23rd - 26th June 2011

Exchange Forum in Tunisia highlights the fundamental role of civil society in the dialogue on the current democratic processes

The ‘Tunis Exchange Forum’ organised by the Anna Lindh Foundation concluded yesterday with a call to re-launch Mediterranean cooperation following the historic changes that are unfolding in the region.

The Forum, that was held in Tunisia from 23rd to the 26th June, ended after three days of debates and exchanges between the participants, who had the opportunity to share their experiences of involvement in the process of democratic transition and work on intercultural dialogue. The Forum overall included 8 thematic debate workshops, 100 presentations and exchanges of best practices and project ideas by civil society groups, and 6 presentation of resources for civil society action.

The Forum brought together 235 people between social and cultural activists, youth leaders and bloggers, coming from 37 Southern Mediterranean and European countries. The majority of participants were from the Anna Lindh Arab Networks in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine, Tunisia and Syria.

Three main issues were raised during the event: the role of social media as a new form of social and political activism; the challenge of social movements in countries that went through a revolution and new trends of artistic creation used as a tool for social change. What emerged from the three fields is the strong need to update the intercultural dialogue agenda of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, to address the short and long term needs of societies undergoing changes in the region.

The recommendations put forward by civil society members underlined the need to create a forum for civic education, to develop exchange programmes for professionals from the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean, and to provide technical support at different levels, including the participation of Arab communities in Europe in dialogue and exchange programmes.

The recommendations in the field of social media included the idea for a support fund for new social media initiatives that engage in dialogue and social responsibility, as well as the need to provide technical assistance in post-revolutionary countries, to help professionalize media channels and to train bloggers on issues like conflict resolution and diversity.

In the cultural field, participants highlighted the need to provide support in the development and reinforcement of cultural projects through financial aid, to invest in new forms of artistic creation in informal spaces, as well as to establish a ‘bank’ of cultural projects and a directory of artistic and cultural competences.

During closing ceremony of the Forum, Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation, underlined how this event constitutes a starting point for the preparation of the programme of the Foundation for the next three years, in particular for supporting democracy, human rights values and sustainable development through intercultural dialogue.

Kamel Jendoubi, the Tunisian President of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, addressing the participants at the closing ceremony, underlined as well the central role of civil society and youth in the historic process of democracy building that is going on in the Southern Mediterranean countries.

The Forum was co-organised with the Foundation for the Future and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in association with the UNESCO-ALECSO Club of Tunisia, the British Council, the European Broadcasting Union, the European Union’s External Action Service and the Ministry of Culture Tunisia.

The conference platform www.tunisforum.org acted as a tool to expand the debate over the online sphere, involving people through the social media facebook and twitter, and through blog posts from a team of EuroMed bloggers present at the event. The platform is being updated with videos, photos and resources from the event

For more information:

Visit the website
http://www.tunisforum.org

Read the blog posts by the participants and share your views on the event
http://tunisforum.org/blog

Watch videos and photos from the event
http://tunisforum.org/video