The G8, is made up of the seven most powerful economies of the world, (United States, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Canada, Italy) and Russia.
Together they form a very powerful and influential (though informal) group of nations. For example, they accounting for almost 50% of the votes at the IMF and World Bank.
Annual G8 summits often involve discussions on how to deal with the world’s (or their) most pressing concerns. As such it also attracts a lot of protesters, campaigners, and increasingly mainstream media. This page gives a brief overview of some of the recent meetings.
Due to the influence and power of the G8 nations, their summits have been seen as a chance to discuss a number of social, political and economic issues. While G8 nations themselves often differ on certain policies, their overall agendas and eventual decisions/agreements have a direct bearing on most other regions throughout the world. As the following points out, their indirect influence as well as direct influence is great and far-reaching:
As a result, the G8 have come under a number of criticisms from around the world. The following also highlights some of the problems.
Each year, the G8 meet to discuss a number of issues. In recent years, these meetings have become more high-profiled and accompanied with criticisms for the impact of the agendas of these nations on the rest of the world. In many cases there have been enormous street protests or campaigns to highlight some of the urgent issues. Some are highlighted here:
To avoid a turnout of protestors, the isolated location of Kananaskis was chosen for the 2002 G8 Summit.
An initiative called the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had received a lot of attention and support from the G8 leaders as a plan developed by Africans for Africans, but critics had pointed out that this was developed by the leaders without consulatation11 with civil society.
While many issues were discussed at the summit, such as the war on terror and nuclear disarmament amongst other issues, when it came to Africa’s development, trade and aid issues, there was much criticism on little substantive progress. For example, $6 billion dollars of aid was promised for the controversial NEPAD plan, which sounds like a huge sum, but it was only a portion12 of the $64 billion that was needed. An extra billion dollars was also provided to address the worsening terms of trade due to the collapse in exports (which has been a key prescription to prosperity). In contrast, $20 billion was readily made available to secure Russian nuclear stockpiles. (While security issues are of course important, the issue in relation to Africa has been how for years there has been much talk and little action for trade and development issues.)
Many of the key concerns of African nations, such as reciprocating and opening up the markets of the rich nations, canceling odious debt of the poorest countries, investment in infrastructure were not addressed13. This is how the Guardian summarized it:
Even the World Bank, often criticized for a number of its policies and impacts on the poor countries, has been critical of the G8 outcome in respect to aid to Africa, describing a number of perspectives and news reports from around the world, commenting that: