There has been great uncertainty about the future of the 9th Forum for the Future after the recent unrest in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and, in particular, the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia on September 14, 2012.  However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly stated in a meeting with Tunisian Foreign Minister on September 24 that “…please know the United States remains committed to supporting Tunisia as you deal with this current situation, as you continue your democratic transition, and we want to be with you as you confront challenges and help seize opportunities together for the betterment of the future of Tunisia.”

So with renewed enthusiasm, the League team has worked during the past three weeks on two tracks:  (1) completing all follow-up responsibilities for the First Preparatory Workshop held in El Jadida, Morocco, and (2) preparing for the Second Preparatory Workshop in Amman, Jordan, September 30-October 2. 

The topic for this preparatory meeting is of great interest because it focuses on some of the issues that are at the core of the work the League does domestically:  the rule of law, transparency, open government, and freedom of information.  In addition the conversation in Amman will focus on the importance of women as entrepreneurs

Thirty-nine participants representing 18 countries plus 16 government representatives from the region will begin to arrive in Amman on September 30.  The U.S. delegation is headed by Ms. Deborah McCarthy, U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.  Mr. Antonio Fanelli, Deputy Head of the Private Sector Development Division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will speak at the opening plenary.  OECD is very active in the MENA region and is unveiling this week its report “Competitiveness and Private Sector Development Women in Business Policies to Support Women’s Entrepreneurship Development in the MENA Region.” 

The League team is also beginning to prepare for the 9th Forum for the Future Subministerial meeting to be held in Washington, DC, November 1-2, 2012.   This meeting will bring together senior government officials of the G8 and BMENA member states in addition to representatives of selected civil society and private sector organizations, including the tripartite coordinating committee for Forum for the Future non-governmental process – the League of Women Voters, ARFORGHE, and the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce.