Date: October 24, 2012, from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.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 May 16, 2012. The objective of this meeting was to discuss the recommendations of the five working groups proposed to the committee.
Agenda items: (1) Welcome, (2) Presentations of Forth Reports by Working Group Chairs, (3) General Discussion and Debate, (4) Public Comment, (5) Closing Remarks (6) Adjournment.
Tomicah Tillemann: Well, thank you very much. We have a couple of colleagues who are filtering in. We welcome them warmly. A few more will join us throughout the day. It is, as everyone knows, a very busy season here at the State Department and in Washington. We are particularly glad that a number of civil society representatives from different regions will also be joining us. And some of them will be here in person, and others are joining us virtually at about 40 of our embassies that are participating. We want to extend a warm welcome to them as well. I have often thought that the theme song for all Federal Advisory Committees should be an old Elvis tune that may be familiar to many of you called, “A little less conversation a little more action please” and fortunately in the case of this Advisory Committee we are living up to that.
We have had a remarkable flurry of good activity coming out of the various working groups and I’d like to take just a moment to highlight a few of those developments before moving to reports from each of your working groups. Perhaps most significantly, many of you will remember a recommendation that initially emerged from this meeting to create mission-based working groups that would replicate the activities of the Dialogue at our embassies and consulates around the world. And to date, I am happy to report that we have received more than 40 of these concept papers from embassies in every region of the world that have seized on this initiative and are moving forward on a wide range of topics, many of which are related to the work that you are pursuing in your individual groups. Beyond that, several have already met and developed recommendations, some of which we will be discussing later.
And finally, I wanted to note, and, again, we will be having a slightly expanded discussion on this further in the program that in close partnership with our Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs we have created a special visitors program that is allowing embassies that have created civil society working groups to nominate a representative from those working groups who will be coming to the United States visiting not only Washington, but Silicon Valley, and Charlottesville where we have a new Innovation Cluster focused on Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, and meeting with a number of very senior officials both in the government and the private sector to receive training in the use of new technologies and open up a variety of new tools for them that we hope will be helpful in their work to expand civil society and strengthen civil society in their countries.
But many of your working groups of course have also been extremely active. The Religion and Foreign Policy Working group which has presented us with a very formidable report that we look forward to discussing today has also made headway on several prior recommendations. Today, I am happy to report, the Office of the Legal Advisor at the Department will, at long last, be issuing new guidance on how officials within the Department can engage on foreign policy under the Establishment Clause with religious organizations. This is something that, of course, our colleagues in civil society have been asking for, for a long time and it is a very significant development in that regard. We have also seen requests, as many of you will remember, for additional training for Foreign Service officers on how to engage with religious communities. I know that the Office of International and Religious Freedom and DRL have been working closely with our Foreign Service Institute on expanding program offerings in that area. And earlier this month, the first of four dedicated policy seminars at the Foreign Service Institute met on this subject in response to the requests that we’ve heard from civil society.
Moving on to our labor working group we’ve heard that our department of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor has designated $350,000 for south-south trilateral cooperation on informal sector issues. This was a key recommendation that emerged from the labor working group earlier.
Our women’s working group has been exceptionally active. Our embassies in Tunisia and Libya have mobilized against efforts to roll back constitutional rights for women in one of those cases and then around voter registration issues in the other. And our Bureau of International Information Programs has agreed to launch a new public affairs campaign highlighting the importance of women’s equality in countries that are going through transitions.
And then the final working group activity that I wanted to highlight comes out of our newest entry, the Global Philanthropy Working Group represented by Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine and Special Representative Kris Balderston, and this group has had two recent meetings, one with Secretary Clinton on the margins of the Clinton Global Initiative, and the other more recently at the State Department, and together with our colleagues at Treasury and the IRS has announced a series of new changes in tax laws that have been heralded by our colleagues in civil society as, and I will quote now ‘arguably the most significant reform on the global grant-making regulatory front in two decades’. These new rules will make it dramatically easier and cheaper for foundations in the United States to provide grants to civil society groups. So again, coming back to our Elvis theme song, we are seeing not only talk but significant action emerging from this Committee. We want to thank you for all of that, and all of your efforts, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from each of the working groups over the course of today’s program. With that, let me begin the process of turning things over to our representatives from the various working groups, many of whom I know have been hard at work on reports and recommendations, and I’ll begin with the Religion and Foreign Policy working group and Under Secretary Maria Otero, I turn to you.
Maria Otero: Thank you very much, Tomicah, and I don’t know if this means we have to dance to Elvis or just listen to the music but hopefully we don’t have to do that. I do want to thank and acknowledge the working group co-chairs that I have: Ambassador Johnson-Cook, who we have worked with, and Joshua Dubois who I think is not here, but also of course our civil society colleagues who have been very instrumental in the work that we are doing. Chris Seiple and Bill Vendley who are really an integral part of the work and have allowed us to accomplish a great deal in the time that we have been working together. There are two bureaus from the J family- DRL and CSO that have really worked together obviously DRL through the Religious Freedom Office that the ambassador leads. I think as you know, the Secretary launched the Religion and Foreign Policy working group and this is really the first time that the State Department purposely sought to institutionalize the engagement with religious actors and to advance our shared foreign policy goals. And there are some concrete outcomes that have been put in place and let me just address a couple of them even though Tomicah already mentioned them. But this idea of institutionalizing, this has allowed us to put in practice our own fundamental belief that working with civil society leaders and faith-based work really enhances our own ability to get deeper analysis, to engage more deeply, and to develop more concrete steps towards working in this area of Religion and Foreign Policy and of course it allows us to foster stronger partnerships. So from our perspective this active and enduring engagement that we are beginning to put in place and that really has worked very well is allowing us to promote religious tolerance better, it is allowing us to address issues that have to do with mitigating violent conflict, and of course fostering international development, so I simply wanted to affirm the importance of being able to work with civil society so closely. We have accomplished some discrete recommendations and put them in place. Tomicah mentioned them. The first one being more training courses that are being offered on religious freedom and religious engagement for State Department officials, and those are already launched, already moving forward. And they do come out a bit of the QDDR, which, given folks in the room, I don’t think I have to spell out and tell you what it means. But I think from that perspective it has been really very important. We’re going to be continuing those in 2013 in order to be able to carry those events of training as we move forward with the Foreign Service Institute. We’re also in other activities bringing together participants from universities, Faith-based NGOs, from the Department, and others, to be able to discuss issues related to this topic of religion and security. So I think that this is going to be an important piece that will continue, that’s already been in place. The second one that you referred to which is addressing the establishment clause of the First Amendment. And it is very important because it does speak to the role that our diplomats can play in engaging with religious communities and carrying out religious activities with faith-based organizations overseas. The guidance that you have referred to is very important because it allows our diplomats and our consular officers to be able to understand the legal parameters within which you can operate and it also allows you, through this guidance, to do away some of the misconceptions that existed, and to increase our own knowledge of how outreach through religious organization can be carried out. So this was approved, and I think we’re very pleased that that’s the case. That’s one very concrete area that will allow us to work together, and I want to recognize our colleagues from SP for being involved and doing all of this. There are some new recommendations coming up and I think Bill and Chris will be able to address this and move forward. Let me just point out to a third outcome of our partnership and the work that we have done that I think is important to highlight because part of our objective is to be able to project the message to a much wider audience and to the international community as such. And perhaps the best example of this was a panel discussion that we co-hosted on the margins of UNGA on the Strategic Partnership between governments and faith-based organizations. And I mention this even though there were so many panels and events at UNGA, that this was particularly interesting, not only because it allowed me, in the keynote address, to focus on these issues and to be able to call other countries to also engage this way, but I think more importantly that it allowed the Secretary General of the OIC to stand on that podium and to make some very important statements about the issues related to how they see themselves and how they are looking for new partners in peace and security matters certainly with the focus on promoting the role of religious actors and interfaith initiatives including the initiative led by women. This is very significant. You know that these events took place right on the heels of Benghazi so to have that presentation in a standing room only room was one way that demonstrated why this issue was so important. We’re going to continue doing this work, we have two upcoming events coming up, the Forum for the Future in December, and the 9th World Assembly of Religion and Peace and so just to close I would say that we have accomplished a good bit this last year. I think some of us are surprised when that actually happens and it moves forward and clearly as I said the protests and the violence that we saw in the Middle East and North Africa highlight the really urgent need for us to increase understanding of the religious dynamics and for us to really do a call to action on how we can engage and partner on these issues and the importance, of course, that we stand firm against violence, not, obviously, just the State Department but also obviously civil society addressing this issue. So, in this time of transition to democracies and all the tumult, I think, was the word that was used, that was seen, this is one very important issue and I think it’s important to continue this strong work and let me just ask Bill and Chris to proceed and do the rest of the reporting. Thank you.
William Vendley: Madam Under Secretary, thank you very, very much for your continued engagement as we’ve gone through this entire year and for your brilliant presentation at the high level UNGA site events, thank you very much. Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook and Ambassador Melanne, an old friend that I’m happy to meet here, Dr. Tomicah, our chair, and other colleagues on the federal advisory committee, and all the people here, colleagues here. Chris and I are pleased to report half of what we call the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. The entire working group, over a hundred leaders of faith-based groups including some very distinguished non-American members of this, achieved a consensus expressed in the white paper you have received. This white paper, and its recommendations, is from civil society, but Chris and I and all members of the Working Group present them, present them wanting to acknowledge with appreciation the catalytic stimulus of working with so many talented members of the State Department. I switch the Elvis metaphor to a somewhat more literary one: white papers are not a form of poetry, not overly renowned for luminous prose, but we dare to hope that with the appropriate literary restraint, that this white paper will not be deemed as fiction. It has a single aim: how to further facilitate principal effective engagement between the State Department and ultimately USG at large with faith-based civil society. Our recommendations are organized into four groups, four baskets, and I’ll report on two of them and Chris, the other two. We will very sharply abbreviate, aware that you all have the full white paper. One preliminary comment is necessary, and only one: the first of the four groups of recommendations goes beyond the mandate we have received from the State Department while the other three deal very directly with the State Department and are addressed to the State Department. We make the first group of recommendations informally encouraged by the State Department’s own willingness to view the challenges of religious engagement with the wide-angle lens of the USG as well as the sharper lens of the State Department proper. Naturally, we’re convinced that both roles for State are absolutely vital. First, then the basket of recommendations that go beyond the State Department: quoting, “We urge that a national capacity be created to guide on this issue, religious engagement, and we advise that such a mechanism be created to design a national strategy for religious engagement, interface with various USG agencies and civil society organizations at home and abroad, coordinate a real time “reach-back,” jargon for standing resource, for immediate and long-term engagement for issues facing the USG, direct the development of awareness, training, and education classes, so, taking this recommendation beyond the State Department, steward relationships worldwide with key religious leaders, ensuring sustained dialogue and the possibility of mutual insight, develop and oversee the vetting process for USG-wide consideration of advisory partners on religious-related issues.” So much for that first basket, very much going beyond the actual mandate that we received. The second basket, directed very expressly to the State Department: we urge that the State Department develop products for the improved engagement with religion. We call for these key products to be developed collaboratively. They include, you’ve already reported Madam Under Secretary, guidelines for civil society complying with the Establishment Clause, improved training modules containing a religious engagement competency among the core competencies for foreign and civil service. A review of opportunities for improved engagement with women religious figures, so, Ambassador Melanne, this was central in our concern on the religion side; creation of international fora to bring together governments and faith-based civil society, again underscoring the report of the Undersecretary; importantly, a review of counterterrorism requirements including the partner vetting system to better satisfy security requirements without weakening the effectiveness of faith-based, voluntary organizations in relief, development, and conflict mitigation; strategies and tools for engaging religious leaders and communities in conflict mitigation and a compiling of best practices and lessons learned on engagement of religious groups in foreign policy. So, colleagues, thank you for your attention to this first half of a brief report; let me turn to my colleague, Dr. Chris Seiple (?), to complete our report and make a concluding remark. Chris.
Tomicah Tillemann: And if I could interject just briefly, Bill and Chris, I can listen to you guys all day very happily but unfortunately, we are somewhat time-constrained so if it’s possible to abbreviate it that way, that would be wonderful.
Chris Seiple: Absolutely. Well, welcome and thank you. We have two final recommendations. One is to… that the State Department should institutionalize a mechanism or mechanisms through which the engagement with religious communities worldwide takes place. The white papers out some characteristics of what that office might do. The second recommendation is that we continue the work, not because we want to act in the classic self-perpetuating, Washingtonian fashion, but in the absence of anything else, there needs to be a space where people can come together and have these conversations, especially as the recommendations that we have made in the first three baskets are considered. So we think this has to continue. And, I think our greatest accomplishment is that we’ve learned to kind of get along and talk to each other. I’ve joked about this before, but if you’ve seen the first Star Wars movie in the bar scene, the cantina, we have every political and theological stripe in the same room and we’re not fighting each other. And there’s a tremendous amount of goodwill and judgment, and concern about the future; we need to continue that especially as we steward some of these recommendations that go forward. The last thing I would say is this in terms of a conclusion, and the Undersecretary referenced Benghazi, these times need a place to have this kinds of conversations. The bottom line is that 80% of the world believes in something greater than themselves and 75% of the world’s population is experiencing high or very high restrictions on their capacity to practice freedom of conscience and freedom of belief. You can’t ignore this, and we have to find a way to institutionalize our discussions and then our recommendations to move forward. Thank you.
Tomicah Tillemann: Thank you very much. These are formidable recommendations, I think we can all agree on that, and I’m sure we’ll have a lively debate. Let me ask Ambassador Johnson-Cook if you have anything that you’d like to add.
Suzan Johnson-Cook: Just that it was a joy to work with Under Secretaries Otero and Joshua Du Bois, my co-chairs, and certainly Bill and Chris, have been absolutely wonderful to work with. I think it’s timely, and I thank the Secretary and you for the opportunity, and I just think that we’ve made an impact and I hope that we institutionalize it.
Tomicah Tillemann: Fantastic, thank you very much. Let me can, if I can, for our next report, jump out of order a little bit. Assistant Secretary Posner is with us and we’re always glad to see him, but I know that his time is very limited so Mike, if you are willing and ready, we will turn to you next.
Michael Posner: Thanks very much, Tomicah, I am pleased to be here. I just want to report on a couple things we’ve done which were very positive in the last several months. The first was a meeting in Tunis organized with Assistant Secretary Brimmer around World Press Freedom Day, and we had a very good dialogue with a number of influential journalists and bloggers from a range of Middle East – North African countries. And I think this scenario where, this doesn’t really fall clearly in any one place in the State Department’s world but the relationship between free expression and civil society is a really important one, and I think we’ve recognized that we can do a lot by, not only by relating to journalists as a way to disseminate our own information but thinking about the environment in which they operate and so this meeting in Tunis in May was very much tied to the efforts of UNESCO and World Press Freedom Day to look at the state of journalism, the state of expression including both old media and new media and to begin to think about ways that we can develop those networks. And then in June, Judy Heumann, who is the special advisor on international disability rights helped organize a very interesting gathering, around the African Union meetings and in particular around a plan of action for what the African Union is calling a Decade of Persons with Disabilities and again brought together a range of activists in the disability community from around Africa to talk about how to begin to build a kind of concrete action plan in conjunction with the African Union. Many of these people went back to their home countries and maintained or established contacts with our embassies there, so we’ve really begun to, again, think about this as a different segment where, again, traditionally we haven’t done enough but where there are natural allies that will need and will benefit from a convening that we can do. I’ll just mention a third thing, we were in Burma last week and, as part of a human rights dialogue, had two days of meetings in Rangoon with a whole range of civil society activists including human rights activists, former prisoners who are now engaged on prison reform issues, religious activists, some of the political opposition parties and members of various ethnic groups as well as kind of good government people. So we really ran the gamut of it, also media people. So that was a good example, I think, of using a kind of broader dialogue to make sure that there’s a civil society component. Last comment: we are in the process and working with Melanne with a whole range of things relating to Afghanistan and we are hoping to, in the context of the framework that was set out in Tokyo, to engage civil society organizations in Afghanistan in late November, early December. And this is a follow up to meetings that happened in Bonn and in Tokyo. But clearly there is a need not only to bring these groups out for international meetings but to really encourage the same process to take hold and for there to be kind of a neutral convening within Afghanistan, we’ve got our work cut out for us but I think that there is a real desire on the part of civil society there to have us play a role in kind of convening a discussion that has otherwise been quite difficult. So those are a couple things on our agenda.
Tomicah Tillemann: Thank you very much, those comments were marvelous. Please.
Tad Stahnke: Thanks Tomicah and Mike. I just want to underscore what was said about Afghanistan and the capacity of NGOs there to be able to monitor and to advocate will be a tremendously important legacy for the United States and that’s across the board with a variety of human rights issues including the legacy of US-led detention in that country. And if, you know, high level involvement in the type of engagement that Mike is talking about, we think is tremendously important, and I think that touches on almost every single one of the working groups here.
Tomicah Tillemann: That’s an excellent point and I know that Mike and Tom Melia and many others at DRL are very active on these issues and certainly provides us with good fodder for discussion. Mike.
Michael Posner: Tomicah, this is just a sort of a broader comment and not specific to the particular things that we’ve been doing, I’ve raised this before, but we are, I would say, continuing to face ever greater restrictions on civil society’s ability to operate, and I don’t want to dwell on the point but if you look at events in the last several months in places as diverse as Russia, a range of Middle East countries, it is really now, maybe it is too much to say, reached epidemic proportions, but it’s certainly widespread and governments seem to be learning bad habits from one another, so I think it affects, in effect, everything we’re doing, that we need to not only recognize the challenges but we also need to be thinking about what US government can be doing to challenge this because it’s a pretty frontal assault, it’s often tied to a kind of criticism, implicit or oftenly explicit, that this is part of a US agenda to kind of destabilize governments, the rhetoric coming out of Russia is sort of classic in that regard and I think we need to be thinking in a broader sense than these five or six groups of what’s the appropriate role for the United States government to be responsive to that. Because it’s not going away, clearly, and I think it will affect every aspect of what we’re doing.
Tomicah Tillemann: That’s an excellent point, I think you’re absolutely correct that authoritarian governments are getting better and better at learning from each other and frankly, I don’t know if democracies have done a comparable job of learning from each other in terms of how to push back against these trends and how to ensure that the best practices are propagated more widely. That obviously could be the topic of many meetings of its own and has been and will be, but it’s something for all of us to keep in mind as we decide how to move forward and particularly, later in this conversation, I hope that we can incorporate these thoughts and concerns into our discussions of how to work with our embassy-based working groups. Many of which, frankly, are operating in countries where these issues are at the forefront of the agenda that we’re encountering, so thank you very much, Mike. Are there any further points on the democracy and human rights working group? Alright, in that case, let us turn quickly if we can just by way of overview to our labor working group, but I will also specify that our labor representatives have been very hard at work in the field, no pun intended: they are laboring diligently. I don’t know, I know that Barbara Shailor is not here. Karen were you going to be able to… Marvelous.
Karen Hanrahan: [Inaudible]. Is this better? Marginally? Well, first of all this was my first time at the labor dialogue and I am excited to see… I mean, not the labor dialogue, the Civil Society Dialogue, I am excited to see what it’s turned into. I was very much a part of the QDDR effort and we discussed this idea so it’s great to see this coming to fruition. The labor working group’s report was circulated about two weeks ago so I won’t report the details, reiterate the details in that, I’d like to just say a few words about the experience, our experience with the labor working group overall. First of all, the DRL labor office, the DRL overall has found this mechanism to be incredibly useful and we are grateful that there was a specific labor working group under the civil society dialogue process. It’s allowed us to generate very diverse views and input and to feed, to feed input on labor and inclusive growth issues directly to the Secretary. So it’s been a very helpful mechanism for us. In particular, we know we have many partners and this has provided a structured mechanism that allowed us to engage with both long-time partners as well as to generate, generate some new partners. I hope for some of these partners, it’s been useful that we’ve tried to introduce them to embassies and to other officials in the department. That’s been a big priority of the labor working group, to actually increase direct engagement with civil societies with government both here and on the ground throughout the world. We’ve been able to integrate our labor working partners into our everyday work. For example, we invited Marty Chen to present her work on informal-sector workers and we brought the ILO’s executive director for employment in for a roundtable. The impact of this that this has had on internal thinking on economic growth is notable. Our biggest event, no doubt, was the youth employment dialogue in Geneva in June. This was a great opportunity for the young people at the conference as well as for us as government officials and other members of the working group to hear young people about labor issues, about youth unemployment. Overall, there’s more room for progress in the Labor Working Group. There’s more room for us to make it a useful tool for us as the government and for civil society. As the dialogue continues, which I hope it will, we’d like to remain active. More importantly, we’d like to find ways to increase its usefulness to the members. We can come forward as a working group with specific recommendations on it. One thing we’d like to see is ways to make communication more regular, for our group that’s been a challenge, perhaps SACSED a more active secretariat. We’d like to do more work to implement the three recommendations that were approved by the Secretary in May. As Tomicah mentioned, we’ve already secured $350,000 to implement the South-South dialogue recommendation. But we’ve got a lot more progress to make particularly on integrating issues of labor worker rights into our discussions in the department and on the ground on economic growth. To expand that concept and to make inclusive economic growth more clear in its definition and more of a reality for people on the ground. So, just to conclude, again, I know you’ve asked us to make this short, I just want to confirm that the working group has been very useful for us. The partners and others engaged in that group have provided invaluable input we’ve used in our everyday work. So as we move forward, we’d just like to make it even better.
Tomicah Tillemann: So thank you very much, Karen. For those who don’t know, though I expect that most who were working at the State Department at the time do, Karen was best described as the midwife of the QDDR and so to see this … yes, yes… and to see the dialogue now growing up a little bit, we owe you a lot of credit.
Karen Hanrahan: I’m not sure … I’m waiting for the fruit and vegetables to fly at me right now, so I hope you all benefitted from the QDDR.
Tomicah Tillemann: Let me also note that Cathy Feingold was going to be joining us via phone and at the last minute, technical difficulties unfortunately prevented her from doing so. But we of course very much value her participation and civil society participation in the work of the labor group. Let me then, if there are no further comments on the labor group, turn to our global philanthropy working group and Under Secretary Sonenshine and Special Representative Balderston. We praised you before your arrival, Tara, and are delighted you’re here.
Tara Sonenshine: Well, I’m delighted that Kris and I have the opportunity to co-chair this new working group which came about in April or May and we kicked it off with your help very soon after with a conference call with about 50 foundations, and I think we were about a little unsure about how the foundations would feel given the culture that they have of being involved with this and we were amazed to discover that they were quite eager. I think it was helped that we had a deliverable soon after when the Secretary came to New York at CGI when we were able to announce the equivalence determination rules that Tomicah had worked so hard with Treasury, so that was… that created an enabling environment for us to follow up which we did recently with a meeting with foundation heads and I would say the main thrust of what we’re doing is really helping to create a culture of giving in local, indigenous ways where foundations can get from us a sense of the political landscape and the embassy landscape and the local cultural landscapes so that they can be more efficient at what they do and we can use our convening power to get them talking to one another in the room, which is bridging impacts. So, I’ll let Kris say more about it, but we see real potential here to help map the nexus between charitable giving and civil society and to see where we can ease the process for them and where we can leverage their work on the ground toward the civil society goals and objectives that we’re all working towards, so I’ll let Kris …
Kris Balderston: Thank you, thank you Tara, it’s been great co-chairing with you and thank you, Tomicah. Just quickly, just listening to everyone around the room, it’s amazing how … the practical side of what we’re all doing, and our office, the Global Partnership Initiative, was set up to use the Secretary’s power to convene people together and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of bringing foundations and the business sector and the private sector and government and others and a wide array of initiatives and thanks the whole of government approach too. I’m just sitting here thinking over the last few days of how… you know, practical examples. One area we should all take a look at is diaspora, the power of the diaspora. There is not a single day that does not go by here that you don’t see the power of the 62 million first and second generation Americans that could have an impact; they should be a pillar of American foreign policy. And we’re trying to do that through a couple things that we’re doing. You know, Tara, we had this great meeting on wildlife trafficking two days ago, you know, this brutal killing that’s going on around the world and listening to the religious groups, recommended by many of the NGOs to start bringing religious groups in. I just mention this because it .. the power of cross-sectoral communications. I always find it funny to sit in these rooms and look at these translating booths. We’ve done a great job of translating between languages at the State Department for 200 years but now in the new environment we are in, it’s got to be translating across religious, civil society, foundations, and others, so we’re really excited about your effort and … want to continue to find … I think it’s important to find very practical ways … I think nothing succeeds like success and as we approach to the next phase of this, we have to keep pushing along the Elvis song here. But thank you.
Tomicah Tillemann: Thank you very much, Kris. Kris’s office has really been kind of a case study in how we bring together these various elements of our societies in order to deliver real results and real actions, so it’s great to have you with us as a member of the committee and we’re thrilled to have the philanthropy working group off to such a phenomenal start in its efforts. Let me then, if there are no further questions on the global philanthropy working group before we push ahead, see I know we have our governance and accountability working group and I’m sorry, Bill, you’ve been incredibly patient. We appreciate your tolerance as we’ve moved around the schedule around a little bit. We look very forward to you representing Undersecretary Hormats.
William Heidt: Thank you very much, Tomicah. My name is Bill Heidt, I’ve been, for the past six months, Under Secretary Hormats’ chief of staff, and prior to that, I was out in Poland, Warsaw, Poland, was our deputy chief of mission. And that, of course, is a country with an extraordinarily rich civil society tradition, both back in the Solidarity era but also today. We were able to leverage that use it effectively on a lot of initiatives including several things Tomicah came out and did, a dialogue we did with the Polish government and civil society on how to promote democratization and then of course now, really, even more intensively working with the Polish government and civil society on women’s issues. Melanne, you have played a critical leadership issue on that, on that issue out there on our … and an extraordinarily well-known person yourself out there. So, I give that as way of background since this is my first meeting and also because it’s been very interesting for me now to see this from a headquarters perspective. As I was reviewing material for this meeting, I could see that our initial work was really focused on the classic governance and accountability issues like regulatory transparency, budget transparency; those issues are, of course, so important for developing countries in their development processes and as well, of course, for our commercial success overseas for American companies. And as the QDDR has been implemented over the past year, though, the issues we’re working on have shifted to a significant degree. We’re now working on, in the working group, we’re working on resource transparency issues, and I would include in that the wildlife trafficking issue that just came up. We… the group met three times over the summer with Under Secretary Hormats, in June, July, and again in August. And we focused those meetings on the corruption and illicit trade in wildlife and wildlife products and we also expanded the working group, because obviously these were new topics, to include members from the World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International Traffic, and other conservation and wildlife focused NGOs. And as we dialogued with the groups over the summer, we focused on learning about their activities, gathering information on the drivers of supply and demand, this is in the issue of wildlife again in specific countries. Working in some of the most detailed ideas in how we could more effectively collaborate and then addressing some joint efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and related corruption. And now, this, of course, Secretary Clinton’s trip to Africa gave this all a huge push, because she learned first-hand that the issues of wildlife trade have more, from what used to be, sort of, what’s nice, soft conservation issues and they’re morphing into very hard and decisive security, governance issues for some of these countries. The amount of firepower that wildlife … that poachers and traffickers are bringing into the wildlife trade issues… is growing, its undermining, in some cases, even the very political stability of countries which aren’t all that stable to begin with, frankly. It just really rocketed up our list of priorities and it’s an issue where we had this preexisting dialogue with civil society that’s been enormously helpful in plotting a way forward. In any event, in our meetings over the summer when they suggested that we focus on three or four pillars, political will and diplomatic engagement that is to elevate the profile of wildlife trafficking to mobilize more support, on public diplomacy and outreach such as the things the Under Secretary did this week, training in technology, identifying resources available for programmatic programs including enforcement efforts to combat corruption and illicit trafficking networks, as well as, of course, the issue of innovative technologies, and then on building our existing partnerships to strengthening our global counter-trafficking actions. So now, we will take input from the working group to inform our positions in both APEC and leading up into the East Asia Summit in November, a month from now. We’re also planning to do a major event here in Washington with the Secretary of State to draw public attention and to start pushing forward diplomatic engagement on trafficking and we’re also bringing that work out into the field. And right now, in our office, we’re organizing sessions for Under Secretary Hormats to meet with NGOs both in Russia and in China to talk about these issues on his forthcoming trips out there. I know that, as you may know, neither of those countries are that easy of places to work with civil society, but we’re gonna do it anyhow. I return back to my opening comment where … it’s really… I’ve been surprised at how effectively and how we’re able to use these processes that we’ve set up through this group and the processes on the edge of the group to really … for the benefit of both our partners and to inform our foreign policy strategy on this issue. So, if it’s alright with you, Tomicah, I will just leave it right there.
Tomicah Tillemann: Well, thank you very much, Bill, and I think particularly going to your last point, even in countries that have a difficult operating environment for civil society, we’ve seen now over the course of many decades how civil society groups working on conservation issues often play a critical role in opening up a space for a broader range of civil society organizations. So it’s very encouraging to hear that you’re going to be engaging in Russia and China on these topics. It’s certainly worth the effort. I think all of us know that at this State Department, as a Department under Secretary Clinton’s leadership, all foreign policy issues and all roads eventually lead through women’s issues and so it, perhaps, is appropriate for our grand finale Melanne Verveer, Alyse Nelson, and Marianne Ibrahim. We’re delighted, especially Marianne, to have you with us today from Egypt, to report on the activities of the women’s working group. Melanne, we’ll turn things over to you.
Melanne Verveer: Thank you, Tomicah, and it is good to see the fruits of your labors here, to be with my government colleagues and particularly to be with Vital Voices and to Marianne who has done extraordinary work in Egypt that we’re going to get a chance to hear about. But given the extraordinary changes that are occurring in the MENA region and the importance of civil society both in terms of hopeful democratic governance, economic opportunity, women’s progress, and human rights generally, we held our third convening in the region in June. Earlier convenings focused more on the post-revolutionary countries. We did significant roundtables with many participants from those countries. We had about 25 participants from ten countries at our convening in June. It not only provided the civil society activists an opportunity to come together at a critical time; given what was happening from Tunisia to Yemen and every place in between, and at a time when everybody stated how significant women’s participation had been in the countries that were going through their revolutionary changes as well as the antennas that have been raised, if you will, in other places. This was a point driven home over and over and many of us, many of them talked about what one of the Yemeni activists summed up as saying, “The women woke up and they’re not about to go back to sleep.” And I think that’s pretty much what’s been in evidence, and I’m sure that Marianne has her own stories to tell about that. But through this critical transformation that they, in many ways, were key partners in making possible, we’ve also seen tremendous pushback in many of the countries, and that pushback will be at the peril of future democratic and economic progress in those countries. Several years ago, the Arab Development Report very pointedly said that many of the countries in the region are at the bottom in terms of progress because women were not participating economically, politically, or even being educated significantly. And with all of this new drive, if the pushback succeeds, often because the religion of these people is being hijacked for purposes that are certainly not values that all the adherents subscribe to; it will be to the detriment of the potential that is there. The June convening also served to be a springboard, if you will, for the BMENA meetings that are in process and will culminate as the undersecretary said in December, at the forum in the future. So, many of the women’s civil society participants who came to the June roundtable also participated in a BMENA, Morocco, prep meeting to put together an agenda, country by country, about what they thought needed to be a focus of the BMENA process as well. Just very quickly, some of the major things that have been repeatedly recommended is the need to form some kind of Arab women’s network where there can be coordination of best practices happening across borders, where political divisions and they way that they are overcome can be addressed to advance women’s rights. The women know that they have much to learn from each other, they have been asking for these opportunities, and particularly for opportunities to build their capacity both for political participation, more effective participation, and for reform strategies that would work in the religious and cultural contexts in which they find themselves in the region. The religious piece is so important, and, hearing what has come before already in these presentations, this is something that the women have raised over and over in all of our discussions. They’ve also asked if opportunities can be presented to bring constitutional scholars together both from the regions but also to give it an emphasis so that it’s just not regionally-focused but from some others who have been active in the democratic processes over the years, former Soviet Union, democratic efforts to revamp constitutions so that they can have better ideas and avenues to know best how to go forward, and again, this is a very critical area. Tunisia just agreed to chisel women’s rights in its constitution but that’s in the preliminary process, and there are huge challenges in Egypt and in other places in terms of the constitution. And they have urged that we, in our own efforts, diplomatic, economic, and regional engagements in our exchange programs to continue to have gender parity in the exchanges and to significant raise these issues in all of the discussions which we engage in an integrated way. We have been able to work very closely with the Dutch, who have provided and announced a recent key commitment in terms of resources focused on post-transition MENA region which they announced at Equal Futures, and they were present in all of these discussions and has been part of a collaboration beyond government and civil society that has included other governments. And lastly, let me just say that in addition to the political transformations that are going place in this region, we’ve also focused on post-conflict societies that are not exactly where they need to be and where they would like to see themselves. And so, just last month, we’re in Sarajevo where we worked very closely with our embassy there to convene women from across the ethnic groups, from across the country, from across sectors, to have a discussion, very pragmatic, very constructive, concrete, on ways that they can move from the stuck place in many ways where they are, focused on the upcoming elections next year, on greater political participation, on economic opportunity and domestic violence, which is a very huge issue that continues to affect that society significantly. So, there is much to do: these challenges are very great, as Mike said, there is a lot of pushback on civil society and particularly for women active in civil society. In many places, it has been particularly difficult, and given the extraordinary leadership role they’ve been playing in the MENA region.
Alyse Nelson: Thank you, Ambassador Verveer. I can assure you that your experience in Poland is actually a global phenomenon. I actually just returned from Asia and I felt as though I was following Melanne around the world. I don’t know how she has gotten to so many countries and left an imprint of her great work. I actually wanted to use my time today with Tomicah’s great permission to talk to you a little bit about a partnership, a very successful partnership between the State Department and Vital Voices to really empower the voices of women in the Middle East, particularly women in civil society. So, here with us is Marianne Ibrahim: she is a strong advocate in civil society and also in interfaith dialogue and she is a member of a project that Vital Voices launched with the State Department just eight days after the fall of the former president of Egypt. And she has been a great advocate, a number of women across ten different countries across the region have been involved in a number of advocacy campaigns. They’re coming to a close now, and we’ve just finished a report. But I wanted Maryanne to be here to talk in particular about the work that she’s done through this campaign supported by the State Department to ensure that women’s voices were heard as Egypt establishes its new constitution. So, Marianne.
Marianne Ibrahim: Thank you Alyse, and I would like to apologize first that some terms and expressions might not be as accurate as possible. I am trying with the English here so, excuse me. When we started this project with Vital Voices, this partnership in Egypt, all the Egypt team, we had high hopes about our next constitution, about women participation in political and social life in the country, and we wanted to get women’s voices in the new constitution and that’s what we’re working hard on during our campaign, and with the political conflict started in the country, things have turned not to be as we hoped. During the 18 days of the glorious revolution we went through, women have been, shoulder by shoulder next to men on the battlefield. We lost our lives: many women were hurt, and we were actually at the forefront. But suddenly, after the revolution, after the battles were done, the common cause were done, we were suddenly set aside, and actually pushed aside, by all the political powers in the country. And when we started our project, we discovered that although 54% of Egypt population are women, we have only eight members in the former Parliament that was dissolved recently. Four of them belonged to the Muslim Brothers and two of them were appointed by SCAF, which leaves only two women who actually went through a fair election process. The committee that is writing our constitution at the moment, it’s 100 members and have only six women, one of them actually withdrew a week ago opposing the articles concerning women, so we are in a trying time in Egypt; we are writing a constitution for the future but we found ourselves going back to some basic rights that we already achieved, this is the context that we started our project with. We wanted to hear what women has to say, and we went to villages to talk to women about what do they want in the new constitution and what was amazing, even to me personally and I live in Egypt, I’ve been living in Egypt for 32 years, is that women in the villages didn’t talk about security, they didn’t talk about food, they didn’t talk about political stability, but they talked about women representation and these women told us and told our researchers that they want to see a female prime minister one day in Egypt, and that thought that this is empowering to them, this sort of empowerment that they need. The whole region at the moment in going through a wave of conservatism, and as much as this… it’s very difficult for womens and for women’s rights in the region. It gives us hope because we are standing out at the moment, we are starting to fight collectively, through even regional networks, because of course, by nature, are the first to be affected by this wave of conservatism and of course religious minorities of which I happen to belong to both, so its double the trouble in Egypt to be a Copt and a woman. We started talking to women in the villages asking them, asking them what do they want in the new constitution, and we lobbied at the first committee, which was dissolved, and we lobbied with the next committee, and we managed to get to a number of liberal members of the committee and we got to a hearing. We managed through media campaigns and networking with other local organizations to push for equality articles in the draft. We made some success in keeping the sexual violence crimes, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep the human trafficking article and other equality articles in the draft. Although we hoped even to change the language of the constitution, to make it even more women-friendly. What is to be stressed here, and it is very important, is that the regional network of women which are very important, which I thank Vital Voices of introducing this to the concept, introducing us to this concept of networking which is now very important, because the whole region is going through this wave with different levels, and when I hear success stories of women in other Arab countries, I feel empowered. And even women in my country, when they saw women in top positions, they feel empowered by turn. I don’t want to go, I could go for hours, but I want to stress very quick points is that you are, as government officials, and you hold meetings with our government officials, please always ask about the women, ask our Egyptian government officials where are your women? Where are your representation of women in the government? Ask them to respect international agreements they sign on, like the CEDAW for example, because this is something that they want to drop in the new constitution. And please follow the example of Vital Voices supporting the work done by women, not only targeting women. So we are including men in our activities all the time, but the work is done by women, this is very empowering. Finally, supporting NGOs, we are emerging country, we are building everything from scratch, we suffered for decades with the former regime, and of course our NGOs are not at their best shape, but they need all the help they can, and they must be included in all strategic planning between the governments. When you meet with our government, ask the civil society organizations to be a partner because they have a lot to say and they have been excluded from all policymaking campaigns, policymaking, decision-making, we have been excluded from the decision-making process in our country. And always support freedom of speech, freedom of religion, because this is very important, and finally, have the relationship with the people, not with the government. Mubarak was strategic ally of the US, but we ousted him, so I think that the lesson that, the lesson that we all should learn is that the relationships between people last more than the governments. Thank you.
Tomicah Tillemann: Well thank you, very much, Marianne. [Applause] I think your remarks are not only a reminder to all of us of the importance of our efforts to engage civil society within the context of this dialogue but, more broadly, a reminder of the importance of engagement with civil society and governments worldwide. And I think you’ve provided segue in our remaining 15 minutes to hopefully speak briefly about some of the specific recommendations we’ve heard but also about how we can ensure that the civil society engagement work that is going on at our embassies receives the support that it needs in order to be successful. As I mentioned previously, we have many of our embassies around the world that are establishing consultative bodies for work with civil society under the umbrella of this dialogue. But we want to ensure that their efforts, like these efforts here, translate that talk into action, and that we see policy and that we see programs emerge from that engagement. And I would be very interested to hear not only from our governmental representatives but also from our civil society representatives about how we can move that forward and particularly, perhaps, in the context of some of the very far-reaching recommendations that we’ve received from the religion and foreign policy working group on how we can bring these various strands together. Please, Chris.
Chris Seiple: Just to start, thank you Marianne; you are why we are here and what we do. But connecting your example with the earlier suggestions of what is it that, what are the cross-cutting, practical projects that bring us together, especially into the future, so that we can steward what we’ve done in this year that is ending right now. A phrase comes to mind, and I borrow from two things. One, the phrase is this: “The female face of faith in peace and security,” and is there a concept that we can build around that where, through these working groups, that we address that and bring it together. It seems to me that every single working group and many practical things could be brought together under that. Marianne here is from Catholic University has coined this phrase, “female face of faith,” but “peace and security” comes from the national action plan for women which does not mention faith and religion. We’ve got to bring these worlds together and that’s the most practical; if you want to do development in this world, you educate the girl child to a fifth-grade level of literacy and everything changes, and then all these things get addressed. That’s the way that we can do this and that’s the way, a way that we can bring some of our working groups together in the future into 2013.
Tomicah Tillemann: That’s a great point. Any other thoughts on this issue? Please, Ambassador.
Suzan Johnson Cook: I was just saying those are the recurring things, “female face of faith,” making sure faith leaders are at the table, but also making sure indigenous women are at the table and it’s not just American women.
Tomicah Tillemann: Bill, please.
William Vendley: Very concretely, Under Secretary Otero mentioned the Forum for the Future and that the Religions for Peace World Assembly to take place in Marrakesh, Morocco, as potential venues for multi-governmental, faith-based, informal forum exchange. For us, women of faith is a very significant subset of women, it’s a huge subset of women, and so we would be very keen that the work that you’ve been advancing, that we would find space. And typically what we do is that we convene a women of faith pre-assembly so that women from all over the world as active peacemakers, in the very broad sense of that term, are able to share experiences and then mainstream their work into the center of the larger global assembly, into its leadership and so forth. So this might be a chance, Marianne, for you and your colleagues not only in Egypt; we’re going to be in the MENA region, but then, and we want the MENA region to co-host this event in Morocco. So let’s talk about very concrete ways in which the best of the work, not only in Egypt, but across the region, the MENA region, could be mainstreamed in this broader discussion.
Melanne Verveer: You know Bill, I think that’s a really good idea. I cannot tell you the number of discussions that come up where the women don’t say, with great upset, how their religion which they profess, hold dearly, has been taken from them, hijacked, and used, misappropriated, in a way that is unrecognizable and I think that it’s not just the women with the women: what really has to happen is the male religious leadership, we’ve seen this when imams in their Friday services in Afghanistan say that there is no place for the oppression of women in Qur’anic values. That’s where the change comes because those voices are such validating voices and we’ve just got to do a better job there.
Tomicah Tillemann: Let me turn to Lauren Baer who has been at the absolute center of all of these issues on the Secretary’s Policy Planning staff and also as a critical support and co-chair, vice chair of the advisory committee. Lauren.
Lauren Baer: Thank you Tomicah for that kind introduction and first of all, I want to say thank you Marianne for traveling all this way and speaking to us. As others have mentioned, this is really the reason why we’re running this dialogue and to all of the working group chairs who have presented, I have had the great pleasure of working closely with most of these working groups over the course of the last 18 months and it has really been wonderful to watch these groups mature and develop and to see tangible actions and new polices come out of them. Something we’re raising today, which has actually been raised at each of the three prior meetings is the notion of working together across working group lines because the issues that we’re addressing here are really cross-sectoral. I would just like to put in a word for encouraging us, going forward in the next several months, to make good on that rhetoric every time we reference it, but we haven’t been so good at actually initiating events that are co-sponsored by more than one working group. I think that there are a lot of wonderful ideas here and I’d love to see more cross-fertilization between the existing working groups with the new working group on global philanthropy and also with the new mission-based working groups which were on our agenda but we didn’t get a chance to talk about in depth. I would urge you all to look through the concept papers that have been submitted by our post. We have about ten reports in the packet here but in recent weeks we have received concept papers from over 20 additional posts who are looking to stand up working groups at the embassy level. I think this is a real strategic opportunity for all of you to work with folks on the ground who are going at great lengths to convene civil society actors across ethnic lines, across religious lines, across gender lines, across rural and urban divides, so our great hope is that these groups do not operate in isolation but instead work in conjunction with these Washington-based working groups. Ambassador Verveer, your working group has really been a model for one that has reached outside of the United States and held convenings elsewhere, so I would encourage others to do that going forward and when you travel around the world, to think about where these mission-based working groups exist and how you can fold them into your work because we’ve come a long way but I think there’s a lot to be done in terms of combining our efforts to increase the effectiveness of what we’re doing overall.
Melanne Verveer: Tomicah, could I just say that the point Lauren made about our missions. When we did the strategic dialogue working group meeting in Sarajevo, it was working really closely with the post and what it meant to them to be part of this strategic dialogue cannot be overstated. It took this discussion and raised it to a level that they didn’t think they could approach, and I think that could happen more and more throughout our missions where they feel they’re part of something much bigger than something that’s happening within the country because all of the resources around this table are much more significant.
Tomicah Tillemann: Sarajevo is certainly one of the posts that was participating but I think that Marianne’s comments today are a reminder for all of us that many of the best ideas related to the issues we are pursuing are going to come from those in the field who are struggling with these issues every day. And unless we can tap in to that knowledge and that tremendous reservoir of energy, we’re not going to be able to realize the full potential of these efforts. I think that there is a serious logistical challenge for all of us, and we should be upfront about this, about how we channel the input from many of the embassies around the world into these conversations. As we come together on a periodic basis for 90 minutes, we need to figure out how we can address the challenges of many different posts on many different issues. But hopefully some of the cross-sectoral collaboration that Lauren was referencing and that was alluded to previously and maybe the meeting that you will hold in Marrakesh and subsequently in Tunisia can be something of a case study for all of us in how to bring together not only the constituencies concerned about religious outreach and women’s issues but our philanthropic partners who are committed to supporting activities in those areas, and there are quite a few of them, and also our partners who are concerned about democracy and human rights issues and unemployment. So maybe we can work toward those events as a goal and hopefully see some, some good cross-pollination, as Lauren was mentioning, come from that. Let me ask quickly if there are any final comments and unfortunately, as is always the case with these meetings, we have far more substance than we have time for discussion, but I have a few closing thoughts, but I wanted to make sure that there were no, no final comments.
Suzan Johnson Cook: Tomicah, just the FSI courses are also an avenue, a venue for spreading this, and they, I’ve been able to present and they are thrilling, they’re standing room only, as a way from government-side that we can also continue to build on. And just the fact that you have three ambassadors who are faith leaders as well, that helps to bridge a lot of the gap. The African Union, Doctor Battle, Ambassador Battle, and Ambassador Diaz to the Holy See, and myself, and so you have faith leaders who are also government and that helps a lot.
Tomicah Tillemann: Well, let me, if I can, make just a few points in conclusion. First, going back to Chris’s point on the female face of faith. We have a series of web-chats that we are going to be initiating that will bring together our civil society leaders and our governmental leaders who have been working within the various groups on these issues, for conversations with civil society representatives from around the world and leaders at our embassies from around the world. The first of these will take place on October 30th at 9AM and we are delighted that Ambassador Johnson Cook is going to be participating in that and I believe you are as well, Bill, if I’m not mistaken, and the title for that web-chat is, of course, the “female face of faith” which I think is a great point of departure from our conversation today. We’re looking forward to a close partnership with our bureau of international information programs ensuring that each working group has access to this platform over the next several months. The second point that I wanted to make is that after careful consideration, we are inclined, based on the recommendations we have heard from many of you, move forward with the renewal of the charter for the Secretary’s strategic dialogue with Civil Society. This is a federally-chartered initiative, our charter will expire in the early months of 2013, and it’s our feeling at this point that, based on the results we have seen thus far, there is merit in renewing that charter. Before we finalize that decision, I wanted to open it up for discussion but again, based on what we’ve heard, it’s our hope that regardless of who is running the State Department in future years that this is an initiative that will be of utility to them. Finally, I wanted to conclude by mentioning the December visit of civil society leaders from our embassy posts who will be coming to Washington and are very interested in meeting with many of you. Augusta Babson, who is here with us today from our Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and who previously served with our office, is organizing that program and I wanted to first put everyone on notice that you’ll likely be hearing from our colleagues in ECA to arrange times that those civil society leaders will meet with you. We hope that you can ensure that your door is open to them but beyond that, if you have ideas or recommendations on how we can leverage that visit, which is a very unique opportunity, in order to take advantage of some of the opportunities that we’ve discussed today, we’d be very interested in hearing those. Finally, there are a host of recommendations that were put forward to the committee in the various reports that we received, but we haven’t had time to fully review each of those in the context of today’s discussion. We would, at least, like to open the door for broader comment and evaluation. What we would like to do as a result is to initiate, what we sometimes refer to in diplomacy as a silence procedure in which we will re-circulate the recommendations pulled out of various reports to all of you in coming days and then provide a period, I would suggest two weeks, but we can go longer or shorter if there are strong feelings one way or another, for the participants in the committee to review those recommendations and provide any suggestions. Obviously, our hope is that we’ll be able to move forward with adoption of those recommendations and move them to the Secretary for her consideration. Are there any thoughts on that process before we move forward? Please, Bill.
William Vendley: Very small one. We can all do the homework beginning now, we have all the papers, and therefore I would suggest, given the Secretary’s tenure, that the window be shorter rather than longer so that the Secretary has a chance to receive these and contemplate them.
Tomicah Tillemann: Excellent. So shall we say ten days from the time that the recommendations are circulated? One week? Bill drives a hard bargain. But if there are no objections, we can go for one week and we will move forward with that. Well, let me just conclude with a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville, the great student of American democracy, who said that in a democratic society, the knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other sources of knowledge. And I think today we have seen a great example of how we can bring together expertise and concerns from across different sectors, from government, from civil society, and hopefully merge them into something that is significantly greater than the sum of its parts. I’d like specifically to thank Marianne for your excellent comments that I think have instilled in each of us a greater appreciation for the magnitude of the issues that our partners in civil society are dealing with around the world, and I hope that we can go forward from this meeting with a renewed commitment to address those challenges. So, with that, let me conclude what I know is the most exciting 90 minutes in broadcast diplomacy, at least since the last presidential debate. We will look forward to seeing you all at a future meeting.