Middle East and North Africa initiative launched

OECD Observer

OECD Secretary General Donald J. Johnston and ministers and senior officials from OECD countries joined heads of government and ministers from Arab states at a conference at the Dead Sea in Jordan on 6-7 February 2005 to launch a major programme to promote good governance for development in the region.

The event inaugurated the programme for “Good Governance for Development in the Arab countries”, or GfD, developed by the states of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with support from a partnership of the OECD and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The GfD programme has been designed by the Arab states to provide regional support for an ongoing process of governance reform, and to create the conditions needed for economic and social development throughout the region. It was endorsed by 16 Arab states at a ministerial meeting hosted by the Kingdom of Jordan in Amman on 26 September 2004.

The programme is being carried out in cooperation with a broad range of regional and multilateral organisations, including the Arab League, World Bank, and EU, as well as the private sector and civil society.

The GfD Programme will focus on the development and implementation of a series of reform initiatives. Six working groups, each chaired by a MENA country and co-chaired by an OECD country, will provide support for national reform efforts through regional co-operation, and by bringing policy officials in Arab states into contact with a broader international network of their peers.

The working groups will focus on six areas: civil service and integrity; e-government, administrative simplification and regulatory reform; governance of public resources; public service delivery; the role of the judiciary and enforcement; and civil society and the media. A condition of participation is readiness to undertake ambitious policy reforms and to join in a process of monitoring and review by fellow Arab states, supported by counterparts from OECD economies.

This is one pillar of an overall initiative, led by Arab nations, known as the MENA-OECD Initiative on Governance and Investment for Development. The other pillar is the Investment Programme, which aims to improve the attractiveness of the region for foreign investors.

Mr Johnston hailed the new initiative as an example of how the OECD can help countries advance towards their economic development goals by drawing on the processes of monitoring and peer review that are the basis for the OECD’s work through its system of specialised committees. “The OECD has many years of experience in using these mechanisms,” the secretary-general pointed out. “We are honoured to be asked by our Arab partners to put this experience at their disposal.”

For more on OECD-MENA, including a copy of Mr Johnston’s speech at the Dead Sea conference, email observer@oecd.org.

©OECD Observer No 246/247, December 2004-January 2005

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