s irrelevant. We’re establishing patterns of how top down and bottom up work together, government and grassroots, track 1.5, what is it that makes this continue forward? And those are the kinds of questions that we’re getting that would be helpful to hear some sort of strategic guidance here or through an email that we can say where we’re participating, why we continue – we want to you to continue to come back to the three other meetings for the rest of the year before December 2012.

MR. TILLEMANN: Those are great questions. Let me try to address them all briefly and hopefully others around the table can add as well. First, in terms of process, once we review the recommendation and formally submit it to this committee in the context of this meeting, we’ll prepare and action memo for Secretary Clinton. That’s a memo that goes to her with a little box at the end and it says either, yes, take this action or, no, don’t take this action, or sometimes there’s a third option of wait for a little while and see what plays out. The benefit of an action memo is that she will check one of those boxes and so one way or another we will know what the outcome is on these recommendations. So we have very concrete tangible feedback in that sense.

Second, as it relates to how the recommendations are developed, the process that we’ve established within the context of this committee is that in advance of these meetings which will take place quarterly, working groups have the option of submitting formal recommendations to the committee for discussion around this table. And in some instances we may feel compelled to take a vote, and in some instances I hope we’ll just be able to do things by consensus, but we will forward the recommendations that come out of this committee unless there are strong feelings against forwarding a recommendation from one of the working groups. Those are the recommendations that will go up to the Secretary.

In the meantime, in the months between these meetings, we have the option of putting recommendations on the online platform. So if your working group, for example as your sub-groups meet this week, develop some new ideas that you think might merit a discussion, we can put those on the online platform in advance of these meetings and have a good discussion in advance of these meetings, hopefully amplify them and get them to a point where there’s broad buy-in and consensus. And then by the time we sit down here, we’ll all be on the same page and ready to move forward.

Your final question is perhaps the most important, and that’s where do we go from here? We recognize, Secretary Clinton recognizes, I think I would dare say, that this recognition transcends party, that we’re in a very pivotal stage in the development of the relationship between states and citizens. And as a result of changes in culture and the advent of the range of new technological tools, individuals are able to come together around common objectives and take common action with greater speed than they’ve ever been able to in the past and with greater impact. And so there is, I think, broad recognition that the State Department, as the interest of our government that’s responsible for foreign policy, needs to adapt to those changes, and this dialogue is the mechanism that Secretary Clinton has adopted to start trying – and we discussed this at some length at the QDDR where she spoke about this dialogue – where we need to start developing new architecture to sustain our engagement with civil society.

The QDDR, as its name would imply, is designed to give direction for the next four years, and that’s irrespective of what administration is in power or who the Secretary of State will be. So hopefully, while we have put an end on this formal dialogue, we hope that by next year around this time, we’ll be able to do some wrap-up work and bring things to a conclusion as it relates to the activities of the individual working groups. This is an effort that obviously needs to be sustained over the long term, and I think there’s a good chance, if we are productive, that the dialogue will be reinstated once again and that we will launch it hopefully with many of the same working groups, possibly with some new working groups added. And that, of course, is a decision that will be left for a future date. But I think it’s incumbent on all of us to demonstrate the utility of this initiative and prove that we can turn out some real solid results. If we do that, I’m confident, based on the backing we have with the QDDR, that there will be momentum for carrying this type of initiative forward in the future.

All right. Well, thank you very much. Is there anything else that your working group would like to put forward?


PARTICIPANT: I just – I don’t want the moment to pass without suggesting that if you don’t have the recommendations from our meeting in May, I suggest you look at them, because I think the moment is now with the religious aspects. And I say this from two points – having worked on refugee and missions in this country and the contributions of what I call organized religion in that process, but more importantly, the more – the most recent things that we have been working with the Secretary on, which is women, peace, and security. I had a – we had a long discussion with Ambassador Cook and the role of her office vis-à-vis the whole issue of conflict. Again, looking at the MENA area, looking at the issue of women, I just looked at the recommendations – the 13 recommendations that came out of the main meeting; three of them deal with religious leaders. So I would just suggest that these are things I’m sort of bringing to your attention, because I think we need your thoughts here, how to –

MR. TILLEMANN: Isabelle (ph), I was just going to ask you – can you go through those three recommendations quickly and just share them with the group?

PARTICIPANT: Okay. If you don’t have the recommendations, I’m happy – the second one, it says, “Provide training to current and potential female candidates on basic campaigning networking advocacy.” It says, “Teach them how to engage religious leaders, men, and other nontraditional actors in open dialogue about women’s rights. Provide ongoing training for elected female officials.” The other one is, “Provide training to civil society organizations on networking advocacy and watchdog skills.” Some of these are obviously repetitive, but again, how to engage religious leaders. This is the time that I think civil society must come together if we’re ever going to go into the 22nd century. The other one that talks about this issue, train women on how to engage men, boys, and religious leaders in the fight against gender-based violence. This is a particularly big issue. It’s a big issue in Afghanistan. We are working on these issues, but it’s time for us to think of different paradigms because the old ones aren’t working. So that’s – I’m happy to talk – I don’t want to take more time, but I’m happy to talk with any of you afterwards. Thank you.

MR. TILLEMANN: That’s very helpful. And I think as Chris, I know, has mentioned in the past, the density of religious communities, particularly in North Africa and parts of the Middle East, make them a critical element of civil society, and in some instances, one of the only elements of civil society in these countries, and they clearly will play a vital role on all of these issues.

Let me open things up now and ask if there are any further comments or questions related to the recommendations that have been put forward by the Working Group on Religion and Foreign Policy.

All right. I would suggest that we advance the recommendations that have been put forward by your working group to the Secretary unless there are feelings to the contrary, which of course people are very welcome to voice at this point. We can move forward on that. Let’s then turn, if there are no further topics on that front, to Barbara and Cathy for a discussion of the recommendations that we’ve put forward by the Working Group on Labor Issues.

MS. SHAILOR: Thank you again. We have three recommendations and really, as we both – Cathy and I look at it, I think we have five, but we’ll split them into very specific recommendations. But the first and the most significant is that this G-20 process, which has been going on since the beginning of the Obama Administration in terms of engaging labor and business, is very important to be formalized, institutionalized, and in many ways, it already has. It’s occurred in Pittsburgh, in London, and most recently in France, and it’s been very successful. I would note again that the recommendations that are made for this dialogue between working people and business people came as a business labor recommendation. So I think everyone understands when you have both a business and labor recommendation, this has to be a very positive development. And it’s not that the president of the country hosting the G-20 just has these side meetings with business and labor; there is an entire process of making early recommendations into the process leading up to the G-20, and I think this has proved a very important dialogue and has made substantial changes, actually, in the outcomes of these declarations.

So the first recommendation is to formalize this and to have the State Department support the formalization of this ongoing dialogue. It will already occur in Mexico, so we’re supporting something that is – that has a lot of support. So that’s very positive. And that we take the language out of the declaration. Again, this business labor government sense of where the global economy is going, and we allow it to help inform much of the work that we do in the State Department around economic statecraft, that the Secretary has made several speeches recently. They are excellent speeches that talk about the need to create jobs in our own country and around the world. I think those statements and the ones she will make in the next few months could be well informed by, again, this consensus around these issues.

I’m going to let Cathy speak, obviously, to these two recommendations as well, but particularly much of the work that we look forward to doing where we’re supporting south-south engagement, which is a sort of codeword for saying organizations that have real expertise creating jobs in situations that are different than in the industrialized questions or addressing informal work or precarious work. So Cathy has done a great deal of work around this and has played a major contribution in our conference calls and in our meetings.

So Cathy, please.

MS. FEINGOLD: Great. Thank you very much, Barbara. Yes, I would just emphasize on the G-20 piece, not only did we – were we able to meet with 14 heads of state, but also in France they were able to create a task force on employment and social protection. So that really represents another step forward for us in addressing jobs at the upcoming G-20 meeting. And so we see that as a really important step forward with working with the business community to really get at this job crisis. In terms of south-south cooperation, I think this echoes a little bit of what the Secretary’s already focusing on, the Pathway to Prosperity program, understanding that we need to look at other regions to perhaps address some of our own challenges.

The labor movement is working very closely with the AFL-CIO and others with the Brazilian labor movement – specifically in the upcoming G-20 meeting, getting the Brazilian labor movement to work with the Mexican labor movement, to bring them up to speed on policy issues. So we know that there’s a lot going on in Mexico, including elections, and including some other challenges surrounding security issues. And so we think that a labor movement like the Brazilian labor movement that is very advanced in policy analysis and discussions, they’re the best position to train their counterparts in Mexico, so we’ll be supporting that initiative. Likewise, in issues in Haiti around employment issues, we’re working with the Brazilian labor movement. Obviously, Brazil has a profile in peacekeeping and they would like a broader profile of working on labor and good job creation in Haiti. So those are some concrete examples of how this supports south-south cooperation.

And then I just wanted to add a piece that Barbara already discussed, which is precarious work. The more we talk about jobs, we hear from our counterparts around the world this is really a crisis on top of the crisis. And we’re not just talking about informal economy, the very – the street vendors, we’re talking about jobs that used to be formal. So the mine workers that used to know exactly who they worked for, who was their employer, who could they negotiate a contract with, well, they no longer are clear who they work for, because it becomes a shell game. We call it distancing – who is your real employer?

So grappling with both informal economy issues where you’re sort of outside regulation, the labor laws, but also jobs that were formerly formal and are now precarious with the distancing of the employment relationship, which makes it hard for workers to get a better share of wages. And I would just emphasize the need for coordination, would welcome the opportunity to work with the Global Women’s Department on the Middle East, especially the labor movement supporting an Arab women’s network that was recently launched on International Women’s Day, I believe, last year, so I’d love – maybe perhaps we could organize a joint committee meeting and sort of brainstorm. Obviously, jobs continue to be a huge issue in the region, and women’s rights also. So really look forward to working with everyone on these issues. Thank you.

MR. TILLEMANN: Thank you. Those are very interesting recommendations. And if I can, let me ask a little bit on the recommendation for south-south cooperation. You mentioned that there is the prospect of training back and forth between Brazil and Mexico. Is this something that has occurred in the past and has the Solidarity Center or the AFL-CIO worked to facilitate this type of south-south engagement previously or is this a new field that we are entering now for the first time?

MS. FEINGOLD: We have tried to do this. But I think now we’re positioned in a different way because the Brazilian labor movement is really taking under Dilma and under Lula more of a center stage. So it’s an idea that we have supported in the past, obviously, but now with the Brazilians in a new sort of – everyone’s focusing on Brazil and, as a model, they offer some alternatives around social inclusion and policy analysis. It’s really sort of in a new phase for us. So we’re working much more closely with (inaudible) of Brazil.

MODERATOR: Thank you.


MS. SHAILOR: And I would add to what Cathy has said – and Ambassador Verveer and Anita know this very well – the Secretary has long worked with SEWA, the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India, and we have funded through a variety of different mechanisms, programs where SEWA has the opportunity to work with southern sister organizations and so both, as looking forward, as U.S. Government responsibility in funding and creating these opportunities, I think that we will increase that in our final recommendation, which is really a request of the Secretary.

We anticipate that the Secretary will go to the Rio+20, and because of the intersection of the issues that which Cathy has mentioned and come from the working group, we would very much like to put a meeting together on the margins of that with women’s organizations, with making also the economic argument and, as you all know, Rio+20 is very focused on jobs and the environment, and both these issues intersect.

So on jobs that’s clear; on the environment, it’s green jobs and there are these remarkable models. For example, waste pickers who actually then can formalize their work as official waste pickers, clean up the environment, and we could just have a, I think, a very substantial engagement with the Secretary. And given the significance of that meeting and there are many women presidents in Latin America, I think we would make that a very strong recommendation and would hope that you would support it.

MR. TILLEMANN: Barbara, let me, if I can, just Jennifer to comment on this issue, because I think it is a critical intersection – sustainability and employment. Obviously, employment and labor issues have been at the center of so much of the global debate, but that I think has to be balanced in every instance against the desire for sustainable economic growth, and Jennifer has tremendous insight on that subject.

MS. HAVERKAMP: I don’t know about that, I think you have insight in reading my mind because I was going to ask you a question about this anyway. In the recommendation it talks about not only interactions between trade unions and different countries, but also between trade unions and civil society. And in the United States we have this really quite successful example of the blue-green alliance, where the environmental groups and labor groups work together. And so I’m wondering whether, and I guess sort of recommending that your work between trade unions and civil society in the south also explore the cooperation between the environmental groups and the labor unions, because it’s so important to eliminate the false argument that those are issues in competition. I’m delighted to hear that you’re looking at Rio+20 as an opportunity to advance that.

MR. TILLEMANN: Thank you. I think that’s a very good recommendation. Let me open things up and ask also if there are any others who would like to comment on these issues.

Please, Anita.

MS. BOTTI: I can’t let this moment pass either. We have – the United States – the Secretary had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Brazil and one of the issues that we’re currently looking at and the – now I know to add you to one thing – are issues affecting the green economy among women. So we will be coming to you. Something else – I think that on the issue with Brazil there’s a lot that we’re doing also on Rio+20 around women and labor. So we’re delighted to work with you.

MR. TILLEMANN: Thank you very much, Anita. Let me also ask if there are other who can’t let this moment pass and would like to weigh in before we finalize a decision on these recommendations.

AMBASSADOR JOHNSON COOK: It’s just that we’re meeting tomorrow, so our subgroup will have other recommendations, but we look forward to as much cross-politicization as possible and working with both groups as well. So, just wanted to note that.

MODERATOR: Excellent. Thank you very much. All right. Well, if that is the case, these seem like very well-founded recommendations and I would suggest that we package them together with the others from the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and submit them to the Secretary, unless there are any feelings to the contrary. Then we will move on that as well.

We also have the opportunity, of course, in the context of these meetings to consider public comment. At the moment, I think we have skated by and are without any tough questions from those who are participating online, so we will be able to move forward. Let me note a few other items before we conclude, and we can have just a brief discussion of some of these points.

We are hoping to have an anniversary event to mark the launch of this dialogue and that will be taking place next month, and details on that will be forthcoming. I know that the Secretary has been interested in this, and we’re trying to balance a number of different scheduling demands, but we will certainly be sharing information with all of you as we get more details on that.

We also wanted to note that the next meeting of this committee will take place in mid-April and we’ll be, of course, circulating information well in advance of that gathering. But to the extent that all of your working groups can keep that timeline in mind as they work to develop recommendations that would be very helpful and we can ensure that they are forwarded to the Secretary in a timely manner.

And finally, Dara will work with all of you to ensure that you have login information for the online platform. Again, we are very excited of the potential it has to facilitate cooperation both within groups and across groups and we hope that it will be a real asset for all of (ends in progress).

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.