Following the 2011 Arab Awakening that led to democratic transitions in the North African countries of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, the region faces serious questions about good governance, economic growth, and democratic stability. High unemployment and economic stagnation, particularly among youth, threats to human and minority rights – all have the possibility of derailing progress across the region.
It is clear that while the process of democratic transition must be driven from within these societies, the international community must play a role in supporting that process. To help address these challenges, the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies (CTR) and the America-Bosnia Foundation (ABF) are launching the Mediterranean Basin Initiative with strategic partners from across the region.
The Initiative brings together policy makers, academics, the private sector, civil society activists, and women in leadership from the United States, the European Union, and the countries of Southeast Europe and North Africa in a collaborative, issue-focused framework built around the themes of stronger transatlantic economic cooperation, empowering civil society and women in leadership, and political and academic dialogue throughout the Mediterranean.
Inaugurating the Initiative with the Transatlantic Economic Forum at the SAIS campus in Washington in June 2013, we maintain focus on economic issues throughout the year with panel discussions, symposia, and conferences to enhance transatlantic economic cooperation.
The Mediterranean Civil Society and Women in Leadership Conference in Sarajevo in November 2013 will energize dialogue and communication among the countries of the Mediterranean at the grassroots level, and will launch the new Mediterranean Civil Society and Women in Leadership Association, to be based in Tunisia.
We believe the Mediterranean Basin Initiative will help to focus the attention and support of the international community on the complicated transitional processes in North Africa. Experience from southeast Europe over the last two decades informs our understanding of the longer-term nature of transition. Institutionalizing the cooperative networks established by the Initiative in the form of the Mediterranean Civil Society and Women in Leadership Association will help maintain this focus going forward.
In Washington, we will offer the Mastering Washington Seminar. This certificate program teaches civil society and women’s organization representatives to work effectively with the United States Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. Our intention is to help empower future generations of leaders in the Mediterranean.
Follow-up events will include country-specific events to highlight each country’s unique challenges, while situating them in the context of a Mediterranean Basin facing the same issues.
Dr. Daniel Hamilton
The Center for Transatlantic Relations
American Consortium on European Union Studies
EU Center of Excellence
Johns Hopkins University
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036