Call for a Global Leaders Forum

Towards a Global Leaders Forum that Promotes Democratic Global Governance and an Equitable and Sustainable Economic Recovery

International Civil Society Statement ahead of the 2010 G-20 Leaders
Summit in Toronto

The world urgently needs democratic and global decision-making that puts
the international economic and financial system at the service of
equity, economic and social justice, human rights, and environmental
sustainability. A forum recognized as legitimate and credible by all
will be far more effective in addressing today's critical global issues.

In this vein, the G-20 can only be the first step. To achieve
the broader goal of democratic governance, a global leaders' forum must
include the effective participation of low income countries. The
immediate inclusion of the African Union, followed perhaps by other
regional bodies, would be a step towards a more comprehensive
constituency-based system. It must respect democratic principles of
inclusion, representation, transparency and accountability, and must
provide avenues for hearing citizens' voices. In the medium term, such a
forum needs to transition towards a democratic and global leaders
summit process within the framework of the United Nations.

Context:

The world has been battered by a series of interconnected and
unrelenting crises: food, fuel, finance and climate. These crises have
exposed deep-rooted fragilities and imbalances in the global financial
system and its governance, and have led to efforts to reform the
existing international financial architecture.

In past years, various entities have underscored the need for a new
multilateral leaders' forum to help govern the global economy,
highlighting the failings of existing structures. In response to the
global dimensions of the current crisis and the rising importance of
several emerging economies, the G-8 has been transformed into the G-20,
self-designated as the "premier forum for international economic
co-operation." Since 2008, they have met three times at the Heads of
State level, discussing reforms to the global economic system.

Compared to the G-8, the G-20 has a greater number and diversity of
members, representing 65 per cent of the world's population and 85 per
cent of global gross national product. But the G-20 remains a
self-selected body and has no mandate other than its own regarding the
global economy-or any other issue. The G-20 excludes all low-income
countries. Indeed, more than 170 UN member states, many of whom are
suffering disproportionate impacts arising from the crisis, have no
representation at all.

While promising to repair the global economy and build an inclusive
and sustainable recovery, G-20 leaders instead injected 1.1 trillion
dollars into many of the same institutions whose economic, finance and
trade policies exacerbated the speed, scale and impact of the crisis.
Reforms have been superficial, and any shifts to the current economic
paradigm still seem temporary, rather than long term.

Reforms to global governance must go hand in hand with an economic
paradigm that promotes global equity, justice and environmental
sustainability, in which governments respect their human rights
obligations and all citizens are able to claim their rights.

For a leaders group to work effectively in form, and responsibly in
function, it must respect democratic principles of inclusion,
representation, transparency and accountability, and must provide
avenues for hearing citizens' voices. Such a forum needs to be flexible
and manageable in terms of its size and membership, while also ensuring
that political leadership can be brought to bear on global challenges.
Its policies must promote the interests of the global community in
general, while reflecting the diversity of countries in particular.
Ultimately, building an international leaders forum must be done within
the context of strengthening multilateralism more generally and the role
of the United Nations in particular.

2010 is an opportunity to ensure that the G-20's meetings in Toronto
and Seoul are a force for democratic and sustainable change in the way
the world is run. The undersigned organizations from around the world
call on all governments to adhere to the following key principles and
benchmarks for renewing multilateralism and building a truly global
leaders forum:

Key principles for a more democratic leaders' forum for
international cooperation:

1) Inclusive of the poorest countries - Starting with the AU.
There is great diversity among developing countries. Brazil, India,
China and South Africa have emerged as important new players, but they
cannot be expected to speak effectively to the interests of Sub Saharan
Africa or low-income countries and least developed countries (LDCs) in
other regions. Recovery for these countries will require distinct
strategies reflecting their specific realities. These include high debt
loads, a narrower range of exports, a weaker industrial base, a large
rural population, heavy disease burdens, greater dependence on aid, and
recurrent internal conflict. As long as these countries are not at the
table, the issues and solutions being discussed will likely fall short
of their needs and lack credibility. As a first step for 2010, the
African Union (AU) must be included in G-20 meetings-as a participant,
not an observer. Over time there must be further representation for LDCs
at the table.

2) Representative in composition. A global leaders' forum
may need to be limited in size, but to be legitimate and credible, it
must also be representative. Different regions must be engaged through a
constituency system with decision-making by consensus, similar to the
practices of other international institutions-with the important
difference that countries should be free to choose their own groupings.
The chair of each constituency should rotate on a periodic basis.

3) Transparent and accountable. Just as the G-8 has begun to
modestly tackle transparency and accountability for decisions taken
(through the pending release of a broader G-8 Accountability Framework),
the locus of power has shifted to an institution that is even less
transparent and accountable. In the short term, the G-20 must put in
place measures to address these deficiencies by extending an
Accountability Framework to all G-20 commitments. This should be
supported by 'expert groups' that are empowered to solicit and receive
outside reports. The G-20 and its expert groups should operate
transparently by making meeting schedules, participants and expert
lists, agendas and background documents publicly available on websites.
An accountability report drawing upon the work of the expert groups
should be publicly available 30 days prior to the G-20's annual summit.

4) Strengthens the role of the UN. The G-20 needs to
position itself as a forum that recognizes and strengthens the role of
the United Nations. The leaders summit should be part of the UN
framework. Recently, the UN Commission of Experts on the International
Monetary and Financial System called on the establishment of a Global
Economic Coordinating Council within the UN that can be a good model. It
would meet annually at the Heads of State level to assess developments
and provide leadership in economic, social and ecological issues, and
help secure consistency and coherence in the policy goals of all the
major international organizations. In the medium term, such a forum
could replace the ad hoc measures proposed above.

5) Open to civil society. Non-state actors are increasingly
important players in international processes. Civil society critiques
and proposals have positively affected governments' understanding of the
issues, policy agendas and methods of work. Institutionalizing evolving
best practices of the current 'Civil G-8' dialogue within the G-20, and
encouraging the 'expert groups' described above to solicit and receive
formal civil society submissions for G-20 consideration would be an
important step forward. G-20 governments and parliaments should also
explicitly commit to effective consultations with civil society ahead
of, and between, summit meetings.

If leaders fail to make this shift, the world will lack the
effective leadership forum it requires to deal with the present crisis
and avert future ones.

Signatories (As of March 11, 2010):

International

ActionAid International
The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
CIVICUS
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)
Greenpeace
International Trade Union Confederation
Medical Mission Sisters International
Oxfam International
Third World Network
VIVAT International

Regional
Arab NGO Network for Development
European Network on Debt and Development

National
Campana, Argentina

Australian Council for International Development, Australia
Jubilee Australia, Australia

Lokoj Institute, Bangladesh
Organization for Social Development of Unemployed Youth, Bangladesh

Associacao Brasileira de Gays, Lesbicas, Bissexuais, Travestis e Transexuais - ABGLT, Brasil

Abundant Grace Foundation, Cameroon
Action pour l'Humanisation des Hopitaux, Cameroun
LIVELIHOOD NGO, Cameroon

AIDS Committee of Ottawa, Canada
Canada Africa Partnership On AIDS (CAP AIDS), Canada
Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Canada
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canada
Council of Canadians, Canada
Daughters of Africa International Inc., Canada
L'Entraide missionnaire, Canada
Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, Canada
Halifax Initiative Coalition, Canada
Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, Canada
Make Poverty History Canada, Canada
Micah Challenge Canada, Canada
University of Ottawa, Department of Medicine, Canada
RESULTS Canada, Canada

Agrupacion HAIN, Chile

Senderos Asociacion Mutual, Colombia
Mecanismo Social de control y apoyo en Vih, Colombia

Asovihsida, Costa Rica

Finnish NGO Platform to the EU, Finland

Alliance Sud, France

VENRO, Association of German Development NGOs, Germany

Afro Global Alliance (GH), Ghana
Pathfinders Outreach Ministry, Ghana
TB Voice Network, Ghana

ONGD Africando, Gran Canaria (Espana)

Anti Debt Coalition (KAU), Indonesia
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Indonesia

CRBM, Italy
Fair, Italy

JANIC, Japan

African Women's Development and Communications Network/FEMNET, Kenya

African Child Peace Initiative (ACPI) Inc, Liberia
Fuamah Citizen Union, Liberia
Liberia Institute of Public Opinion (LIPO), Liberia
Liberia United for the Welfare of Children (LUWOC), Liberia

Council for NGOs in Malawi - CONGOMA, Malawi

Global Health Candlelight, Mali

Aids Candlelight Memorial Association, Ile Maurice

Varones Siglo 21, Mexico

Terra-1530, Moldova

Global South Initiative, Nepal
Rural Area Development Programme (RADP), Nepal

Both ENDS, Netherlands
Niza, Netherlands

Council for International Development, New Zealand
New Zealand AIDs Foundation, New Zealand

African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Nigeria
Afro Global Alliance (NIG), Nigeria
The Genius Generation, Nigeria
Grassroots Empowerment Network, Nigeria
The International Community of Women living with HIV and AIDS (ICW Nigeria), Nigeria
Noble Missions for Change Initiative, Nigeria
Stronghold Support Services, Nigeria
Womankind Nigeria for Women living with HIV and AIDS, Nigeria

Life Foundation, Pakistan
Youth Advocacy Network (YAN), Pakistan

Population Services Pilipinas Incorporated, Philippines

New Hope Federation, South Africa

Attac Espana, Spain
Foro Social de Murcia Francisco Morote Vidal, Spain
Intersindical Valenciana, Spain

Berne Declaration, Switzerland

Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law, Tajikistan
CSO "Equal opportunities", Tajikistan

Worldview, The Gambia

CILSIDA, Togo
Global Health International Institute, Togo

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, Uganda
Voice of the disadvantaged people, Uganda

BOND, United Kingdom
Bretton Woods Project, United Kingdom
Jubilee Debt Campaign, United Kingdom
Share The World's Resources, United Kingdom
War on Want, United Kingdom
World Development Movement, United Kingdom

Foreign Policy in Focus, USA
Global Financial Integrity, USA
Global Health Council, USA
Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project, USA
InterAction, USA
Looking Over Your Shoulder Ministries, Inc., USA
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, USA
New Rules for Global Finance, USA
Orange High School ONE Club, USA
Student Trade Justice Campaign, USA

Worldview, The Gambia

To sign on visit the Halifax Initiative website

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