Emerging Leaders for Democracy Conference Series
(lower left) Prince Hassan bin Talal speaks with former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the opening of the 2007 Amman conference. (lower right) Participants at the Jordan conference develop policy recommendations in small group discussions.
2009 Conference Series
Amman, Jordan: October 7 – 9, 2009 (agenda)
Beirut, Lebanon: October 26 – 28, 2009 (agenda)
Cairo, Egypt: November 4 -6, 2009 (agenda)
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) was excited to host its 2009 conference series in cooperation with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Georgetown University’s Center for Democracy and Civil Society, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF). The 2009 conferences were hosted in partnership with the Center for Strategic Studies at Jordan University, the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. The gatherings examined political reform dynamics in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt and the role of U.S. foreign policy, with the purpose of generating recommendations for U.S. policymakers for how to improve the impact of U.S. policy and to effectively encourage democratic reform.
The conferences included panel discussions featuring Arab and American experts on U.S. foreign policy initiatives, progress of political reform in the region, and the role of the U.S. and Europe in assisting this process. Four main topics of the conferences were:
- Elections & Political Processes
- Religious Freedom & Inclusion
- Women’s Rights & Empowerment
- Human Security & Development
The conferences, which took place in Amman, Beirut, and Cairo, included participants from the US and Europe, as well as local young professionals residing in the three Arab countries, ages 23-35. Each conference included 15 Middle Easterners and 15 Americans and Europeans. Since the number of spaces was limited, participants were chosen by competitive application (we received more than 900 applications for the 90 available spots), and we sought an ideologically and geographically diverse group of participants.
2008 Conference Series
Rabat, Morocco: April 25-26, 2008 (report)
Cairo, Egypt: May 2-3, 2008 (report)
Amman, Jordan: May 29-31, 2008 (report)
In Spring 2008, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) joined with Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) and five regional partners to convene conferences in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. Bringing together 150 young Americans and Middle Easterners, the conferences provided a forum for participants to discuss America’s impact on political reform in the region. Participants investigated this issue through panels and discussions on the U.S.-Middle East relationship, consequences of American policies in the Middle East, and how the U.S. could better support democratization in the region. Participants also jointly developed, debated and ratified policy recommendations for the U.S. government, regional governments, media and civil society organizations.
An open forum for young Americans and Middle Easterners, the conference offered an excellent opportunity for youth to directly engage consider and debate U.S. democracy promotion strategy, and also, a medium for young Middle Easterners to express their hopes and ambitions for political reform in their countries. The conferences included thematic panel discussions featuring regional experts, small group discussions to formulate policy recommendations, and a general session to debate, ratify and vote on the recommendations.
The three conferences had about 150 Middle Eastern and American students and young professionals, between the ages of 21 and 28. The participants of the conference came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including students from Ain Shams University in Egypt; University in Amman in Jordan; Al Azhar University in Egypt; Al Akhawayn University in Morocco; and the London School of Economics. American students from Ithaca College, Colby College, the University of South California, and Swarthmore College also took part in the conferences. The participants also included Fulbright Fellows, civil society activists, journalists, young professionals, a district attorney from the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, and emerging leaders in political parties.
The three conferences were intended to foster a dialogue between Americans and Middle Easterners about how the U.S. can better support political reform in the region. The conferences offered a range of expert keynote addresses, panels, debates, and small-group discussion among the young professionals/students and senior representatives of the public policy sphere. Perhaps most important for the young participants, was the opportunity to draft concluding policy recommendations: on key domestic and foreign policy objectives to promote sound U.S. policies and national policies to strengthen and enhance democratic institutions, rule of law, and individual freedom.
- Al Jazeera vs. YouTube: Changes in Mass Media
- Dialogue of Civilization: Communication Through Art
- Egypt’s Role in Arab World
- U.S. Foreign Aid to Egypt and Its Implications
- The Role of Civil Society in Morocco
- Opportunities for Youth in Political Parties
- Media: Pick your Medium
- Electronic Journalism
- Zainab Al-Suwaij, Executive Director, American Islamic Congress
- Scott Goodstein, the director of New Media for the Barack Obama presidential campaign
- John Groarke, Deputy Mission Director of USAID in Egypt
- Lucas Welch, president and founder of Soliya
- Gérard Latulippe, Representative of the Maghreb for the National Democratic Institute (NDI)
- Mark Parkison, Team Leader for Democracy and Governance programs at USAID Morocco
- Mbarka Bouaida, the youngest female member of the Moroccan Parliament
- Dina Shehata, researcher at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and Special Adviser for the Muslim World Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace
- Ashraf Swelam, Executive Director of Egypt’s International Economic Forum (EIEF)
- Ahmed Samih, Director of Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
- Houda Filali-Ansary, political correspondent for La Vie Eco
- David Ranz, Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat
- Osama Alshurafa, Director of Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic
- Esra’a Al-Shafei , Director of Mideast Youth
- Institut National de la Jeunesse et la Démocratie (INJD)
- The American Studies Center at the American University in Cairo
- The Annual Conference for Engineering Students (ACES) at Ain Shams University.
- Leaders of Tomorrow (LoT)
- The Center for Strategic Studies (CSS)
Rabat, Morocco Conference:
Cairo, Egypt Conference:
Amman, Jordan Conference:
2007 Conference Series
Amman, Jordan: April 19-21, 2007 (report)
Cairo, Egypt: May 3-5, 2007 (report)
Rabat, Morocco: May 25-26, 2007 (report)
In spring 2007, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) joined with Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) and four regional partners to convene conferences in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco, bringing together 152 young Americans and Middle Easterners to discuss America’s impact on political reform in the region. In these conferences, participants discussed the U.S. – Middle East relationship, consequences of American policies in the Middle East, and how the U.S. could better support democratization in the region. Participants also jointly developed, debated and ratified policy recommendations for the U.S. government, regional governments, the media, and civil society organizations. Click here for more information.
The conferences provided an open forum for young Americans and Middle Easterners to directly engage each other about U.S. democracy strategy and about Middle Easterners’ hopes and ambitions for political reform in their countries. The conferences included thematic panel discussions featuring regional experts, small group discussions to formulate policy recommendations, and a general session to debate and vote on the recommendations. Conference workshops trained participants on how to hold follow-up events on their own campuses and in their own communities to discuss the policy recommendations and what they had learned.
- Measuring Democracy
- Engaging Political Islam
- Woman’s Democratic Participation
- Regional Impacts on Reform
- Role of U.S. Democracy Promotion Organizations
- U.S. Foreign Policy in the Context of Local Relations
Participants included students from Oklahoma State University, Middlebury College, the University of Missouri, Syracuse University, Georgetown University, Brown University, Stanford University, Trinity College, Jordan University, Amman University, Al al-Beit University, Cairo University, Ain Shams University, American University in Cairo, the London School of Economics, and American University of London. Recent graduates of Duke University, Emory University, Tufts University, the University of Alabama, and Villanova University also participated. The conferences also included Fulbright fellows conducting research in Israel, Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a Rhodes Scholar and young professionals from the U.S. Institute of Peace, the National Democratic Institute and local institutions.
The three conferences were intended to foster a dialogue between Americans and Middle Easterners about how the U.S. can better support political reform in the region. The conferences’ panel discussions, keynote addresses, and small group discussions provided a forum for young Americans and Middle Easterners to discuss how American policy impacted political reform in the region and how the U.S. could more effectively support the development of democracy.
The conferences were also intended to be an incubator and training ground for young American and Middle Eastern activists and advocates. By jointly developing policy recommendations in small groups, and then debating and voting on them in general session, the participants intimately learned about democracy and its place in the Middle East.
The conferences were also designed to equip the participants with the tools needed to “Bring the World Home” at their home communities. Through workshops participants learned how to analyze and speak about global issues more effectively with friends, family, and the broader public and prepared participants with the tools to organize an international discussion between their community and the Middle East.
- Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan
- Christopher Henzel, U.S. Foreign Service Counselor for Political Affairs in Jordan
- Craig Karp, U.S. Foreign Service Counselor for Political Affairs in Morocco
- Representatives of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI)
- Senator Laila Sharaf of Jordan
- Ashraf Swelam of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry
- Mohamed Sobeih, Palestinian Delegate to the Arab League
- Representatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Arwa Kaylani, president of the women’s branch of Jordan’s Islamic Action Front
- Lahcen Haddad, ranking member of the political bureau of Morocco’s Mouvement Populaire party
- Gregor Meiering, MENA Coordinator, Open Society Institute
- Many other political party leaders, civil society activists, government officials, and academics
- Centre Marocain d’Etudes Strategiques (“The Moroccan Center for Strategic Studies”)
- Model Egyptian Parliament at the American University in Cairo
- The Center for American Studies at the American University in Cairo
- Al-Urdun Al-Jadid (“New Jordan”) Research Center (UJRC)
Click here for a more detailed summary of the spring 2007 conference series, or click below for full reports and policy recommendations from each individual conference: