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Analytical Studies

Civil Society. Impressions of the Genoa Summit, 20-22 July 2001

Christine Lucyk, G8 Research Group

The protests in Genoa have certainly put the question of involvement of civil society in the G8 deliberations on the radarscope. Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada has endorsed the role of non-violent protest to get the message across and as a fundamental elelment of our democratic system.

However, there is a considerable variation amongst the protest groups in terms of their specific issues and their protest tactics. For the most part, many are committed to non-violence. Indeed, some of the pactifist ghroups have distanced themselves from their anarchist and violent colleagues. Specifically, the Drop the Debt group, with its spokesmen Bob Geldhof, Bono and (an Italian rock star) decided to move their pacifist protest to the smaller community of Boggadocio outside of Genoa after the shooting death of the Italian protestor This alone sends a powerful message to all about their interest in distancing themselves from those who are committed to tactics of violence.

While their tactics vary widely, so do their issues. Several groups are clearly foccused on a single issue, be it debt reduction, education, or the environment. By contrast there are those who cannot clearly spell out what they want to achieve. In short, they find it easier to say what they don't want, rather than what they do. Unfortunately this tars the image and objectives of the majority of NGOs which have important and legitimate causes.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien has committed the G8 to involving NGOs and civil society in the preparations for next year's Summit to be held in Kananaskis, Alberta in an open and trransparent process.

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