The President of the National Project Institute - Social Contract, Member of the National Working Group of Civil G8 – 2006
It wasn’t Kremlin, but the civil G8 and Ella Pamfilova team which dealt with the accreditation of journalists for the Forum. The Mass Media were informed in advance about the event so I think everyone who wanted to attend the Forum could participate.
The Organizational Committee insisted for the officials and functionaries not to participate in the Forum even not to attend it as observers, though the Russian authorities tried to secure it. As a result only Russian Sherpa Igor Shuvalov and the President Putin attended the Forum.
The working atmosphere was non-formal, but constructive. It is determined by the huge number of the participants (half of them – foreigners), undertime conditions and and a very complicated process of choosing the participants. It was very difficult to come to a common point, for example, on nuclear issues, because Greenpeace, trying to stop nuclear activities and some NGOs closer to atomic complex have different approaches to the matter.
The professional level of the discussions varied depending on the issue discussed but generally the level was very high, especially while discussing energy security, human rights, civil control, cooperation between NGO and the state etc.
We knew, that there are many issues interesting for Russian participants and not so much interesting for our foreign colleagues. That’s why we followed thoroughly that the Russian issues don’t overpass international ones. We even managed to raise the level of the meeting: the Sherpas met twice the working groups and the G8 head met all the participants.
The Civil G8 organizers intend to participate in preparing the G8 agenda in 2007, too. The German colleagues have already approved our initiative. I hope the such issues as human rights, social integration, the cooperation of G8 with the global civil society will be included into the next G8 summit agenda.
“It is in the G8’s interest to legitimate, developing relationships with the Civil Society” – interview with Alexander Auzan
On the 3-4th of July the International NGO Forum “Civil G8 – 2006” took place in Moscow. It was participated by more than 700 NGO representatives from more than 30 countries of the world. The recommendations formed for the participants of the coming G8 Summit in St. Petersburg were read at the plenary, which was attended by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, on the 4th of July. The present Head of the G8 dialogued with the Forum participants for an hour and a half, and later that evening had 3 hour talk with the representatives of 30 major world NGOs who were invited to his residence in Novo-Ogarevo. On the request of the IA REGNUM, professor Alexander Auzan – member of the national Civil G8 Advisory Council, President of the Institute of National project “Social Contract”, member of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of RF – gave comments on the results of the Forum.
Mr. Auzan, closing the last plenary meeting of the Forum, you said to the participants: “It seems that again we have accomplished the impossible”. What did you mean?
First, I meant that organization of action forms of such a scope in the civil society equals to solving the task that does not have any solution. The Civil society does not have elective system, central elective committee, delegation, quotas etc that work in the party mechanisms. The majority principle is not effective either. It means that from the procedure questions to the content questions – the agenda and recommendations, there is a need to coordinate the view points of very different groups. Active organizations from dozens of countries of different cultures gathered here – huge world net organizations, which have more than 50 million members, like Greenpeace, OXFAM, Amnesty International, as well as small organizations which considerably influence public opinion and taking decisions on the national level. So the impossibility that was overcome this time is to unite such different participants for the collective action.
Second, we have created a new format. First of all G8 is not legitimated structure, which is constantly and rightly mentioned by alterglobalists, for instance. It is not the UN Defense Council though part of the G8 members are regular Defense Council members. It is the club of powerful and rich but it does not have acclaimed mandate. The leaders of the G8 countries do not insist that they solve the problems of their own countries. It is evident from their agenda. For instance, when the question concerning the world timber resources was discussed in Scotland, I was evident that though the considerable part of these resources is located in Russia the rest of the G8 countries have very little of the timber resources.
The evolution of the Civil Society and G8 is not linear and quite complicated. The satisfying mechanisms were created in Canada but then they did not work in the States. Our British colleagues worked well at the previous Summit, NGO delegations were working with Sherpas, part of the documentation was included in the final documents of the Summit in Gleneagles. But the precedent of the Russia is that the dialogue with all of the Sherpas took place for the first time. Here it took place twice – in March and in May. All of the 8 Sherpas were taking part, plus Sherpa of Euro Union. Besides, for the first time the President of the Chairman country came to the meeting himself instead of just receiving a delegation. It was obvious that real dialogue was taking place, with real reactions to the particular questions.
Of course we aspired for more. We wanted the meeting with all the leaders of the G8, because the experience of other negotiations shows that they achieve success when there are groups of different interests on both sides. Obviously the G8 countries have to agree upon their actions and steps. I think President Putin explained it very well, why the question on Human Rights happen to be among the “Miscellaneous” point of the agenda – because nobody wants to discuss Human Right in their own country but every one is ready to discuss Human Rights in another country. That’s why when all of the 8 get together they cannot say “No”.
Why was there the promise to change the mechanism of Agenda formation? When I asked German Sherpa this question in March, whether it is possible that next year you will take one of our one out the three our suggestions as an official point of agenda?”, he kept silence for some time but then Italian Sherpa said: “Yes, we are ready to.” He was not risking anything, he was representing the Government that will hardly exist up to 2009, when the Summit will be held in Italy. Japanese Sherp nodded as well, so what was left for the German Sherpa to do?
This speaks about the way the mechanism works when there is a way to deal with all of the G8 at once. Efficiency increases. This year we have not achieved it, as well as the format when the Forum is attended by the present chairman of the G8 along with the following one. Nonetheless we established a new format. I think the Forum participants realize that this is a step that mey lead to further development.
The present results, can we consider them as special achievement of Russia or in this case we gathered the harvest of some world wide process?
I would say it is both. Speaking of the world wide process, I already mentioned that it is not linear. The first attempt to establish cooperation between Civil Society and G8 leaders was made in Galifax. I am almost sure that Civil Society was the initiator. Then a lot depended on the presiding country, in Canada the Civil Society is very powerful and the norms connected with such cooperation are very strong.
You mean the sources of the process were the initiatives coming from the developed civil society?
Yes, I think so. But it is better to ask our colleagues from the Toronto University. Most active within this process were the teams from Toronto University who were dealing with the process in Halifax in 1995 and our colleagues from Chatham House preparing the process in Great Britain. Our colleagues from Germany being the next hosts of G8 next year are also among the active participants of our Forum. I hope we witness a world tendency in it.
There is also a very important procedural part of the process – the creation of the global club of biggest civil networks. These days we’ve made a step towards such club here, in Moscow, and it is also the index of a world tendency.
In 1990s I was the President of the International Confederation of Consumers Associations – Consumers International – and I know the discussions being held and the strategy to create a coalition at the World level. That time it was very complicated. The fact that we managed to unite here the representatives of global networks and they tried to elaborate common approaches is of course, the important contribution of Russian participants, but it is also the tendency of the world process.
The biggest networks were approaching step by step to such coalition and now this coalition demonstrated it became an important player – it was confirmed by the meeting with the G8 host.
It is very important to note, that this process can solve a very complicated problem of G8 – if the Group of Eight takes decisions which are very important for the whole world it needs a feedback – nevertheless its existence will be not only illegitimate but also ineffective. G8 tries to solve it by inviting the leaders of another states – from Brazil or India, fro example. But there is another way to do – global civil networks. It’s a good feedback mechanism. They have horizontal structures, include millions of people, have technologies and information, they have experience of solving and lobbying problems in WTO or another international structures.
What about Russia? Where are the sources of what we witnessed today? – I think in the Civil Forum in 2001. Today we use the similar technologies. When the dialogue between the authorities and the civil society began in Russia, we had to solve many technological problems – how to build the dialogue with the authorities and how to do it having the variety of opinions? The process deadlocked in Russia. But we tried to use the elaborated mechanism for our relationship with G8 – in the situation where there is no political monopoly. From this point of view the Russian contribution consisted in using the technology of our experience we elaborated before, at the beginning of the dialogue “civil society – authority”.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t hurry to evaluate the Forum result as the obvious success – for the moment it is mainly the psychological and technological one. The normative acts of the counteraction between the civil society and the authorities don’t still exist and this counteraction is not very serious now, because the authorities exist to take some obligatory activities. If it doesn’t there will be a private conversation of people belonging to power and the people not belonging to power. So, today we are at this stage of the development.
Obviously we’ll be able to evaluate the effectiveness of such dialogue after the summit in St Petersburg.
Yes and no. Some of our recommendations will be, of course, included into the G8 agenda, but it can be a simple coincidence. Secondly, Vladimir Putin will use in the discussion with other G8 leaders some arguments of the civil society if it is advantageous at the moment. And all other politicians will do the same. From this point of view we gave them some instruments they can use ti overpass their internal confrontations.
In other words, such participation in G8 affairs is not the equal partnership, but a step towards it?
Yeas, and I confirm that Russia has prospects for such partnership, if we have trilateral process with the participation of the civil society. The authorities and, of course, the business. It is very important how the Russian business is ready for such relations.
During the last plenary session the coordinator of the working group on energy issues Leonid Grigoriev proposed to organize this autumn the meeting of NGO and business. Does it mean that the process of the relationship between NGO – business remains behind of the process “NGO-authorities”?
Business is ready to day to build its relations with G8 but it is still unclear how it intends to build its relatios with NGOs. At the forum the representatives of the International Commerce Chamber tried to persuade business representatives to contact NGOs. The process will be, of course, very effective if we mane to give it trilateral nature.
You have said the G8 is not a legitimate structure. But there are legitimate structures like UN which have already established their relations with NGOs. Why so much attention is being paid to the participation of the civil society in G8 activities?
It is that the crisis of the UN really exists. It is the old structure, created after the Second World War and has still some old structures. For example the permanent members of the Security Council are the countries-winners and Germany is not. Besides, the majority of the members of the general Assembly are not democratic states but they use the majority principle to defend themselves from the external intervention. That’s why the majority of G8 states are skeptical about the UN mechanism, unlike Russia which insists on its use.
G8 develops its relations with the civil society. Is it the sign of a new tendency in the global policy?
Yes, of course. This is a sign of the legitimization process of the G8. I think it is at the interest of the G8 – to legitimate its activities through the procedures, the relations with the civil society, business etc.
Everything will depend on the fact if the process will be followed by some real actions, if the G8 can realize its own decisions and if it keeps its word.
Yes, it is very important to follow these obligations realization. Both the Forum participants and Vladimir Putin agreed about it. That’s why the members of the national working group of Civil G8 are following the Africa issues in 2006. And we will follow it in 2007, of course. This is an example of how the G8 countries can execute their previous obligations. If they keep their word this time, there is a hope they will keep it at the future.