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The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) - “Supporting the Democratic Aspirations of the Tunisian People”

  • Young Tunisian with flag ©AP

    "As Tunisia's brave citizens chart a new democratic future, they continue to set an example for the region and the world. The United States remains committed to working with the government and people of Tunisia as they pursue a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic future." -Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, October 24, 2011

    MEPI continues to be a part of the US Government’s robust efforts to support the Tunisian people during and after their transition to democracy.  Since January 14, 2011, MEPI has been supporting more than 30 projects in Tunisia working directly with Tunisian society. MEPI currently supports programming to enhance civil society, expand freedom of expression and strengthen political participation, advance the rule of law, and widen economic opportunity.

    Enhancing Tunisian Civil Society

    MEPI continues to expand its engagement with local civil society organizations through its unique local grants program, which directly supports civic groups throughout the country. MEPI local grants respond to priorities and proposals from local organizations, ensuring that Tunisians remain in front of their democratic transition and have opportunities to get involved in civic life. Since January 2011, MEPI’s Regional Office in Tunis has awarded more than 15 new local grants to advance the role of Tunisia’s civil society with a focus on women and youth. Grantees such as the Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) are working to increase public awareness about citizen rights, gender equality, and active citizenship. MEPI has awarded two larger grants to Mercy Corps and Search for Common Ground, both working with Tunisian civil society organizations across the country to promote civic engagement with youth from the capital and coastal cities to the interior of the country.

    Expanding Freedom of Expression and Strengthening Political Participation
    New MEPI projects are empowering citizens, especially women and youth, to share their ideas with national and international audiences and to discuss social issues and governmental actions through blogging and internet-based media sites. MEPI local grantee Club UNESCO created a youth-run web-radio station to cover political events, and the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies (TAAMS) is working with youth to develop their sense of responsibility for the democratic process while instilling the values of tolerance.  The Institute of International Education (IIE) is building the capacity of civil society organizations to effectively use new media – such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other internet-based tools – to strengthen constituent outreach, inform and engage communities, and improve communication with government institutions on social and political issues. MEPI is also working with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting to increase the quality of local news coverage by engaging with members of the media and citizen journalists, placing an emphasis on accurate political reporting throughout the country.  

    Advancing the Rule of Law
    MEPI is assisting Tunisians to develop and promote a new legal system that is accessible and fair and that protects the rights of all citizens. In partnership with the American Bar Association (ABA), MEPI is promoting legal reforms across a range of sectors in Tunisia. ABA is partnering with the Tunisian Bar Association and other legal entities to reform Tunisia’s electoral code, address citizen electoral complaints, and improve women’s legal rights and participation in the political process. Later this year, ABA will work with its Tunisian partners to organize a national forum on the role of women in transitional processes focusing on comparative experiences; women’s rights in law and constitutional reform; and advocacy for law reform. Participants will include women jurists, rights groups, civil society organizations, and political party representatives, among others.

    Widening Economic Opportunity
    Since January of 2011, MEPI has increased its assistance in market-relevant skills training, job placement, and access to start-up business resources.  With MEPI support, the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) recently launched job placement and entrepreneurship programs for youth throughout Tunisia.  MEPI’s regional partner Injaz Al-Arab is inspiring a culture of business innovation among Tunisian youth through business plan competitions for hundreds of young entrepreneurs.  In addition, the Commercial Law and Development Program (CLDP) and the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) are supporting entrepreneurship and franchising, as well as reforms to the country’s commercial legal infrastructure.

    The United States is committed to supporting the Tunisian transition and the Tunisian efforts to build strong foundations for democratic growth and economic opportunity.  MEPI plans to devote additional resources in the months and years ahead to assist Tunisia in becoming a more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous society, as well as a stable and successful example of democratic transition in the region.

Tunisia Project Highlights

  • Mrs. Carter and Election Observer Nadia Haddad talk to voters outside of a polling station ©The Carter Center
    MEPI Grantee Hosts Lessons Learned Session Post Tunisian Elections

    On February 23, MEPI grantee the Carter Center coordinated a lessons-learned event to follow its successful October monitoring of the Tunisian Elections. Mr. Boubaker Bethabet, Secretary General of the Tunisian Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE), presented the primary findings of the ISIE’s report on the elections, which included several recommendations made by the Carter Center, to a group of 60 participants from international and Tunisian observer organizations. Read more...

  • Journalist from Radio Tunisienne covering Election Day. ©IFES.
    Tunisian Journalists Trained in Elections Coverage

    Voters’ lack of familiarity with Constituent Assembly candidates and party platforms was a critical hurdle for successful elections in Tunisia. Fondation Hirondelle, with assistance from MEPI and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, partnered with Radio Tunisienne to implement a multi-faceted voter awareness campaign. Read more...

  • Advocacy poster inspires Tunisians to vote ©Sharik
    Voter Education Campaign in Tunisia Inspires Grassroots Involvement

    MEPI's political projects in Tunisia encourage citizens to take active roles in their communities as part of their country’s transition to democracy.  In preparation for the National Constituent Assembly Elections in October, MEPI grantee the Mosaic of Arts in Nasrallah representing OFIYA, an alliance of 130 Tunisian local community-based organizations, designed and carried out an ambitious voter education campaign.  Read more...

  • Bus Citoyen volunteer talks to Tunisian citizens ©Bus Citoyen
    “Citizenship Bus” Brings voter education to quarter-million Tunisians across the country

    In June 2011, a coalition of six prominent Tunisian NGOs launched an ambitious voter education project in preparation for October’s Tunisian Constituent Assembly elections through multilateral support from the United States and the European Union.  A few weeks later, the “Bus Citoyen” (Citizenship Bus) convoy was on the road reaching citizens across the country.  Read more...

  • Innovative New Project Helps Ambitious Tunisian Youth Engage in their Communities
    Innovative New Project Helps Ambitious Tunisian Youth Engage in their Communities

    The American Islamic Congress recently launched Tune-in Tunisia to empower young Tunisian social entrepreneurs to get involved in their country’s democratic transition.  This MEPI-funded project is building a network of emerging civil society activists in their local communities and tackling a range of civic challenges, including women’s equality, corruption, and freedom of expression.   Read more...

  • Tunisians Vote in Historic National Elections
    Tunisians Vote in Historic National Elections

    The Middle East Partnership Initiative echoes President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s congratulatory messages to the people of Tunisia for the first democratic elections of the Arab Spring.  Read more...

  • Tunisian Lawyers at the Frontlines of a Legal Transition ©TBA
    Tunisian Lawyers at the Frontlines of a Legal Transition

    Tunisia’s democratic transition presents tremendous opportunities for lawyers and lawmakers in the country. The Tunisian Bar Association (TBA) was one of the first professional groups to join the protests in Tunisia, and now the organization is a resource to candidates for the constituent assembly elections in October.  Read more...

  • MEPI Partner Arab Technologies Information and Communication Empowers Young Tunisians ©ATIC
    MEPI Partner Arab Technologies Information and Communication Empowers Young Tunisians

    Youth are often the driving force behind democratic movements, and need support to become more active citizens, effective leaders and positive and outspoken role models.  To address the critical need to empower youth to change their societies, MEPI is partnering with the Arab Technologies Information and Communication (ATIC) Group to  engage young Tunisian leaders in discourse on citizenship, activism, leadership, and communication.  Read more...

  • Media in Tunisia Plays a Critical Role in Democracy Development ©AP
    MEPI Alumni Voices: Media in Tunisia Plays a Critical Role in Democracy Development

    Khemais Arfaoui, a MEPI alumnus and Tunisian journalist with more than 17 years of experience, wrote an op-ed piece on the importance of free media in Tunisia's democratic transition.  Arfaoui is an alumnus of a MEPI-funded program on social science education.  He is trying to expand democracy in his country through journalism, something he took a keen interest in while studying in Syracuse through his MEPI program.  Read more...

  • MEPI Partners with Two Local Organizations to Prepare Tunisia for the Upcoming Constituent Assembly Elections ©Department of State
    MEPI Partners with Local Organizations to Prepare Tunisia for the Upcoming Constituent Assembly Elections

    As Tunisians prepare to hold their first truly democratic elections in decades, two MEPI local grantees have begun actively working with youth, civil society activists, and media professionals to provide the skills and tools needed to ensure a free, fair, and open political process. These local Tunisian organizations, The Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center (KADEM) and B.G. Zaafrani & Partners, are training a broad base of Tunisian citizens on election monitoring and educating voters on key candidates and issues.  Read more...

  • MEPI Kicks Off Grants to Support Tunisia’s Democratic Transition ©Department of State
    MEPI Kicks Off Grants to Support Tunisia’s Democratic Transition

    Just a few months after MEPI announced a $20 million grant to support Tunisia’s democratic transition, 25 organizations are launching MEPI-supported programs that reinforce Tunisia’s progress towards democracy and economic prosperity.  On July 7, 50 representatives from these organizations and a corresponding number of U.S. government officials, came together for an afternoon of networking and discussion to create new partnerships and share knowledge and experience.  Read more...

  • MEPI Grant Strengthening Tunisian Youth Civic Engagement ©State Dept.
    MEPI Grant Strengthening Tunisian Youth Civic Engagement

    Representing a majority in many of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, young people cannot be left behind when action moves from the streets to the parliaments. Transitional authorities must work with youth to meet their aspirations, but young people must take the initiative to enter the political process.  Read more...

  • Fledgling Democracies Have Full Support of U.S.
    Fledgling Democracies Have Full Support of U.S.

    On July 1st, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the Community of Democracies, applauding many countries that have successfully transitioned to democracy and speaking directly to those in the Middle East and North Africa demanding their rights and freedoms.  Secretary Clinton asserted that true, sustainable democracies are built on accountable institutions, equal protection and equal participation, far-sighted leadership, healthy civil societies, and economic opportunity.  Read more...

  • MEPI Grant Supports Pluralism in Tunisia
    MEPI Grant Supports Pluralism in Tunisia

    Through the MEPI Local Grant “Vision 2040 for Tunisia”, the Association Club Mohamed Ali for Labor and Culture (ACMACO) conducted a series of seminars that brought together eminent figures from a wide spectrum of Tunisian society, including scholars, journalists, former ministers, and intellectuals to discuss and assess the lessons of Tunisia’s past reform movements.  Read more...

  • Community Leader Ines Mehri motivates Tunisia’s youth to participate and contribute
    Community Leader Ines Mehri motivates Tunisia’s youth to participate and contribute

    MEPI recently caught up with Ms. Ines Mehri, President of the Monastir chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI) of Tunisia, a local MEPI grantee.  She discussed the march she and others organized March 3, which they called the “Revolution of Dignity” march.  The event was created to encourage young people to understand the importance of unity and action in building a new Tunisia.  Read more...

  • Women Artisans Benefit from Public – Private Partnerships in Tunisia
    Women Artisans Benefit from Public – Private Partnerships in Tunisia

    On June 3, the Tunisian Businesswomen’s Association Chambre Nationale des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises (CNFCE) and Vital Voices Global Partnerships organized their first forum for Tunisian Public-Private Partnership (PPP) aimed at supporting women artisans in Tunisia through potential partner organizations. Read more...

  • MEPI Grant Strengthening Tunisian Youth Civic Engagement
    MEPI Grant Strengthening Tunisian Youth Civic Engagement

    Representing a majority in many of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, young people cannot be left behind when action moves from the streets to the parliaments. Transitional authorities must work with youth to meet their aspirations, but young people must take the initiative to enter the political process.  Read more...

  • MEPI Alumna elected as the first woman President of the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce
    MEPI Alumna elected as the first woman President of the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce

    MEPI alumna Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami, was elected first woman President of the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce (TACC).  Members of the chamber chose Amel through an open and democratic elections that was held in April 2011.  Read more...

  • MEPI-Sponsored Conference Provides Common Ground for MENA Legal Reform Efforts
    MEPI-Sponsored Conference Provides Common Ground for MENA Legal Reform Efforts

    As part of its MENA-Commercial Law Strengthening project (CLS), the Arab Center for the Rule of Law and Integrity (ACRLI) held its second regional conference on “Prospects and Challenges Facing the Modernization of the Legal Environment to Enable Business and Investment in the MENA Region.”  Read more...

  • MEPI and IIE train civil society groups in new media skills
    MEPI and IIE train civil society groups in new media skills

    E-Mediat: Electronic Media Tools, Technology & Training is MEPI’s new technology training project.   Developed in response to Secretary Clinton's announcement of Civil Society 2.0, this initiative helps grassroots organizations use digital technology to tell their stories, build membership, and connect to their community of peers around the world.  Read more...

  • North African Activists Use New Media Technology to Engage Citizens
    North African Activists Use New Media Technology to Engage Citizens

    Limitations on freedom of assembly, speech, and press pose enormous challenges to activists attempting to engage citizens on issues in the MENA region. While the obstacles vary from country to country, members of political parties and civil society organizations (CSOs) across North Africa are turning to new media technologies as effective tools for disseminating messages and mobilizing people.  Faced with common challenges, activists lack opportunities to convene and share experiences with like-minded activists from neighboring countries.  Read more...