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Analytical Studies


Professor John Kirton
July 23, 2000, 3:00pm

Summary Grades

Overall B (A Summit of Solid Achievement)
Macroeconomics B- (No real value added but no real need)
     Information Technology A (Focus, Principles, Charter, Mechanism)
     Education B-  
     Aging B (New Principle, IT Link)
Trade C- (No MTN deadline, no duty/quota free access)
     HIPC C+ (From 30 to 20 in process by end of 2000)
     ODA C (No firm commitment to increase for infrastructure gap)
     IT Instrument A-  
     Conflict Link A (No debt relief for 12-13 countries in conflict)
Transnational Issues
     Infectious Disease B- (No Fund)
     Cultural Diversity B (New Issue and Principle)
Regional Security B-  
Arms Control B  
Conflict Resolution A-  
G8 Governance
     Russian Participation A (Putin, Pressure for G7 Participation)
     Country/IO Outreach B+ (G7/G8 Ministerial Meetings)
     Civil Society A- (Consultative Process)

Overview Commentary

The G8 2000 Kyushu-Okinawa summit held in Okinawa from July 21 to 23rd has proven to be as expected a summit of solid accomplishment. It has established important new directions in specifying the broad array of human values that unite the G8 and will shape its approach to global governance in the twenty-first century. It has committed itself to innovative approaches to “maximize the benefits the globalization for all” and it has reached out to forge a new partnership with non-G8 countries, developing countries, international organizations and civil society in G8-guided global governance for the future.

These new directions have been affirmed by several concrete actions. These include notably an information technology charter, a new digital opportunities task force (the “dot force”), trade-related capacity building in developing countries, improved market access for developing countries, measures to prevent conflict in five specific areas, a task force on renewable energy resources and a commitment to develop an international financing plan for plutonium management. That many of these actions relate to the establishment of new mechanisms and processes should not diminish their significance.

At the same time, Okinawa has proven to be somewhat of a disappointment in providing the needed catalyst for action in several important areas for which the global community has long looked to the G7/G8 to provide leadership. In the field of development, there is a glaring absence of any commitment to increase levels of official development assistance to offer clear funding packages to support new work. There is also an important retreat from a key target affirmed at Köln last year, as now only 20 countries rather than 30 are promised to be involved in the HIPC process by the end of this year. There is no fund with a specified large dollar figure to implement new work to combat infectious diseases, nor is there a clear affirmation that it is the NGOs in the developing countries that should be the ones to receive the monies to implement the programs. The conference to focus on HIV/AIDS promised for the year 2001 is an inadequate substitute.

Okinawa's accomplishments in the field of trade are a major disappointment. There are no concrete commitments for greater access to developing countries in G8 markets or even a clear call to launch a comprehensive round of multilateral negotiations by the end of this year. In general, in the many areas both old and new discussed and dealt with by the G8 leaders, the emphasis is on welcoming and endorsing the work of others rather than committing the G8 to action itself.

The Okinawa summit has not seized all the historic opportunities that were within its reach. It has done much to address acute concerns about globalization, in particular by repeatedly declaring that income equality, social protection and a concern with a broad array of human values must be built in as equal values as both a starting point and an end goal of the particular path to globalization that the G8 will create.

Yet in the political field the G8 at Okinawa has done far less than the occasion allowed. It has made little progress as a group to advance the process of furthering détente on the Korean peninsula, creating an arms-control climate of confidence or regime in Asia that would have allowed the Americans to back away from the expensive task of creating a robust system of ballistic missile defence and it has almost entirely neglected the task of starting a process of reducing the heavy American military presence in Okinawa and the Russian military occupation of Japan's northern territories.

The Okinawa summit did make a major difference through the bold participation of the new Russian President Putin at his first G8 Summit, and by genuinely reaching out to engage developing countries and civil society organizations in the G7/G8 and global governance process. It did so as well by setting a decisive new direction in both principle and practice about how the G8 and global governance would proceed as the twenty-first century gets under way. It is a tribute to the scale and scope of these new directions that the actions to realize them were not and could not be visibly undertaken by hard clear decisions by G8 leaders at the end of two days of intense work on a very broad agenda on a tropical island that was different and distant from their usual surroundings. The Okinawa summit did launch several new mechanisms to give greater coherence, credibility and capacity in G8 and global governance. It will only be when Italy and Canada as the G8 hosts in 2001 and 2002 deliver on these new beginnings that the full payoff of the Okinawa opportunity will be known.

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