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Press Conference on Co-operation between Civil Society and the Group of Eight during Russia's Presidency Moscow, December 20, 2005

Representatives of major Russian NGOs have initiated the creation of a consultative council of NGOs to be called Civil G8 2006.

This was announced by Ella Pamfilova, Chair of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, at a press conference held in Moscow on December 20, 2005. Pamfilova said that the council should become a platform for a real dialogue and interaction between the Russian NGOs and G8 leaders, as well as provide a civic environment for the G8 2006 summit, a strong impetus for the development of civil society and rehabilitation of the notion of democracy in Russia.
In particular, according to a Russian source, NGOs are counting on an opportunity to put pressure on the summit participants to encourage them to support Russian NGOs efforts to block any initiatives aimed at toughening Russian NGO laws.
The press conference participants said that the Civil G8 2006 initiative aims at supporting the Russian leadership's expressed willingness to co-operate with the Russian and international civil society organisations during its G8 presidency. The organizers hope that the new initiative will ensure an open competition of ideas and close scrutiny of various initiatives that will have an impact on the development of a dialogue between NGOs and G8 and help bring its agenda closer to the public. The positive experience of German and British NGOs accumulated during their respective G8 presidencies will serve as a good example.
Besides, NGO leaders want to directly influence G8 heads of state in order to respond to the next year's agenda and also to ensure NGO input into the future agenda in co-operation with NGO leaders from other countries, said Aleksandr Auzan, a prominent economist and member of the Advisory Board of our Civil Society and Gender Equality Funds.
The list of Civil G8 2006 initiators includes a whole range of Russian NGOs from environmental and human rights (Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, Civil Action, Greenpeace Russia, WWF Russia) to journalists, academics and entrepreneurs (Institute of Press Development, Association of Managers, SMEs OPORA), as well as the Moscow City Commissioner for Children's Rights, members of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights et al.
The NGO leaders propose to organise several discussion forums, launch a website for a broad discussion of the summit 2006 agenda and development of proposals and recommendations for G8 governments. Besides, two international conferences of NGOs will be held before the summit in St. Petersburg, and one after the summit to discuss its results.
The organizers are inviting interested NGOs in Russia and other countries to send their proposals and comments to: info@civilg8.ru

Peter Teslenko
Senior Project Officer
Technical Cooperation Program/Embassy of Canada