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Can Civil Society Influence G8 Accountability?

Peter I. Hajnal

CSGR Working Paper Series No. 235/07

October 2007

Originally prepared for the workshop held at Gothenburg University, School of Global Studies, 13-15 June 2007, part of the Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance project


This study outlines the mandate and activities of the Group of Eight (G8), examines for what and to whom the G8 is accountable, reviews the range and types of civil society groups interacting with the G8, and discusses how and to what extent this engagement has promoted or failed to promote G8 accountability through various actions: policy studies, evaluation and monitoring of commitments; petitions, lobbying, mobilisation and media campaigns; demonstrations and protests; dialogue; alternative summits; and participation in multi-stakeholder partnerships. The paper than analyses attitudes, procedures, structures and other factors that have helped or hindered civil society’s contribution to G8 accountability.

The study concludes that the concept of accountability, although problematic, is applicable to the G8: leaders are individually accountable to their national electorates, to the global community, to regional and global governance agencies and to their fellow leaders. G8 transparency is still inadequate, but answerability for actions is stronger. Accountability for other global governance agencies is weaker, and accountability to the leaders’ peers is nebulous. Accountability to those affected by G8 decisions varies by issue area but generally is not particularly strong. The greatest accountability gap is the lack of an enforcement mechanism. The most important conclusion is that civil society has enhanced G8 accountability but that this role has not yet reached its potential.