News Archives

Secretary Clinton at a Town Hall Meeting With Youth and Civil Society

Secretary Clinton talks with Libyan student during a town hall meeting with Youth and Civil Society at Tripoli University in Libya, Tuesday, Oct.18, 2011.

Secretary Clinton talks with Libyan student during a town hall meeting with Youth and Civil Society at Tripoli University in Libya, Tuesday, Oct.18, 2011.

SECRETARY CLINTON:I know that more than 30 years ago students from this university came to this very spot to engage in historic protests, and their voices were crushed by the Qadhafi regime. But today, because of the courage of the Libyan people, we can be here together to have a conversation about what you hope for your futures and what partnership the United States can offer. So on behalf of all of the people of my country, I congratulate all of the people of the new Libya. Libya, (in Arabic.) It is wonderful to be here. (Applause.)

The last seven months have been historic, not only for Libyans, but indeed for the world, because you have faced your challenges and conducted your revolution with courage and commitment. You demanded the rights and the dignity of a free people, and you withstood the brutal assaults from those who were only wedded to the past. And now we have a new era. There will be new stories written about Libya in the history books.

But what will that story be? That, to me, is the question of the day. If you are committed to a new Libya, then how will you make your contributions? The structures of oppression have been torn down, but new structures are only being imagined now. So what – excuse me – (coughs) – I talk way too much. (Laughter.) What we all have to determine is how you turn to reconciliation and create an inclusive Libya that guarantees human rights and dignity, that delivers jobs and opportunities, that governs itself under respect for the rule of law.

Now, every democracy reflects the unique choices and passions of its people. That is one of democracy’s great strengths. We do not expect your democracy to be exactly like our democracy. We come from different backgrounds, we have different histories, and yet there are certain fundamentals about democracy that we think are more likely to produce a better outcome.

A democracy makes a virtue of the diversity of its people. No democracy can function effectively unless every group contributes. So Libya will need the talents of all of its people, young people, women, people from every part of the country. I feel strongly that in the weeks and months ahead, as you make these decisions about how to shape your democracy, women need to be part of that decision making. Because women defied Qadhafi’s troops, women supported the revolution.

I was struck by a quote that I read of a woman who was asked by a reporter why she took such great risks to be part of this revolution, and she responded by saying, “For God, for tasting freedom, for our land, for our liberty, for the future.” Well, that is what people who fight for their freedom believe, and women must be part of the new Libya.

The same is true for young people. This rising generation here at the university has given so much, and I agree with the president that you expect so much as well. And those expectations are warranted, but it will take time, effort, and some patience to achieve the goals that you seek.

We will be here as your partner. We will continue to emphasize the importance of the rule of law, respect for human rights, trade and investment, and the importance of civil society, academic institutions, and learning. We want to provide care and treatment for Libya’s war wounded, and we want to increase our educational exchanges. We will be funding English classes for disabled war veterans. We will resume educational exchanges and institute, once again, the Fulbright Program. In fact, we will double the numbers of those who will come to the United States to study. Through our Middle East Partnership Initiative, we want to connect up young Libyans from one end of your vast country to another.

There are so many possibilities and there are so many challenges. And what I want to do for my time with you is to hear from you, hear what you would like from the United States, hear what you would like from your new government. We have members with us from the Transitional National Council, who I know are interested as well in hearing from the young people of their country.

So with your permission, I would like to turn now to soliciting your views and your questions, and I will, to the best of my ability, respond to any question that is directed at me. So how shall we proceed? Shall I call on people, and you will bring them the microphone? Is that appropriate? All right. So who would be the brave person who wants to go first?

Yes, I saw your hand right there, the young women in the second row. And if your question is in Arabic we will have it translated before I try to answer it so I know what it was.

QUESTION: Hi. (Inaudible) organization for women and children. I’d like to welcome you to Libya. I hope you enjoy it.


QUESTION: My question, Libyan women went through tough times throughout this revolution. (Inaudible) – she got tortured, arrested, she lost her son, brother, and husband. What is the message you would like to send to Libyan women, and as a woman would you like to – do you hope to see a Libyan woman as a foreign minister or a president maybe of this country? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that Libyan women have the same rights as Libyan men. I would hope for a future of democracy and equality and opportunity for all. And I say that for these reasons: First, it is hard to imagine how Libya – the new, free Libya – will become a democracy and leave out half of the population. That doesn’t add up to me. That’s not what I hear or see from the Libyans who have so bravely fought for their freedom. And I don’t know any country that can succeed to the extent expected if half of the population is denied the opportunity to participate. So in this new democracy, I would hope to see the rights and responsibilities of women be given full inclusion.

Secondly, women did suffer during this revolution, as you yourself have just said. And we know that from the reports that came out of Libya, that are still coming out of places like Sirte. Women suffered because they demanded their own rights and were personally mistreated, and women suffered because they sent their sons and their husbands and saw their fathers and their brothers go off to fight for their freedom. So I think women in Libya have earned the right to be given the same opportunity to help build a new Libya.

And finally, I have had the privilege of traveling to over 90 countries as Secretary of State. I’ve been in all kinds of countries with all kinds of governments, and I have seen the very significant contributions that women can make. I just met – for example, you said foreign minister – I just met with the foreign minister of Bangladesh, who is a woman. I was in Indonesia recently and meeting with the finance minister of Indonesia, who is a woman. I’ve been in Malaysia and met with the governor of the Central Bank in Malaysia, who is a woman. Many of the countries that are Muslim majority and democratic, such as the three I just named, have recognized the importance of including women and giving women the opportunity to serve their country, to start businesses, to teach in universities, and to pursue their own God-given potential.

So I believe strongly that this will be important for women, but it will be equally important for men in a new Libya. And the United States will support organizations that are committed to ensuring that women can become active, responsible participants in Libyan society. I met two young women, as I was walking in, who are from a new organization called Voices of Libyan Women. And I thank them for taking on this important responsibility, and we will look forward to assisting you.


QUESTION: Hi. My name is (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Here comes the microphone.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is (inaudible). I – first of all, I would like to welcome you here, and I volunteer with the university to help rebuild this university. I would like to ask you, many people feel that the U.S. had taken the backseat in terms of helping this revolution. Would you see the U.S. taking the lead on terms of rebuilding this country and helping? And if so, what kind of resources would you be providing and the most suitable tools to help rebuild this country?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think it’s fair to say that the United States played a unique leadership role in what happened in Libya, because we wanted to be sure, number one, that there was an international coalition in support of Libya. And I’m very pleased that there was. It was quite historic that you had the UN passing strong resolutions, which the United Nations was on the lead on, and then you had NATO coming together to protect civilians, and the Arab League, which had called for action, actually having member states participate in that coalition, the no-fly zone, the maritime embargo. The United States was actively involved, but we also thought it was important that there be a broad base of support for the Libyan revolution, and indeed, there has been. So we are very pleased by that.

We also have said – and part of the reason for my trip is to emphasize our commitment to helping Libya navigate through this next period of your history. Now, unlike many countries in the world that find themselves free of a dictatorship, Libya is blessed with natural resources and human resources that you don’t often find in many other countries. Yes, you do have oil, and now maybe that oil can be used for the benefit the Libyan people, not to enrich a relatively small group of powerful people.

And you have human resources. This great university is a testament to that. You have a lot of expertise within the Libyan people themselves, and certainly the Libyan Diaspora that came back to help win your freedom. So I don’t know that it’s so much, in Libya’s case, a question of money as it is getting expertise, technical assistance, and support for what you already intend to do. And I told both Chairman Jalil and Prime Minister Jibril we intend to support you on that. So I really believe that Libya is as well positioned as any country in recent history to make this journey to democracy successfully.

Now, that’s not to say it’s going to be easy, because it will not be easy. You have to unify your country. You know what people say. People say, “Well, Libya can’t be unified. You have the east, you have the west, you have the south. You have only six million people in this huge country. You have unprotected borders. You have so many different tribal interests.” Well, I don’t believe that. I think that you have enough of a commitment to your future to bring people together and to create that national unity, and you all will have to work on it.

I think there are several dangers, and the president referred to one. Everybody wants what they want, and they want it now. I mean, if I had a magic wand, I would have brought it with me, and I would leave it here, but I do not. And that means that it is going to take longer than anybody wants it to take. But you have to start on this journey step by step, and you have to be somewhat patient with each other as you try to work out how to organize yourselves.

But I have every confidence you will be successful, and the United States will help you. We’ll help you with resources, with technical expertise, with any kind of support for elections and for economic opportunities. You name it; we are ready to be helpful to you, but want it to be your priorities, not anybody else’s.

So many hands. How about this gentleman in the third row? Right there.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is (inaudible). I’m at the (inaudible). And thank you for every word that you said to encourage and support our revolution here. My question is: One of my goals in Libya is helping more young people to become part of the global community. What steps do you think Libyan youth should be begun with after the work to become effective partners in the global community?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very important question, because the more Libya gets integrated into the regional and global community, the stronger Libya will be. Now, I know that you have communicated with one another and with people around the world through the internet, which is one way of being connected up to the global community. I read an interesting story about a young man here, I think, at the university, who was working to contact people in other countries that had gone through similar transitions to ask for their personal advice, and I think that kind of outreach is very important. So I would encourage you to do it, and maybe even in an organized way, to create a site where people around the world who want to help Libya, who want to contribute to Libya, who believe strongly in what you’re doing, can find a way to be of assistance. So it’s a two-way street; you’re not only reaching out, but people are reaching in.

I think when it comes to economic integration, this part of the world, namely all of North Africa, in fact, most of the African continent and the Middle East, have not been as open economically as I think would benefit you. So when you think about integrating into the global economy, think about how you can tear down barriers so there can be more trade, more commerce, more activity coming and going. Because right now, there isn’t as much as there should be, and I think there could be a lot more that would benefit Libya.

One idea that I know people in Libya are exploring is: How do you make sure that the money you earn from your oil goes to benefit the Libyan people? And there are several examples. Norway, for example, has the money from the oil industry in a trust fund, which they use for certain common purposes. You talk about rebuilding this great university. Well, there needs to be some recognition that your natural resources should be used to benefit all Libyans. And that’s another way to promote national unity, to tell people in every part of Libya, “You’re not going to be forgotten. You’re not going to be cut out. You’re going to be part of Libya’s future, because we’re going to protect the oil revenues – a certain percentage of it – for benefitting all of Libya.” There are ideas out there like that, that if you reach out, you can find out more about.

So I would encourage you to look at all kinds of possibilities for better organizing and communicating from Libya to the rest of the world, and then look at ways to integrate you, particularly economic, and then look at ideas that you can transplant and bring back to Libya to benefit the Libyan people.

Yes, this young woman right there in the second row.

QUESTION: Hello, welcome to Libya. My name is Sarah Spani. I’m an honors graduate from this university, the school of engineering, and I’m a member of women organization, name is (inaudible) Women’s Association. My question is for the last four decades, Qadhafi didn’t give any chance for Libyan people, women as well as men, to participate in any type of political or civil activities, yet we have no political parties. What is the best strategy, in your point of view, and fastest strategy to encourage our people to involve more in the political life, considering that we have elections in a matter of two years or less and we have to elect our parliaments and our president. How do we do that? How to encourage our people in the fastest time? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is an excellent and very important question, because it is, as you say, absolutely essential to create political parties, to create political agendas and platforms so people know what you stand for and what they would be getting if they vote for you. And the United States has for many years provided support to other countries that are going through this process. We don’t have any intention of picking winners or losers, but how do you do it? How do you create a political party? How do you create a political platform? How do you campaign? What are the techniques that are most useful to reaching people?

And we have several NGOs that do this all over the world and are certainly more than ready to help. So do the Europeans. They have a lot of groups that do the same. And even Latin American countries that have thrown off dictatorships in the last 20-30 years and are now democracies are ready to help.

So we can certainly, through our Embassy and our Ambassador – Gene Cretz is here with us – we can provide you with information and we can also connect you up to groups in our country and help you access groups in other places that can give you the kind of advice that you’re looking for.

I think that some of the experiences that are more recent, particularly in Latin America, maybe Central and Eastern Europe, in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia – Indonesia has been a democracy for 10 years now – could be of great benefit to you. They’re very vibrant democracies. They have political parties. Men and women run and get elected. And I think that would be one of our principal objectives, which is to help you look for and find the best ways to organize.

I want to emphasize how important it is that you organize. I mean, what often happens post-revolutions is that people are exhausted. I mean, it’s a terribly traumatic experience for a country and for people to go through. And a lot of people want to just go home, they want to get back to their jobs, back to their studies – totally understandable. And the political process they will leave to somebody else. But in a democracy, the best political process is the one that involves the most people and gets people to feel strongly about their choices and what they want from their leaders.

So I hope that you and all the young people here will get into the political system, learn how to form parties, how to make coalitions, recognize that in democracy compromise is essential. Because people do come, they get elected from different places with different ideas, and they have to then kind of work out what’s the best solution to reach. And we have a lot of experience in this and we’d be more than happy to provide some of that expertise.

Let me go way back to the gentleman sitting way back there. I don’t want to forget the people in the back seats here. This man, right here on the aisle. Yeah.

QUESTION: Hi (inaudible) graduate from dentist school. I’m trying – I’m asking is there a possibility for making a program for dentists who can train and do their internship in the USA, since here in Libya it doesn’t have the dental equipment and to make better future dentists. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that. I think that’s an excellent suggestion. I will speak with our dental association when I get back to the United States and see if we couldn’t work out some kind of exchange program that would assist you. I thank you for raising it.

And then the gentleman behind there in the first row.

QUESTION: Ask by Arabic?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. My interpreter is here.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) The United States of America supported the right of the Libyan people to self-determination and supported also the project for the Libyans to defend themselves. What are the Libyan people able to prove in a short time in order to get all that support from the United States, from everywhere, and the Palestinians were not able in over 50 years to achieve it? What is that the Palestinians need to do in order to get such a support like the one you gave to the Libyan people?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We need to negotiate a state that will meet the needs of the people. There are many examples around the world where, through negotiations with both sides, we were able to set forth a pathway to full statehood. It just happened in Sudan, not far from Libya, about – starting about 10 years ago, ending in 2005. There was a negotiation and resulted in a referendum and it resulted in a new state.

There is no shortcut to that, because all of these very complex issues have to be resolved. And I take this very, very seriously, very personally. You might remember when my husband was president, they got very close but didn’t succeed. And it’s something that I am very committed to following through on and intend to do everything I can to try to bring about the negotiations, because otherwise you can’t declare it, you have to achieve it through negotiations. That’s the only way that it will actually be real.

So let’s see, this gentleman right there in the middle. Yes. Here comes the microphone.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Hello, Madam Secretary. I’m Hiba Aboreg. Welcome to Libya. I’m Hiba Aboreg. I’m a medical student in this university, and what I wanted to ask you is about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is very important to the American way of life, and we are very new to this democracy, so what I was wondering was what steps do you think we, both as a government and as a people, can take to – sorry. I’m kind of nervous.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, you’re doing very well.

QUESTION: What do you think we can – what steps do you think we can take to root the freedom of speech into the Libyan identity? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do believe very strongly that freedom of speech is absolutely essential to any democracy, so I think there has to be a guarantee of freedom of speech in your constitution and in your laws, which your new government will begin to pass, once you have your parliament, and that there has to be also a respect imbued in the people for freedom of speech. Because people in my country say things all the time that I disagree with and that I think are wrong, but we believe that more speech is the best answer to speech you don’t agree with. So you make your case, you publish articles, you go on the radio or the TV, now you go on the internet, and you make your position known. So we hope that freedom of speech will be respected and legally protected in the new Libya.

Oh my goodness, too many hands. I can’t – I don’t want to leave people out in the back, because I always feel bad about that. The man in the white shirt.

QUESTION: Maldrew Abdulli from Libya Times magazine. I would like to ask you, the United States has been supporting Libya since the beginning of this revolution. There are two things that the Libyan people now are in need of it. The injured fighters, which already have been now in hospitals and everywhere – would the United States be interested to cure somehow the injured fighters which are in hospitals now, or at least support them with medical equipment or medical staff? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And we will do both, and I thank you for asking that. We have told the Transitional National Council that we will transport some of the most seriously wounded to hospitals in the United States. We will provide medical equipment and material that is needed to operate your surgeries and other equipment that is required for the care of your wounded. And we will work with other countries to make sure that their needs are met.

And it’s not only the physical wounds, but we know that there are also traumas, psychological problems that people who are in combat experience. And that’s especially true when the people who won this revolution were not professional soldiers. They came from all walks of life. They had – many of them never fired a gun before, and they are thrust into the bloodiest of conflicts, close quarter combat in places throughout the country.

So we feel very strongly that we want to support taking care of the injured, the wounded, in body and mind, and we want to work with Libya to be able to care of your own people. So that’s one of my pledges to you.

My goodness. Yes, young woman right there. Second in, yes.

QUESTION: Hello. I’m Mana Whity, student in athletics department at Tripoli University. I would like to thank you for coming here. I’m a bit nervous. I got a question for you: To my knowledge, the Qadhafi regime has been created under Libyan (inaudible) and under support of some Western countries. What measure the United States will present to us to prevent such a regime to be created again – sorry – especially in Libya?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that, certainly, the most important thing now is to make sure that Qadhafi and his regime are finally prevented from disrupting the new Libya. And as you know, we had a very hostile relationship with Qadhafi over many years because of his behavior and because of his actions, both inside of Libya and outside of Libya. We did appreciate the decision that he made a few years ago to do away with his nuclear program, because that made it possible for the world to be safer and eventually for you to be more secure in your revolution.

So we want to do everything we can to prevent him from causing trouble for the new Libya. We want to make sure he’s brought to justice, along with the people around him, his family members and others who are still supporting him. And that’s what we intend to do to try to help protect civilians from any reprisals by Qadhafi coming out of anywhere. We don’t know where he is, but we hope he can be captured or killed soon so that you don’t have to fear him any longer, and then you have to move forward.

One of the problems you will face is how to reconcile different people, how you will bring people into a new Libya and not spend your time trying to settle scores from the past. That will be very hard. Countries that have succeeded, like Chile or South Africa, have been incredibly successful. Even Rwanda, where 800,000 people were killed, has kept its eye on the future. Countries that keep looking over their shoulders toward the past and they want to find the guy who did the bad thing to their family 20 years ago and they want to do this and they want to do that find it difficult to move forward. There’s a saying in my country: “You can’t drive forward if you’re looking in the rearview mirror.” So how do you overcome all of those terrible experiences and feelings and stay focused on the future? That will be a hard task for Libya. But I know you can do it.

Oh my goodness. Let’s see, how many more questions do we have? Let me see here. I want to be sure to be fair in getting as many as possible. Let me – this man right there, yep, and then I’ll come to you next, okay?

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) from the library and information section (inaudible) from the removal of (inaudible) that caused disturbance not only to Libyans, but to the entire world because I did the documentation and archivals. My question is: What can be a helpful exchange between our two countries, especially with information management and libraries, and indexation such as for instance having something like the Library of Congress is very famous in the whole world, such (inaudible) has to do with all the departments of a university. How can you help us with this kind of expertise? And thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Could you repeat the question?

INTERPRETER: Yes. The question pertains, Madam Secretary, to his field. He works in the archival and library and information management of libraries. He’s very fascinated with the Library of Congress type of proto model and was wondering how could the United States help his university, his section – he’s with the entire university – how could the United States offer such expertise to this field, which is very important in information management and libraries and index section.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that. I think it’s a very good question, and I will, again, take it back to the United States. I will speak with our archivists and our library experts. You’re right that the Library of Congress is a magnificent institution, and we’ll see if we can provide some specific support for your information systems here. So I hope that you will contact – I hope that the young dentist and I hope you, sir, will come down and introduce yourself to our ambassador so we can follow up with each of you, okay? Good.

And yes, uh-huh.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think she’ll wait, and then once you’ve asked the question, she’ll translate the whole question so we can hear it more easily.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, my question that pertains to the following: We believe that there is a new political philosophy for our country, that is, what is referred to usually as a liberalcrat or something to that effect. Do you believe that such a philosophy can happen here, and how can we promote it and make it happen?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am not an expert on any particular new philosophy, so I cannot address the specific question you asked me. I can only tell you that I think there will be room for many philosophies in the new Libya, because people will present points of view and you will be able to test them and argue about them and present your case about them. And I think through that kind of exchange of views in the political process, in the media, in the university, you can come to what are the best answers for Libya.

So you may have one philosophy and someone sitting over here may have a different philosophy, but the two of you together perhaps can come up with ways of presenting your views that will help move Libya forward. And I think that should be the goal of everyone. What will make – at the end of your efforts, are the people of Libya better off when you stopped than when you started? Is the country coming together or pulling apart? Are you creating a political and economic model that will be sustainable over the generations?

Those should be the questions I would hope you would keep in mind. Are we making lives better through what we are doing? Are we bringing people together? Are we creating systems that will truly stand the test of time? And I think every philosophy should be judged against those kinds of questions.

Yes, young woman right there? Yeah.

MODERATOR: We will have one more time for questioning.

SECRETARY CLINTON: This – okay, I’ve called on this woman, the second row, second seat here. There you go.

MODERATOR: Will you please pass the –

QUESTION: Hi, (inaudible) from the Voice of Libyan Women. I was wondering, as a woman who fought her way into politics on your own, what’s your opinion about quota?



SECRETARY CLINTON: Quotas. That’s never been an issue in my country, but it has been an issue in many countries and I think that there are many systems where quotas have been absolutely necessary in order for women to get their foot in the door. So I would suggest that you and your colleagues look at all the different kinds of quota systems. There are quota systems in India, there are quota systems in many countries in Africa, in other places in Asia. So there are many countries which made the decision that in order to ensure that women were – women’s voices were at the table, there had to be seats set aside for women. And I think that makes a lot of sense in many different countries.

So I would urge you to do a study, look at what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, and where the results have made it possible for more women to participate in political life. And it very well might work here in Libya because you’re starting from a new system and nobody is an expert in it. It’s going to be brand new. And I think you want to be sure that women’s voices are not eliminated from the very beginning of your democratic process because it would be hard to catch up.

So I think I would favor some form for Libya to start with, but I don’t have an opinion about what that would look like. You would have to design it.

QUESTION: I have a question.

You know what? There are so many hands that are up and –

MODERATOR: Sorry about that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me, if I may, Mr. President. If you will do this, Ambassador Cretz, will you stand up and will people who work with you at our Embassy, will you raise your hand? Any of our people from the Embassy, if you give your question to any of these men and women who work at our Embassy, I will answer your question and they will get the answer back to you, but – and I know there are about a hundred left, so I will do that to all of you. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Okay. We would like to thank very much, Your Excellency. Time is running out. And welcome back again to Libya. Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope to come back to the new Libya. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Okay. This is a promise. This is a promise, okay? (Applause.)

Thank you very much, President Krekshi and to all the deans and faculty and students of Tripoli University. Good afternoon. I am deeply honored to be here with you today. I appreciate greatly the president’s kind words about the support that our government provided. But the victory is yours, the future is yours, and it is a personal honor to be here in the heart of a liberated Tripoli, speaking to a brave generation of Libyans.


Middle East and North Africa Programs

For more information on programs administered by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), check out the DRL Programs page on State.gov!

DRL’s program in Algeria addresses the issue of in-country “disappearances.” The program implementer supports efforts of civil society organizations in studying, advocating, and reporting on credible alternatives for an inclusive, democratic and legitimate national reconciliation process.

Elections and Political Process Development Programs:
Two DRL elections and political process strengthening programs provide training to any interested Egyptian groups and coalitions including political parties in campaign management, media relations, and platform development. The projects also train women and youth how to engage effectively in the political process by learning about issue advocacy and how to vote. The programs also provide technical assistance to Egyptian poll observers and civil society groups to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and make sure all rules and regulations are followed. Participants in these programs are self-selected, and DRL does not fund direct support to political parties.

Labor Programs:
One DRL labor program helps to build the capacity of independent worker organizations. This project will also work to advocate for workers’ rights and promote freedom of expression and access to information about independent labor and trade unions. Another DRL labor program supports efforts to enhance freedom of association and improve collective bargaining at the local level. The project will assist in developing a campaign on worker’s rights as well as trainings on effective collective bargaining techniques, dispute resolution, and the enforcement of national legislation.

Independent Journalism and Media Program:
A DRL program works with interested local media outlets and reporters to provide multimedia journalism training, including electronic media. The program features specialized training for female and youth citizen journalists on election day coverage and integrating contributions of other citizen journalists into election reporting.

DRL supports programs in Iran that focus on democracy, human rights, and rule of law.

DRL has a robust Iraq program and is one of the lead bureaus in the promotion of democracy and human rights in-country.

DRL programs focus on democracy and governance, human rights, and women’s issues.

One DRL democracy and governance program seeks to train Iraqi activists who will eventually be able to serve as full-time in-house trainers for political parties and civil society organizations at the regional and local levels. In addition, the program works with the legislative and executive branches to improve governance capacity.

Another DRL program focuses on human rights issues. The program implementer provides specialized research and training intended to expand and deepen the general population’s understanding of the historical context, scope, legal underpinnings, and practical functions of the Human Rights Commission. In addition, the program provides community outreach and assists the National Human Rights Commission to establish popular legitimacy as well as constitutional legitimacy.

A successful DRL program focused on women’s issues trains women in the media and provides media access and outlets for, by and about women. Through the program implementer’s trainings and mentoring, the program seeks to stimulate political dialogue, enhance women’s issues media coverage, and to galvanize support for women’s human rights.

Current DRL programs in Jordan focus on independent media and the economic empowerment of women.

DRL’s partner implementer seeks to improve the reporting skills of broadcast media professionals, develop women’s radio production skills, develop a radio business news program, and provide accountability on issues ranging from human rights to rule of law.

Another DRL program in Jordan enhances the capacity of civil society and strengthens women’s civil society coalitions, especially at the grassroots levels. The program intends to increase mobilization and action on working women’s rights; develop women’s skills as educators and organizers; assist women to develop strategic alliances with local, national, and international NGOs; and increase public awareness and support for working women’s priorities.

The robust DRL programming in Lebanon focuses on such topics as electoral reform, independent media, the rule of law, and civic and political participation targeting youth and women.

One DRL program implementer provides technical assistance to improve the legal framework for elections in Lebanon and to increase the capacity of electoral authorities so that future elections can be managed in a professional manner, according to accepted international standards.

Another DRL partner seeks to stimulate a national dialogue on challenges facing the country, inform decision-makers of citizen priorities, and help political parties and other civil society organizations reach out to the Lebanese public across confessional lines. The development of issue-based policy is critical to supporting sustainable democratic practices and institutions in Lebanon.

In addition, DRL supports a clinical education program aimed at strengthening the rule of law in Lebanon. Young law students will gain public advocacy skills and provide pro bono consultations to communities that lack access to human rights representation.

DRL programming in Morocco supports the rule of law through human rights law education and prison monitoring.

A DRL partner works to open a law clinic focusing on human rights and public interest law on a pilot basis and in partnership with a Moroccan law school. The clinic will include a public education component for advanced students to conduct public legal education and outreach activities at local schools and in the community.

Another DRL initiative enhances the ability of a local partner NGO to process and monitor prisoner complaints, raise awareness of the treatment of prisoners, and conduct advocacy on behalf of prisoner rights.

Saudi Arabia
DRL supports good governance initiatives in Saudi Arabia.

DRL’s partner organization seeks to address the strengthening of legislative projects and political leadership capacity-building; broaden the exposure of Saudi officials to democratic practices; and promote transparency, oversight, and anti-corruption in municipal councils. This program also works to improve the political environment and receptivity for future programs implemented within the Kingdom.

DRL’s Syria programs support democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

West Bank/Gaza
In the West Bank and Gaza, DRL supports anti-corruption and conflict resolution programs.

One DRL program provides Palestinian youth an understanding of corruption and how to combat it through transparency, accountability, and integrity.

Another DRL program is designed to build the capacity of Palestinian Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers and administrators to incorporate age-appropriate peace and conflict resolution curricula into ECD programs operated by NGOs throughout the West Bank and Gaza.


Secretary Clinton: Remarks at Town Hall with Omani Civil Society


MODERATOR: (In Arabic.) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I’m honored to be given the opportunity to welcome Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton this morning. Welcome to Oman, Your Excellency. We appreciate you taking the time to visit with us today. We understand you have a very busy, demanding schedule. So we truly are grateful for your audience this morning.

Civil society is the basis for a thriving, functioning society. It is not a substitute for, but rather an ideal complement to the state-backed structures of government and commercial institutions of the market. The civil society in Oman made up of different association, commissions, and nonprofits blur the boundaries between the government and private sectors at times working independently, but more often than not with an active support of either or both sectors contributing in its own unique way to enrich the community as a whole.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in his far-reaching vision set up the foundation for a strong civil society early on encouraging more participation and giving people the means to be active citizen beginning his reign in July, 1970 with these words: “My people, I will proceed as quickly as possible to transform your life into a prosperous one with a bright future. Every one of you must play his part towards this goal.”

The people of Oman took up His Majesty’s goal, and today the role played by various NGOs and nonprofits across the sultanate is vital in raising awareness about important issues, organizing relief programs, and providing services at the grassroots level. Civil society initiatives in Oman have been able to indirectly affect change in public policies by engaging and motivating people to work together towards the greater common good whether it being the field of cancer awareness, disabled welfare, environment concerns, or education. The list goes on.

Initiating and coordinating events and outreach programs that matter to the people is the driving force behind all the work that is carried out in the daily basis by dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and effort to affect the change they want to see in their communities. It is gratifying to see everyone, citizen and expatriates alike, working together. We have seen repeatedly that the determination of a dedicated few can achieve much. There are always challenges that are faced, especially when setting up unprecedented initiatives. But anyone who does this type of work will assure you volunteerism is its own reward.

I’m very grateful to be able to contribute in whatever small way I can to promote this growing nation. However, I remain aware of what a great privilege it is to be able to carry out the work we do, and I’m humbled by His Majesty’s vision and the overwhelming positive response received from different government institutions, members of the private sector, and the individual philanthropist, as well as the support we receive from regional and international affiliates who generously share their experiences and best practices with us. Together we can and we do make a difference.

Once again, thank you, Your Excellency. We appreciate you taking the time to address these important very relevant issues with members of the civil societies here in Oman. You are a renowned champion of human rights and civil society and have galvanized a global movement for women rights as the First Lady, the first female elected to the U.S. Senate, and now as the Secretary of State. We hope you will have a chance to visit some of the impressive sites we have in Oman during your short stay and enjoy some Omani hospitality before you return to your snowy winter weather in the States.

You need no introduction, Madam Secretary. Please take the platform.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much, Yuthar, and thank you for your leadership on behalf of civil society and, in particular, awareness of cancer and other health challenges. It is wonderful being here. I want to thank Ambassador and Mrs. Schmierer for helping to arrange this town hall meeting.

I want to also thank the Zubair family for inviting us into this really impressive complex, and I had a chance before coming into the room to see a traditional Omani home and become convinced that the use of wind is a probably more efficient way to cool than the use of air conditioning.

And I am so pleased to be here in Oman. This is my first visit. It is, unfortunately, going to be a short one. So it will whet my appetite, and I will particularly think of Oman as I return back to all that snow and cold weather.

But I, first and foremost, wish to underscore the point that because of His Majesty’s vision 40 years ago, Oman has made more progress than any other nation in the world in the last 40 years. According to the United Nations statistics, I am now in the country that has shown greater progress. And in addition to the improvements in the lives of the Omani people, Oman stands out as a nation that has achieved not only stability at home, but peace with your neighbors and the kind of human progress that is especially important. America values your country and the people of Oman as a friend and partner.

The free trade agreement that we signed in 2006 has brought our people even closer together and helped to create jobs and widen prosperity in both of our countries. We certainly see that agreement not only as an opportunity to open markets and exchange goods, but to exchange ideas about sustainable development and how to, as we connect with the global economy to ensure that we provide benefits to all of our people.

I know that human security is not just an absence of violence; it is the presence of opportunity. And Oman has shown that it is possible for a nation to focus on education, to empower women and girls, and to put people at the center of its development strategy. I was told in preparing for my visit that just 40 years ago the entire country had only three primary schools which educated fewer than 1,000 boys and no girls. And today, you have universal education, something that is still not obtained by every country in the region and beyond. You have women and men studying at the universities.

And it is apparent to me that when the UN Development Program ranked Oman as the world’s most improved country in human development since 1970, it was because not of the great infrastructure, the impressive modern airport, all of the physical manifestation of a country that has worked hard for 40 years, but because of the quality of the improvement in people’s lives.

I think that education remains a key to Oman’s future. That’s why we’re working together with the ministry of education and civil society to recruit talented students for exchange programs like the Fulbright Scholarship, Women in Science, and Leaders for Democracy Fellowship. The number of Omanis studying in America is on the rise, but I personally would like to see it grow even more.

We see a generation larger than any we have ever seen coming of age in the greater Middle East. And these young people are looking for opportunities and freedoms and greater voice in their societies. Yesterday in Sana’a, I had a town hall, and most of the people there were young people, students, young graduates of university, and we ended the town hall with a young woman and a young man who expressed their desire to make a contribution to their country, and how they can see your neighbor provide some of the same benefits that are provided here.

I think that the challenge facing countries in the 21st century is to recognize this high expectation. Young people today are connected globally, but focused locally. They want to see improvements in their own circumstances. And that’s where nongovernmental organizations come in, because as committed as governments can be – and certainly the government here of His Majesty is very committed as we have seen for the last 40 years – governments need partners. And some governments recognize that and embrace civil society, and some governments try to shut the door to citizens working to improve themselves and their communities.

We believe in the United States that nongovernmental organizations play a critical role in helping to empower citizens, articulate needs, push for education and healthcare, progress in human rights and the rule of law. And we know that there are many Omani groups, like the General Federation of Oman Trade Unions that protect the rights of people who work in Oman today – not only laborers, but graduates of universities.

I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Tawasul, the first independent think tank. And through its We Work project, it’s increasing the capacity of local organizations to engage in public discussion and to train female candidates for this year’s consultative council elections. And while I’m at it, I want to congratulate the all-female Omani teams who in recent years have won youth entrepreneurships contests across the Arab world.

There’s so much I want to learn from you, and I’m looking forward to our discussion today to hear your ideas, your questions about what we can do as partners and friends to continue to provide greater opportunity, and some of the views that you have about what more can be done in your own country and in the larger region.

Coming from Yemen as I did yesterday and landing here in your country has certainly highlighted the challenges that exist within a very small geographic area. And we have to ask ourselves in addition to good leadership, which Oman has enjoyed for 40 years – and I will congratulate His Majesty on the 40 years of his leadership – what are the other ingredients that has made Oman so successful. Because if I could bottle it, I would take it to some other places near and far and try to persuade leaders and citizens alike to make the same decisions, to walk the same path, and to recognize that when we invest in the future of our young people, we are doing the most important work we are called to do here on earth to give our children a chance to fulfill their own God-given potential. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Your Excellency, for an informative and inspiring talk. Can you hear me? Everybody can hear?

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, before I open the floor for questions, I would like to tell you that around – we’ll have just not a lot of time. So please if you can keep your interjection as short as possible so that we have more time for everybody to speak and ask questions, or just make a short remark.

Please introduce yourself briefly before asking your question or making your comments. There is an interpreter on hand, so you can you address your remarks to Madam Clinton in both Arabic and English. I have an honor to ask the first question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s the prerogative of the moderator. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Your Excellency, where are areas, in your opinion, given your recent tour of the region, where civil society can play a more active role?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly believe that Yemen is an example of that. Now, Yemen does have a very active NGO community. Many thousands of NGOs have formed, but they don’t yet have the voice and the space that would enable them to contribute as much as possible to their nation’s future. So that’s one example. And in other countries in the region, civil society is really just taking off. It doesn’t have the 40-year history that you were referring to, Yuthar. And there are so many needs not only in this region, but around the world. I’ll just mention one, because I see it increasingly, and that’s how to help people with disabilities, because there are so many more people, young and old, who survive that didn’t survive 40 years ago who have disabilities of various sorts and societies have to work to try to find ways to empower such people. This is something I’ve worked on for many years in my own country, but I hear about it.

I’ll be in Qatar later, and we’ve been talking with the Qataris about their desire to do more for people with disabilities. So there’s a growing awareness of the need, and as we thankfully and hopefully see people living longer, it’s more likely that more of us will have some infirmity due to age if nothing else. And so working to try to encourage changes that support people with disabilities is an area that is just beginning to be paid a lot of attention in the region.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Your Excellency. Now, I will open questions to the floor. Anybody who would like to ask a question, please, so we can get the mike to you. Can you get the mike here in the front, please?

QUESTION: (Inaudible), and I’ve also had the honor of serving in the U.S. Embassy before, and I’m now working with a variety of NGOs. I would – actually I had a few questions, but they were on different topics. Since the topic going to be on civil society, I would like to draw on your comment and your question – and your comments regarding the use. They are connected globally, but focused locally, and how we have to help them identify the needs and organize them.

I would like to have this in mind and ask what is the essential component within the U.S. foreign policy to address these issues basing in mind the answer to the question that what made Oman successful is that mutual respect and none assumption. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent point. As I say, I wish I could bottle the ingredients that have worked so well to promote human development here in Oman. But in American foreign policy, I have asked my team in the State Department to put together a policy aimed at empowering and equipping young people around the world to meet the challenges that they confront. We are looking at a wide range of ways of trying to assist young people, particularly in developing less-developed countries.

Now, technology is a thing that can be both positive and negative. On the positive side, it does open all kinds of windows of information to people that can help equip young people with a vision about their own future, an access to information and even education, long distance if necessary, that can be of assistance.

So we are looking to see how we can better use access to information. For example, we are running contests in Africa and asking young people to design applications that will solve a problem in their community. And we’ve just given out some of the first awards and here are two examples. One is using cell phones for farmers to get information about the weather and prices that they never had access to before. They’re often in areas without electricity. So thanks to wireless technology, you now have small land-holding African farmers connected to the global marketplace. Another example: Using cell phones so that pregnant women can get access to information about how to have a better pregnancy – what to eat, what signs to look for in case of problems, and the like. So those are two examples about how technology has helped – and it’s young people doing it. It’s certainly not people my age doing it. It’s young people who are designing these applications.

Another is the educational exchange that I mentioned in the – in my remarks. The more we can exchange views and the more that people can visit each other’s culture, attend classes in another’s country – when I was in Dubai, I met with what are called the Clinton Scholars, and these are young Americans in a program named for my husband set up by the Government of Dubai to bring young American students for a semester – study Arabic, study Islam, meet people, go into people’s homes. We want to do more of that going in both directions because we think that is also a way to have the kind of people-to-people contacts that you can’t really accomplish just through technology.

And finally, we are working in the Obama Administration to promote entrepreneurship. We held our first President’s Entrepreneurship Summit last year and we focused on the Muslim world, in particular the Middle East, North Africa, but as far away as Malaysia and Indonesia. Because we want to have a conversation with governments about how to open up their economies so that more young people feel they can start businesses and can be entrepreneurs, whether it’s in internet businesses or more traditional businesses. And we’ve created, online, a network of entrepreneurs to provide assistance, answer questions, help with business plans. Because there is so much potential for economic opportunity, but it hasn’t been developed in many parts of the world.

So those are three of the ways we’re trying to open doors to young people around the world as part of our foreign policy.

MODERATOR: Thank you, excellent. Another question? Can we have the lady there? Sorry, I didn’t see her face on my – thank you.

QUESTION: Hello, I’m Wanna Handan. I’m working in ISAC. We’re a student-run organization globally and we’re working on some of the things that you just mentioned – exchange, which is our core program, where we send Omanis abroad and we receive internationals working here – here, sorry.

And my question to you is: How do you see the cooperation between youth, namely in ISAC, and the U.S. Embassy here to support your initiatives which you just mentioned?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to be sure that our embassies, our Ambassador and our teams here in Oman help support, with technical assistance and with small funding grants where appropriate, groups like what you’re describing, that are operating on the ground, in your own culture, based on your own assessment of what the needs are.

I mean, the last thing in the world I want is for me as Secretary of State or our Ambassador or anyone else from our country coming and saying, “Oh, here’s what we think Oman needs.” That’s not the kind of partnership and friendship we are seeking. What we want to do is to say, “Well, how do you think you can best provide more opportunities, empower young people, connect up to not only the global economy, but sort of the global information network?” And then to try to support what you do here locally.

It was very touching to me yesterday in Yemen. One of the young women who asked a question said that she had gotten a good education and then a chance to study in the United States, and then her goal is to come and live in Yemen and help her own people, she said. But sometimes, the people around her say, “Well, you went away for education, and so you’re bringing foreign ideas,” when what we want is to provide as much education as possible in order to help equip particularly young people to work within their own societies. And that is our goal and that’s why we want to find more ways of trying to help do that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Okay. Another? Should we have – sorry, can we have somebody here in the front? I’m trying to sort of divide it. Please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s always the hardest job – (laughter) –


SECRETARY CLINTON: — is picking the hands.

MODERATOR: Wait till I finish, then I’ll have the hands. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a very warm welcome to Oman. If you allow me to start with a critical part of the queries, I work for the Environment Society of Oman and the issue of the United States positioning on climate change since the failure of COP 15 and what has happened in – lately in Cancun does not bring great news to environmentalists.

Is there – we look upon EPA, for example, the Environment Protection Agency in the U.S. as one of the beautiful examples of how the federal agencies can work together in order to harness environmental concerns. But in terms of the U.S. position regarding climate change and issues of this nature post-Kyoto Protocol, what is it that we are looking at in this term? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for that, and thank you for your obvious interest and commitment to this issue.

Let me start by saying that President Obama and the Obama Administration are very committed to doing everything we can to deal with the threats posed by climate change. And although the President was unable to achieve the legislative solution that he sought through our Congress, that has not prevented his Administration from moving very forcefully in regulation and action through Executive Branch agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency, of course, being the principal one. So, the so-called EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, is proceeding with the authority it already has to regulate emissions. And I think that there – it remains controversial in our country for political and ideological reasons, but it is a very high priority.

Secondly, I have a slightly different and perhaps more positive view about both Copenhagen and Cancun. It is absolutely true the international community was unable to arrive at the overall comprehensive approach that many believed was necessary. But starting in Copenhagen, a very important step forward did occur, namely, that the developed countries such as the United States and the rapidly developing countries such as China and India, Brazil, agreed that there had to be a framework that would calculate and evaluate emissions, and that it had to be transparent so that the information was universally available on the internet so that the world could see how both the developed and the developing countries were dealing with climate change.

Now, that was not accepted at COP 16 – or COP 15, but it was a principle that we found at Cancun provided the foundation for what was accepted by the conference. And there were some important commitments made in Cancun that yes, there had to be transparency and publicizing of what emission levels were, what regulatory and legislative actions countries were going to pursue. And very importantly, for developing countries, particularly poor countries, and especially island nations that are literally at threat of being overwhelmed by ocean level rise, there was a commitment to a financial package that would help such countries mitigate against that damage.

So we certainly were disappointed that we didn’t have the legislative framework that the President had sought, but we were satisfied that given the progress that was capable, we were putting, to use an American phrase, points on the board. Now, there’s much more to be done, and we look forward to COP 17 in South Africa where we can evaluate what has been accomplished, and take additional steps.

So I think that the glass may be half full or half empty, depending upon how one looks at it, but two years on, we’ve actually moved from rhetoric to a framework for action that is going to at least make something of a difference.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Any more questions? Somebody in the middle there, can you just get a mike? There are three people, actually. You have to choose now.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

MODERATOR: Can you answer – a translator there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have a translator right there.

MODERATOR: Yeah, okay.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: You have to stop so the translator can translate as you go. (Laughter.) I always make that mistake; I get carried away.

MODERATOR: I didn’t want to disturb her.

INTERPRETER: Madam Secretary, basically, the question is that this is Amira Actalavi. She worked in academia and she’s very impressed by you being a female U.S. Secretary of State as well as a wife and a mother. And very recently, your daughter got married and –

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

INTERPRETER: What are the suggestions that you would put forth to tell women in this region – for every woman to believe how she can fulfill her own aspirations and rise up to the expectations?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think this is probably the most common question I’m asked everywhere in the world, whether it’s a country in Latin America or a country in Asia or Africa or here in the Middle East. I am very supportive, as you know, in educating girls and young women so that they can make the most responsible decisions for themselves, their families, and their societies. And I applaud what Oman has done to help equip your girls and women to make those decisions.

Secondly, I believe that women should be able within their societies to make decisions about the path of life that they choose. I’ve had women friends, now going back my entire adult life, who have made very different decisions. I’ve had women friends who married early, had their children, raised their family, and then went into the workforce. I’ve had women friends who did not marry till later in life and then had their children. I’ve had many women who have both worked and balanced that work with their family responsibilities.

And what I would always hope for is that societies would respect and support responsible decisions by women and men. For me, balancing family and work has been the approach that I have taken. But I always say, because I deeply believe, that the most important job any parent has, mother and father, is caring for the next generation – one’s children and then one’s grandchildren.

So at different points along a woman’s life, you may emphasize that more than at other times. So what we want is for societies to support women being able to go in and out of the workforce, because there’s a tremendous amount of talent in 50 percent of the population. So I would like to see more support for young mothers so that they can concentrate on being the best mothers to their young children as possible. I’d like to see opportunities for women to continue their education, even when they’re raising their family, and I’d like to see more opportunities for women to combine family responsibilities, particularly motherhood, with outside employment if that is what they choose or they need.

Because certainly, when we have these discussions among people like ourselves who are educated and very privileged, we forget that every day in every society, millions and millions of women have no choice. They leave their children alone, they leave their children in the care of others because they have to work either to contribute to the family income or because they are the only source of income. And I have met with many widows from Iraq, from Afghanistan. I’ve met with many refugee women. I’ve met with many women whose husbands are far from home or even in prison because of political activity of one sort or another, in addition to women who, from economic necessity, must work.

So a woman like me had a very clear choice, and I was fortunate to have a supportive family and a situation where I could be a law professor, I could be a lawyer, I could afford to have someone in my home helping to care for my daughter when I was at work. My husband was very involved. So I had a wonderful set of circumstances. That is not the case for many, many women in my own country, let alone around the world.

So if we believe that motherhood and caring for the next generation is an important priority for every society, then let’s be sure that we help support girls and women to be able to do that and to be given the tools that they need in life to be successful at doing that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I think there’s another, Asma. Yeah, Asma, you can come.

QUESTION: As-Salāmu `Alaykum. My name is Asma Harusi. I’m an interpreter and a businesswoman. I was honored to have been sent to San Diego for – by the State Department with MEPI, which is an executive business training, San Diego – we had a lot of interaction with MENA region, which is the Middle East and North Africa. This was two years ago, but since then we’ve been told the funds have been stopped and because the funds were set up by the Bush Administration.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, actually we are very supportive of MEPI.

QUESTION: That was the MEET program, MEET program, and MENA region is the Middle East –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you know if that was the program, Richard?

STAFF: Yes, it’s for – to – for women and –

QUESTION: Yes – no, it was for men and women. We were both from Middle East and North Africa, but it was female and male.

MODERATOR: Okay. So what’s your question?

QUESTION: This was – the thing is, by doing so – which I thought it was very interactive with other – we had also the Israeli women, and we came to be very friendly, and we – I mean, I – as an Arab, focusing on all the politics coming up, Israelis are enemies, but having interacted with them, we have a lot in common.


QUESTION: I would like to know, you, as your Administration, since you’ve been in the Administration for two years, what have you done for the Arab womens to interact with the Israelis?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an excellent question, and the program that you’re referring to is one that we are very committed to. We’ve had some budget challenges that we inherited that we’re trying to work through, as you know. But the larger point you make is one that I’d like to focus on. What I have found in the work I’ve done over many years is that you cannot wipe away the history and the differences, but you can begin to create some awareness of common concerns that people have, no matter who they are and where they are.

I’ve seen this work in many different settings around the world and have been involved in it. And when I was First Lady, I helped to start a program called Vital Voices, and Melanne Verveer, who is here with me, ran it for a long time. She is now the first ever American ambassador for global women’s affairs. And part of what we’ve tried to do is to bring women from different backgrounds, whether it was in Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics, or whether in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis, or whether in Africa between different tribes, or in Latin America between insurgents and opposition. So we have tried to create these opportunities for people to sit at the same table and talk through their perspectives. And it is – I mean, it is really a common experience that people all of a sudden say, “I didn’t know you cared about that.”

And I’ll give you a quick example from outside the Middle East. When we were doing this work in Northern Ireland, I put together the first-ever meeting between leaders of Catholic women and leaders of Protestant women. They had never had any opportunity to sit down and visit with each other. And it was a little tense to start with because they all came with a preconception about what the other was like. And all of a sudden, they began to talk and a woman would say, “I worry every day when my husband goes to work that he may not come back alive.” And another woman would say, “I worry every night when my son goes out with his friends that he may not come back alive.” And all of a sudden, as women, as wives, as mothers, they began to realize that this violence was ripping apart both of their families and both of their communities. And women played a major role in pushing the politicians to find some solution. It was very clear that there just couldn’t be a divide when people on both sides were suffering in the same way.

Now, there is some – there’s a lot of work that we need to do in this world to try to create that awareness, because through that perhaps can come pressure on governments and leaders to make the necessary decisions that will lead to sustainable peace. I’m very committed to doing everything I can in the Middle East to bring Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Israelis, to lasting resolution of the ongoing conflict. And I think it can’t be done just at the top between leaders. I think it needs to also be between people, so I appreciate what you’ve said.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: How is Obama (inaudible)?


QUESTION: How is Obama (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: President Obama is doing well. (Laughter.) He’s doing very well.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Can we have another question from the gentleman? Where he is?

QUESTION: Thank you for being here. Will we see a joint ticket at the next election, Obama-Hillary – that’s one – and what will we see different?

And the second one, you said to support social society, civil society, giving money and information – you think this will be enough or more needed? Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am on President Obama’s team, and I’m working with him very hard. When I agreed to be his Secretary of State, many people were very surprised because I had run really hard against him, and he had run very hard against me. And I was trying to win and so was he, and he won and went on to be elected President and then asked me if I would be Secretary of State. And many people have asked me, “Well, how could you work with him and for him when you tried to beat him?” And I have a very simple answer: We both love our country, we both are committed to helping our people and trying to make a difference in the world so that our whole world is more peaceful and prosperous. So we are very committed to a lot of the same goals.

And with respect to civil society, I would just underscore that it makes such a difference to harness the intelligence and the energy of people who are willing to work peacefully toward change. There are many places in the world today where people think they can bring about change through terrorism or violence, and to me, that is very negative and causes more suffering. And to support civil society, to support people who are operating on our common humanity, is what I look for.

I just have to say this one story, because I’m so touched by it. There’s a woman doctor in Somalia, who, through all of the conflict in Somalia, has taken care of thousands of people. She’s helped women deliver their babies, she has performed surgeries. She has two daughters who are doctors, she’s a widow, her son died in a car accident, so three women alone who run this hospital on the property of her family. And when they were attacked a few months ago by young boys carrying automatic weapons who were a part of one of the terrorist groups, Al-Shabaab, they came in and they were shooting x-ray machines, and they were breaking furniture and overturning what she had spent a lifetime building up to take care of people. And they confronted her with their weapons and they were trying to take her away. And she said, “No, you can kill me, but I’m not leaving. All these people depend on me. I am trying to heal people. What are you doing to help people?” I mean, it is such a powerful story. And thankfully, so far, they have left her alone. She’s now trying to rebuild her hospital and continue serving people.

But that’s civil society at its best in one of the worst of situations. It’s not the government doing it. It’s individuals. And when she was confronting these young men, women from – who had camped out on her property with their sick babies and their injured husbands and sons, they all came and surrounded her to say, “Please, think about what we can do together to build, not destroy.” And to me, that is at the core of civil society, and it has to be protected not just in places like Oman and the United States that are peaceful, but in the worst places that have so many challenges that have to be addressed.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I’m sorry we cannot take any more questions. I’m really sorry, I’m sorry. She has an appointment that she has to –

SECRETARY CLINTON: But let me suggest, Ambassador, if we could open a website on the Embassy, I will – if you email me your questions or text them, I will get around to trying to answer every question –

MODERATOR: That’s very kind of you. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — because I feel so grateful that we’ve had this chance to have this discussion.

MODERATOR: It’s a short time. You need to come back again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will come back. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.


U.S. Supports the Drafting of the Ombudsman’s First Report on the Constitutional Justice Observatory

Within the framework of the International Day of Human Rights, the Ombudsman’s Constitutional Justice Observatory launched the report entitled 15 years of Constitutional Jurisprudence. USAID’s Human Rights Program provided gfinancial and technical support for the report which was formally presented in an event held in the Bolivar Room of the Tequendema Hotel. Among those present at the event were Colombian Ombudsman Volmar Perez; USAID’s director for Human Rights in Colombia Jene Thomas; top Colombian officials from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches; as well as academics and representatives from social organizations. USAID’s initiative for this project totalled $90 million Colombian pesos.

The document is a collection of academic works that examine some of the Constitutional Court’s sentences since 2001 and was drafted by a group of officials from the Office of the Ombudsman. USAID helped to strengthen this group by providing the support of an external consultant. The report compiles sentences related to the protection of the rights of children, youth, the elderly, people with disabilities, prisoners, people with a different sexual orientation, people stricken by poverty, ethnic groups, victims of forced displacement and labor unionists. It also includes sentences on basic rights in the criminal process, habeas corpus, habeas data, the right to petition, and the right to political participation as well as collective rights.  The report also includes analyses of jurisprudence issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as accepted by the Colombian government.

This first report is a valuable reference tool for judicial operators, public officials, teachers, researchers and academicians, as well as social leaders, human rights’ and victims’ organizations, and the public in general.
Bogota D.C., December 10, 2008


U.S. Supports Staging of Play Against Child Abuse

In an effort to kindle an artistic and learning expression that seeks to educate people on respect for the human rights of children of all ages, a children’s play entitled Pataplín Rataplán, All against Child Abuse, opened Thursday May 27 at 8:00 a.m., at the Jorge Eliecer Gaitan theatre in Bogotá. Over 2,000 schoolchildren from different schools in Bogotá attended this opening. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided technical and financial resources for $25,000 dollars to the La Baranda Theatre Foundation, in charge of setting this stage representation.

This grand adventure, with characters such as the evil Maltra Tor and Perver Sa, and General Pataplin as the children’s champion, tells a tale that seeks to introduce the audience to the rights of children and youth. The skit shows how grown-ups sometimes can do and say things that may lead to violence, and shows how to avoid child abuse.

In addition to the Foundation’s creative support, other organizations contributed to setting up the play: the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), the Sisma Mujer Corporation, the Children and Youth Police, the District’s Education Secretariat and its Health to School Program, the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as teachers and students from various schools around Bogota.

Bogota, D.C., May 28, 2010


Secretary Clinton’s October 30-November 1 Visit to Cambodia

Secretary Clinton’s two-day trip to Cambodia October 30-November 1 highlights the United States commitment to enhanced, sustained, and comprehensive engagement in Southeast Asia, as well as our desire to assist the Cambodian people in their efforts to recover fully from decades of conflict, to achieve political and legal reforms, and to strengthen economic development. This trip is the first Secretary of State visit to Cambodia since then-Secretary Powell visited in 2003.

The United States has a strong interest in a Cambodia that contributes to regional stability, upholds democratic values, and integrates fully into the international economy. Our wide-ranging assistance programs touch on all aspects of Cambodian life and affirm these strategic interests. Secretary Clinton will encourage Cambodia to continue its recovery from conflict and its progress on democratic development. She will stress the importance of a credible opposition and respect for human rights in a stable, well-functioning democracy and highlight our interest in seeing Cambodia continue to play a constructive role in regional stability. She will also express appreciation for the country’s rich cultural heritage and underscore the critical role Cambodia’s young citizens play in the country’s future prosperity and development.

Sustained and Deep Engagement with Cambodia: Our engagement with Cambodia achieves a variety of political, security and humanitarian objectives. The United States provided Cambodia more than U.S. $70 million in foreign assistance this year, which goes to addressing issues such as human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, corruption, maternal and child health, and humanitarian mine action. Our maturing security cooperation with Cambodia represents a joint commitment to ensuring international peace and security, and continuing the transformation of the Cambodian Armed Forces into a transparent, accountable, and professional military. The U.S. partnership with the Lower Mekong Initiative is another example of how we are engaging with Cambodia to promote a multilateral response to the transnational challenges we all share, such as climate change and infectious disease.

A Democratic, Secure, and Prosperous Future for Cambodia: Our commitment to a democratic, secure, and prosperous Cambodia is reflected in the nearly $7 million we have contributed to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Tribunal), which seeks to bring to justice the Khmer Rouge senior leaders and those most responsible for the atrocities of the late 1970s, while also serving as a model for Cambodian rule of law, judicial independence, and national reconciliation. While in Cambodia, Secretary Clinton will visit Tuol Sleng, the former Khmer Rouge torture and interrogation center, will emphasize the need to fight corruption and improve transparency in all parts of the government, and will meet with opposition leaders to highlight the importance of a vibrant political arena where all voices are heard.

The Role of Cambodia’s Youth: The Secretary’s participation in a town hall event will provide an important opportunity to have a free-flowing discussion with Cambodia youth about challenges and opportunities facing the country, and how the United States can help. In turn, her outreach to Cambodia’s youth will promote an even better understanding of the United States and our shared values.


Department of State Partners with the International Business Leaders Forum on Human Trafficking

Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis CdeBaca announced today that the Department of State will partner with the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) on an initiative to provide job and life-skills training to trafficking survivors in at least 13 hotel sites in Brazil, Vietnam, and Mexico. The initiative will integrate human trafficking survivors into the Youth Career Initiative (YCI), a six-month educational program encompassing participating hotels that include Marriott, Sheraton, and the InterContinental.

The goal of the initiative is to ensure that trafficking survivors have the skills and confidence to enter the formal job market, as well as provide one-to-one mentoring support throughout the training and for up to 6 months after graduation from the program to assist in their securing employment. Thanks to a unique partnership model with the international hotel industry, students gain relevant work skills in at least 15 hospitality specialties that span operational and administrative departments. The innovative program will not only empower trafficking survivors by providing the necessary support to rebuild their lives, but also has the potential to serve as a catalyst for other public-private partnerships to protect and serve victims of trafficking.

Ambassador CdeBaca was appointed by President Obama to direct the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State, where he serves as a Senior Advisor to Secretary Clinton and leads the United States’ global fight against contemporary forms of slavery. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) develops and implements the State Department’s policy for the protection of trafficking victims, prosecution of traffickers, and prevention of trafficking.

For more information, please contact:

Alberto Canovas, Programme Manager, Youth Career Initiative at alberto.canovas@iblf.org or +44 207 467 3643.

Shivvy Jervis, Press Liaison, International Business Leaders Forum at shivangini.jervis@iblf.org or +44 207 467 3650.

G/TIP Programs Jane Sigmon at SigmonJN@state.gov or (202) 312-9887.


Secretary Clinton Presents Awards for Corporate Excellence

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Denimatrix, Cisco and Mars, Inc. with the Secretary of State’s 2010 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) today. The ACE is given annually to U.S. businesses that exhibit good corporate citizenship, promote innovation, and advance democratic principles around the world.

This year’s small-to-medium-size enterprise winner is Denimatrix, for the company’s accomplishments in Guatemala. The textile and apparel company was chosen for reducing the environmental impact stemming from its production process, and reaching out to the community to help disadvantaged youth and the homeless.

This year’s winners in the multinational category are Cisco, for its programs in Israel, and Mars, Inc., for its work in Ghana. Cisco, the computer networking company, was chosen for helping to connect the Israeli and Palestinian economies and people, and engaging in several partnerships and initiatives to enhance technical capacity, connectivity, education, and opportunities for women and youth in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Mars, the confectionary manufacturer, was selected for improving farming methods, sensitizing communities against child labor, and promoting the overall well-being and sustainability of cocoa growing communities.

The three winners were chosen from 12 finalists. The other finalists were Alta Ventures in Mexico, Coca-Cola in Swaziland, Fiji Water in Fiji, GE in India, Intel in Costa Rica, PepsiCo in India, Qualcomm in China, Synopsys in Armenia, and Tang Energy in China.

Since 1999, the Secretary of State has conferred the ACE on U.S. businesses that meet social needs in diverse communities through activities in every region of the world. The Department of State is committed to working with the business community to further their best practices worldwide and to encourage efforts that improve lives at home and abroad. For more information, please visit: http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/ace/.


Disclaimer: The Office of Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy, in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, of the U.S. Department of State manages this site as a portal for international human rights related information from the United States Government. External links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.