Middle East Conferences 2007
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:
“Bringing the World Home” Conferences, 2007
(left) Prince Hassan bin Talal speaks with former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the opening of the Amman conference. (right) Participants at the Jordan conference develop policy recommendations in small group discussions.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
Selected Policy Recommendations
- “We recommend the creation of political space, free of any legal consequences, for debate and dialogue about democratic processes that will create an environment more conducive to citizens’ political participation.” (Morocco)
- “U.S. foreign policy and democracy promotion should include a more tailored approach that considers the needs of the people in each country.” (Morocco)
- “We recommend that the U.S. engage those Islamist individuals and groups that express a credible willingness to participate in democracy by offering the same dialogue to Islamist reformers that is currently offered to other reformers. Even if dialogue is refused, the U.S. should avoid stigmatizing Islamist politics in official rhetoric.” (Jordan)
- 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)