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2005 Gleneagles Summit Analytical Studies

See also: Official Documents

Preliminary Assessment of the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting
in London on June 23, 2005

John Kirton
Director, G8 Research Group
June 23, 2005

The 2005 pre-G8 Summit Foreign Ministers meeting was held at Lancaster House in downtown London on Thursday, June 23, from about 9 am to about 3 pm. Attending the meetings were the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, as host, plus Japan's Nobutaka Machimura, Italy's Gianfranco Fini, France's Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.S. Condoleeza Rice, Russia's Sergey Lavrov, Germany's Joschka Fischer, and, for the European Council Jean Asselborn and for the European Commission Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Javier Solana. James Wright, Canada's political director, substituted for foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew, who was kept from the meeting by parliamentary duties at home.

It was a group of mixed experience. The host, Straw, was a veteran of several pre-summit G8 foreign ministers meetings, while Japan, France, one European commissioner and the European presidency representative were attending for the first time. Also invited to the meeting for sessions with the ministers were Abdullah Abdullah of Afghanistan and James Wolfensohn, the Quartet's special envoy to the Middle East.

At the end of their gathering, the G8 foreign ministers released two documents, a chair's statement of 650 words and a separate Statement on Afghanistan of 1,294 words. Together these two documents and 1,944 words were about normal for recent G8 foreign ministerials, making the London encounter a normally performing gathering in its deliberative role.

The meeting's deliberative performance appeared to go above the G8 foreign ministers meeting norm. It included a treatment of 11 specific issues from most of the geographic regions of the world, including regional security, arms control and disarmament, human security/conflict prevention, and global governance domains. It combined features of a sharp focus on priorities – Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran – and an extensive treatment of a broader agenda – UN reform, international trade in arms and developments in the Western Balkans, Sudan, North Korea, Iraq, Lebanon, Zimbabwe and Haiti.

It was also a normal meeting in its decisional role in terms of the 11 commitments it produced (see Appendix A).

In its written record, it did little to prompt compliance with these commitments by mobilizing new monies, asking for reports back to subsequent G8 meetings, specifying targets for timetables, creating new G8-centric institutions or directing other international institutions to do particular things.

The concluding documents reflected the success of the meeting and the skill of its chair, in incorporating and approving the priorities of all the participants. The Americans secured their desired strong language on the Middle East, the British on international trade in conventional arms, Japan on North Korea (including a reference to North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals) and Canada on Sudan and Haiti, the discussion of which at the ministerial table it led. It was clear from the concluding news conference and private reports from individuals at the meetings that a substantial spirit of unity prevailed – showing that the strains inspired by the U.S.-led coalitionÕs war in Iraq in 2003 had almost entirely disappeared. It was also clear that the G8 looked to the new French foreign minister to take the lead on issues with Lebanon and Syria, to which the democratic revolution had recently come. Similarly, U.S. secretary of state Condoleeza Rice went out of her way to strongly support Jack Straw's and the G8-wide condemnation of Zimbabwe's recent police operations against the most harmless and destitute, including the reported recent deaths of two children.

At the same time there were evident areas of disagreement that remained. For example, on Iran and its nuclear program, the chair's statement stated that frankly that "concerns were expressed by some G8 members about the preparations for and conduct of the presidential elections in Iran," and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov noted, albeit in a different context, that this was a statement of the chair rather than a document collectively produced and worded by all.

While making a substantial contribution in its own right, the G8 foreign ministers meeting also left several important things for their leaders to do at Gleneagles at their summit on July 6-8. The major issues that were passed on to the leaders were the Middle East Peace Process, the roles of Wolfensohn and the World Bank, and Iran, where the elections would be held the day after the foreign ministers meeting ended. The G8 foreign ministers also prepared a text for the leaders on Afghanistan in the context of the Broader Middle East Initiative.

In all it was a meeting that well addressed a broad range of pressing global issues while leaving G8 leaders to do in the coming weeks what only could.

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Appendix A: G8 Foreign Ministers Commitments

UK Chairman's Statement
Total Commitments: 7

The Middle East
2005 – 1: We underlined our commitment to working with the parties and the international community, through the Roadmap, towards the goal of two viable states living side by side in peace and security.

2005-2: We affirmed G8 support for a negotiated solution to the Middle East conflict in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

2005-3: We reaffirmed our commitment to the work being undertaken to improve respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran.

UN Reform
2005-4: We underlined our collective commitment to work for a balanced Summit outcome, including agreement on measures to deliver much faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals;

2005-5: reform of the UN's human rights machinery; and

2005-6: the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission to assist countries emerging from conflict in making the transition to lasting peace and sustainable development. Sudan

2005-7: We will continue to support the humanitarian effort in Darfur and across Sudan.

Statement on Afghanistan
Total Commitments: 4

2005-1: We are committed to supporting the Government and people of Afghanistan as they work to build on their achievements, to underpin their freedom and enhance their security, to complete the transition to the rule of law, to accelerate the pace and scope of human and economic development, and to eliminate dependence on the illicit drugs economy.

2005-2: We will work closely with the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations to help diminish the threat these groups pose to the political process, including to the forthcoming elections, to security sector reform and to our efforts to eliminate the production, processing and trade of narcotics.

2005-3: As G8 members, we will work to reinforce efforts to enhance the rule of law and human rights, with particular regard to judicial and police capacity and public administration, especially at provincial level.

2005-4: We will continue our support to Afghanistan's development effort, to achieve pro-poor growth through rebuilding infrastructure, developing human and institutional capacity and community based development.

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