Clinton Addresses Civil Society Representatives
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton addressed civil society representatives from around the world during the Civil Society 2012 Summit. Referencing a speech she gave in 1998, Clinton compared society to a three-legged stool. Each leg being represented by a responsive, effective, accountable government; a dynamic, job-creating, free market economic sector; and a strong civil society. The case for creating a strong civil society lies in individual freedoms, “because government cannot and should not control any individual’s life, tell you what to do, what not to do.”
A troubling trend in too many countries is that civil society now finds itself threatened, according to Clinton. ”Each time a reporter is silenced, or an activist is threatened, it doesn’t strengthen a government, it weakens a nation,” remarked Clinton. As the U.S. attempts to block the trend of governments infringing on civil society, Clinton laid out some of the steps the State Department is taking to reverse the flow against personal freedoms. Embassies are expanding their reach by setting up working groups, which will help matriculate ideas and opinions of local civil society groups. Efforts are also being made to engage the large section of civil society comprised of faith-based organizations, so religious communities can bolster democracy, human rights, and respond to humanitarian needs. To any view that may have not been encompassed, plans are being implemented to facilitate discussions among governments, businesses, and labor groups ensuring all are represented.
During the question and answer session, Clinton said one of the long-term solutions for counter terrorism was building a strong civil society, which provides a feeling of empowerment. “Their voices are heard; they don’t need to turn to violence because they can participate fully and equally in a political process,” stated Clinton. Crediting civil society in partnerships with government, Clinton feels these two in tandem are a great catalyst and for private sector job creation.