Ella Pamfilova. Interaction of civil society with the G8 in the G8 2006 Russian presidenc
The G8 2006 Russian presidency gave a great chance to the Russian civil society to assert itself. And the NGOs grabbed this chance; they used this opportunity to the full.
Firstly, we wanted to preserve the results, achieved by our colleagues from the G8 countries in their interaction with the G8 during previous years.
Secondly, we set as a goal to put this interaction to a new level.
That is why about 40 Russian NGOs, cooperating with their foreign colleagues, initiated the Civil G8-2006 project. Gradually, over two thousand non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries have been - to one extent or another - involved into this process at its different stages. My colleagues and I, who coordinated the Civil G8 project last year, attempted to ensure maximum continuity, succession, transparency, and openness of the consultation process.
We are grateful to our foreign colleagues - especially from Canada and UK - for their support that allowed us to feel ourselves sufficiently sure in realizing such ambitious initiatives.
I would like to stress that participation in the Civil G8-2006 consultations in no way limited the rights of civil organizations to make proposals to the governmental structures of the G8 states by other means, using traditional opportunities and mechanisms for interaction with the authorities. We aimed to interact with all civil society forces, without standing in opposition to anyone and without positioning ourselves as an alternative to any other civil process or initiative. As a result, this process was accorded wide recognition and gained confidence of the NGO community.
Within the framework of the Civil G8-2006 project, six core events were held. Now, I name just three of them which, in my view, have been the most important:
• The International NGO Forum held in Moscow March 9-10, 2006 with a meeting (unprecedented to the G8 history), at which more than 300 international NGO representatives met with all the G8 Sherpas, including the European Commission Sherpa;
• The 'Africa Partnership Forum and the African Development Agenda' international NGO roundtable (24-25 October 2006, Moscow), during which a unique meeting took place between representatives of international civil society, primarily African NGOs, and the APF's co-chairpersons;
• And the most important - the Civil G8 2006 International NGO Forum held July 3-4, 2006 in Moscow. It was attended by over 600 NGO representatives from all over the world. Also for the first time in the G8 history there took place a two-hour meeting between all participants of the Forum and the President Putin, chief of the G8 summit hosting state. At the meeting our recommendations to the G8 leaders were discussed in detail.
Russia’s President had also an unprecedented meeting with the leaders of 12 global international NGOs like ActionAid International, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, Consumers International, Global Campaign for Education, Greenpeace International, Human Rights Watch, International Council of Women, Oxfam International, Social Watch, Transparency International, and WWF.
The issues we dealt with were much more numerous than those proposed by the G8 official agenda, as we considered it was important to discuss also human rights as well as problems of civil society and the ways of its self-regulation that could allow us to influence the G8 summits more effectively. The recommendations and materials of the Civil G8-2006 project are posted on web-site www.civilg8.ru, so that you can get acquainted with them in detail. We decided not only to preserve this web-site but (in addition to English and Russian versions) to have translated it into German language as well.
Subsequent to results of the process, experts of ours made a research of how the Civil G8-2006 could influence decisions of the G8 leaders. We deliberately brought this research to Germany. You’ve got it among your handouts. It makes clear that a number of our recommendations have been taken into account by the G8 but we would like to get better results in future.
Key output of the last year activity is an evident progress in interaction between NGOs and the G8. We hope that our colleagues from Germany will enhance what we have all together achieved. For their part Russian NGOs are ready to provide all necessary support in order to move this process forward.
Coming back to the principle of continuity and sustainability of civil society interaction with the G8 summits, I would like to wish the participants of current Forum the following:
firstly, on the basis of the abovementioned achievements, now it is necessary to make the next step, trying to influence more seriously the substance of issues the G8 leaders discuss. Besides, we could insist that at least one of issues, raised by international NGO-community, should be put on the G8 official agenda;
secondly, we should consider our joint actions aimed at influencing the G8 2008 summit that will be hosted by Japan. We must do it now, as the problems, discussed by the G8 leaders, are so large-scale and long-term that we may not take their dust;
and thirdly, it would be great if - in continuation to President Putin’s meeting with global international NGO leaders - all the G8 heads of states met with them this year.
In any case, we make every effort for this.
National Working Group
”Civil G8-2006” Project