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US-Russia Civil Society to Civil Society (C2C) Summit

On June 23-24, 2010, more than 40 Russian and American thought leaders met in Washington, DC to debate the common challenges and best practices on 10 issues of critical importance to civil society development.

Working groups composed of leading Russian and American thought leaders shared ideas on common challenges and best practices on issues ranging from Public Health and Transparency in Government to Human Rights and Community Development. These sessions facilitated dialogue and helped to develop a “road map” for future collaboration, and settled upon the following themes and recommendations.

This second U.S. - Russia Civil Society to Civil Society (C2C) Summit was convened by IREX and ran parallel to the White House visit of Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev and his meeting with President Barack Obama.

Goals

• Explore ways to contribute to building sustainability of Russian and American civil society organizations through ongoing C2C collaboration.

• Develop ways to widen participation in achieving the disparate goals of civil society broadly.

• Explore how technology might be used to spur innovation in the “Third Sector” in the context of the civil society issues raised during this event.

Project Activities

Steering Committee Meetings: The core activity of the IREX hosted C2C Summit was a series of 10 Steering Committee meetings focused on “lines of work” in civil society development. The day long meetings advanced strategies and planning for greater institutionalization and deepening of discussions begun at the Civil Society Summit in Moscow in July 2009. Each steering committee, consisting of 4-6 Russian and American representatives, charted a course for building on the momentum of the Moscow meetings.

The lines of work were:

  1. Public Health
  2. Higher Education
  3. Primary and Secondary Education & Youth
  4. Community Development
  5. Anti-Corruption and Institutional Integrity
  6. Transparency in Government
  7. New Media
  8. Human Rights and Law
  9. Child Protection
  10. Women’s Human Rights Group

Innovation Marketplace: On the last day of the C2C Summit more than 150 C2C Summit participants and guests took part in an Innovation Marketplace. That provided an opportunity for organizations and firms to demonstrate specific new information technology strategies and approaches that are used around the world to help civil-society organizations achieve their missions. During the marketplace, informal discussions between technology experts and civil-society representatives were held amid the backdrop of presentations and innovative technology exhibits. At the close of the event, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton toured the Innovation Marketplace and spoke before the participants, emphasizing the vast potential for greater collaboration.

Conclusions: The steering committees articulated five common themes:

  • • New technology is a potential boon for effective C2C collaboration
  • • Opportunities for ongoing collaboration need to be institutionalized, with more sophisticated and complete information exchange
  • • Mentoring and training between Russian and American NGOs needs to be strengthened
  • • Greater emphasis needs to be given to public outreach and information campaigns
  • • The bilateral process should be continued

IREX sees this event as establishing and renewing stronger relationships between civil society peers in the United States in Russia. Over the coming year these working groups will continue to keep dialogue alive, public, and productive.

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