New World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Agenda for Africa moves ahead in Berlin

New World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Agenda for Africa moves ahead in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany, March 13, 2018/ — An African ministerial working meeting conveyed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) during this year’s Berlin International Tourism Fair ITB (8 March) agreed to move ahead with a new ten-point UNWTO Agenda for Africa. The final document will be adopted at the UNWTO Commission meeting for Africa, taking place in Nigeria in June this year.

Against the backdrop of international tourist arrivals expanding 8% in Africa in 2017, thus outgrowing the world average increase in arrivals, tourism is gaining weight as a development opportunity for the whole continent, with its vast diversity of nature, culture and wildlife its greatest vehicle for development.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “tourism has huge potential to generate lasting development opportunities in Africa if we manage it in the right way, which is economic, social and environmental sustainability”.

The participants from 17 countries, including 14 ministers, supported a coordinated approach to seizing the continent’s potential for tourism, a sector that last year attracted more than 62 million international visitors. Issues on the UNWTO Agenda for Africa include, among others, connectivity, the image and brand of Africa, poverty alleviation, climate change, education and skills development, and financing. Delegates underscored the importance of educating other economic sectors on the broad impact of tourism for the benefit of societies and its people, and promoting tourism as a priority in national agendas.

The detailed, four-year UNWTO Agenda for Africa will be approved at the upcoming 61st Regional Commission for Africa – UNWTO’s annual gathering of all its member countries of the continent – in the Nigerian capital of Abuja (4-6 June).

The following countries were represented at the meeting at ITB: Angola, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Remarks at the Earth Gathering Plenary University College Dublin

Remarks at the Earth Gathering Plenary University College Dublin

Remarks
Kerri-Ann Jones
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
November 14, 2013

Good morning. I am delighted to be here and I would like to thank the University College Dublin’s Earth Institute including its Director Fiona Doohan and the Conference Organizer Professor Frank Convery for inviting me to speak at this important event. In addition to the always excellent Irish hospitality, which I greatly appreciate, I applaud the thought and care that has gone into the Earth Gathering event.

This is an important conference as it addresses a key relationship that we all share – our relationship to the environment. Recognizing that the earth’s natural resource base is finite and understanding how to balance our energy and economic needs with good environmental stewardship is vital. And the important role of science and technology in understanding our planet and addressing the challenges we face cannot be overstated – which seems to be the essence of this gathering today – science and sustainability.

Within the U.S. Department of State, I lead the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). It has a long title but gives you an idea of the breadth of the issues we work on within our foreign policy and national security perspective. Given the nature of the issues we engage on – bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally, science and technology play an essential role advancing our foreign policy objectives. Likewise, our foreign policy helps to advance our scientific goals—nationally and internationally – by building strong collaborative partnerships. In fact, allow me to share our bureau’s mission statement with you:

“Promoting a healthier planet through science and partnership.”

My view is that of a scientist diplomat, and I hope to share with you my perspectives on science and sustainability.

Science has multiple roles in working to address sustainability in our policies. On the most fundamental level – it provides the data to understand the problems we face and that data is important to ensure that policy choices are well informed. The challenges we face are complex and include issues such as addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and understanding the overall stress we are placing on our oceans.

Secretary Kerry captured the challenges we face earlier this year when he said, quote, “I believe that just as we are living in a changing world, so we cannot, and we must not, forget that we are living on, quite a changing planet. To respond in a way that does justice to science and to facts, what we need actually is a policy that looks forward.”[1]

Advancing sustainability must be a global effort — and the nature of science can contribute to that. Science has always been and is increasingly an international community; we speak now of the global research community.

The science community also depends on two fundamental principles – first, merit supporting and pursuing high quality research and, second, transparency, openly sharing results and testing the reproducibility of results. In building coalitions to understand the world around us and make difficult policy choices these principles are critical. To make difficult choices one must believe that they have the best information possible, viewed in an objective manner. And that information must be available to everyone — around the world and within a particular community. These two principles build trust among nations and citizens. They provide opportunities — where in the case of basic research – the availability of data can spur the translation of those findings into new technologies and new businesses. Beyond basic research, the transparency of patenting laws and business practices also contribute to new partnerships and international enterprises.

President Obama has expanded the U.S. Government’s commitment to improving access to scientific research and data. In February, Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor, issued a memo to the U.S. science agencies funding $100 million or more of research to “develop plans to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government.”[2]

In addition, in May, President Obama issued an Executive order to improve access to U.S. Government data, stating that “making information resources easy to find, accessible, and usable can fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific discovery that improves Americans’ lives and contributes significantly to job creation.”[3]

Science also provides a tool for understanding the challenging problems we face and international efforts allow us to build on each others’ investments and support international dialogue around difficult issues. We need to better understand complex systems and the science/policy interface has been receiving increased attention internationally. Allow me to mention a few examples.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is certainly the most well known, tackling the hugely complex science of climate change, mankind’s role in it, its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts, as well as presenting policymakers with options for adapting to and mitigating climate change. Hundreds of scientists and technical experts contribute to each working group report. Collectively, thousands of scientists from around the world will have contributed to the final, complete IPCC Fifth Assessment, including dozens of U.S. Government researchers.

The Working Group I contribution on the Physical Science of climate change was just released in September after an enlightening Approval Session in Stockholm. The report reinforces and strengthens the already-robust conclusions that the Earth’s climate is changing and that those changes are largely being driven by human activities. It also strengthens the confidence in projections of increasing severity from climate change unless much more comprehensive and vigorous mitigation is undertaken worldwide. Right now, our government – along with all other Parties to the IPCC – is in the midst of reviewing the final draft of the Working Group 2 report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, which will be approved in Japan in March. And in a month, the final draft of the Working Group 3 report on mitigation will be released for governmental review with the approval coming in April in Germany. It’s a long process with a monumental – and I might add voluntary – effort by all of these experts around the world, but I think we can all agree that the value it provides in helping solve what many would call the biggest challenge facing the world is enormous.

Another effort, the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations, or GEO, launched in 2005, is central to the role of science for sustainability. Its core mission is to enable the science-informed decision-making needed to drive sound policy on issues such as food, water, and energy security, resilience to natural hazards, and the development of sustainable economies. At the time of GEO’s creation, Ministers laid out a 10-Year Implementation Plan containing specific actions designed to promote full and open access to Earth-observing data and information, and work to towards building a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to meet the need for “timely, quality, long-term, global information as the basis for sound decision-making.” The core tenant of GEO and GEOSS is simple: To make the individual Earth observation systems work more like nature does – as a system of systems – through common protocols, interoperability and the free and open exchange of Earth observation data.

Biodiversity — The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), is intended to help integrate scientific knowledge and expertise about biodiversity, ecosystem services and the value of both to human well-being into policymaking. Its work is lead by an independent group of scientific experts who will conduct open, transparent assessments of existing scientific knowledge and information on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The potential is great for IPBES to serve as both a repository of valuable scientific knowledge and expertise, as well as a resource for policymakers at all levels to formulate science-based policies regarding biodiversity and ecosystem services.

A final initiative I would like to highlight is the United Nations World Ocean Assessment, which aims to provide a scientific assessment of the state of the ocean for the first time. It is designed to reveal, through peer-reviewed science, the efficacy of ocean and coastal policy and management decisions. If comprehensive input is provided and properly analyzed, the results of the first World Ocean Assessment will provide a valuable baseline from which successive Assessments can be compared.

In addition to understanding, science and technology also provide ways to address some of the challenging environmental problems we face.

Starting in the 1970s, we began to understand that chemicals we were using for refrigeration, air conditioning, and aerosols were doing serious damage to the Earth’s ozone layer. The discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole and thinning of the ozone layer threatened catastrophic public health consequences from increased exposure to UV light. It was this science, and public understanding and acceptance of it, that led governments in 1987 to adoption of the Montreal Protocol in which countries agreed to the first in what would become a number of steps to phase out ozone-depleting substances. But the story doesn’t end here, because we now face the challenge of finding climate-friendly alternatives to ozone-depleting substances.

The use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, is growing as they are alternatives to ozone-depleting substances that are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Unfortunately, HFCs are also potent climate gases. Recognizing that we do not want to solve one problem—the ozone hole—at the expense of another—climate change, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have proposed to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs. Doing so is possible because we have developed the technology to use less damaging alternatives in many sectors. For example, scientists and engineers have redesigned refrigeration systems so that they can use gases like propane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia as the refrigerant rather than HFCs. And chemists have designed entirely new molecules that can be used for automobile air conditioners, chillers, and for appliance and construction foams.

Fresh water is another crucial issue where collaboration is essential and where the private sector has a central role. By 2025, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will be living under water-stressed conditions, including roughly a billion people who will face absolute water scarcity. Worldwide demand for freshwater is expected to outstrip supply by 40% by 2030 – just 15 years from now. Water shortages, poor management, and greater hydrological variability (from climate change) will make it harder for countries to produce food and generate energy.

But the good news is that many water problems are solvable. In the United States we launched the U.S. Water Partnership in 2012, which is mobilizing public and private resources to address water challenges around the world, especially in the developing world.

Launched with $600 million in project commitments, the Partnership now has 78 member organizations and counting. One initiative, the Asia-Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Network, initiated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is working in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines with funding from Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and Chevron Corporation. Another partner, the University of Nebraska, is sharing with farmers a National Science Foundation-funded project that developed wireless underground sensor networks to give real-time information about soil moisture, allowing them to get “more crop per drop” of irrigation water.

Of course the U.S. is also looking internally to its own sustainability challenges. A 2013 National Academy of Sciences report on “Sustainability for the Nation” called for federal efforts to take a more integrative approach to sustainability in planning, but it also drew attention to several instances where sustainability had guided state and local efforts within the United States.

One example given was the city of Philadelphia, which was faced with an overtaxed, combined system for handling both sewage and rainwater, leading to sewage discharges into local waterways during periods of heavy rain. Rather than take the traditional and expensive route of significantly expanding its sewage treatment system, Philadelphia instead adopted a holistic policy of rainwater management that contributed to more green space, shade, water recycling and energy savings for the city. The “Green Stormwater Infrastructure” Plan is cited as an example of sustainable design, one with multiple environmental and budgetary benefits.

Recognizing the need to spur and invest in research that could identify solutions, the U.S. National Science Foundation established the Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) program that seeks to foster collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches to understand and overcome barriers to sustainable human well-being. One recent award under this program was to the University of Massachusetts, which received a $737,000 five-year grant to develop a network of researchers and policymakers that will put forward a shared framework for better coastal infrastructure planning in the Caribbean and the Northeast. Super Storm Sandy and other storms in the Northeast demonstrate a need for coordinated research into the evolving effects of climate change and infrastructure resilience to hurricanes in coastal regions.

Tackling the environmental challenges is an international undertaking. International cooperation is critical; we must cooperate at all levels—from researchers to policymakers—and we must ensure that these concerns are integrated with our broader foreign policy activities and priorities.

The term “partnership” is particularly special to me since I serve as the U.S. co-chair of a very important partnership with Ireland and Northern Ireland known as the U.S.-Ireland Research and Development Partnership. This partnership grew from the Good Friday Agreement, recognizing that collaborative research was an excellent way to build relationships, solve shared problems and stimulate new industry. The R&D Partnership initially identified 3 priority areas: nanotechnology, sensor technology, and cystic fibrosis and diabetes. We recently expanded cycstic fibrosis and diabetes to include all health areas, and added telecommunications and energy and sustainability to our focal areas. There are currently a total of 14 funded Partnership proposals totaling over $29 million in support. So far these projects have brought together over 50 principal investigators and researchers (including research students) from all three jurisdictions.

These investments address some of our challenging environmental problems. In May I visited the National University of Ireland Galway, where I toured one such project involving researchers from NUIG, Queens University Belfast, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States. The project they are working on together hopes to develop sensor laser technology to measure greenhouse gases absorbed by the ocean. This will improve our ability to measure carbon dioxide and help us predict future climate change impacts for key policymakers.

We have several Partnership projects in the nanotechnology area as well, one, involving researchers from the University of Texas, Queens University Belfast, Tyndall National Institute, and Dublin City University, is exploring alternative materials to silicon which consume less power and could lead to more energy efficient electronics.

Finally, yet another project involving researchers from right here at University College Dublin along with the University of Texas, University of Rhode Island, and Queens University Belfast, aims to reduce the economic and environmental cost of harnessing offshore wind energy, which is a key challenge to increasing the availability of renewable energy.

Through the Partnership, the U.S., Ireland, and Northern Ireland demonstrate science is essential to addressing shared challenges. The partnership also conveys the importance the private sector will play in developing solutions to environmental challenges. Our goal, within government, should be to create an enabling environment for this type of innovation, and to create an increasing number of opportunities for collaboration through public private partnerships. I was pleased to visit Dublin and Belfast one year ago with then-Special Representative Kris Balderston from the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnership Initiatives. We invited members of the private sector in the United States to join us and made important links with the private sector that I hope will continue to grow.

The R&D Partnership is but one of many collaborative efforts involving U.S. and Irish scientists. There is a large Irish diaspora community in the United States and its contributions to U.S. science are impressive. With the 2011 formation of the Wild Geese Network of Irish Scientists, that community is now well organized and working to tap the collective knowledge and networks of its scientists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and science policy experts for the benefit of both nations. The Department of State in 2012 launched a partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering – it is called NODES, Networks of Diasporas for Engineering and Science. Ireland was the very first nation to partner with NODES, co-sponsoring a very successful event in Boston last year that strengthened connections and stimulated collaborations.

Every country and every community is facing the need to address environmental problems and integrate sustainability into their current and future plans. Each country has its own history, culture and policies that shape its path forward and global cooperation works across these similarities and differences. Science is a tool that lets us work together – moving toward a better understanding of each other as we collaborate to understand the world we live in. Together we can make progress. Events such as the Earth Gathering allow us to discuss the challenges we all face and learn from our collective experiences. I am very honored to lead the State Department’s bureau focused on environmental issues and scientific partnerships. I have done so now for over four years and am consistently humbled by the great ideas and initiatives undertaken around the world. I am certain that your discussions at this Gathering will continue to move us forward.

Thank you.

References

[1] Remarks delivered at the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership on June 23, 2013, in New Delhi.

http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/06/211013.htm

[2] February 22, 2013, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp_public_access_memo_2013.pdf

[3] E.O. 13642, “Executive Order — Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information”,

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/09/executive-order-making-open-and-machine-readable-new-default-government-

 

 

 

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Political, Economic, and Security Situation in Africa

Political, Economic, and Security Situation in Africa

Testimony

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs
Washington, DC
November 21, 2013

 

Chairman Kaine, Ranking Member Risch, Members of the Subcommittee, it is an honor to appear before you to provide background on U.S. engagement and policy in North Africa. As you know, this is an area of strategic importance to the Obama Administration.

I am also pleased to appear before you today with USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Alina Romanowski and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Amanda Dory. I have had the pleasure of working closely with both Ms. Romanowski and Ms. Dory for some time to further our foreign policy objectives in the region and to protect our national security interests. We welcome the opportunity to speak to you today and look forward to answering any questions you may have regarding North Africa and our policy.

Mr. Chairman, as you know, North Africa – known in Arabic as the Maghreb – is a region of tremendous potential. The birthplace of the Arab Awakening, it is currently undergoing a difficult but critical transformation. Tunisia continues efforts to achieve the democratic promise of its 2011 revolution, even as it faces significant security and economic challenges. Libya continues to undertake a democratic transition following a successful revolution, yet confronts numerous challenges on the political, security, and economic fronts. Libya struggles with the daily threat of violence posed by a lack of security and political consensus, yet our continued engagement there is absolutely essential. Morocco and Algeria have undertaken more gradual reform processes. They remain key regional sources of stability and have assumed increasingly important roles in our global effort to combat terrorism and extremism. At the same time, the strained relationship between Algeria and Morocco also limits regional cooperation and development, which is essential if any regional bodies are to evolve into credible forces for regional stability – in the Maghreb and the Sahel.

Morocco

We continue to enjoy a very strong bilateral relationship with Morocco, focused on promoting regional stability, supporting democratic reform efforts, countering violent extremism, and strengthening trade and cultural ties. Morocco – a major non-NATO ally since 2004 – is one of our closest counterterrorism partners in the region, and an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. During its current term on the U.N. Security Council, Morocco is playing an important role in international efforts to end the Syrian civil war. We also enjoy a strong economic relationship; a bilateral free trade agreement that entered into force in 2006 has increased bilateral trade by 244 percent.

We look forward to strengthening this bilateral relationship during this week’s visit of King Mohammed the VI to Washington. This is an opportunity for the United States to reaffirm our close strategic partnership with Morocco and to discuss the best means of promoting security and prosperity in the region. In particular, we look forward to deepening our consultations on regional issues, and will stress our shared priorities in Mali, Syria, the Maghreb, and the Sahel. We look forward to continuing our conversations at the next session of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue. Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry had to postpone the Dialogue in order to attend urgent negotiations in Geneva in mid-November, but we look forward to rescheduling the Strategic Dialogue soon.

Under King Mohammed VI, the Moroccan political system has gradually liberalized; the King founded the Arab world’s first truth and reconciliation commission – to investigate abuses that occurred during his father’s reign – and expanded women’s rights. A new constitution was adopted in 2011, and Morocco’s first Islamist-led government won nationwide democratic elections, but much progress remains to be made on implementing the guarantees and institutions including increasing engagement of its citizens, under the new constitution. We have a robust dialogue with the Moroccan government on human rights and ways in which we can support the ongoing process of political reform.

We will continue to support Morocco as it undertakes these important reform efforts. Our bilateral assistance – roughly $31 million in FY 2013 – focuses on promoting economic, political, and social reforms; deepening our security partnership by supporting modern military and law enforcement agencies; promoting export control and antiterrorism as well as countering violent extremism efforts; developing a professional criminal justice system; and encouraging broad-based economic growth that provides expanded opportunities for women and youth. Our flagship assistance program has been Morocco’s $698 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, which closed in September and focused on agriculture, fisheries, and artisans.

With regards to the Western Sahara, we support the United Nations-led process designed to bring about a peaceful, sustainable, and mutually-acceptable solution to the Western Sahara question. We also support the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara and urge the parties to work toward a resolution.

Algeria

Algeria and the United States have built a strong bilateral relationship, characterized by our shared interests to combat terrorism and facilitate greater stability in the region. We are also focused on developing a more robust trade and economic partnership and supporting the development of civil society groups. Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry had to postpone the U.S.-Algeria Strategic Dialogue in order to attend urgent negotiations in Geneva earlier this month, and we look forward to rescheduling it soon.

Algeria has made steady and consistent progress on human rights and political transparency over the past 20 years. We are encouraging the government to create space for a more vibrant civil society and inclusive democratic process through supporting small civil society initiatives, such as funding training for local election monitors. We also aim to increase educational exchanges with young Algerians, including promoting English language learning.

The wealth from Algeria’s significant hydrocarbon reserves has empowered the state at the expense of overall economic development, dampening employment and the development of human capital. We continue to encourage Algeria to make market oriented changes that expand job opportunities and increase its attractiveness to foreign direct investment. With that in mind, we are working to strengthen our trade relationship with Algeria, and are seeking to reactivate the 2001 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. General Electric recently signed a $2.7 billion deal to provide gas turbines to Algeria, an example of the benefits of our efforts to promote U.S. business in Algeria. This deal alone will help create 4,000 American jobs.

We have encouraged Algeria to continue to expand its regional leadership role to help stabilize neighboring states, which struggle to address terrorist threats, loose weapons, and porous borders. Algeria’s experience fighting an Islamist insurgency during the 1990s resulted in a well-equipped and battle-hardened military that constitutes the strongest counterterrorism force in the region. We will continue to encourage Algeria to use this expertise to train and partner with less experienced militaries and law enforcement units in the region to help ensure greater stability in the Sahel and Maghreb. Algeria has purchased U.S. equipment via Direct Commercial Sales, but has not overcome its significant reservations about the Foreign Military Sales program. We also support countering violent extremist efforts seeking to provide positive alternatives for at risk youth.

Libya

Since the 2011 revolution, Libya has faced significant political and security challenges. Yet our continued engagement there is absolutely essential. It is in our national security interest to ensure Libya becomes a stable and democratic partner capable of addressing regional security challenges and advancing our shared interests. A successful democratic transition will result in a strategic partner with significant energy reserves and the ability to exert a positive and stabilizing influence in a critical region.

Mr. Chairman, let me assure you that, despite its challenges, Libya is making progress. In the first credible, transparent, and largely peaceful elections in a generation, Libyans elected a General National Congress (GNC) in July 2012, and the government continues to take steps towards establishing a constitution. More recently, the Prime Minister’s staff, and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) have taken steps to move a national dialogue process forward to help resolve political differences. The Libyan government and GNC have taken steps to pass a transitional justice law, which will help guide national justice and reconciliation efforts. The Justice Minister has also taken to heart recommendations for prison reform. The United States has signed memoranda of understanding with the Libyan government to increase cooperation on education reform, cultural preservation, and chemical weapons destruction. In addition, 681 candidates for the constitutional drafting committee registered in October and November 2013. NATO recently agreed to respond positively to Prime Minister Zeidan’s request for support in security sector capacity building.

Yet while the government enjoys democratic legitimacy, it lacks the ability to project its authority across the country or fulfill many core government functions. Faced with competing factions and the daily threat of violence, the Libyan government and political actors have been unable to address the country’s overlapping challenges. A political agreement is necessary to advance the National Dialogue and enable the constitution-drafting process to unfold, empowering the government to improve governance and establish security in the interim. The government must also work to demonstrate that Libya’s vast natural resources will be used to benefit the entire Libyan population, and use those resources to promote economic growth. We stand ready to support future elections in Libya, as well as constitutional drafting and national dialogue efforts necessary for security and governance to take root.

After 42 years of dictatorship, Libya suffers from instability and poor governance due to weak institutions, wide, porous borders, huge stockpiles of loose conventional weapons, and the presence of militias, some of whom have extremist ties. Without capable police and national security forces that work with communities, security and justice sector institutions struggle to fulfill their mandate, and rule of law is undermined, enabling criminality, illicit trade, and frustration to grow. The government has struggled to wrest power and influence from militias, which continue to wield local and regional power; the absence of political consensus on the way forward hampers these efforts. In a direct challenge to the weak central government, various actors—including federalist, militia, and ethnic groups— have blocked production and exports at many of Libya’s onshore facilities.

Our assistance efforts are focused on providing support in order to build the capacity of Libyan institutions to face these challenges and to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy. Since Libya is a wealthy nation, we view our assistance in these areas as seed money intended to jump-start and unlock Libyan investment in programs that ultimately the government must own. To improve the government’s ability to establish stability throughout the country, we responded positively to a request this spring from Prime Minister Zeidan that we help to train a General Purpose Force (GPF) to be the core of a new Libyan Army. At the UK-hosted G-8 Summit in June, we pledged to train a 5,000-8,000 member GPF, prompting the UK and Italy to pledge to train 2,000 members each. The GPF assistance will be paid for by the Libyan government through a Foreign Military Sales case which will need to be congressionally notified.

Border security is also a critical U.S. and international concern in Libya. Libya’s uncontrolled borders permit the flow not only of destabilizing Qadhafi-era conventional weapons, but also violent extremists throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and the Sahel. The flow of these foreign fighters has increased since the fall of Qadhafi and was highlighted by the January 2013 attack in Amenas, Algeria. We are in the process of beginning to implement a Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) border security program to provide technical expertise, training, and limited equipment to build Libya’s inter-ministerial border security capacity to address security along its southern land border. This program includes training and equipment programming for Libya’s neighbors – Chad, Niger, and Algeria – to improve border security cooperation with Libya. In addition, we have a GSCF training and equipment program to build special operations forces capacity.

Libya’s European partners also provide significant amounts of security and justice sector assistance to Libya. We ensure that our assistance complements their efforts and responds to the security needs identified by the Libyan government. Given constraints on Libyan capacity to accept international assistance, a difficult security environment, and persistent instability, implementing pledged assistance is challenging, and often takes more time than expected. If we continue to help Libya build its capacity, however, these challenges can lessen.

We have made commitments to support Libya’s security sector with the knowledge that enhanced security is only part of the solution. We also welcome the opportunity, with our international partners, to help the Libyan government build its governance capacity. We support the Libyan government and civil society groups in their work to construct the foundations of a new democratic society in Libya through capacity building programs for nascent civil society organizations, political parties, the GNC, selected local councils, and media institutions, and work with partners to engage women and youth as active participants in the democratic transition.

Tunisia

Tunisia remains one of the Middle East and North Africa’s best hopes for a successful transition to democracy. Efforts continue to finalize a new constitution and set a date for democratic elections for president and parliament. Tunisia’s constituent assembly—tasked with drafting the constitution—completed a fourth draft in June. This draft incorporates human rights norms, including equality between women and men, and respect for rule of law.

As with all transitions, of course, there are also challenges. This year, there have been two assassinations of opposition politicians: one in February and one in July.

Following the July assassination, there were widespread, peaceful demonstrations calling for the dissolution of the government. Civil society mediators have since been facilitating negotiations between the government and the opposition, with the goal of implementing a political transition roadmap. We are encouraging Tunisian leaders across the political spectrum to continue their efforts to finalize a constitution that respects the human rights of all Tunisians and to set a date for credible and transparent elections so the Tunisian people can determine their country’s future.

As we saw with the unfortunate killings of politicians and most recently the attempted suicide attacks in tourist areas, violent extremists continue to seek to derail the country’s efforts to transition to democracy peacefully and successfully. Over the past year, the Tunisian government has taken a more aggressive stance against extremism, by raiding weapons caches and undertaking an operation to root out terrorists in the country’s western region. In late August, the Government of Tunisia designated Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia (AAS-T) a terrorist organization, and the security forces have since banned the group’s activities and made several high level arrests.

This approach is not without its challenges. The Tunisian military and security forces require additional training and equipment to counter the newly-evolving terrorist threat. Improving and deepening our security cooperation is of top importance in our bilateral relationship. We have bolstered our assistance to help Tunisia reform its criminal justice sector to improve its ability to protect Tunisians and foreigners alike, as well as confront domestic and regional security challenges. For example, in September 2013, our two countries signed a letter of agreement to expand programming to reform and improve the capacity of the police and corrections officials. The other challenge is ensure that this aggressive, security based approach is balanced with proven methods to prevent recruitment into violent extremist organizations. We are working with Tunisia to explore ways to provide at-risk groups with alternatives and preventing further marginalization or disconnection of these groups.

We also continue to provide foreign assistance via a number of mechanisms to support Tunisia’s transition from dictatorship to a prosperous democratic country. On the economic front, we are helping Tunisia expand economic growth and opportunity to all citizens, and encouraging it to undertake market-oriented and institutional reforms. Our focus with existing programs has been to spur job creation and provide entrepreneurship training as well as to enhance access to finance for small and medium enterprises. At the same time, we continue to fund programs that support Tunisia’s democratic political processes and plan to support international and domestic elections observation missions.

Protecting our Interests

Chairman Kaine, Ranking Member Risch, and Members of the Subcommittee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. Certainly, we are aware that our budgets are facing increasing pressure, but this region remains vital to protecting our national interests, as we look to maintain relationships with key allies and to nudge nascent democracies through difficult transitions, with the hope of promoting stability and countering extremist threats in the Middle East and Africa. With careful, targeted assistance, and smart diplomatic engagement, we are successfully advancing our key strategic interests.

Thank you again for your time and attention. I look forward to answering your questions.