July 6-8, 2005
In 2005, the United Kingdom holds the presidency of the Group of Seven/Group of Eight. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that the annual Summit, which took place in Gleneagles, Scotland between July 6 and 8, was to focus on Africa and climate change. In the lead-up to the Summit, NGOs and others called on G8 leaders to offer serious strategies to end poverty and climate change. Even though the terrorist attacks in London partly clouded the summit, international media still gave much attention to the G8 agreements. G8 governments approved a debt relief plan for the poorest nations and promised to double aid to Africa. While NGOs welcomed these initiatives, they also regretted that the debt deal only cancelled 10 percent of the needed debt relief, entirely excluding 44 indebted countries. The biggest disappointment was in the area of climate change, where US President George Bush thwarted efforts to set firm targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. See the official website of the Gleneagles Summit.
Articles and Documents
The Africa Progress Panel (APP), established to monitor the 2005 Gleneagles Summit aid pledges, reports that the G8 countries are "only 10 percent of the way to their target" of doubling aid to Africa by 2010. The APP, headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, further warns that failure to meet these commitments would be a "grotesque abrogation of responsibilityâ€¦and a threat to the lives of the world's poor." (Guardian)
At the 2005 Gleneagles summit, the G8 pledged to double aid to Africa by 2010. A year later, however, African nations such as Liberia, "one of the poorest places on the face of the earth," are facing diminishing international aid flows. Liberia had failed to meet the condition of "good governance" at the time of the Gleneagles summit, and therefore did not qualify for debt cancellation. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf fears the aid shortage will further destabilize the already volatile country as it struggles to recover from civil war. (Independent)
The issues of multilateral trade and debt relief topped the agenda at the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, with leaders of the richest nations also pledging to substantially increase aid to the poorest countries. But since the topics received very little attention at the 2006 meeting in Russia, several Scottish NGOs have started a campaign to firmly reinstate poverty on the 2007 G8 program. The groups hope to push the world leaders to follow through with their commitments to end poverty and tackle its root causes. (Ekklesia)
The G8 took steps towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on debt relief in 2005. While 14 African nations benefited from 100% debt cancellation, international financial institutions held some nations such as Nigeria to debt payments that severely limited their potential to address domestic concerns. Africa Action urges the G8 leaders to renew their commitment to African debt relief.
Oxfam International reports that although the G8 aid and debt relief initiative allows poor countries to spend more money on healthcare and education, the G8 countries are falling short on their promises. The G8 countries count debt relief as aid, making aid statistics look higher than they really are. International donor countries must increase their aid in the years to come if they plan on meeting the pledge of $50 billion made at the Gleneagles summit.
The relationship between poverty and climate change is much closer than many people think. Man-made greenhouse gases are exacerbating drought and famine conditions in Africa, and most scientists consider global warming "the biggest single threat to the world today." This article warns that the Gleneagles agreement on debt relief will not decrease poverty unless it is attached to a strong action plan on climate change. (Independent)
The leaders of the most powerful industrialized countries agreed to "make poverty history" under media spotlights at the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles. This paper measures the impact of their promised reforms in poor countries in the areas of aid, debt relief and trade. According to the author, not much has improved after the formal government declarations. (Center of Concern)
At the summit in Gleneagles, G8 governments approved a debt relief plan for the poorest nations. While international press has portrayed the debt relief deal as a great achievement, Nobel Price winner Joseph Stiglitz considers the decision only "a start." In addition, rich governments must increase their aid to poor countries and provide for "a fairer international trade regime." (Project Syndicate)
The Duke of Marlborough, a British aristocrat, receives over half a million pounds sterling in agricultural subsidies for his Blenheim estate near Oxford. At the same time, desperate Indian peasants, overwhelmed by subsidized imports and free-market reforms, commit suicide in large numbers. Rahul Rao, an Oxford-based scholar, connects Blenheim with his home city of Bangalore in India, showing a global web of institutions, policies and responsibilities that simultaneously creates wealth and destitution.
This Oxfam International briefing note analyzes the decisions of the G8 Gleneagles summit in the areas of aid, debt, trade, conflict, education, health and HIV/AIDS. Despite the fact that "no previous G8 summit has done as much for development," the commitments did not go far enough to make a lasting impact. Since the G8 has a notoriously bad track record in keeping its pledges, campaigners will have to sustain the pressure on G8 governments to fulfill their promises, Oxfam says.
briefing paper provides a critical analysis of the G8 Gleneagles Summit outcome document
. Eurodad commends the communiqué for addressing the need for more and better development assistance, but criticizes its vague language. The document contains only sketchy information on how much aid rich countries will make available, and what conditions poor countries will have to meet to receive any new aid. It also lacks means of enforcement to make rich countries accountable for their promises.
In the media frenzy surrounding the Group of Eight (G8) summit, something has been overlooked: the two men at the heart of it are the ones responsible for Fallujah and Abu Ghraib. This article from the New Statesman examines the "mass distraction by the media," which has not reported the World Tribunal on Iraq hearings in Istanbul, but has devoured every photo opportunity and promise of poverty relief surrounding the G8 summit.
Shaken but not disrupted by terrorist attacks in London, the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Gleneagles culminated in a $50 billion aid package for Africa and a $9 billion support pledge for Palestinians. Perhaps influenced by the bombing attacks, the G8 leaders also committed to a more vigilant fight against terrorism in the communiqués
of the summit. The biggest disappointment was in the area of climate change, where US President George Bush thwarted Blair's efforts to set firm targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. (Associated Press
The Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles will provide leaders of wealthy nations a chance to address global development, focusing on Africa. A different story is told, however, behind the scenes. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, host of the G8 summit, poses as the leader in the fight against African poverty, while at the same time quadrupling Britain's arms sales to the continent. In this interview with Pambazuka, African commentator Issa Shivij is not optimistic about the summit's proposed "solutions" for Africa.
In the context of the Group of Eight meeting in Gleneagles, George Dor critiques the recent debt cancellation "deal" for Africa, the Blair Commission for Africa and the rise of Paul Wolfowitz to the top job at the World Bank. He concludes that they represent "nothing other than a new means of continuing the exploitation initiated under the times of conquest, slavery and colonialism." (Pambazuka)
Under international pressure, the Group of Eight (G8) leaders committed to increase aid to Africa, but far more support is needed to fight global poverty than what the leaders pledged in Gleneagles. The Bush administration "should rethink its modest commitments," according to this Washington Post article, for humanitarian reasons as well as for security concerns. Poverty contributes not only to the spread of terrorism, but also increases the risk of epidemics, "crime, narcotics trafficking, environmental degradation and weapons proliferation."
The Group of Eight meeting in Gleneagles in July promises to be quite different from meetings in the past. Normally, the G8 summit is a "non-event." Officials compose the agenda months in advance, and the outcome of the meeting is typically devised by a group of diplomats weeks beforehand. British Prime Minister Tony Blair will try to capitalize on this high-level summit, perhaps because it is the only place where controversial issues such as climate control and increased aid can be broached with the multilateral institution-wary US President George W. Bush. (Guardian)
Countries in the Group of Eight (G8) are providing arms to regimes that violate human rights, despite embargoes. A report
published by Amnesty
and the International Action Network on Small Arms
states that the global arms trade threatens and undermines the G8's efforts at humanitarian aid, including their commitment to debt relief. Although providing arms to abusive regimes poses a clear threat to human rights and stability, rich countries have not "made it a genuine priority" to stop the arms trade.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Development Project, describes in this interview with the Independent how simple and inexpensive it can be to end poverty. Poverty is "not just something that just happens, like rain. It is something that we can change in a short period of time." Man-made and preventable pitfalls are trapping poor countries in a cycle of debt and poverty. "The G8 is the time for the world to stand up and say, 'no more,' " Sachs argues.
In preparation for the Group of Eight summit in Scotland, countries from the Group of 77 met to adopt their Doha Declaration and the Doha Plan of Action. The Group of 132 poor countries called for increased South-South cooperation and trade, more focus on sustainable development, and a more open and fair global trading system. (Bernama)
The Group of 77, a 132-member group of poor nations, is criticizing the Group of 8 for excluding them from their annual meeting. The G8 will be addressing the same issues that the G77, which meets yearly as well, deals with. Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson called on the G8 to include poor nations because "it is a political oxymoron to advocate the spread of democracy within our national borders while seeking to entrench autocracy within the international system." (Inter Press Service)
The debt deal struck by the G7 ministers is not the "historic breakthrough" that the ministers claim. Rather than cancelling 100 percent of debt, NGOs calculate that the deal only cancels 10 percent of the needed debt relief, in only 18 of the 62 indebted countries. This deal also only includes debts to three multilateral institutions, while there are currently 19 multilateral creditors lending money to poor countries. The G7 must make a larger effort if it is serious about debt relief and poverty reduction. (European Network on Debt and Development)
Finance ministers from the Group of Seven have agreed to write off debts owed to the World Bank, IMF, and African Development Bank for the 18 countries that have completed the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Although many NGOs have criticized the HIPC initiative for requiring privatization and liberalization of markets, they recognize the agreement on debt relief as a step in the right direction. (Bretton Woods Project)
After years of discussion, the Group of Eight has finally agreed to cancel the debt of the world's poorest nations. This document presents the conclusions of the G8 finance ministers. Integral to their decision is the continuation of the Doha Development Agenda and the removal of trade barriers in poor countries, although agricultural subsidies in rich countries are mysterously absent from the debate. (HM Treasury)
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, as host of the next Group of Eight meeting in Scotland, has set an agenda where debt relief and international aid play heavily into the program. Although European countries have committed themselves to an overall increase in aid, the US will not follow suit, citing the complex "budgetary process." While African countries struggle with crises of food and security, US President Bush is staunchly opposed to any increase in aid. (New York Times)
This NGO briefing paper by Jubilee Debt Campaign, ActionAid UK, and Christian Aid argues that if the world is going to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the G8 must extend debt relief to all poor countries, not just those that fulfill the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) criteria. The current debt crisis has trapped these poor countries in "a cycle of poverty and powerlessness," that the richest and most powerful nations have created and perpetuated.
Ten years ago, mainstream politicians scoffed at debt cancellation as absurd. Today, 100% multilateral debt relief is on the top of the agenda for the meeting of the Group of Seven/Group of Eight in Scotland. How did a once "radical" idea become a major global issue? The ensuing debate illustrates that, ultimately, debt is only one element of "the system of economic neoliberalism" that has deepend the divide between rich and poor. Even if 100% debt relief is achieved, poor countries "still face steep barriers to exercising true self-determination." (Foreign Policy In Focus)
The G7 countries continue to disagree on how to provide debt relief for world's poorest nations. Rich countries have discussed at least four different debt cancellation plans, of which Britain's initiative would involve selling some the International Monetary Fund's gold reserves, a move the United States opposes. African countries and anti-debt activists say the slow progress costs lives because poor countries have to use their scarce financial resources for debt service instead of providing basic health services for their people. (OneWorld)
The multilateral debt that African nations owe to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund inflicts a "crippling burden" on economic and social progress in the region, says this Seattle Post-Intelligencer opinion piece. After years of activist pressure, rich countries are finally beginning to recognize the necessity of canceling the debt, but cannot agree on a practical plan on how to reach this goal. Pointing out that "time is of the essence," the authors call on the G7 countries to make quick decisions and to cancel 100 percent of poor countries' debt. "Anything less [...] will fail to resolve the debt crisis," argue the authors.
In 1999, G7 leaders announced they would cancel 90 percent of the debt for 42 highly indebted poor countries. But six years later, the debt has only increased. This Focus on the Global South article asks why poor countries should believe the G7 states are any more serious about the vague promises they made in February 2005.
British demonstrators effectively set poverty reduction as the main agenda for the G7 finance ministers' meeting by using the political muscle of Nelson Mandela, who called for increased international aid, debt relief and trade justice at a London rally. The British "Make Poverty History" campaign joins the Global Campaign for Action Against Poverty as "one of the most powerful movements ever to gather against world poverty," reports Inter Press Service.