1.G8 - a disaster for the world's poor
2.G8 SUMMIT: Africa Offered a Little - At a Price
"When the moment came to act, the G8 turned their back on the world's poor." - John Hilary, War on Want
"The final communique is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of campaigners who listened in good faith to the world leaders' claim that they were willing to seriously address poverty in Africa. More importantly it is a disaster for the world's poor. The agreements on trade, debt, aid and climate change are nowhere near sufficient to tackle the global poverty and environmental crisis we face." - Peter Hardstaff, the World Development Movement
"The people who will most immediately pay the price for this failure will be the poor people in Africa whose lives are already being damaged by climate change and the increased droughts, floods and hunger it brings." - Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace
"A lot of what has been announced [on aid] has been announced and promised before." - Claire Melamed, Christian Aid.
"The G8's approach on trade seems to be 'Ask not what we can do for the poor, but what the poor can do for us,'" - Peter Hardstaff, the World Development Movement
"not a word about the agricultural subsidies in the European Union and the United States that make competition so tough they are crippling African farmers and their produce in their own land." - Sunjay Sury, Inter Press Service (item 2)
"The G8 Summit was widely seen as Blair's last chance to rescue his credibility. As details of the deal on Africa and climate change emerge it is becoming clear that we have been totally betrayed. The worst outcome would be for him to get away with it. We have a unique opportunity now for NGOs and the Make Poverty History organisers and the Live8 concert organisers to demand Blair's immediate resignation. Will they have the courage to demand this?" - Robert Vint, Genetic Food Alert
"Tony Blair is a liar and a warmonger" - Iain Banks, famed Scottish novelist and supporter of the parliamentary campaign to have Blair impeached
1.G8 condemn Africa to miss Millennium Development Goals
Press release, Friday 8 July 2005
Responding to the outcome of the G8 summit, World Development Movement (WDM) Head of Policy, Peter Hardstaff said:
"The final communique is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of campaigners who listened in good faith to the world leaders' claim that they were willing to seriously address poverty in Africa. More importantly it is a disaster for the world's poor. The agreements on trade, debt, aid and climate change are nowhere near sufficient to tackle the global poverty and environmental crisis we face.
"We are furious, but not surprised. Calling on the G8 to Make Poverty History this year was always a brave attempt to put aside 30 years of knowledge of G8 failures and suspend our disbelief at the notion that the countries responsible for causing so much poverty could become the solution.
"A historic breakthrough was promised, instead we saw a tiny step. The deals on debt and aid fall way short of what is needed to achieve global poverty reduction targets and on trade it's business as usual as the G8 attempt to bulldoze more liberalisation out of the poor. These tiny sums of money are nothing more than a sticking plaster over the deep wounds the G8 are inflicting by forcing failed economic policies such as privatisation, free trade and corporate deregulation, on Africa.
"Add the lack of anything meaningful on climate change and this once again proves that the G8 is not a legitimate body to be tackling these urgent global problems, this should be the last G8. The minor moves on aid and debt need to be taken forward in other institutions such as the UN where the G8 can't backtrack on them.
"The campaign to secure justice for the world’s poor is far from over."
The G8 countries made no significant unilateral commitments to change their damaging trade policies sending a clear message that they will only consider taking action if poor countries liberalise in return. The G8 push to get poor countries to liberalise has even extended as far as offering 'aid for trade' bribes - giving poor countries some extra aid money in return for liberalisation.
This is despite the fact that UN research demonstrates that the liberalisation forced on least developed countries during the 1990s was associated with rising poverty, with the countries worst affected being those that had liberalised most - even though these countries received substantial aid during the same period.
Peter Hardstaff said, "The G8's approach on trade seems to be 'Ask not what we can do for the poor, but what the poor can do for us'."
The modest increases to be delivered by 2010 will be too little too late and far from the $50 billion a year the UN say is needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thanks to pressure from Germany and France, it looks like Gordon Brown's International Finance Facility may be financed through air ticket taxes rather than aid budgets. While this may address the gaping flaw in Brown's IFF the likely drop in aid budgets once repayments kick-in the money will not be new and the tax will not be raised to a level that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The re-announced cancellation initiative is a step forward but it is woefully inadequate. Only 18 countries currently qualify (with a possible further 20) when over 60 have been identified as needing immediate debt cancellation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore the amount of money on offer can only address about 10 per cent of the multilateral debt problem.
A potential crumb of comfort on aid and debt is a statement from the G8 recognising that poor countries should be free to determine their own economic policies. However, George Bush has made it very clear that the US only supports giving money to countries that are pursuing free market policies, this calls into question his willingness to abide by this promise.
The key test will be whether the G8 countries make good on this action by abolishing the economic policy conditions attached to bilateral aid, debt relief and World Bank and IMF loans.
On climate change
The G8 failed to take any significant steps to address the greatest environmental crisis facing human kind. The poorest people in the world will be the ones who suffer most from this inaction.
WDM Contacts at the G8
Jo Kuper Press Officer 07711 875 345
Peter Hardstaff Head of Policy 07740 867 295
UNCTAD. (2002). Least Developed Countries Report 2002: Escaping the Poverty Trap. Geneva. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
See WDM report The International Finance Facility: Boon or burden for the poor?
2.G8 SUMMIT: Africa Is Offered a Little - At a Price
Analysis by Sanjay Suri
GLENEAGLES, Scotland, Jul 8 (IPS) - The G8 leaders offered Africa a little with one hand, but that offer cloaked intent to take back more -- and with many more hands.
There were numbers around to satisfy rock stars turned anti-poverty campaigners. U2 frontman Bono had said on day one of the Group of Eight summit, "We could get to 50." So if you add statements of an additional 25 billion dollars in aid to statements of 25 billion dollars in aid at present, you have that magic figure of 50.
On the ground in Africa that figure may not appear so magical. The leaders announced that "the commitments of G8 countries and other donors will lead to an increase in official development assistance to Africa of 25 billion dollars a year by 2010, more than doubling aid to Africa compared to 2004." So only "commitments" -- and those by 2010.
"That is some increase in aid, but not as much as has been hyped up," Claire Melamed from Christian Aid told IPS. "And a lot of what has been announced has been announced and promised before."
Still, that was something to show here at the Gleneagles golf resort, after host Britain had made Africa one of the two priorities (along with climate change) of the summit of the heads of government of the G8 most powerful industrialised countries (United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Britain).
But delayed, or even partly denied donations are not Africa's problem. The G8 pushed the privatisation principle strongly in its communique, in the face of a host of studies, several of them accepted even by the World Bank, that rapid and unfettered privatisation had ruined the economies of several strong and struggling nations alike.
"Private enterprise is a prime engine of growth and development," the leaders said in the communique that marked the end of the July 6-8 summit. "African countries need to build a much stronger investment climate: we will continue to help them do so." Within Africa "partnership between the public and private sectors is crucial."
The G8 offered help in building "the physical, human and institutional capacity to trade, including trade facilitation measures." But not a word about the agricultural subsidies in the European Union and the United States that make competition so tough they are crippling African farmers and their produce in their own land.
And who will take more advantage of privatisation in Africa than companies from the United States and the European Union? "The G8's approach on trade seems to be 'Ask not what we can do for the poor, but what the poor can do for us,'" said Peter Hardstaff from the World Development Movement (WDM), an independent non-governmental organisation.
"Trade is the main issue here. Trade is the thing the thing that has to change," Melamed said. And some of the wording needs to be "decoded", she said. "When they speak of an ambitious Doha round of trade negotiations, we think they mean lots of liberalisation, and when they speak of balance here, we think they mean they want everyone to liberalise, including poor countries."
The so-called Doha Development Agenda arose from the World Trade Organisation's ministerial meet in the Qatari capital in 2001, but several issues, including agricultural subsidies and market access, have been sticking points.
The G8 leaders said they will call on the international finance institutions to consider "additional assistance to countries to develop their capacity to trade and ease adjustment in their economies." The shadow of the infamous "structural adjustment" programmes that pushed countries to liberalise their economies at an unsustainable pace has not quite lifted.
The G8 offered to support initiatives like the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance with the Africa Development Bank and to "encourage best practice in responsible investment through African private sector networks."
The G8 countries "sent a clear message that they will only consider taking action if poor countries liberalise in return," the WDM said in a statement. "The G8 push to get poor countries to liberalise has even extended as far as offering 'aid for trade' bribes -- giving poor countries some extra aid money in return for liberalisation."
A sign of hope in the communique is an acknowledgement that "it is up to developing countries themselves and their governments to take the lead on development." The text adds: "They need to decide, plan and sequence their economic policies to fit with their own development strategies, for which they should be accountable to all their people."
But that note is heavily countered with a particular push to privatisation throughout the document. The contradictory messages were some indication of the haste with which the summit's communique was finally agreed.
But Christian Aid said this was no more than a "nugget of good sense" in the communique. "Millions of campaigners all over the world have been led to the top of the mountain, shown the view and now we are being frog-marched down again."
The WDM said the communique is a disaster for the world's poor. "We are furious but not surprised," said Hardstaff. The tiny sums offered by way of more aid "are nothing more than a sticking plaster over the deep wounds the G8 are inflicting by forcing failed economic policies such as privatisation, free trade and corporate deregulation on Africa."
The G8 had in fact hardened its stance on trade, said John Hilary from the group War on Want, "forcing more countries to open their markets, and threatening millions with the misery of poverty. When the moment came to act, the G8 turned their back on the world's poor."
The communique did set out specific commitments on supporting education in Africa, a programme that has been backed strongly by U.S. President George W. Bush. The G8 leaders agreed to support an "education-for-all" agenda.
The leaders committed themselves also to the aim of an AIDS-free generation in Africa and of "as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010."
But as with climate change, NGOs saw Africa also as an opportunity missed at the Gleneagles G8. And on what little was promised, "we will monitor developments very closely to see that these things actually happen," Melamed said.