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The 9th annual G8-BMENA Forum for the Future in Tunis

February 24, 2013

The U.S. Embassy in Muscat congratulates the representatives from Oman as well as governments and delegates from the entire region, on the extraordinary work they undertook during the 9th annual G8-BMENA Forum for the Future in Tunis, co-chaired by the United States and Tunisia. We call on the region’s leaders to fulfill agreed upon objectives through constructive dialogue with their citizens and the participation of all. And we urge members of civil society and the private sector to look for ways to collaborate with governments to find solutions for shared challenges and to hold their governments accountable for implementing the commitments made.

First, governments at the Forum agreed to support civil society – groups of active citizens who voluntarily come together to advance a common cause outside the boundaries of government institutions. Civil society helps aggregate and amplify citizens’ voices in political processes, advocates for their needs, and supports the marketplace of ideas that can bring solutions to bear on current challenges.

Second, governments committed to promote inclusive economic growth that can provide the region’s citizens, particularly women and youth, opportunities for better futures. Governments agreed at the Forum on the need to improve the climate for entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises through a fair and efficient regulatory environment; greater transparency, integrity, and accountability in public institutions; rule of law; collaboration between government, civil society, and the private sector in economic decision-making, and specific policies to promote economic inclusion.

Third, governments agreed to advance opportunities and equality for women with a view to achieving their full political, social, and economic empowerment. Governments acknowledged the need to address gender-based discrimination and violence, early forced marriage, low rates of women’s political and economic participation, and barriers to access to education. As Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns urged at the Forum: “all in this room [must] do much more to bring women into positions of leadership because no democracy and no economy can succeed in the twenty-first century with half its population held back.”

We believe the yearning for freedom, dignity and opportunity truly are universal. And we are committed to a vision of constructive cooperation—between nations, and between governments, the private sector and citizens –built on mutual respect and our shared stake in delivering a better future for our children. At the Forum, Deputy Secretary Burns challenged all participants to engage: “All of us – at this Forum and beyond—will have to help the people of this region find not just stability, but sustainable democracy, sustainable prosperity and sustainable security and peace.” The Forum Declaration provides a useful reform roadmap to achieve this important goal.