For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 9, 2004
G-8 Plan of Support for Reform
We welcome the desire and commitment to continue reform and modernization expressed by leaders in the region. Through consultation and dialogue with leaders and peoples in the region, and in response to reform priorities identified by the region, including by the Arab League, we have developed an initial plan of support for reform. The initiatives herein offer a broad range of opportunities from which governments, business, and civil society in the region can draw support as they choose. This will be a dynamic process based on mutual respect. It builds on our already strong bilateral and collective engagement with the region and is intended to expand and evolve over time. Today, in the spirit of partnership and in support of reform efforts in the region, we commit to:
1.1 Establish together with our partners a Forum for the Future to:
The inaugural meeting of the Forum for the Future will be held in the fall of 2004.
1.2 Launch a microfinance initiative to expand sustainable microfinance in the region and increase financing opportunities for the region's small entrepreneurs, especially women, including by:
Jordan has offered to host the Best Practices Microfinance Training Center, and Yemen has offered to host the first microfinance pilot program.
1.3 Enhance support for efforts in the region, including through the appropriate multilateral institutions, to impart literacy skills to an additional 20 million people by 2015 with the aim of assisting governments in the region to achieve their objective of halving the illiteracy rate over the next decade (a target consistent with a goal of the January 2004 Beirut Conference on Education for All) including by:
Algeria and Afghanistan have offered to sponsor the literacy initiative.
1.4 Enhance support for business, entrepreneurship, and vocational training programs to help young people, especially women, expand their employment opportunities, including by:
Bahrain and Morocco have offered to sponsor the entrepreneurship and vocational training initiative.
1.5 Establish with willing partners in the region a Democracy Assistance Dialogue that will, under the auspices of the Forum for the Future, bring together in a collaborative and transparent environment willing governments, civil society groups and other organizations from G-8, EU and others, and countries in the region to:
1.6 Establish a Broader Middle East and North Africa Private Enterprise Development Facility at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to assist the region's efforts to improve the business and investment climate and increase the financing options for the region's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), including by:
1.7 Establish a regional "Network of Funds" that would bring together representatives from development institutions based in the region and from international financial institutions for the purposes of:
1.8 Establish with partners in the region a Task Force on Investment, comprised of business leaders from the G-8 and the region, including from the Arab Business Council, to assist the region's efforts to improve the investment climate, including by:
In addition to the foregoing initiatives, we will seek opportunities to increase coordination of our respective ongoing activities that are available to support reform in the region. We commit to intensify and in partnership and dialogue with governments, business, and civil society, expand these already strong individual and collective engagements. These activities respond to reform priorities identified by the region, including by the Arab League Summit Tunis Declaration, the Alexandria Library Statement, the Sana'a Declaration, and the Arab Business Council Declaration.
Deepening Democracy and Broadening Participation in Political and Public Life
Tunis Declaration: "We...assert our firm determination... to pursue reform and modernization in our countries and keep pace with rapid global change by fostering democratic practice; by broadening participation in political and public life; by strengthening the role of all components of civil society, including NGOs; by envisioning the society of tomorrow; by expanding women's participation in political, economic, social, cultural, and educational fields; by enhancing their rights and status in society; and by pursuing the promotion of family and the protection of Arab youth."
Alexandria Library Statement: "Democracy is a system in which freedom is both fundamental and paramount. As such it yields true sovereignty for the people who govern themselves by means of political pluralism, ensuring regular transition of governing authority. It is a system that is founded upon a total respect for the rights of the people to freedom of thought, organization and expression."
Sana'a Declaration: "Democratic systems protect the rights and interests of everybody without discrimination, especially the rights and interests of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups... The basics of democratic systems are reflected in periodically elected legislatures, representing the citizens in a fair way and ensuring their full participation, in executive bodies that are responsible and committed to principles of good governance and in an independent judiciary..."
Arab Business Council Declaration: ". . . Improving the standards of living in the Arab world necessitates focusing on . . . Respecting the rule of law and enhancing transparency . . . reducing red-tape and corruption . . . Promoting adequate institutional and legal mechanisms . . . Developing the Arab judicial system . . . [and] Activating the role of women and youth in society."
2.1 Supporting efforts to ensure free and transparent elections by cooperating with willing countries, including by assisting independent election commissions, and voter registration programs and supporting civic awareness programs, with a particular emphasis on women voters. Representative G-8 activities include:
2.2 Supporting and encouraging parliamentary exchanges and training to build the capacity of the region's parliaments and consultative bodies, particularly with regard to drafting legislation, implementing legislative and legal reforms, and representing constituents. Representative G-8 activities include:
2.3 Supporting regional efforts to expand women's participation in political, economic, social, cultural, and educational fields and by enhancing their rights and status in society including by supporting training for women interested in running for elective office or establishing or operating an NGO; and bringing together women in leadership positions from G-8 countries and the region, including in workshops. Representative G-8 activities include:
2.4 Assisting the region in pursuing judicial reforms and in ensuring an independent judiciary, including by: supporting judicial exchanges and workshops as well as training for judges, attorneys, and law students; providing technical assistance for judicial administration and legal code reforms; and the establishment of grassroots legal aid centers. Representative G-8 activities include:
2.5 Supporting the region's efforts to reinforce the freedom of expression, thought and belief, and to encourage an independent media, including by: sponsoring exchanges, training, and scholarships for journalists. Representative G-8 activities include:
2.6 Encouraging the region's efforts to foster the democratic process, promote good governance, transparency and anti-corruption efforts, including by: encouraging adoption and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption; technical assistance for the reform and modernization of public financial management and procurement practices and for efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist finance. Representative G-8 activities include:
2.7 Supporting efforts to strengthen the role of all components of civil society, including NGOs in the region's reform processes, including by: providing assistance to strengthen the participation of all segments of society, supporting the efforts of institutions to strengthen the foundations of citizenship; encouraging exchanges among civil society organizations, including labor unions and collaborating on cultural projects and programs. Representative G-8 activities include:
Building a Knowledge Society to Combat Illiteracy and Advance Educational and Technological Systems
Tunis Declaration: "We also assert our firm determination...to...intensify efforts aimed at the development and progress of educational systems, at disseminating knowledge and encouraging its acquisition, and at combating illiteracy in order to ensure a better tomorrow for future generations of Arab youth.
Alexandria Library Statement: "Participants recommend . . . eradicating illiteracy - especially among women - within a ten-year period... acquiring, spreading, and producing knowledge... to achieve (the building of) a society of knowledge... revitalize civil and governmental translation institutions on two fronts: translations from Arabic to all recognized languages and from all languages to Arabic... modernize the information technology infrastructure in the Arab world."
Sana'a Declaration: "The practice of democracy and human rights and enhancing their understanding require overcoming potential threats to the form and substance of democracy, including... inadequate education."
Arab Business Council Declaration: "Governments need to take additional measures to improve the efficiency and quality of the education offered in their educational institutions... better align the knowledge and skill outputs of their educational systems with the changing and evolving needs of the global economy... Expand the capacity for knowledge acquisition by greater investment in IT infrastructure... "
3.1 Assisting countries interested in improving and reforming their education systems, including by: supporting efforts to improve the quality of education, fostering community participation in education, increasing the planning capacity of education ministries, facilitating community partnerships; and supporting construction and rehabilitation of schools. Representative G-8 activities include:
3.2 Building on the rich cultural heritage of the region, increase availability of and access to textbooks and regional and world literature, including by: supporting local capacity in textbook publishing and translation; training teachers in new methods; and supporting the re-issuing of the region's classic texts. Representative G-8 activities include:
3.3 Assisting the region in enhancing its digital knowledge including by public-private partnerships to provide or expand computer access, supporting the introduction of innovative teaching methods to classrooms, integrating computer-based technology into curricula, and supporting "e-government" initiatives. Representative G-8 activities include:
Accelerating Economic Development, Creating Jobs, Empowering the Private Sector, and Expanding Economic Opportunities
Tunis Summit Declaration: "We also assert our firm determination...To endeavor to pursue the upgrading of Arab economies...in such a way as to strengthen the competitiveness of the Arab economy and empower it to establish a solidarity-based partnership with the various global economic blocs."
Alexandria Library Statement: "In a young and rising Arab world, employment of youth, quality of education, social services and programs supporting SMEs should be basic elements of the concept of reform...Develop SME and micro credit programs to deal with unemployment giving females the full opportunity to access financing... Modernize Arab financial sectors generally, and banking sectors specifically, encouraging the establishment of large banking entities and modernization of Arab capital markets... Resolve problems that hinder investment and remove obstacles to Arab and foreign investment... enable Arab countries to effectively join the World Trade Organization [and] positively integrate in the global economy by increasing exports of goods and services..."
Sana'a Declaration: "The private sector is a vital partner in strengthening the foundations of democracy and human rights; it has a responsibility to work with governments and civil society to enhance progress."
Arab Business Council Declaration: "In order for entrepreneurship to thrive, policy makers need to create environments that allow market forces to freely interplay, foster stability, and a high degree of predictability in order to enable investors to make long-term decisions... [including by] Enhancing accountability and securing full protection of property rights... Removing restrictions on foreign investment... Attaining a higher degree of global economic integration through trade liberalization schemes, both in goods and services [and] adopting trade policies that are based on internationally-agreed rules and practices..."
4.1 Supporting vocational training programs to expand job opportunities for the region's youth, including by: sponsoring continuing education programs and training for workshops instructors and master craftsmen. Representative G-8 activities include:
4.2 Supporting development of small and medium-sized enterprises, including through: assistance programs, targeted loan programs, and technical assistance to improve the policy and regulatory framework. Representative G-8 activities include:
4.3 Facilitating remittance flows from communities overseas to help families and small entrepreneurs, including by: encouraging the reduction of the cost of remittance transfers, and the creation of local development funds for productive investments; improving access by remittance recipients to financial services; and enhancing coordination. Representative G-8 activities include:
4.4 Supporting efforts in the region to create fair, secure, and well-functioning property rights systems, including by: technical assistance for policy and regulatory reform and the improvement of property registries. Representative G-8 activities include:
4.5 Promoting financial excellence and supporting efforts in the region to integrate its financial sector into the global financial system, including by: providing technical assistance to modernize financial services, and to introduce and expand market-oriented financial instruments; working with financial authorities to support good economic governance, including anticorruption and anti-money laundering efforts. Representative G-8 Activities include:
4.6 Assisting regional efforts to remove barriers to investment, increase investment, and stimulate economic reforms, including by: providing technical assistance to improve investment climates; offering training for officials on investor rights; facilitating investment opportunities, including through investment treaties; and supporting work under the new OECD/UNDP Middle East-North Africa Initiative on investment. Representative G-8 Activities include:
4.7 Supporting the region's efforts to achieve economic integration, promote intra-regional trade, and expand trade opportunities in global markets, including by: providing technical assistance for accession to the WTO; supporting intraregional trade agreements; sponsoring regional programs on trade facilitation; and facilitating development of local chambers of commerce. Representative G-8 Activities include: