PART III: HIV/AIDS and Global Health - G8 Guidebook

8.G8 Summit Process: Civil G8 Dialogue

  1. Broad Overview
  2. Experience of the 2008 G8 Process
  3. Civil G8 Dialogue in Reality

1Broad Overview

Civil G8 Dialogue is a process that was first launched in the 2006 G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In Russia, the Civil G8 Dialogue took place two weeks before the actual G8 Summit from July 3-4 and included the participation of civil society of each G8 country. These invitation-only participants had a discussion with President Putin for well over three hours. The Civil G8 Dialogue for the 2007 G8 Summit in Germany took place two months before the actual G8 Summit from April 25 - 26. Representatives from Germany and International Civil Society and G8 Sherpas discussed issues such as environment, poverty and development. The Civil G8 Dialogue is the only meeting of the G8 process that allows civil society to have a discussion on an equal basis with the organizers and those responsible for G8 policies of each country. Japan also chose to have a Civil G8 Dialogue. It is necessary that the Civil G8 Dialogue becomes a permanent part of the G8 process.

2Experience of the 2008 G8 Process

The Civil G8 Dialogue in Japan, organized by the G8 NGO Forum, took place April 23-24 for two days in Kyoto. The dates were chosen to coincide with the G8 Sherpa meeting that would also take place in Kyoto. At the meeting held on the 24th between G8 Sherpas (8 Sherpas excluding the Sherpa from France) and civil society, particpants exchanged dialogue for approximatly two hours.

Civil Society from Japan understood that the Civil G8 Dialogue is essential to their advocacy. The G8 NGO forum quickly launched a Civil G8 Working Group, and with the facilitation of the environmental unit (which had the experience of actively participating in past Civil G8 Dialogues), the poverty and development and the Human Rights and Peace Unit participated on an equal footing to actively work towards the organization and the execution of the Civil G8.

Since the tradition began at the 2006 Summit in Russia, the Japanese government supposed that a Civil G8 Dialogue will take place in Japan as well. On the financial aspect, the Japanese government covered the cost of the roundtrip tickets and accommodation of the invited overseas guests. The Japanese government did not directly issue the monies to the G8 NGO Forum, but through travel company contractors. Other financial costs were covered by a grant the G8 NGO Forum submitted to the Open Society Institute.

The Civil G8 Dialogue, in addition to the the approxamitely 150 from Japanese civil society, included the participation of 52 civil society members from overseas (including the 27 invited guests), bringing the total number of participation to 200. On the selection of overseas guests, each of the three units from the G8 NGO Forum (poverty and development, environment and human rights and peace) compiled a list of possible candidates. From there, they chose the 10 that would be given invitations. Overseas guests that have covered for their own costs were informed about the Civil G8 Dialouge through their Unit's respective mailing lists, and from there, applied to attend the Dialogue through affiliated NGOs. All those who applied were accepted.

Listed below are the names of individuals from NGOs involved in global health issues that has participated in the Civil G8 Dialogue:

In choosing the representative for HIV/AIDS related issues, a selection committee was formed. The committee consisted of the following people: Masaki Inaba (Japan, G8 NGO Forum), Marcel van Soest (World AIDS Campaign), Felicita Hikuam (South Africa, World AIDS Campaign) and Steven Cockburn (UK, Stop AIDS Campaign). Together, the committee sent out request for participation to their respective mailing lists, and chose 1 member from a developed county and 1 member from a developing country to participate in the Civil G8 Dialouge.

3Civil G8 Dialogue in Reality

The Civil G8 Dialogue has been constructed as two day long process, however, the actual dialogue between civil society and the Sherpa took place in the last two hours of the second day. At the 2008 Civil G8, the first day consisted of plenary sessions of the three main agenda items of poverty and development, environment, and Human Rights and Peace. The morning and part of the afternoon were allotted to meetings on the three main agenda items.

The most important aspect of the Civil G8 Dialogue was who will speak and what will be spoken at the actual two-hour discussion between the Sherpa and Civil Society.

Although the framework of the meeting with the Sherpa at the Civil G8 allows the participation of all, the speakers were limited to 18 people. Thus civil society decided on dividing the speakers as the following: 9 for Poverty and Development, 8 for Environment and 1 for Human Rights. A strategy meeting was held on the 21st (before the official Civil G8 that began on the 22nd) with Japanese and International participants involved in poverty and development issues choosing the 9 speakers for Poverty and Development. The speakers were carefully selected to balance issues, gender, region, etc.

On content: at the morning session of the second day of the G8, the Poverty and Development unit held three different workshops: (1) Global Health (2) Development and ODA (3) Governance and Anti-corruption. Within each workshop, the participants raised issues and questions that must be emphasized. At the first part of the afternoon session, the participants of the thee workshops came together and came to a consensus on which issue and questions will be raised for the actual dialogue between civil society and the Sherpas. In addition, participants of global health issues came together to create a civil society statement to present to the Sherpas (See: REFERENCE: [ Ref.7 ] ).

For the processes on the selection of the speakers for the meeting with the Sherpas for the poverty and development unit, actively invited the participations of all and emphasized that the discussion be as democratic as possible. As a result, there was a high praise from the participants on the transparency and democracy of the process.

Within the two-hour time limit of the dialogue between civil society and the Sherpas, the first 10 minutes were allocated to the Sherpas, the next 40 minutes to Climate change, another 40 minutes to poverty and development and the last 30 minutes to human rights and other issues. The dialogue ended with the Sherpas responding with broad answers without any substance to the questions and opinions raised by the Civil Society. However, the management and the operation of the Civil G8 Dialogue ran efficiently and smoothly, and the substance of the issues raised during the dialogue with the Sherpas was of high quality. Thus, the Sherpas left the meeting holding a high impression of the policy making and management abilities of the civil society.

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