By Kevin Stoda
The KUWAIT TIMES reported (Feb. 22, 2011) that yesterday the Gulf Civil Society Forum called on the Gulf Monarchies to abandon absolutism and to adopt European-style parliaments and democracies. "It's time the ruling families took the initiative... and transformed into European-style monarchies," said a statement signed by the forum's coordinator, Anwar Al-Rasheed.
In the midst of the rising unrest and popular arrest in North Africa, the Gulf Civil Society Forum had met in Qatar from January 11 through 13 of this year and had had the purpose of gathering "together around 250 representatives from democracy advocates and civil society activists from the MENA Region, was to prepare a common Civil Society platform of principles and goals".
According to the Bridging the Gulf Foundation, the main goals from the inception of the Gulf Civil Society Forum since its founding in 2004 has been:
Strengthening the commitment of the International Community to peace and stability in the region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa.
Promote successful reform through depending on the countries in the region, and avoiding forced change, i.e. imposed, from outside.
Respecting diversity. Engagement must respond to local conditions and be based on local ownership. Each society will reach its own conclusions about the pace and scope of change. Yet distinctiveness, important as it is, must not be exploited to prevent reform.
Supporting reform that will involve governments, business leaders and civil societies from the region as full partners in this common effort.
Supporting reform in the region, for the benefit of all its citizens, and as part of a long-term effort, and requires the G8 and the region to make a generational commitment.