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U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission
Civil Society Working Group -- Child Protection Sub-Group

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) was first announced in July 2009 by Presidents Obama and Medvedev to improve communication and cooperation between the governments of the Russian Federation and the United States. Under the scope of the BPC, 16 working groups were created, including a Civil Society Working Group, with ten identified “lines of work,” one of which focuses on child protection, to serve as a platform for government-to-government dialogue.

Two BPC Presidential Summits, in Moscow and Washington D.C., have been held and with each there has been a “parallel” Civil Society Summit to foster civil society dialogue. In January 2010, ICMEC hosted a Child Protection Working Group roundtable discussion, with representatives of several Russian NGOs interested in children’s issues. In June 2010, ICMEC hosted a second Child Protection sub-group meeting, a follow on to the January meeting, to share ideas on common challenges and best practices in the field of child protection.

In October 2010, ICMEC hosted a follow-on meeting of the Civil Society Working Group sub-group on Child Protection, bringing together several U.S. based child protection organizations to create an action plan for realizing several objectives which were identified during the June 2010 summit. The following day, a similar meeting was convened in Moscow in which 33 Russian experts from 15 regions participated to discuss common challenges and consider the results of the discussions held in Washington, D.C. the previous day. Three primary future projects have grown out of the series of discussions: joint research; training for child protection experts; and online consultations.

In February 2011, a small U.S. delegation travelled to Moscow for another follow-on meeting of the Child Protection sub-group and met with Mr. Pavel Astakhov, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights for the Russian Federation and representatives of a number of NGOs and federal offices working to protect children.


February 2011 Meeting in Moscow

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and ICMEC co-hosted a meeting in March 2011 between the National Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NFPCC), a Russian NGO playing a significant role in the Child Protection sub-group, and six U.S. child protection NGOs to further the sharing of knowledge and experience.

In August 2011, the first concrete project to come from the Child Protection sub-group collaboration was held. Organized by the Russian NGO NFPCC, the Forum was also supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the U.S. Department of Justice, USAID/Russia, and the Offices of the Children’s Rights Commissioner for the Russian President. The week began with a meeting of the Child Protection Sub-Working Group, and was followed by six days filled with events and speakers on a variety of issues relating to child physical and sexual abuse, child pornography and sexual exploitation, trafficking, and abandonment. The over 250 participants from 32 Russian regions and eight U.S. states included government, child welfare experts and service providers, universities, and NGOs. ICMEC travelled to Baikal and gave presentations at both the sub-working group meeting and the Child Welfare Forum at large.



BPC Child Protection Sub-group Meeting and Child Welfare Forum in Baikal, Russia August 2011

U.S.-Russia Civil Society Partnership Program

The US-Russia Civil Society Partnership Program (CSPP) was launched in May of 2011. The program is sponsored by the US Agency for International Development and implemented by Eurasia Foundation (USA) in partnership with the New Eurasia Foundation.

The CSPP was created as a follow-on effort to the two US-Russia Civil Society Summits held in 2009 and 2010, during which Russian and U.S. civil society organizations recognized the need for greater collaboration across a broad array of thematic topics. The ultimate goal is to create sustainable mechanisms for the development and delivery of recommendations from citizens to policymakers, leading to greater cooperation and meaningful improvement in the lives of the citizens of both countries. ICMEC is a member of the Steering Committee for the CSPP. The program includes a series of activities including several 3-day conferences of civil society leaders in both countries, a small grants competition to support collaborative projects, and the creation of an Internet resource platform that enables participants to exchange information.

The Steering Committee members first met in Washington, D.C. in October 2011. The first conference of the CSPP working groups entitled “U.S. and Russian Civil Society: Deepening Partnerships” was held 14-15 November 2011 in Moscow where leaders from 70 U.S. and Russian NGOs explored opportunities for collaboration -- the Steering Committee held their second meeting the day prior to the conference. The next Steering Committee meeting and conference has been scheduled for 13-15 June 2012 in Washington, D.C. The first CSPP newsletter is now available at: http://www.usrussiacivilsociety.org/news/news-cspp.

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