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IREX Convenes US and Russian Civil Society Discussions

Meetings in Russia, October 2010What do NGOs focusing on women’s human rights, housing, child protection and higher education have in common? Much, when it comes to promoting joint Russian-American efforts to solve pressing social problems. As part of the “reset” in relations between the United States and Russia, presidents Obama and Medvedev lead the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, which includes an emphasis on peer-to-peer collaboration between US and Russian civil society organizations. During the month of October 2010, IREX facilitated nearly a dozen meetings in three locations in Russia—Moscow, St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk—aimed at broadening participation by Russian NGOs in the collaborative process. The sessions followed on to the 2010 US-Russia Civil Society to Civil Society (C2C) Summit that was held in June in Washington, DC, which featured remarks from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As a result of these meetings, major innovations designed to ameliorate long-standing social problems will have a lasting positive impact on ordinary people in both countries for generations to come. To cite a few examples:

• Advocates and other child protection professionals and care givers will establish a mechanism for collaborative online resolution of family crises that include violations of children’s human rights;
• A new organization, the “Article 13 Alliance,” will be created under the auspices of the United Nations to help Russia and the United States deal more effectively with transnational corruption; and
• The highly successful Text4baby program, which supports the “texting” of health-care methodologies in the United States, will be replicated in Russia, with the promise of promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing the availability of quality health care for expectant mothers.

IREX will remain a leading voice for building the capacity of civil society organizations to help solve social problems and make the world a better place to live. A summary of the US-Russia C2C events in 2010 is available to view below. English and Russian copies can be downloaded at www.irex.org/c2creport2010