Bridge-Building Between Civil Society “Insiders” and “Outsiders”
Introduction by Nancy Alexander, Heinrich Boell Foundation-North America
Ella Pamfilova has a remarkably deep, personal experience of the interface between civil society and the Russian government. Her article, “The Story of Russia’s CivilG8–2006 Project,” reflects her experience as Coordinator of the Advisory Council, National Working Group of the Civil G8 in 2005-2006, when I had the good fortune to see her in action. Drawing from her years of experience as Chairwoman of Russia’s “Presidential Council for the Support of Civil Society and Human Rights Protection Institutions,” Pamfilova helped civil society prepare for Russia’s first Presidency of the Group of 8 (G8) and its July 2006 Summit. In her article, she draws lessons from her experience that are applicable today, as Russia has embarked on its first G20 Presidency and prepares for the September 2013 G20 Summit.
Pamfilova writes, “I think that the secret of our success was, first of all, an unparalleled mutual interest and commitment of each side to use this partnership in order to achieve its own goals: for the government, the goal primarily included international recognition of Russia as a full-fledged and efficient G8 partner, and for Russia’s community of non-profit organizations, the goal was to put an end to the negative trend of imposing restrictions on its socio-political activities that used to be independent of government control.” Under Pamfilova’s leadership, a total of 2,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) from 58 countries took part in the CivilG8–2006 project, including domestic CSOs from almost every Russian region. To the disbelief of senior government officials, she arranged for meetings of international CSOs with President Putin and negotiated space not only for the official CSO process, but also space for a liberal counter-summit “A Different Russia” and the Russian Social Forum of anti-globalists, communists and anarchists.
In my article, “The Russian G20 Parade Begins: The C20, T20, B20, Y20, G(irls) 20,” I try to capture some essence of the parade of “20” meetings – particularly the Civil Society-20 (C20), Think Tank-20 (T20), Business 20 (B20) -- in mid-December 2012 when the G20 sherpas (i.e., aides to `heads of state’) met for the first time under the Russian presidency.
With regard to the C20 meeting, Peter Lanzet (Bread for the World, Germany) reports that “Representatives of civil society discussed among themselves how to respond to the attitude of the Russian Government, which welcomes the international CSOs and the well-behaved Russian ones (“insiders”), but represses critical Russian CSOs (“outsiders”). Russian civil society is threatened and frustrated by the recent anti-CSO legislation of the Russian government.” Sameer Dossani of ActionAid-India reported that the group expressed their solidarity with the “outsiders” – the Russian CSOs which dare to raise uncomfortable questions and protest in the streets. With others, he stressed the importance of conducting a formal dialogue between the “insiders” and “outsiders” in Russia and ensuring that the voices of the latter group are included in recommendations to the Russian government and the G20. Dossani also reflected on the split between liberals and conservatives at the C20 meeting, noting that the most radical presenters at the meeting were from the United Nations.
With regard to the Think 20 (T20) meeting, Barry Carin (Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Canada) states that, although the Russians plan a “back to basics” G20 agenda, they also introduce two new ideas - “Financing for investment” and “Government borrowing and public debt sustainability.” For more details of this event, see the “Must Read” box entitled, “The Think 20: On Reviving or Relaunching the G20” where we recount some highlights of the T20, including an effort by Colin Bradford (CIGI-Canada and Brookings-US) to urge the Russian authorities to give meaning to the concept of “Green Growth” and “equity” – the “lost sheep” of the G20 agenda.
Jorge Gaggero, an economist from CEFID-AR (Centro de Economía y Finanzas para el Desarrollo, Argentina) and a member of Tax Justice Network perceived a deep split between “insiders” and “outsiders” at the T20 and identified with the latter group. He has told the Russian authorities and T20 organizers that the design and recommendations of the T20 were flawed by ideological biases. Gaggero presented a paper aimed at debunking the dominant neoliberal ideology.
With regard to the Business 20 (B20) event, their proposals to the G20 are already well-developed. Moreover, they were discussed at the January 2013 annual meeting of the “rich and famous” at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. A “Must Read” describes how the WEF dealt with the 99% -- the “outsiders”: women, the jobless, and the unequal.
In their article, “The G20’s Anti-Corruption Working Group: Its History, Achievements, and Goals,” Angela McClellan, Transparency International – Germany and Andrew Eberle, Heinrich Böll Foundation – North America, describe the G20’s acknowledgement that the real challenge is “closing the implementation and enforcement gap.” Fighting corruption not only requires new laws and official regulations, but also enforcement actions, enhanced transparency in day-by-day government activities, and a firm commitment to hold parties accountable for abusing the public trust. Their article highlights actions that the public and private sectors can take to ensure greater transparency and financial integrity.
The Russians feature the “Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” as a policy priority for their G20 Presidency. This is important since the MDGs – adopted by the 2000 Millennium Summit -- expire in 2015. In his article, “The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Toward Dynamic, Inclusive, and Sustainable Development” Wonhyuk Lim of the Korea Development Institute (KDI) recommends that “the new goals should not only provide for basic human needs, but also ensure essential human rights and create enabling conditions to help individuals realize their potential. They should also be comprehensive enough to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) an implementation mechanism for the post-2015 development agenda should be formulated, including development financing and knowledge sharing components.”
In “G20 Exclusion of African Perspectives,” Simekinala Kaluzi, Program Officer, Council for NGOs in Malawi (CONGOMA), emphasizes that, “Since so many African citizens are silenced in their countries (including through rigged elections), there are grave implications of sidelining them during G20 processes as well. Kaluzi gives several examples of the priorities that the G20 should set in order to serve the African agenda. For instance, he says that the G20 should define what it means by the term ‘growth’ because Africans want to know whether the growth model is pro-poor, pro-environment, or pro-worker. In the current trade model, Africa’s 2-3% share of global trade is embarrassing to Africans, yet Kaluzi suggests, “the rich countries would like to keep it like that.” He states that “It is strategically and morally wrong for the G20 to plan Africa’s future without the meaningful participation of Africans. Let the AU, the African private sector, African civil society, and African media take part in G20 processes.”
Finally, this issue contains a “knowledge box” on the “The `Enough’ Campaign and the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.” The anti-hunger “enough” campaign contends that there is enough food for everyone: IF we give enough aid to stop children dying from hunger and help the poorest families feed themselves IF governments stop big companies from dodging taxes in poor countries; IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land and grow crops to feed people, not fuel cars; and IF governments and big companies are open and transparent about their actions that stop people getting enough food. Hopefully, this important campaign will critique ways in which the G8 is driving an agribusiness model through its “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.”