Parallel to the “G8 Forum for the Future” and focuses on Reform in the Arab WorldYemen participates in Civil Society conference in Morocco [Archives:2004/795/Front Page]

December 2 2004

Yemen will be participating on the 8th and 9th of December 2004 in the civil meeting parallel to the “G8 Forum for the Future” to be held in Rabat, Morocco and to be organized by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in cooperation with the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.
The event will be attended by 60 participants including representatives of civil societies from Yemen, actors from 14 other Arab states, 9 international organizations and representatives of 4 Asian and European NGOs. It is sponsored by the World Bank and the European Commission.
The “Forum for the Future” was launched last June upon an initiative by the latest G8 Summit as periodical meeting on the ministerial level to coordinate dialogue between the countries of the G8 and the broader Middle East adding to the Arab states: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey. Such dialogue tackles political, economic, social and educational reform. The Forum held a preliminary meeting in New York last September with the participation of a selected host of Arab and Middle Eastern representatives. The first official meeting will be held in Morocco on 10th and 11th December 2004.
The parallel meeting aims at launching a new mechanism for proceeding with the process of reform and enhancing human rights in the region. This is alongside other mechanism in which the civil society plays an activating role e.g. the mechanisms of the United Nations and the Euro-Mediterranean and African partnership. The civil society should play an effective role in such a mechanism in order to render it the most effective as possible. Priority on the agenda of the forum would be given to the issues of political reform and human rights. Moreover, it allows a chance for dialogue with the Arab governments, the majority of which reject dialogue with the civil society locally or on the regional level within the framework of the Arab League.

The conference of the civil society underlines the lessons learnt from other region resembling the Arab world regarding reform. The year 2004 will be evaluated regarding the best and worst practices on the track of reform and the means enhance the role of the civil society and the international community in enhancing reform and human rights in the Arab world. The recommendations of the conference will be presented to the first official meeting of the Forum for the Future.

It is noteworthy that this conference complements the series of conferences held by the civil society institutions on reform over the year. The most distinguished of which was the First Civil Forum. The Forum was organized by the CIHRS in Beirut in March 19-22 2004, in cooperation with the Association for Defending Rights and Freedoms (ADL) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organization (Rights) and in coordination with the EMHRN and the FIDH with the participation of 87 participants representing 52 NGOs from 13 Arab states in addition to 13 observers from 10 countries. The Forum issued the “Second Independence” initiative including the recommendations of the civil society in a number of important issues regarding reform. Besides, there was a conference held in Cairo July 5-7, 2004 organized by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and the Al Siyassa Al Dawlia Journal. It was attended by 100 participants from 15 Arab states and concluded a document entitled: “Priorities and Mechanisms of Reform in the Arab World”. Both documents in addition to a third one issued by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network last June on the occasion of the EU-US summit. Such are the documents upon which the Rabat conference is prepared so that it would be a continuation of the strenuous efforts of the civil society on the issue of reform.

Worth-mentioning is that the Beirut Conference held in March 2004 was held parallel to the Arab summit and sent its recommendations to the Arab kings and presidents and the Secretariat of the Arab League. Attached to the said documents was a request to present the recommendations to the Tunis Summit meeting and to involve the civil society representatives as observers. However, it was not approved. Furthermore, Tunisia had rejected hosting the Civil Forum. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies is yet to receive the reply of the Algerian government regarding a request sent months ago to allow holding a meeting parallel to the forthcoming Arab summit in Algeria March 2005. Moreover, the by-laws of the Arab League do not allow the participation of non-governmental organizations in its meetings unless the governments concerned approve the application – a unique procedure in the Arab world.
Source: Yemen Times & Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies