Moscow/Berlin – Non-governmental organisations should maintain their voice in G20 decision-making given the important role they play in finding solutions to global problems, Transparency International said today at the first ever G20 summit of civil society representatives.
The civil society meeting is hosted by the holder of this year’s G20 presidency Russia where controversial new legislation threatens hundreds of non-governmental organisations working on issues including civil and human rights, corruption and the rule of law.
“Without a robust voice for civil society in Russia, the country will struggle to keep up with its G20 partners in everything from fighting corruption to economic development,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
On 8 December 2012, Transparency International and seven other international organisations called for an end to the Russian pressure on civil society. Since then, the new laws have hurt a number of NGOs operating in Russia, forcing them to pay fines and limiting the scope of their activities.
“Civil society cannot be kept behind a curtain, only to be taken out on special occasions. You have to give it unfettered space to breathe, without limitations on operations, funding and other basic freedoms,” said Elena Panfilova, the Executive Director of Transparency International-Russia.
The G20 Civil Summit – also known as the C20 – is held on 13-14 June in Moscow. The purpose of the C20 is to contribute to the G20 process with policy recommendations, act as a watchdog and monitor G20 commitments.
The Summit is expected to welcome the establishment of a formal platform for civil society engagement with G20 governments, but will call on leaders to also permit them access to the G20 St Petersburg Summit this September.
“Civil society has worked hard to make sure the G20 tackles the problems that most affect people around the world. The creation of the C20 recognises the constructive role civil society can play, not just as the voice of the people, but in providing solutions to those problems, especially corruption,” said Huguette Labelle.
The Group of 20 leading economies was created in 2008 to coordinate a global response to the economic crisis. At the Seoul Summit in November 2010, G20 leaders agreed an Anti-Corruption Action Plan and set up an anti-corruption working group. The plan, and the mandate of the working-group, was renewed in November 2012 for another two years.
“The G20 has already taken important steps in the fight against corruption, proving that it can be a force for spreading high standards of transparency around the world,” said Huguette Labelle. “Efforts to involve civil society in this debate must be maintained.”
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Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
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