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Analytical Studies

Summit Performance Assesments by Issues: 1998 Birmingham Summit
(including justification of scores)


International Crime ~ Firearms Regulation ~ Financial Crime/Money Laundering ~ Corruption

International Crime

As the Birmingham Summit approaches, G7 priorities on international crime are likely to be threefold: (1) firearm trafficking; (2) high-tech crime (i.e. Internet); and (3) financial crime, particularly money-laundering.

Firearms Regulation

The hottest topic will be for the G8 to adopt regulations on the export and import of firearms. The trafficking controls have already been drawn up, but the G8 still need to officially endorse the controls. This development emerged on the heels of a growing international momentum to end the easy movement of light weapons across borders. The Clinton administration has made it clear that it means business on this issue. Recently, the Clinton administration has shown its determination by the decision to halt all firearm exports to the United Kingdom. This action is the first step of a US measure to stop firearm sales to all 15 EU countries, unless laws are adopted to prevent weapons from being re-exported to "violence-ridden" countries and into the hands of criminals. In April, US also banned the import of assault weapons.

Other recent international developments include: the UK's total ban on handguns effective early March, thereby joining Japan (the only other G8 nation to have such strict firearm regulation); the UK, which has made international crime a priority during its EU presidency, is steering ongoing negotiations on an EU-wide code of conduct on arms exports; and the United States and Canada signed the first multilateral civilian firearms convention on smuggling and trafficking under the auspices of the OAS. By signing the Convention, President Clinton and Premier Chr=E9tien have participated in establishing the world's first international system for tracing weapons. The Japanese government has given top priority to uncovering international firearms trafficking into Japan. Japan's determination to eliminate the flow of firearms into its borders has made it a driving force behind the staging of four UN Regional Workshops on Firearm Regulation for the Purposes of Crime Prevention and Public Safety held from September 1997 to January 1998. This initiative, held by the UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, focussed on developing policy recommendations that would enable co-operation at a regional and international level. In November, Russian criminals witnessed a domestic crackdown on illegal firearms, but no new legislation nor international initiative ensued. Nonetheless, it is precisely because of this international momentum that the G8's commitment to stricter firearm import and export regulations will likely be the most successful of the Group's transnational crime commitments.

Financial Crime/Money-Laundering

The issue of money laundering has witnessed significant developments amongst the G8 nations since Denver. One of the most uncompromising attitudes toward the problem of money laundering has come from the United States. The Clinton administration's determination to strengthen the integrity of its financial systems has recently culminated in threats against overseas bank employees (particularly in London) who fail to spot and report money-laundering schemes involving US and foreign banks. The priority given to money-laundering issues is exemplified in a Report on Money Laundering and Financial Crimes recently issued by the US Department of State. The Report outlines 17 specific strategies for governments to pursue to effectively combat money laundering in an increasingly high-tech financial environment. Other developments which will likely influence discussions in Birmingham are: the UK's series of proposals to combat internal money-laundering activities; the strategies identified in a March report issued by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, based at the OECD. Since the FATF members include all G7 members (except Russia), it is probable that the proposals outlined in this latest report may find their way into the language of the Birmingham communiqu=E9.

The main obstacle facing a G8 achievement of any goals set out in Birmingham appears to be the barrier of red tape obstructing law enforcement agencies from cooperating across national jurisdictions. The G8 will need to address the inconsistencies between justice systems from member country to another if the problem of international crime is to be dealt with effectively.


Despite an OECD ban on bribery in October 1997, corruption is not likely to be a hot issue at this year's Summit. Little has been mentioned of efforts to combat bribery and corruption, in spite of the fact that Russia, the most plagued by corruption of the G8, is an equal partner in the G8.

Document prepared by: Cindy Blazevic
April 1998

~ Summit Performance Assesments by Issues: 1998 Birmingham Summit ~

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