Ever wondered what it would be like to attend the G8 summit. Just imagine being a fly on the wall in one of the conference rooms where some of the worlds leaders get together to, to what? At the G8 website the organisers introduce and summarise the function of these sessions:President Bush will host the 30th G8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia on June 8-10, 2004. The United States assumed the Presidency of the G8 from France at the beginning of 2004. President Bush, Chairman of the 2004 G8 Summit, is looking forward to the opportunity to meet with the G8 Leaders in the informal and relaxed setting of Sea Island, Georgia.The G8 Summit brings together the Leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union also attends the G8 Summit, represented by the President of the European Commission and the Leader of the country holding the Presidency of the European Council. At previous Summits, Leaders have discussed a wide range of international economic, political, and security issues. Personal representatives of the G8 leaders, commonly referred to as “Sherpas,” meet throughout the year to prepare for the Summit. The word Sherpa refers to a Nepali expert mountain guide, that assists climbers in ascending Himalayan summits and are essential in ensuring a successful ascent to the top of the mountain. In a similar fashion, the G8 Sherpas guide the leaders by representing their leaders in negotiations that lead up to the Summit.This year a wide range of issues was discussed including priority given to the Iraq situation. But what else came out of the summit? Before leaving their exclusive retreat, the leader endorsed proposals aimed at easing poverty and recommitting themselves to the fight against HIV, they suggested promise to seek a two-year extension to the expiring debt reduction initiative, for the world’s poorest countries. G8 Leaders also endorsed proposals aimed at easing the crushing poverty and expected to renew their fight against HIV/AIDS, which has devastated many African nations. However African leaders – the presidents of Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda – want to dispel suggestions they have arrived at this millionaires’ private island retreat as beggars. South Africa’s (SA) President Thabo Mbeki suggested that they (SA)
will still be poor relations crashing the party. The issue of Iraq’s mountainous debt was also raised, The United States is pushing for up to 90 percent to be cancelled, but countries like France, Russia and Canada appeared unwilling to go so far.
Earlier in the summit, the leaders endorsed an end-of-July target for an outline deal on the most divisive issues in global trade talks, unveiled measures to halt transfers of nuclear technology and endorsed airline security improvements.
In summary, although the leaders showed will and used a mechanism to keep the conversation going, I hope it wasnt all just talking shop. These leaders have the power to make a difference. When we sit at home watching our filtered news it is very difficult for us to view the impact of year-on-year conferences of this type. Were never really presented with the true outcomes, results, comparisions, statistics or even narrative of the impact of decisions.
Instead we are presented with a newsreel showing a photo-call of the leaders in front of a beach with selective palm trees. Each leader dressed in their defined informal casual wear. Maybe thats part of the problem? Maybe the world views such events as casual luxury hideaways? Maybe another way to run a G8 conference is to hold it at an HIV centre, amongst those that are in trouble today. How about in the middle of Sudan. Im sure that security could be arranged.
Its great that these leaders get together to help raise and settle issues. However, did they have a great or gr8 meal together or did they consider and prioritise the need for immediate and direct action against regimes and systems that force people to digest poverty and inhumanity everyday?