Deputy Secretary William J. Burns today stressed that civil society gives voice to peoples’ aspirations, needs, interests and concerns.
At the ‘Forum for the Future’ in Kuwait, Mr. Burns highlighted that the Forum takes place in a country with a vibrant civil society, and that has been a pioneer of participatory democracy for all of its citizens.
“Secretary Clinton has described representative government, economic opportunity and vibrant civil society as three legs of a stool that, together, lift and support nations as they reach for long-sought progress and prosperity.” -Mr. Burns
He stressed that civil society helps create a functioning marketplace of ideas. He said governments and civil society should work together as partners, not competitors to ensure sustainable, legitimate, inclusive reform. He added that governments that draw on the talents and creativity of civil society are better at identifying and solving problems.
“Creating a mutually beneficial relationship between government and civil society starts with dialogue, but cannot end there. Talk of reform must be translated into concrete action that delivers tangible improvements in people’s lives- the only way to bring the long-term stability that all of us seek for the region.” -Mr. Burns
He noted that partnership with civil society must extend to the public square-to bloggers who criticize public officials; to peaceful protestors; to those advocating for equality and inclusion for all, including women and religious minorities.
He stressed that America strongly supports the rights of all individuals to join together in associations, to speak freely and to work with government and with each other to build a better future.