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Supporting Democratic Change In The Middle East And North Africa

A Moroccan woman carries a sign during a peaceful march to show solidarity with Tunisians and mark the first anniversary of the Arab Spring revolution, in the capital of Rabat. (file photo)

"All those who continue to struggle to enshrine these principles “deserve and demand our collective support."

The wave of political change that swept through the Middle East and North Africa a year ago sprang from a common desire for rights, freedom, economic hope, and human dignity. All those who continue to struggle to enshrine these principles “deserve and demand our collective support,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a speech before the United Nations Security Council.

Change is unfolding differently in each Arab Spring country. In Libya, the U.N. Security Council has voted to extend and update the mandate of its Support Mission, a reflection of the international community’s continued commitment. The U.S. will support the UN’s efforts to help the Libyan government reintegrate rebel fighters into a professional national army and a peaceful society.

The U.S. will also continue to help Libya secure its borders against proliferation, trafficking, and extremism, while promoting human rights and treating refugees and migrants humanely. “Ultimately,” said Secretary Clinton, “the measure of success for Libya will not be the death of a dictator but the birth of a successful, stable, and free nation.”

In Yemen, last month’s successful presidential election and inauguration were promising steps on the path toward a new chapter in Yemen’s history. The U.S. will support Yemen as it continues its multi-year transition, convenes a national dialogue, reforms its constitution, refines its political process, and identifies solutions for its security and humanitarian challenges.

The regime violence and killing of civilians in Syria continues to worsen. The international community, said Secretary Clinton, “should say with one voice – without hesitation or caveat – that the killing of innocent Syrians must stop and a political transition must begin.” The Syrian people deserve the same opportunity to shape their future that the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, and Yemenis now enjoy.

The broader job of the international community is to assist democratic transitions all across the Middle East and North Africa. The United Nations must support the building blocks of stable, thriving societies: a responsive, accountable government, a free-market economy, and a vibrant civil society. Moreover, women must be included in all aspects of society.

“We, as a community of nations,” said Secretary Clinton, “must help the people of the Middle East and North Africa make the most of the rights and freedoms for which they have risked so much.”