Comment at end
25th June 2010
Update: Larry Elliot at The Guardian: ‘Even by its own low standards, this year’s G8 summit has reached a new low for its cynicism. It is not just that the solemn pledges made at Gleneagles on aid have been broken, it is that the world’s richest nations are seeking to hide their own failure. […] Back in 2005, when the G8 last met in the UK, Tony Blair (with the help of Gordon Brown) forced the summit to pledge some serious amounts of cash for development. It was the high point of the Make Poverty History movement and the G8 leaders were shamed into action …. [more here]
I understand some naming and shaming may be heard tomorrow by Oxfam and other charities. We’ll soon see if Mr Elliott is right. I fear he may well be.
TALKING ROT SHOP
In Toronto Cameron makes an announcement about not making announcements
Well, more or less. Although he did backtrack a bit, and mentioned a couple of important items worth chatting about. I’m sure Obama won’t notice that Britain is now in a different place than last year when Gordon “saved the world (economy)”
‘David Cameron has gone into his first G8 summit as Prime Minister with a warning to fellow world leaders that the annual gatherings must be “more than just grand talking shops”.
The self-styled “new kid on the block” called for “fresh thinking and renewed political leadership” on issues like trade, aid and the global economy, and said the summits should focus on delivering concrete results which are relevant to the public back home.
And, in a break from the practice of Labour predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, he indicated he would not treat the gatherings as an opportunity to launch eye-catching new initiatives, but would focus on driving through key existing priorities. Much-hyped G8 summitry had too often in the past failed to deliver the changes the world needs, he said.’
More than one analyst suggests that a G-8 summit is not the place to flesh out the details of any difficult or controversial policy issue in the context of a three-day event. Rather, the meeting offers an opportunity to bring a range of complex and sometimes inter-related issues. The G8 summit brings leaders together “not so they can dream up quick fixes, but to talk and think about them together.”
While many activists expressed disappointment that the agreements reached at the summit fell far short of their expectations, others noted that the 2005 summit was perhaps the most productive in the 30 year history of the G8. Some agreements were:
- US$50 billion pledged (some of it previously announced) in aid to developing countries by 2010, of which US$25 billion will go to Africa, on top of the ministerial-level agreement to forgive debt to Highly Indebted Poor Countries
- Universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010
- Commitment to train 20,000 peacekeeping troops for Africa in exchange for African commitments to good governance and democracy
- G8 members from the European Union commit to a collective foreign aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015
- Stated commitment to reduce subsidies and tariffs that inhibit trade
- US$3 billion to the Palestinian Authority to build infrastructure
No agreement was reached to address global warming, largely due to U.S. opposition. The U.S. did agree to a joint communique stating that global warming exists and that human intervention may at least partially be at fault. While the U.S. had previously made such statements, this was the first time it had agreed to a multilateral announcement on the issue.
Breaking with historical practice, the British government had allowed non-governmental organizations to play a key role in deliberations, perhaps prompted by the public pressure of the Make Poverty History movement and Live 8. The summit continued the trend of including the developing world in talks. The leaders of seven African nations attended, as well as the five leading developing countries: China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa.
Infrastructure Consortium for Africa
The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) was established at the Gleneagles summit in 2005. In subsequent years, the ICA’s annual meeting is traditionally hosted by the country holding the Presidency of the G8.
As this May 2010 BBC article and chart show Britain did far better than any other country with regard to Aid to Africa following the 2005 G8.
Perhaps this is not surprising, since the Gleneagles summit was the brainchild of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair. But it is not just the quantity of British aid that is impressive, it is the quality. The UK’s aid agency Dfid is singled out in the report as “the world’s most respected bilateral aid agency.