Civil society symposium wraps up [Archives:2006/961/Local News]

July 3 2006

SANA'A, July 3 ) The symposium on Civil Society, Citizenship and Local Governance concluded Monday in Sana'a city. Jean Lambert, head of the French Center for Archeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS), described how the participants hope to establish an effective dialog, focused on objective discussion. He also said that the symposium was an essential step towards improvements at a national level.

Felix Eikenberg, Resident Representative of Friedreich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Sana'a Office, was concerned that the meanings of the terms “civil society” and “citizenship” are not clear to those working in civil society fields. He noted that the FES is however used to dealing with this terminology, having worked with civil society institutions as a social and political NGO.

In the opening session, the Minister of Human Rights Khadija Al-Haisami stressed the importance of civil society in Yemen and pointed out that its structure had gone through several phases. Al Haisami explained that the institutions of civil society came about during several historical phases, and that their existence was strengthened by the reunification of 1990.

Meanwhile, the French Ambassador to Yemen Alain Moureau affirmed Yemen is an exception and has peculiarities in its civil society.

Twenty experts from Europe and other Arab States participated in the Symposium titled “Civil Society, Citizenship and Local Governance in Yemen”, organized by the CEFAS, in coordination with FES, Sana'a Office, and the Al-Afif Cultural Foundation. It ran for three days starting from July 1. During each of the five sessions, participants tackled issues related to the Yemeni civil society, including factors from the country's long and short term history, such as the central state and local powers; civil society and political expressions. During the fifth and final session, the discussion focused on the internal difficulties and external constraints faced by the civil society of Yemen today.