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2005 Gleneagles Summit Analytical Studies

See also Official Documents

Overcoming Evil with Good:
Impressions of the Gleneagles Summit,
6-8 July 2005

Nicholas Bayne
18 July 2005

Summit Preparations and Outreach
Gleneagles Summit, 6-8 July 2005
  - Climate Change
  - Africa
  - Other Political and Economic Issues
  - Other Regional Issues
Assessment of the Gleneagles Summit
Annex: Documents Issued


Terrorist attacks in London, which left more than 50 dead, overshadowed the Gleneagles Summit. But they did not prevent the G8 heads from reaching substantial agreements on climate change (associating leaders from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) and reducing poverty in Africa (with seven African presidents taking part). The British presidency had focused the summit on these two themes, so as to bring it back to a simpler format and its original economic vocation. The British maintained the focus over long and arduous preparations and involved civil society closely with the summit process, particularly on Africa. Although the time for discussion at Gleneagles itself was curtailed because of the terrorist attacks, the summit completed its agenda. The G8 closed ranks behind British prime minister Tony Blair and showed exceptional solidarity. The media gave the summit outcome an unusually positive assessment.

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Summit Preparations and Outreach

The UK imitated the 2003 Evian Summit in the physical organisation of the 2005 summit. The site chosen was Gleneagles in Scotland, where all the G8 delegations could be accommodated in the hotel. The estate was protected by a temporary wire perimeter, while about 10,000 extra police were deployed in Scotland. The international media centre was inside the perimeter, housed mainly in tents surrounding the equestrian centre close to the hotel. This brought the press closer to the summit than at any time since Genoa in 2001 and enabled all the G8 leaders (except U.S. president George Bush) to hold press conferences. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) also had ready access to the media centre.

For the summit agenda, the British selected their two topics well in advance and stuck to them. This revived the practice of a concise agenda, which was introduced by Blair at Birmingham in 1998 but had fallen into abeyance at Evian in 2003 and Sea Island in 2004. Blair had signalled his intention to focus on Africa two years before, at Evian, and in February 2004 launched the Commission for Africa to take a fresh, comprehensive look at how to resolve the problems of the continent. The 17 commissioners included a majority of Africans, as well as Blair himself, Gordon Brown (British finance minister) and Hilary Benn (British development minister and African Personal Representative [APR]). The commission’s report, published in March 2005, identified better governance in Africa as a precondition for progress. It made precise and clearly costed recommendations in education, health care, agriculture, infrastructure and trade and business development. It called for aid to Africa to double in three to five years, to a total of US$25 billion per year. [1]

Meanwhile, public interest in Africa was stimulated by a powerful civil society campaign to ‘Make Poverty History’, urging the G8 to decide at Gleneagles to double aid to Africa, forgive all debts and improve trade access. Bob Geldof, the singer and veteran campaigner, who also sat on the Commission for Africa, was a leading figure in this movement. Others included singer Bono, who impressed Bush, and director Richard Curtis, who made a television film, The Girl in the Café, about the decisions on poverty taken by a fictional G8 summit. Climate change got less high-profile attention. But Blair set out his aims clearly in speeches in London in September 2004 and at the World Economic Forum in January 2005, where he announced the agenda for the British G8 presidency. The UK also organised a conference on the science of climate change in Exeter in February 2005.

There was a very full programme of G8 ministerial meetings in the run-up to the Gleneagles Summit. In March, employment ministers met in London, while environment and development ministers had a joint meeting in Derbyshire, preceded by a gathering of environment and energy ministers that went wider than the G8. Justice and interior ministers met in Sheffield on 16-17 June. Foreign ministers met in London on 23 June, with a strong focus on Afghanistan. Finally, finance ministers met as G7 in London in February (when they were addressed by Nelson Mandela), Washington in April and, as G8, in London on 10-11 June. The final meeting reached a vital agreement on debt relief (see below), although it became clear that there would be no consensus on a new International Finance Facility (IFF).

Outreach to non-G8 countries at Gleneagles took two forms. On the first day the G8 met the leaders of five major developing countries – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil), Hu Jintao (China), Manmohan Singh (India), Vicente Fox (Mexico) and Thabo Mbeki (South Africa) – with the specific aim of associating them with the exchanges on climate change. The heads of the International Energy Agency (IEA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations, World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO) also took part. No document issued from this meeting, but the Gleneagles chair’s summary welcomes the involvement of the five non-G8 leaders in climate change; they also put out a collective statement in advance. On the second day the G8 met seven African heads of government: Abdulaziz Bouteflika (Algeria), Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal) and Mbeki (South Africa), who were regular summit participants; Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia) and Bejamin Mkapa (Tanzania), members of the Commission for Africa; and John Kufuor (Ghana). [2] The heads of IMF, UN and World Bank and the Chair of the Africa Union (AU) were also present. In addition to holding a general discussion of Africa, in which the Africans’ contribution was again recognized in the chair’s summary, this group issued a joint G8/AU statement on Sudan, the first time the G8 summit had produced a statement in association with others.

Civil society activity reached high intensity in the days before the summit, all aimed at getting radical decisions at Gleneagles on Africa. The Make Poverty History movement organised a peaceful march of 225,000 people in Edinburgh on 2 July. Geldof drew on his links with the world of popular music to organise a series of ‘Live8’ concerts in cities across the globe. Geldof, Bono and a group of other celebrities came on to Gleneagles with a petition bearing 38 million signatures and were able to brief George Bush, France’s Jacques Chirac and Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder. However, the million-strong ‘March for Justice’ to the gates of Gleneagles called for by Geldof never materialised. Instead, groups of obstructive, anti-G8 protestors became active. They blocked roads across central Scotland on 6 July, the day the heads arrived in Gleneagles, and briefly penetrated the security fence. But the police, who were present in force, soon regained control and the numbers of hostile protestors were never large.

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The Gleneagles Summit, 6-8 July 2005

There was exceptional continuity among the G8 heads at Gleneagles. Except for Canada’s Paul Martin – new in 2004 – and the European Commission’s José Manuel Barroso – new this year – all the leaders had been meeting at the summit since 2001 or earlier. But their domestic political standing varied widely. Bush and Blair were electorally secure, having recently been voted back into office, while Junichiro Koizumi (Japan) and Vladimir Putin (Russia) were not under threat. [3] But Martin was leading a minority government and had barely survived a vote of confidence. The position in continental Europe was even less stable. Schroeder would face elections in September 2005 and Silvio Berlusconi (Italy) before June 2006, which neither of them was expected to survive. Chirac was electorally secure until 2007, but had met a severe setback when the French electorate rejected the new European constitution in a referendum. The resulting confusion in the European Union (which also weakened Barroso) led Blair into a bad-tempered dispute with Chirac and Schroeder over the EU budget at the European Council of 16-17 June. Chirac suffered a further blow on the day the heads gathered at Gleneagles, when London was chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Games, instead of the favourite Paris.

Chirac, however, rose above these misfortunes to be the most visible and constructive of the leaders at Gleneagles after Blair, stressing his full support for the summit themes. Bush did his best to be flexible, while maintaining (for his domestic audience) that he was defending existing U.S. positions. Both Koizumi and Schroeder intervened personally to achieve consensus on raising total aid by US$50 billion. Gleneagles was conspicuous, however, not so much for the performance of individual leaders as for the way they all rallied behind Blair in confronting the terrorist attacks.

The summit began on the evening of 6 July with a dinner with Her Majesty the Queen. (Bush had earlier had a fall from his mountain bike, injuring a policeman.) The proceedings on 7 July were due to begin with the world economy and climate change, with the major developing countries joining the G8 shortly before lunch. The G8 would discuss foreign policy issues later on 7 July and devote 8 July to Africa, including a session and lunch with African leaders before winding up in mid-afternoon.

However, after a bilateral breakfast meeting with Bush and before the main G8 session opened, Blair received the first imprecise reports of the terrorist attacks in London. The session began as planned, but Blair was often interrupted as more news came in. By the time the non-G8 leaders had arrived, Blair had decided that he had to leave Gleneagles to fly to London. The G8 heads, led vigorously by Bush and Chirac, all urged him to do so. They undertook to carry on with the summit agenda in his absence and proposed that Michael Jay, the UK sherpa, assume the chair. Before leaving, Blair, backed by all the G8 and non-G8 participants, read out an eloquent collective statement to camera, condemning the terrorists and expressing determination to resist them.

Jay then chaired the discussion of climate change and other issues with non-G8 leaders over a working lunch. Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, arrived in time to chair the afternoon session on the Middle East and the ensuing dinner, which covered other foreign policy issues. Blair returned to Gleneagles later that night; in his absence, no summit documents were issued. On 8 July the Africa sessions were held as planned, but were shortened to enable the summit to complete its work about 1 p.m. The summit concluded with an impromptu ceremony without precedent in summit history. With the G8 and African leaders behind him, Blair made another eloquent statement contrasting the positive results of the summit, on climate change, Africa and the Middle East peace process, with the negativism of the terrorists. Then each of the G8 heads signed the summit documents on climate change and Africa, in a symbolic commitment to implementing them fully.

The summit documents were then issued. These were as prolific as at Evian or Sea Island – a total of 14 in all, in addition to the chairman’s summary and the terrorism statement of the day before (see Annex). The analysis that follows does not go through the summit discussions chronologically, but takes the two main items of climate change and Africa first, followed by the remainder.

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Climate Change

In his speech in September 2004, Blair set out three aims for a G8 agreement at Gleneagles: consensus on the science of climate change and the threat it poses; a process to speed up technological and other measures to meet the threat; and engaging with other non-G8 countries with growing energy needs – the emitters of the future. The Americans would be required to sign up to this approach, although no one expected them to accept the Kyoto Protocol or introduce mandatory provisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The rest of the G8, including the U.S., were prepared to endorse this three-part strategy. Good progress was made with technological issues, especially by combining measures to improve energy efficiency with climate change. But the negotiation of commitments on the other two elements was arduous. The UK presidency launched in May the idea of a new dialogue embracing the G8 and leading developing countries, after checking that this would be acceptable to the non-G8 countries concerned. But this was initially opposed by all the rest of the G8, for different reasons: the U.S. and Russia because they feared pressure for new limits on emissions, Japan and Canada because it could undermine the Kyoto process, and the Europeans because it could institutionalise the G8. It took several rounds of sherpa discussion to win everyone round.

Science proved even more difficult. For a long time the Americans refused to admit the scientific evidence of human-made global warning, which provided the rationale for further urgent action. Leaked versions of draft summit documents made this all too plain, while Bush made sceptical statements in public, saying ‘we need to know more’. The other G8 members had hitherto gone along with the UK strategy of engaging the Americans, but did not exert themselves to put pressure on the U.S. Late in the preparations, however, after the European Council of 16-17 June, the French sharpened their position and laid down five minimum conditions for a summit statement: it must say climate change is caused by humans and requires urgent action to reduce emissions and it must refer to the Kyoto Protocol, to long-term action post-Kyoto and to the use of market mechanisms. Without these elements there would be open disagreement at the summit between the United States and the others, all of whom subscribed to the Kyoto Protocol. It was not clear whether the French would be satisfied if the Americans moved or were determined to isolate them.

Under this pressure Bush signalled some flexibility in public. A marathon sherpa meeting on 1-2 July completed work on a short statement and a longer action plan. Both Americans and French initially reserved their positions, but gave their assent before Gleneagles. The documents were successfully endorsed by the G8 and led to a constructive discussion with the five non-G8 leaders, despite Blair’s absence in London. The key provisions were:

These commitments met all Blair’s objectives as originally set out. They suggested that the U.S. administration was becoming aware of growing domestic support for stricter policies to limit climate change. Mandatory targets to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions were favoured by major U.S. states, such as California, and American companies, such as GE. Such targets only narrowly failed to command a majority in the Senate. The Gleneagles agreements, as Blair said in his press conference, brought both the United States and the major future emitters such as China and India into an exchange on reducing emissions from which they had been absent before. As such, the agreements proved acceptable to the rest of the G8 – Chirac called them an important advance. They were criticised by mainstream NGOs including the Friends of the Earth, but the NGOs would only have been satisfied with ostracising the U.S. until it signed up to Kyoto – not a realistic summit strategy.

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At Gleneagles the G8 addressed Africa for the fifth consecutive year, with African leaders also present. The aim was to review progress under the Africa Action Plan launched at Kananaskis in 2002 and give it further impetus, looking ahead to the UN summit in September on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the WTO’s Hong Kong ministerial in December 2005. Although African peace and security and political governance were discussed, the focus was primarily on economic issues, specifically the triad of debt relief, trade access and aid volume identified by the Make Poverty History campaign. These are treated separately below.

Africa’s economic picture offered both good and bad news. The ‘African Economic Outlook’ produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) showed improving economic performance, with growth at nearly 4% in 2003, 5% in 2004 and even stronger prospects for 2005. [5] This was the best sustained record for many years, due in large part to more stable political conditions, better economic policies and higher aid flows. It provided evidence already of the joint impact of the G8 Africa Action Plan and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

But most sub-Saharan African countries were still set to miss the MDGs for poverty, hunger, education and health. The increased aid promised by the G8 at Kananaskis (an extra US$6 billion per year) had been inadequate to reverse this trend. As required by the 2003 Evian Summit, the G8 APRs submitted a well-written progress report to Gleneagles (the ‘APR Report’). This confessed frankly that ‘progress in implementing the Action Plan has been mixed’ and admitted criticism from NEPAD of slow disbursement, poor co-ordination and inadequate support for infrastructure and agriculture.

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Debt Relief

The G8’s last major decisions on debt relief had been taken at Cologne in 1999, although Kananaskis (2002) and Sea Island (2004) had acted to maintain the financing. Cologne had provided for up to 100% relief on debt owed to governments by poor countries, mainly in Africa, that were following a Poverty Reduction Strategy agreed with the IMF and World Bank. But debt owed to international institutions – IMF, World Bank and regional development banks – only attracted partial relief, linked to expected export earnings. This proved inadequate to provide a lasting exit from debt problems for many poor countries dependent on commodity exports, even when they pursued sound policies.

Since before Sea Island, the UK, with support from France and Canada, had been arguing at the G7 finance ministers meetings for 100% relief to be extended to institutional debt also. Agreement proved elusive for a long time: Germany and Japan were doubtful about the principle and wanted to ration such relief very narrowly; the U.S. endorsed the principle, but contested the need for extra funds to pay for it. But eventually Gordon Brown was able to announce that agreement had been reached at the pre-summit G8 finance ministers meeting in June. Full relief on debts to the IMF, World Bank and AfDB would be available to 18 poor countries (14 in Africa) already receiving partial relief, while nine more countries could become eligible later. The stock of debt to be forgiven immediately totalled more than US$40 billion, worth about $1.5 billion per year in debt service saved. The World Bank and AfDB, but not the IMF, would be compensated. The agreement needed to be endorsed by the full IMF/World Bank membership at their annual meeting in later in 2005.

This agreement largely disposed of one element of Make Poverty History’s demands. The main criticism was of its limited coverage. The AU summit, meeting in Sirte, Libya, just before Gleneagles, called for debt relief to be extended more widely in Africa. In the event, the G8 heads added nothing to what the finance ministers had done. But without the pressure exerted by the impending summit, the finance ministers would never have reached such a good result.

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The G8 heads discussed international trade and the prospects for the WTO negotiations in their first morning session and agreed on a separate document. One paragraph of the Africa document (para. 22) covers trade as well. As confirmed publicly by Vicente Fox (Mexico) and Supachai Panitchpakdi (WTO Director General), the trade negotiations were also a major topic in the exchanges between the G8 and major developing countries on 7 July, with everyone insistent on reaching a good result.

The trade document is full of ambitious objectives for the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial in December 2005 and for concluding the Doha Development Agenda by the end of 2006. But, on the record of past summits, such general exhortations are not worth much, and all attempts to insert more specific commitments proved fruitless. With the Hong Kong meeting still six months away, none of the G8 members was prepared to anticipate negotiating positions, even for the benefit of Africa. Gleneagles had no effect on the current blockages in Geneva. During the preparations for the summit, the UK had tried to get agreement on helping African countries meet health and safety standards and on easing rules of origin, and there was debate at Gleneagles itself on a precise date for ending agricultural export subsidies. In the end, all points were covered in the summit documents, but only in general terms. There were also some useful national and EU pledges to help in trade capacity-building.

At first sight, therefore, the results from Gleneagles on trade were disappointing, as they have been from almost all recent summits. But the G8 heads could redeem their reputation if they intervene later in the year to improve the prospects for the WTO Hong Kong meeting. [6]

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The outstanding achievement from Gleneagles was the agreement to double aid to the continent between 2004 and 2010, an extra US$25 billion a year, within a total increase in aid of $50 billion. This result could only have been agreed at the summit, requiring late commitments from Bush, Koizumi and Schroeder. The commitments on aid to Africa formed part of a substantial document setting out G8 intentions and covering peace and stability, good governance, investing in people (education and health), promoting growth, financing and follow-up.

The preparations on Africa were laborious. The UK’s preferred instrument for increasing aid flows was the IFF, which Brown had been promoting for several years. Its purpose was to accelerate aid disbursement by raising funds now on the bond market against repayment out of aid resources from later years. But while European G8 countries were prepared to endorse this concept, with some conditions, the U.S., Japan and Canada refused to entertain it, so that it could not be used as the main vehicle for new aid. It survived only as a minority project, to be used initially to raise funds for an immunisation programme, possibly in association with international taxation of air travel. Similarly, the UK had hoped to read across from the Commission for Africa report into the document prepared for the summit. But other G8 members resisted this, notably Japan and Germany, which had not been represented on the commission. They, with Canada, disapproved of this departure from the established procedure based on the G8 APRs.

Despite these setbacks, G8 countries came to realise that major increases in aid would be necessary if poor countries in Africa and elsewhere were to have any hope of meeting the MDGs. The approach of the Gleneagles Summit concentrated their minds. The real breakthrough came when the EU decided on 24 May to set a collective target of 0.56% of national income in aid by 2010, on the way to reaching the long-established 0.7% target by 2015. This amounted to doubling EU aid between 2004 and 2010, with at least half going to Africa. National targets by the UK and France promised better performance than this, although Germany and Italy were less secure. Koizumi first announced in April a doubling of aid to Africa over three years and reinforced this at Gleneagles itself by a commitment to increase total Japanese aid by US$10 billion over five years, a welcome reversal of the decline going on since 2000. Canada made no new commitment, but maintained its original targets set for the 2002 Monterrey conference on financing for development, which included doubling its aid to Africa between 2004 and 2009 and its total aid between 2001 and 2010. The U.S. was the last to respond. Bush announced on 30 June that he would double aid to Africa between 2004 and 2010.

This enabled the G8 to announce that aid to Africa would double by 2010, by at least US$25 billion per year, as part of an expected increase of nearly $50 billion per year in aid to all countries. The $25 billion increase for Africa, which was close to the recommendation of the Commission for Africa, was secure by the time of Gleneagles. But the overall increase of $50 billion, which was equally important in the context of the forthcoming UN summit to review the MDGs, was resisted by the U.S., Japan and Germany during the preparations and could only be settled at the summit itself. The Americans gave their consent as Bush flew in from Copenhagen; Koizumi decided to announce his $10 billion aid increase while at Gleneagles, so that Japan could contribute its share of the $50 billion total; and Schroeder joined the consensus on the final day, despite his officials’ resistance.

This was an impressive commitment, as regards both Africa and total aid volume, well in excess of anything the G8 members had promised before. However, the figures need some critical scrutiny. The U.S., Japan, Germany and Italy all had wide budget deficits and could find it hard to meet their commitments for this reason. American difficulties with Congress were notorious, while the Japanese finance ministry had said earlier there was no money to pay for additional aid. With some countries the gap between committing aid and disbursing it was very wide. The U.S. launched its Millennium Challenge Account in 2002 but had only managed two firm commitments by June 2005 (to Madagascar and Honduras); the European Commission’s record for slow spending was no better. Finally, not all aid to Africa went to support economic development there. For example, total U.S. aid looked substantial, at about $5 billion. But almost all was spent on emergency assistance and food aid, on debt relief and on the salaries of American technical assistance consultants – very little on in-country development. It was important that the new aid was better focused on Africa’s needs than the old.

In this respect, the detailed provisions of the Africa document should have provided indications of G8 intentions. These, however, were often imprecise, uncoordinated and lacking in figures. There was a sharp contrast with the Commission for Africa’s crisp recommendations of US$7-8 billion per year for education, at all levels, $10 billion for health care and $10 billion for infrastructure. Analysis of the G8 document reveals the following conclusions.

The African leaders did not give a joint press conference at Gleneagles, as they have done at previous summits. But Obasanjo (Nigeria) said it was ‘a great success’ and Mbeki (South Africa) also said he was pleased with it. The increase in aid volume was a tremendous encouragement to them. It provided an assurance of adequate funds to finance NEPAD-related activities that had been lacking before. With this assurance, they were better able to overlook the shortcomings in debt relief, trade and detailed development measures. The G8 document said: ‘It is up to developing countries themselves and their governments to take the lead on development.’ If the increased aid flows made that possible, the imprecision of the G8’s detailed promises might not matter so much.

In presenting the Africa results publicly, Blair said they were ‘a beginning, not an end’. They were certainly not the end, but they were not the beginning either; rather they moved the G8’s existing Africa project, in operation since 2001, onto a new and more ambitious level. Blair said that they would not make poverty history, but showed how this could be done. He stressed the importance of full implementation of the commitments made and suggested – in answer to a journalist – that if fully implemented, theywould indeed make poverty history. This was an ambitious claim: even if completely met, many of the undertakings only run until 2010, while further aid increases would certainly be needed before the 2015 deadline for the MDGs. [7] Blair publicly praised the Make Poverty History campaign for its dignity, decency and determination, but warned that the results did not give everything they wanted. The campaign members gave a mixed reaction to the Gleneagles results. The celebrities were delighted that the headline aim of doubling aid for Africa had been achieved – Geldof gave the summit ‘ten out of ten for aid and eight out of ten for debt’. The participating NGOs were initially disappointed and lamented a lost opportunity. This divergence of view was picked up by the media, which generally gave a favourable reaction to the summit outcome. Leading charities, including Oxfam and Christian Aid, soon recognised that Gleneagles had made progress, if not enough in their eyes, and redirected their efforts to the UN Millennium Summit.

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Other Political and Economic Issues

Middle East Peace Process, Broader Middle East Initiative and Iraq

After Africa and climate change, the most important decision taken by the G8 at Gleneagles was to endorse the strategy set out by James Wolfensohn, the special envoy of the ‘Quartet’ (the U.S., the EU, Russia and the UN) for advancing the peace process between Israel and Palestine. In their statement on the Middle East Peace Process, the G8 members specifically gave their support to his financial plan for economic reconstruction in Palestine, costed at US$3 billion per year over three years, although they did not offer precise pledges. Blair publicly singled out this agreement as a positive example of action to reconcile two peoples and two religions, contrasting it with the destructive purposes of terrorism.

The G8 also issued a progress report on the Broader Middle East Initiative launched the year before at Sea Island and a review of the situation in Iraq. Neither of these statements contained any new initiatives. But the broad consensus reflected in the three Middle East documents from Gleneagles showed a much easier atmosphere among the G8, as compared with the tensions prevailing at Evian and Sea Island.

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Other Regional Issues

The chair’s summary noted discussions on Afghanistan, Lebanon, Zimbabwe and Haiti, as well as UN reform, reinforcing points made at the G8 foreign ministers meeting.

World Economy, Oil and Intellectual Property

The customary statement on the global economy reflected the debate on the first morning. It expressed predictable concern with high oil prices, but had no operational force. However, it satisfied Schroeder’s strong wish for the summit to address this original economic theme and endorse the Joint Oil Data Initiative promoted by Germany. A separate statement on countering piracy and counterfeiting of intellectual property was a joint initiative from the U.S. and France, but simply reported action in hand and did not warrant treatment at the summit.

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Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami

A G8 statement reviewed measures to give better early warning of disasters like the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, reduce the impact of such disasters and improve humanitarian responses. The G8 promised support for action in hand in existing international bodies, such as the UN and its agencies, rather than proposing measures of its own.

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The last three summits, since Kananaskis in 2002, had been the occasion for G8 initiatives in non-proliferation. There were no such initiatives at Gleneagles: the G8 statement, which was especially sought by the U.S., reviewed and consolidated action taken earlier. In particular, the moratorium on transfers of enrichment or reprocessing technology to states that did not have it already, introduced at Sea Island, was renewed for another year, but there was no agreement on a permanent regime. As at previous summits, there were nicely graded messages addressed to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

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Counter-Terrorism and Transport Security

The G8 issued a statement on counter-terrorism, to which was attached a progress report on the Secure and Facilitated International Travel Initiative (SAFTI) launched at Sea Island. The SAFTI document was prepared well in advance and continued the tradition of issuing documents on transport security at every summit since Kananaskis 2002. It remained doubtful whether this topic, which concentrated on international air and sea travel, deserved the attention of G8 heads.

The main counter-terrorism statement was something of a mystery. A document reviewing existing action had been drafted for issue at the summit; this had to be reworked in the light of the attacks in London. But this statement was the only G8 document not specifically mentioned in the chair’s summary, although the summary did say ‘we resolved to intensify our work on counter terrorism’. Blair did not refer to the statement on counter-terrorism in his final press conference, although he had the chance to do so, and Chirac seemed unaware of its existence. Indeed, Blair and the other G8 heads were at pains to stress that they did not allow the terrorist attacks to distract them from their main agenda, which embodied the best way of fighting back against terrorism.

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Assessment of the Gleneagles Summit

The London terrorist attacks provided one defining feature of the Gleneagles Summit. The G8 heads rose to the challenge thrown down by the terrorists and closed ranks impressively. They insisted on maintaining their existing positive agenda as the best way of countering the negative ethos of terrorism and showing their determination to defend their values of openness and co-operation. If the terrorists hoped to disrupt the summit, they failed totally, although it might have been different had they struck a day earlier. Thanks to the thorough preparations, especially on climate change, the G8 was able to complete its work, despite Blair’s absence for several hours and some sessions being cut short. The closing of ranks before the terrorist threat probably helped to resolve some outstanding issues in a positive direction. More generally, the episode demonstrated the depth of solidarity uniting the G8 members, in which the non-G8 participants fully shared. The tensions among the G8 leaders generated by the invasion of Iraq, which were already fading before Gleneagles, were thoroughly exorcised at the summit.

Another defining feature was the widespread positive involvement of civil society. This harked back to the peaceful marches of Jubilee 2000 supporters at Birmingham and Cologne in 1998-99, campaigning for debt relief. But since the Seattle WTO meeting in late 1999 the demonstrations at the summits had turned predominantly negative and hostile, forcing the G8 to meet in secluded, easily protected locations. The Make Poverty History movement marked a welcome return to positive campaigning, with the aim of getting the G8 to make generous decisions on Africa and to live up to them. The campaign attracted the favourable attention of the media and served to generate very wide public interest in Africa and concern with African issues.

The campaign’s ambitious slogan and its insistence that the G8 leaders themselves had the power to end poverty showed a good understanding of the personal quality of the summit. But this carried the risk of over-simplifying Africa’s problems and raising expectations that could never be satisfied. In the event, although the Gleneagles results were disappointing to many, they went far enough to avoid a backlash of anger and disillusion. It was hard to judge how far the civil society pressure influenced the outcome, but its influence was clearly positive. It certainly encouraged the British presidency to aim high on Africa and to negotiate with persistence, as the other sherpa teams could not ignore the exceptional public interest in the summit. Early in the preparatory process the sherpas collectively, for the first time, met a group of NGO representatives lobbying on Africa and climate change. The civil society campaign also had an impact on the other heads as they prepared to come to the summit. This helped to bring positive results at Gleneagles on Africa, as no G8 leader wanted to appear as opposing generous decisions.

In chairing his second summit, Blair tried to bring the G8 back to the austere format he had introduced at Birmingham seven years before. He succeeded in sticking to a concise two-part agenda. But in other respects he did not roll back the growing complication of the summit process. The Americans in 2004 had held only one G8 ministerial meeting before Sea Island, apart from the normal pre-summit sessions of foreign and finance ministers. But the UK had four in 2005, reverting to the frequency before Kananaskis and Evian. A fifth, of health ministers, is planned for later in the year, in addition to the inaugural meeting of the new climate change dialogue. The inflation of summit documentation continued unabated. With 14 documents supporting the chair’s summary, Gleneagles compared with Evian and Sea Island in verbosity. Only the documents on climate change, Africa and the Middle East Peace Process deserved direct summit authority. The rest could have been compressed into the chair’s summary or issued at lower levels. But after pressing so hard on its own chosen themes, the UK presidency felt it wise to accommodate other G8 members when they wanted summit statements on additional subjects.

Gleneagles marked the third successive summit to hold two outreach meetings with non-G8 countries. It was the first to issue a joint G8/non-G8 document (with the Africans on Sudan), while the UK presidency conducted preparatory negotiations with the five on climate change. On the original timetable the G8 would have spent as much time on outreach meetings as in sessions among themselves. As Gleneagles showed, this combination was compatible with effective results and helped to give greater legitimacy to the summit’s decisions. But the pressure to expand outreach activities, involve non-G8 countries in the preparations and issue joint documents was bound to grow, independent of the movement promoted by Paul Martin for a separate ‘Leaders Twenty’ or ‘L20’ summit roughly based on the G20 finance ministers. The G8 heads needed to make sure that they were in control of their relations with non-G8 powers, rather than allowing gradual erosion of the intimacy of their meeting.

But the legacy of Gleneagles would be judged not on these issues of format but on the results produced by its decisions on climate change and Africa. The two issues were very different. Climate change had been off the summit agenda for years because the G8 members could not agree. (The last serious exchange was at Denver in 1997, where the members differed over their approach to the Kyoto Protocol.) Making climate change a major topic was a gamble that could have ended in disaster, with agreement further off than ever. In the event, the Americans moved just far enough to allow a new dialogue to begin in which they were fully engaged, together with the major developing countries. The new dialogue started from a modest position, as compared with the efforts that would be needed in future to bring down greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. But it gained by being linked to measures to use energy more efficiently and develop new energy sources, under the pressure of mounting oil prices. It responded to growing pressure from international business for more predictability in policy. The dialogue should find encouragement from the growing domestic support for stricter measures in the United States and fit in well with the priorities set for the Russian presidency of the G8 in 2006. The omens for building up a successful momentum looked promising, which could eventually lead the U.S. (and China and India) to accept the same disciplines as the rest of the G8.

Making Africa a major item in 2005 was not a gamble but a necessity, if the G8 was to preserve its reputation. The Africa Action Plan launched in 2002 was running out of steam, undermining the Africans’ efforts in NEPAD and the AU. But Blair had foreseen the need for a major push during the UK presidency at least two years before, anticipating that Africa would get low priority from Americans in 2004 and Russians in 2006. Preparatory action began with Brown’s campaign for the IFF, his parallel advocacy of 100% relief on institutional debt and the creation of the Commission for Africa. However, these efforts attracted some resistance by being so clearly labelled as British initiatives, rather than policies developed together with other G8 partners. The U.S. was long reluctant to commit any new funds for Africa, even for debt relief. The EU said the right things on trade and development, but negotiated very toughly in the WTO. Even Canada, normally an ally of the UK in G8 contexts, attacked the IFF and criticised the Commission for Africa.

This resistance was overcome only slowly and incompletely, so that the IFF fell away, little could be agreed on trade and the Africa document lacked precision. But Gleneagles’s achievement on aid was outstanding: doubling aid for Africa to US$25 billion per year by 2010, within a total increase of $50 billion per year to help meet the MDGs. The agreement on debt was also a major advance. Together these commitments gave real hope that African countries could get most of the resources they needed to underpin rates of growth that would bring them out of poverty and to start catching up on more successful areas of the world. The African leaders were left in no doubt that they must fulfil their side of the G8/NEPAD bargain, by providing dynamic and accountable leadership. But those present accepted this responsibility and there was growing evidence of progress, despite some persistent black spots such as Zimbabwe. Unlike the climate change agreement, the results on Africa were not really innovative, since they built on existing foundations, but they were ambitious. The G8/NEPAD partnership achieved liftoff at Kananaskis, but Gleneagles put it into a secure orbit.

The climate change and Africa agreements from Gleneagles demonstrated fully the strengths of the 21st-century summit process: the G8’s capacity to strike deals and resolve differences that had persisted at lower levels, as in climate change; its competence in combining political and economic programmes, as in Africa; its ability to take innovative and far-reaching decisions, for which only heads of government had the authority, in both subjects. These virtues were mainly visible in the decisions taken at the summit itself and in the influence it exerted on the preparatory process. Gleneagles reinforced these achievements with powerful evidence of the solidarity of the G8 members and their readiness to conduct collective management. This was combined with innovative forms of outreach to non-G8 countries that gave the summit greater legitimacy.

But Gleneagles was also intended to address the main weakness of 21st-century summitry. This was the recurrent failure of the G8 to implement summit commitments fully, which reflected reluctance by the G8 heads to overcome domestic resistance to the decisions they had taken internationally. This weakness only becomes visible in the months and years after the summit, so that Gleneagles’ impact cannot be tested immediately. The failure to make much progress in improving trade access, which involved adjustments in domestic policy, was a negative sign in this respect. The commitments on climate change and aid to Africa were also vulnerable to backsliding. But Blair showed himself fully aware of the G8’s weakness and sought to take precautions against it. He not only insisted publicly on full implementation but also took the unprecedented step of getting all the G8 leaders to sign the climate change and Africa documents as a symbol of their commitment to them.

The summit’s most effective weapon against this weakness had been iteration – ensuring that issues can come back to the summit if the momentum of implementation flags or new decisions are needed. Iteration was clearly built into the climate change decisions: there were strong links to the Russian G8 agenda in 2006, while a report would be required for the 2008 summit hosted by Japan. African issues – trade, aid and debt relief – would be lead items at the meetings of the UN summit, the IMF/World Bank meetings and the WTO ministerial later in 2005. But thereafter the prospects for iteration were less clear. The African Partners Forum had been charged with monitoring implementation, but was not required to report back to the summit again. Africa would clearly not be a high priority for the Russian G8 presidency in 2006. But while Africa need not be on the G8 agenda every year and effective follow-up was necessary at below-summit level, further intervention at summit level would inevitably be required.

It might therefore be necessary to make use of two outside sources of pressure on the G8 to live up to their commitments of Africa. The first would come from the Africans, who could insist that the G8 kept up its side of the partnership. Such pressure could clearly be effective: the head of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation was removed after four African presidents complained to Bush. The second came from civil society. The results from the Gleneagles Summit have given development NGOs opportunities to maintain the pressure they had built up during 2005 and to leave all G8 members in no doubt of what is required of them. The German G8 presidency in 2007 would offer a favourable occasion to exploit the strength of civil society in that country, while Japan, as host in 2008, would wish to show that it was as generous as its partners.

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Blair set ambitious objectives for the 2005 summit. He achieved most of them at Gleneagles, thanks to purposeful preparation and a propitious atmosphere at the summit itself. On climate change, the summit started a new dialogue from the beginning; on Africa it accelerated a process that is still far from completion. The stimuli imparted at Gleneagles may yet run into the sand, as has happened after other G8 summits. But if the commitments are met and Gleneagles proves a positive turning point in the international treatment of Africa and climate change, it should rank among the most fruitful of all the summits since they began in 1975.

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[1] The Commission for Africa’s findings closely matched the conclusions of the United Nations Millennium Project, directed by Jeffrey Sachs, although this dealt with the worldwide requirements for meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. [back to text]

[2] Kufuor also attended the 2004 Sea Island Summit, while Ghana is the first country to submit to the scrutiny of the African Peer Review Mechanism. [back to text]

[3] Koizumi had, however, threatened to call new elections if his legislation on privatising the Japanese Post Office failed to pass the Upper House of Parliament later in the year. [back to text]

[4] Germany made no commitments to cover climate change during its G8 presidency in 2007, despite strong popular interest in the subject. This was essentially because of disagreements between the SPD and the Green Party in the current government coalition on how to handle the subject. [back to text]

[5] The IMF forecasts average growth for Africa of more than 5.3% in 2005. [back to text]

[6] After a commitment at the third London summit in 1991 to conclude the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations by the end of that year, prime ministers John Major (UK G7 Presidency) and Ruud Lubbers (Netherlands EU Presidency) tried to get the rest of the G7 to live up to this pledge. Although their effort ultimately failed, Blair, as holding both the G8 and EU Presidency, may decide to do the same. [back to text]

[7] The total aid figure that emerges from the G8 commitments is about US$130 billion by 2010. The UN Millennium Project Report estimates worldwide requirements for aid just to meet the MDGs to be $195 billion by 2015, 0.54% of total donor national income. Taking this together with other aid requirements, the report calls for all donors to meet the longstanding target of 0.7% of national income. [back to text]

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Bayne, N. (2005), Staying Together: the G8 Summit Confronts the 21st Century, Ashgate, Aldershot.

Bayne, N. (2005), ‘Generating the Gleneagles Effect’, The World Today, 61.6, pp. 4-7.

Chatham House (2005), Blair’s G8 Gamble: Prospects for Gleneagles, Briefing Paper CH BP 05/01, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London.

Commission for Africa (2005), Our Common Interest: An Argument, Penguin Books, London.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2004), African Economic Outlook 2003-2004, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005), African Economic Outlook 2004-2005, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.

Sachs, J. (2005), The End of Poverty: How We Can Make It Happen in Our Own Lifetime, Penguin Books, London.

Sachs, J. (2005), ‘The Development Challenge’, Foreign Affairs, 84.2, pp. 78-90.

United Nations Millennium Project (2005), Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (Overview), United Nations Development Programme, New York.

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Annex: Documents Issued by the G8 at Gleneagles on 8 July 2005

  1. Chair’s Summary, Gleneagles Summit, 8 July
  2. Global Economy and Oil
  3. Trade
  4. Reducing IPR Piracy and Counterfeiting Through More Effective Enforcement
  5. Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
  6. Gleneagles Plan of Action: Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
  7. Middle East Peace Process
  8. Partnership for Progress and a Common Future with the Broader Middle East and North Africa Region
  9. Iraq
  10. Gleneagles Statement on Non-Proliferation
  11. G8 Statement on Counter-Terrorism
  12. Secure and Facilitated International Travel Initiative – Summit Progress Report
  13. G8 Response to the Indian Ocean Disaster and Future Action on Disaster Risk Reduction
  14. Africa
  15. Statement by the G8 and AU: Sudan

These documents are listed roughly in the order in which their subjects were discussed. Other relevant documents are:

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