Today, under the auspices of the State Department’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society 2012 Summit, Secretary Clinton hosted a Global Town Hall at the State Department’s Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, DC. Present in the audience were civil society representatives from more than 40 countries and senior leaders from the State Department and throughout the U.S. Government. Individuals participated online through embassy viewing parties held around the world. Secretary Clinton announced action on policy recommendations developed through the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society—the Department’s formal mechanism for involving civil society in the policy-making process.
At the suggestion of civil society representatives from around the globe, Secretary Clinton agreed to:
· Facilitate U.S. diplomatic engagement with religious communities through expanded training and guidance for State Department officials;
· Build awareness for women’s rights in countries undergoing political transition and work closely with MENA region civil society groups and governments to make sure women’s rights are enshrined in their new constitutions and protected in practice;
· Institutionalize a platform for dialogue with representatives from labor and business groups at G-20 Summits;
· Develop new opportunities for south-south cooperation on labor issues; and
· Establish mission-based civil society working groups within the Dialogue to address issues of local and regional importance.
After her announcement, Secretary Clinton also answered questions from audience members and questions submitted via YouTube from activists overseas.
Secretary Clinton launched the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society in February 2011 to elevate U.S. engagement with civil society and underscore our commitment to supporting and protecting civil society around the world. Creating the Dialogue also fulfilled a commitment in the Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to provide a framework for civil society involvement in policymaking.
The Dialogue operates through five working groups led by Senior Department officials and consisting of civil society representatives from around the world. The Dialogue’s working groups include democracy and human rights, governance and accountability, labor, religion and foreign policy, and women’s empowerment. They report to a Federal Advisory Committee that meets quarterly to review working group progress and recommend policy action directly to the Secretary.