Fear mongering in the city, little progress in the woods. That’s how activists are describing the recently completed G8, held in Western Canada. After spending $300 million on security measures and threatening the use of lethal force against protesters, Canadian authorities must have felt sheepish guarding the public from several thousand peaceful activists throughout both the parallel conference, the G6B (Group of 6 Billion), and the summit itself.
Civil society organizations were at pains to point out that expenditures on security nearly outweighed new commitments to African development, supposedly the top item on the agenda. The G8 Africa Action Plan failed even to get conclusive agreement on earmarking for Africa 50 per cent of the US$12 billion pledged at the Financing for Development Conference held in Monterrey, Mexico in March earlier this year. Asked what African leaders received for their journey to Kananaskis to pitch NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, M. P. Giyose, Chair of Jubilee South Africa, replied “absolutely zilch”.
While the HIPC debt relief initiative of the World Bank and IMF did receive a topping-up of US $1 billion, Mara Vanderslice of Jubilee USA called the G8 leaders’ failure to discuss a new deal on debt in light of the widespread view that the HIPC program has failed, “tragic”. This came despite unprecedented public support for deeper debt cancellation; an Early Day Motion in Britain calling on the Bank and the Fund to accelerate debt cancellation was signed by a record number of 345 MPs.
Even the much heralded World Bank fast track initiative for 18 countries ready to go ahead with plans for universal primary education failed to attract new money. Mark Fried, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator of Oxfam Canada, said that the leaders endorsement of the G8 Education task force report meant little on its own – “good plan, good process, no action”.
Reform of the IFIs, top item of discussion the last time the G8 leaders met in Canada, failed to even make the agenda.
NGOs respond to G8 Action Plan for Africa, Halifax Initiative
Peanuts for Africa, Oxfam’s response to G8 statements
For Richer, For Poorer? G8 Proposals for IMF Reform, Bretton Woods Project briefing