For July 2005, UK hosted the annual G8 Summit, a meeting of the world’s seven leading industrialized nations (the G7, i.e. Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United States), plus Russia.
The lead up to the Summit saw a lot of excitement from development and environmental groups. Public pressure seemed to have succeeded to get these most powerful nations to discuss various issues such as Africa (debt, unequal/unfair trade) and Climate change.
0 articles on “G8 Summit 2005” and 3 related issues:
This section looks at how debt has been addressed in the past. For example, despite headline-grabbing statements for debt relief in recent years, it has not happened, or has happened very slowly. Often times, the final amounts are less than what the government spin has suggested. Third world debt kills so this is an urgent issue. The world over, some 11 million children die each year due to debt and poverty.
Aid in the past has also been controversial as far less is delivered to poor countries than what the rich have promised. As with debt, unfair conditions have made the situation worse, and rich countries actually receive more from poor countries than what they give.
Short, attention-grabbing headlines have said that 100% debt relief write-off is proposed for the world’s poorest countries and is a historic breakthrough. But what is lost in such a sound-byte is that, while welcome:
Only a few of the poorest countries get this debt relief;
The relief is spread over some 40 years, amounting to $1 billion per year; The net present value of the deal is about $17 billion.
It is tied with many economic conditions that have caused poverty and debt misery in the first place;
These conditions are undemocratically imposed by rich countries and their institutions, and promote what has historically been unequal trade;
What countries get in debt relief, they will lose in future aid. (Give with one hand, take with the other)
Rich countries canceled some $30 billion of Iraq’s debt, whereas it has taken years to get this far for African countries. Much of Africa’s debts are odious debts so should be canceled with urgency.
Linkages between climate change and debt relief have been highlighted as part of the G8 Summit build up. Leaked documents revealed, however, that G8 leaders with US pressure, are not going to do much on climate change, and in some regards may even be taking a step backward. There have been fears of attempts to trade climate change off against issues of African debt relief; that you can one or the other, but not all of both.
There have been many criticisms of mainstream media coverage leading up to the Summit. For example,
G8 leaders have been portrayed as saviors; almost nothing is said about their role in world poverty, by comparison;
Claims, such as Bush’s, of having tripled aid to Africa in recent years, have been grossly exaggerated as they have not even doubled. Yet, the media has not questioned this;
Headlines reveal no criticism of G8 proposals; while there is mention of criticism from NGOs, headlines imply that leaders are saviors. If headlines instead said something like G8 leaders put spin on $40 billion write off that would not attract as much good will from the leaders, perhaps, though would certainly change understanding and awareness amongst the general population.
The global Live 8 concerts were attended by around a million people, with hundreds of millions more watching on TV. 200,000 protesters formed a human chain in Edinburgh to urge action on poverty. Yet, despite its overall success, the Live 8 concerts also attracted some criticism. For example:
Geldof and Bono have presented Bush and Blair as saviors, seemingly ignoring G8’s role in Africa’s poverty and debt;
The Live 8 concert has been criticized for not having African musicians;
Geldof told artists not to criticize Bush and Blair on Iraq;
Given all the issues raised in this section, and the media failure to raise hard and sober issues in the headlines compared to the praises given to the G8 leaders, do we risk repeating mistakes from the past?
A few concessions achieved at the G8 does not mean the end. There is still a lot more to do to really make poverty history, including looking at some of the deeper problems such as the current global economic system that not only affects the poor so much, but also helps the G8.
If this is not done, one additional risk is that the media praising of the G8 leaders will lull citizens into a false belief that all is being done. The big concern with this is that if it turns out that poverty remains there may be an intensified perception by the general population that this is a wasted and pointless effort. This short section looks at a few issues.
Added more about the existing debt burden and how the $40 billion compares to that; the result of the Live 8 concerts and public protests.
Added more about media portrayal, for example how claims by Bush tripling aid to Sub-Sahara Africa between 2000 and 2004 is an exaggeration and yet this goes largely unnoticed by the mainstream. Also added a small note on climate change negotiation concerns.
Added a few more details about the debt cancellation, its criticisms and the costs to Africa.