I come from the Dominican Republic, where it seems that the way of managing the relations between the Third sector and the First sector (NGO´s and Government) is very similar to the other Latin American countries and most of the Less-Develop Countries (LDC) Thus, having the experience of participating in this WTO Conference confirmed that to me.

For the other half of the coin, there are the relations between the Civil Society institutions and the State´s entities in the High-Income Countries tending to be in an opposite direction than to the LDC experiences and with similarities among them.

The specific case I lived was the confrontation of the relations between the Official Norwegian Delegation (OND) and the Official Dominican Delegation (ODD) with the NGO´s.

There are 3 main things to highlight.

From the very beginning I got surprised by the first item of the Norwegian NGO´s agenda: To meet with the OND at their offices in Geneva.

On top of that, there were some people from the NGO´s working closely with the OND in almost all meetings.

And on the second day all the Norwegian NGO´s had a meeting (quick but 1) with the OND to talk directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

These 3 issues didn’t seem to surprise the Norwegian NGO´s too much (at least not that obvious, or as it was for me)

In the other hand, for the Dominican side, things were a bit different.

The names and institutions of the representatives to come to Geneva were never clear, not to the Dominican NGO´s network or in the State Press and Communications Office. I tried to contact the only NGO that was listed to participate, but didn´t got any answer and at the end they did not came (anyway it was a Sindical Union which is known to be too much on the government side and not on the workers side)

Wandering a bit in the hallways I could distinguish a familiar Spanish accent and immediately I approached them. Indeed they were part of the ODD. We talked for a little while and with some friendly efforts they agreed on having their breakfast together with me on the next day.

The meeting had a few interesting or surprising points to highlight, at the end I realized they didn´t expected me to be interested in the matters of the country with the WTO, in fact they confessed to be expecting from the meeting some tips and ideas on moving around Geneva and Europe. I shared some smiles and cheap talk to get along that flow and then get space to my questions.

I meet 4 people, although they told me in the Delegation they were 5, a mysterious fifth that I never meet, heard about or got any answer when inquired.

Of course they didn´t knew of any NGO coming from Dominican and assure that the entire Delegation was just 5 persons.

Finally they said that the Delegation did not to have any Plan, Mission, Goal or Strategy towards this WTO Conference Meeting, they just came, and I quote: “to see what was happening in the World and to get updated on the international flows and ideas”

Later I got the information from the Conference Registration that from Dominican 18 persons were in the list to come. How many did come or any names, was not a public information -I was told.

So, for me to see the way that the Norwegian NGO´s work with the OND was very satisfactory, perhaps even this level of work this is not enough. Influence, pressure and more access is still needed to achieve better goals. But, for other countries/NGO´s Networks this level of cooperation is a dream.

Is now interesting to know how this was achieved and how it is maintained. Via Media? Newspapers and TV? Public campaigns, lobbying?

Anyway is nice to see it here in Norway, it will be nicer to know how to implement this or something similar in other countries/societies and also how to improve it here to reach greater levels of cooperation.

By Felipe Díaz

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