As the second US-Tunisia Strategic Dialogue got underway in Tunis, senior U.S. and Tunisian government officials met on November 12th with representatives of Tunisian civil society in a dialogue hosted by the NGO Search for Common Ground.
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski and USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of the Middle East, Paige Alexander, chaired the event along with the Tunisian Minister for Employment and Vocational Training Zied Ladhari. Representatives from 28 Tunisian civil society organizations representing a wide spectrum of viewpoints from across the country participated in the event.
The event, which took place a day before high level meetings that Secretary of State Kerry joined, was an opportunity for Tunisian civil society representatives and government officials to exchange views on a wide range of political, security, and economic issues, including strengthening Parliament, combatting terrorism while protecting human rights, fighting corruption, and implementing economic reforms. Civil society representatives presented government officials with recommendations on topics to be discussed in the U.S.-Tunisia Strategic Dialogue. The event was a first-of-its-kind for the Middle East region and is indicative of Tunisia’s strong civil society and the government’s commitment to inclusive dialogue.
In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski observed, “Tunisia’s civil society has been the glue holding the country together since the revolution of 2011, helping to ensure that legitimate political differences are resolved through dialogue and the democratic process. It’s important that we hear from the Tunisians who are building democracy from the bottom up before our governments sit down together to chart a course ahead.”