As part of our current work towards the 9th Forum for the Future scheduled to be held in Tunisia in December, I traveled last weekend to Tunis-Carthage, Tunisia to meet the leaders of the nongovernmental organization that will be our partners in this endeavor.

The organization recently appointed by the Tunisian Government is the Association des Responsables de Formation et de Gestion Humaine dans les Enterprises (ARFORGHE- the Association of Professionals in Human Resources).  The meeting was fruitful and we are now working together to achieve joint success! Last July, ARFORGHE organized a conference titled Quelle politique sociale pour un pays en transition démocratique?  Cas de la Tunisie (What is the social policy in a country that is in a democratic transition:  The case of Tunisia).

The purpose of this trip was to begin to forge an excellent working relationship between the two executing NGOs, in order to ensure an effective working entendre. ARFORGHE is a professional organization of human resource specialists with a proven record of publications in the field of ethics, work behavior, and best practices in human resources. The two executing NGOs will work hand in glove with their governments to facilitate discussions among civil society groups in the BMENA countries. The ultimate goal will be to achieve consensus on the issues that civil society will request that the G-8 countries will assist and fund to move the region forward.

This was my second trip to Tunisia.  I was there for 4 days in May of 2011, and I found the country to have changed somewhat. According to some of my colleagues the country is experiencing growing pains from the euphoria of the aftermath of their success in ousting dictator Ben Ali to the current provisional government elected last November. There are many reasons for this change, foremost is that the cost of living has skyrocketed almost 8 times, as a direct result of the crisis in Libya. Tunisia is now the home of thousands of Libyans who fled during the bloody unrest in their homeland and their numbers have increased the cost of renting, food, and many other commodities. Secondly, there continues to be some level of sporadic demonstrations as a result of difference of opinions as to the future of the country – Islamist or other.  Relatedly, there is a lack of news regarding the status of the new constitution being written by the constituent assembly elected in October of 2011. According to my colleagues they do not expect the constitution to be finished in time for the expected presidential elections later this fall.

The exciting news is that there are currently 2,200 nongovernmental organizations working in one way or another to engage and educate Tunisians on what it means to be a democratic country, and about the rights and responsibilities of the individuals under this type of government. We are excited to work with ARFORGHE on some of the issues now facing their country.