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2005 Gleneagles Summit Analytical Studies

See also: Official Documents

What to Watch For at Gleneagles

Professor John Kirton, Director G8 Research Group
July 6, 2005

As the G8 Gleneagles Summit unfolds over the next two days, what should the world watch for, to see if it is on track to become the most successful summit in the thirty-year history of this annual event?

The first key test is how well the G8 leaders take advantage of the limited time available to them to really lead – to meet spontaneously, informally, alone together or in smaller groups, to go beyond what their ministers and officials have prepared for them, to set bold new innovative directions and take big decisions all their own. As the time they are scheduled to spend with their invited guests will consume about half of the summit, or twice as much as at Kananaskis in 2002, how well they use the limited time they have to themselves is a critical concern.

A second key test is how many separate documents the leaders produce – eight or ten or even more. Their personal representatives, or sherpas, have prepared eight to ten documents, with the difference in number reflecting competing views on whether there should be a single comprehensive document on the world economy or separate statements broken out for its component passages on trade and its international property rights. A separate statement on trade will suggest that Gleneagles is indeed sending a strong signal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure that its Hong Kong ministerial meeting later this year is a success in bringing the badly overdue Doha Development Round to a successful end. A separate statement on international property rights will show that George Bush's United States has won, and Hu Jintao of China – a guest at Gleneagles – will have lost. Any additional documents beyond these ten would show the G8 leaders' capacity for spontaneous creativity.

A third key test will be how the ever temperamental, intuitive, domestically unpopular Jacques Chirac of France will relate to the recently re-elected Tony Blair and help or hinder the latter as he tries to make his summit a historic success. The longstanding rivalry between the two leaders has been compounded by a stream of recent French setbacks – Chirac's defeat on the French referendum on a new European constitution, Blair's early success as the new six-month president of the European Union, and the July 6th announcement that London had beaten Paris to host the summer Olympics in 2012. To spoil Blair's successful summit and curry favour back home, Chirac could dig in and ask for more than the current balanced consensus could stand, demanding, for example, a pledge of loyalty to the Kyoto protocol on climate change that George Bush would find difficult to accept. However, as France and Britain share the same position on the central issues of African development and climate change, a rational calculation of French interests would position Chirac as Blair's ally.

As the summit begins its working sessions on specific issues on Thursday morning, it will soon become very clear how successful this summit will be.

On Thursday morning and over lunch the biggest drama will centre on climate change. The communiqué released immediately after the session will record Bush's recent agreement with the others that climate change is taking place, in part due to human activity, and that action must be taken now by all members of the G8. But will there be follow-up mechanisms in the form of expert groups involving the G8, the "plus five" guests at Gleneagles and other countries as well? Prospects are that there will be agreement on follow-up sessions in the G8 that would parallel the MOP/COP meeting taking place later in the year in Montreal and would interact with expert groups dealing with technology and how it can be transferred. But will there be concrete measures identified, with which a still reluctant China and India will agree? There should be references to clean technology, GEOSS, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE), carbon sequestration and similar subjects. But there will be no new national commitments of how the G8 members will allocate the increased resources that they have already put out. There will be no announcements of new money mobilized here. But will the divisive "Kyoto" word appear, once or twice, and in what way? Although the sherpas are dealing with this last and other issues over their working dinner on Wednesday evening, it will ultimately be up to their leaders to make the call.

In the late afternoon on Thursday, the G8 leaders will have their session on regional issues, with James Wolfensohn reporting on the Quartet and the Gaza withdrawal and his plan, which was presented at the G8 foreign ministers meeting in London on June 23rd. As this encounter is not a pledging conference, no new money will be mobilized for these purposes either. But the discussion will allow the G8 to give some political momentum to take advantage of the relatively short time available to move this issue ahead.

The leaders finish off the afternoon talking about whatever else they want, followed by a private dinner without their sherpas present. The leaders will discuss regional issues, in an unscripted way. How they make the most of this session will be critical for any spontaneously created Gleneagles success. The leaders will discuss the Middle East Peace Process, review Darfur and probably also Haiti, and take stock of Iran after the recent election that brought hardliners to power there. The big drama will be what the leaders decide about Afghanistan, where the G8-led war is not going well and could take up to a decade of major military and monetary investments to win.

In these two sessions, the leaders will also probably review significant items form recent G8 summits, particularly from ongoing mechanisms of co-operation that have come out of previous years. These include counterterrorism, counter-proliferation, the tsunami response, and the Secure and Facilitated International Travel Initiative (SAFTI). Here the leaders will receive reports on what have been principally ministerial-level discussions, and then will release documents relating to them.

On Friday, the issue is Africa. The leaders will meet "at eight," followed by an outreach session and outreach lunch with African leaders. The G8 leaders have already achieved a significant text that builds on what has collectively been done. The report the leaders have received from their Africa Personal Representatives (APRs), who have worked directly with African leaders in the Africa Partnership Forum, has suggested ways to strengthen the process. The leaders will probably endorse the plan and thus put it in place. Although they will have already discussed trade issues in their first session, on Friday they will deal with trade in regard to development. They will also review the debt relief proposal for heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs), for which the G8 accounts for roughly 70%. They will discuss progress on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), including issues relating to good governance. As well they look at the state of the enhanced commitments to Africa, which are being characterized as a doubling of aid between 2004 and 2010. This promises to be a rich discussion, as there remains some debate about whether this aid should be expressed as a doubling or as a numerical amount. There is some concern about expressing the aid as a dollar figure, given other such proclamations, which usually come with many footnotes and caveats that depend on such markers and constraints as growth targets, budgetary restrictions and the existence of new facilities, not to mention the Maastricht Treaty restrictions that bind the EU members — especially Germany and Italy. The leaders will take care not to promise something that they cannot deliver later.

Other issues will also be on the agenda over the next two days. There will be some discussion of the G8's efforts to eliminate polio. They will also discuss private sector development and entrepreneurship, which remain a focus, as do health, education and, as always, good governance.

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