Since 2004, the outset of the G8 BMENA Initiative, civil society participants from the region have held a "parallel" meeting concurrent with the meetings of the Forum. The 2012 Civil Society Preparatory Meeting, which included for the first time the participation of the private sector, was called to order at 9:00 am on Tuesday, December 11, under the leadership of the League of Women Voters and its Tunisian partners, ARFORGHE and the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce.
Official greetings were presented by the co-host governments represented by Mr. Hedi Ben Abbes, the Tunisian Secretary of State for American and Asian Affairs and Ms. Nazanin Ash, U.S. Deputy Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. Naila Radhoui Sillini, professor and human rights activist was the keynote speaker who stressed her disappointment about the "lack of political will to advance the status of women in the region."
126 participants from the Broader Middle East and North Africa countries, including representatives from Sudan, Mauritania and Pakistan, met with two main goals in mind: review and discuss the summary documents from the regional meetings held in El Jadida, Morocco, and Amman, Jordan, and the subministerial meeting held in Washington, DC; and to review the draft of the Final Declaration written by the co-host governments and reviewed, many times over, by the subministers of foreign affairs of the BMENA region. After hearing and recording the participants concerns, the different statements enunciated by many in different ways, the participants agreed on the 2012 Civil Society and Private Sector Recommendations to be submitted to the governments (see below). Agreement on the final declaration was reached on Wednesday, December 12 and approved by the Foreign Ministers on Thursday, December 13 (see below).
The League president, Elisabeth MacNamara and the League's executive director, Nancy Tate, attended as "distinguished" observers.