Doha Conference Kicks Off with Civil Society Forum

250 people, from civil society organizations around the world, met for 2 days this week to prepare for the upcoming Doha conference. The purpose of these two days was to discuss the outcome-document of the official Doha conference and suggest specific improvements.
 
The drafting committee had done a good job, and paragraph-by-paragraph, the participants compiled their comments on the document. Some of the main suggestions were full reiterations of existing aid commitments. Another important issue discussed was adapting finance to help developing countries avoid major development setback due to climate change. And many delegates wanted the UN Tax Committee upgraded into an intergovernmental body, to strengthen and coordinate the fight against tax evasion.
 
The Civil Society Declaration – the final document on the civil society meetings at Doha – had been a very rough draft when the conference started. After breaking out in six working groups , it became a substantial document. Our ONE staff in Doha engaged in those meetings: Andreas Huebers attended the session on systemic issues, emerging issues and the follow-up process. Mikiko Imai attended the session on increasing international financial and technical cooperation.
 

The final Civil Society Declaration emphasizes energy, food climate and finance. It states that northern governments are responsible for these crises but that the consequences are felt globally, particularly in the south: “Most countries are falling far short of meeting their aid commitments. Overcoming these crises requires decisive action and leadership from the global community.”
 
Looking at the actions by governments in the US and Europe to save financial systems, it is not surprising that the Civil Society Document comments: “The swift and massive response to bail out banks with more than three trillion USD of guarantees and funds, is in very stark contrast to their failure to respond decisively to the unabated crisis of poverty.”
 
The declaration is not uploaded yet but will be available at http://www.ffdngo.org/.
We will observe during the coming days to what extend world leaders will listen to these demands.

- Sergius Seebohm