Guest blog: "Parallel Meetings" at the G-20: a note of alarm
This is a short note of alarm about the "clear rules and fair procedures" that are needed, in my opinion, for the G20 parallel sessions (known as T-20; B-20 and S-20), to function properly. These proposals are based on my analysis of the experiences of these meetings in Los Cabos, Mexico, in February/March 2012 and in Moscow, Russia, last December. I am an Argentine economist and a member of the Tax Justice Network, and I attended the T-20 Meeting in Moscow representing an Argentine think tank called CEFID-AR (Centro de Economía y Finanzas para el Desarrollo de la Argentina).
We were invited a year ago by Argentina’s authorities to participate at the Los Cabos T-20 Meeting but we decided not to attend because of the bias we noticed in the selection of the think-tanks invited by the Mexican organizers. We were concerned about both the number and the orientation of the “Northern” think-tanks: double the number of “Southern” ones. This asymmetry was subsequently reflected in the resulting “Report to G20 Sherpas” in March 2012, which was drawn up by the Mexican organisers without any consultation with, or approval by, the participants.
At Moscow we see that some worrying practices put in place by the organisers of the Mexican G20 Summit are being repeated. The principal ones are:
(a) A bias in the selection of the participants of the Think20 - particularly the ‘chairs,’ but also many ‘speakers.’ (We see a heavy orientation to neoliberal approaches and recommendations; and also, in some cases, de facto lobbying efforts, which are incompatible with academic approaches.)
(b) Ideological and biased presentations with poorly- (or un-) justified recommendations: for example in opposition to trade regulations; in favor of “unrestricted” movement of capital flows and multinational corporations’ activities; and promoting “multilateral investment treaties”.
(c) Improper manipulation by the ‘chairs’ of the process of elaborating the minutes of meetings, which ended up not reflecting participants’ positions and discussions. These minutes were provided to the Sherpas and published on the G20 website but without consultation with the participants; apparently in order to ensure final recommendations in line with the organisers’ ex ante definitions (of neoliberal or “interested” orientation). They introduced new issues into the G-20 agenda without consensus at the meeting, they did not inform the Sherpas about important discussions that took place during the sessions, and they eliminated “controversial” matters (for example, a proposal to reintroduce into the agenda the critical problem of “illicit capital flight” and “secrecy jurisdictions / tax havens.”)
I was informed by participants at a “Civil-20” meeting that the people put in charge in Moscow had adopted a similar approach.
Finally, I sent a letter to the “Russia G20 Sherpa Office” (January 10th 2013) to inform them about these problems: “serious failures that are affecting the open, pluralist and democratic discussion on economic global affairs that is necessary today”.
Letter below, dated January 10
Mr Pavel Komarov
Russian G20 Sherpa Office
Remembering your cordial and effective assistance during my participation at Moscow T-20 Meeting, I must inform you (see under this lines) about some serious failures that are affecting the open, pluralist and democratic discussion on economic global affairs that is necessary today. Best regards
Buenos Aires, Argentina