The FINANCIAL — Encouraging international co-operation between civil society groups from OSCE participating States and Mediterranean Partners at a time of rapid change and transition in the Middle East and North Africa was highlighted at the start of a two-day conference in Vilnius.
The civil society conference, which is taking place two days before the OSCE Ministerial Council is a forum where more than 80 civil society representatives from OSCE participating States and the Mediterranean Partners of Co-operation will network, share ideas on electoral good practice, political participation, justice and legal reform. They will also discuss ways to counter intolerance and discrimination in democracies in transition.
During the working sessions, civil society representatives will draft recommendations to be presented to the OSCE Chairmanship ahead of the Ministerial Council, with regards to possible future engagement with civil society in Mediterranean Partner States.
Opening the conference, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Evaldas Ignatavičius said that civil society has been a key driver of political change in the Middle East and North Africa, and learning from the experiences of other countries could help civil society keep up the pace of reform.The conference is jointly organized by the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.