Civil G8 2006

Civil G8 — is your opportunity
to discuss global problems!

Expert Opinion

Victoria Panova


G8 research group, University of Toronto, Director for Russia



Speech at 'Delivering the 2006 G8 Agenda' final international NGO conference


Moscow, 2 December 2006.

I would like to illustrate that in order to form a basis for civil society, not only must the Civil G8 listen to us, but its resolutions must also influence our work, since society is founded on innovations. The G8 leaders are asking civil society, academic circles and the expert community to form a research network aimed at improving education standards. We have split this research into two divisions.

The first is technical collaboration. Some successes have been achieved in this area.

The second division consists of an attempt to analyse which of our recommendations have been taken into account.

Another issue is that of global environmental protection. Both civil society and the G8 have shown support with regard to this issue, but they see its role in different ways. The opinions of civil society have, however, sometimes coincided with those of certain G8 participants, for example on support for market-based mechanisms. Civil society opinions on this issue were shared with Russia's Western partners.

However, the main disagreements on this issue were connected with the nuclear programme. Here, even within the G8 itself, there are two directly opposing viewpoints. Russia supports this programme, whereas Germany's position is the opposite. And in the G8 documents we can see certain conceptual contradictions.

So, we see that differences of opinion can arise within the G8. Development in this field has a contribution to make in ensuring global energy security. But the challenges connected with rollout of all the plans for increasing nuclear reactor numbers have been ignored by the G8, and the G8's proposal with regard to development of an innovative nuclear system have been ignored by us. President Putin has expressed his support for the opinion of civil society and his agreement with certain provisions, but his statements were not included in the discussion process as the other partners did not agree to this. With regard to nuclear policy he took a hard line.

In the sphere of education, the G8 did not propose any initiatives that would coincide with the ideas of civil society. The G8 talked about the necessity of developing education for economic purposes, whereas civil society viewed education as a key condition of global security. Italy, together with UNESCO, held a forum with regard to this issue, but nothing more was done in this field.

Many of the initiatives of civil society were not considered. With regard to combating infectious diseases, governments were unable to speak out against the major pharmaceutical monopolies, and were not able to go against intellectual property rights. But it is this which constitutes the greatest barrier to facilitating access to generic medicines for the poorest countries. However, the issue of generic medicines did not make it onto the agenda of the G8 or that of civil society.

The agreement of the G8 governments to cooperate with civil society is real. An example of this is the global fund for combating AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The countries allocated amounts of special financing in their final documents.
These documents stated that the opening-up of markets is an important factor on the road to development. However, the opinion of civil society that certain exceptions should be made was not considered. For example, mechanisms must be introduced to protect small businesses in agriculture and other areas.

Some civil society proposals could not be considered by the G8 leaders without serious prior preparation. Here I am talking about the civil society recommendations that the crisis in international finance institutions such as the IMF and WTO be turned to advantage. The G8 will be unable to begin considering such a weighty issue as changing the international financial architecture without first performing serious preparatory work. A similar attempt was made in 1995, and certain changes were made, but several serious crises had to take place first in order for this to happen.

Thanks to the efforts of civil society, Russia has been able to take the issue of Africa to a new level. At the October meeting foundations for direct interaction were laid; we brought together a group of NGO activists, who held talks with APF.

As previously, the representatives of civil society are still waiting for concrete actions on their recommendations, for example in the field of access to information.

We have seen that the G8 is ready to interact with civil society. However, this has not happened. A global partnership forum between states and business exists with regard to combating terrorism. Business is a part of society, but only one segment of it, and therefore the promise of active dialogue remains unrealised. The G8 and civil society should have ensured greater UN involvement in this process.

Great attention has been paid to business. The G8 is looking to involve business. But perhaps business is using the G8 to satisfy its own interests. It sometimes seems that during the course of summit preparation the leaders discussed less their own national interests, and more the interests of big business. But these initiatives have not been officially reflected in the G8's documents.

The issue of human rights was also not included in the documents. This can be explained in terms of its lack of relation to the list of priorities. 28 civil society recommendations were reflected in the G8 documents, but most of these were declarative statements.

Sociological surveying in the G8 countries show that the issues causing the most concern are terrorism and infectious diseases. In Germany the issue of human rights is also ranked highly.

Civil G8-2006 activities overall evaluation and its influence on the official G8

Expert opinion

Halter Marek

02.12.06

Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing

02.12.06

Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi

02.12.06

Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace

02.12.06

Bill Pace
World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
Peter I. Hajnal

01.12.06

Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group