G7 Information Centre
Summits |  Meetings |  Publications |  Research |  Search |  Home |  About the G7 and G8 Research Group
Follow @g7_rg

Driving Democracy at Deauville:
The G8 Summitís Striking Success in 2011

John Kirton
Director, G8 Research Group
May 27, 2011, 18:00 CEST

The summit at Deauville, France, on May 26-27, 2011, promised to be an exceptionally significant event. Seldom before had a single G8 summit confronted such a broad range of tightly interconnected burning crises — waging war to liberate Libya, bringing democracy to North Africa and the Middle East, coping with Japan’s natural and nuclear disasters, and preventing new fiscal and financial crises from Europe or the United States from snuffing out the global economic recovery gathering force. The Deauville Summit also had to deal with the formidable challenges on its built-in agenda, notably terrorism, nuclear proliferation, piracy, drugs, transnational crime, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a new partnership with Africa for development, health, education and good governance. The summit finally had to take up the new initiatives added by its French chair — the opportunities offered by the new cyber technologies and innovation for green growth.

In 2011, as much as ever, the world needed a G8 summit still devoted to globally promoting the values of “open democracy, individual liberty and social advance,” as the group proclaimed as its defining mission at its very first gathering in Rambouillet, France, in 1975. The prospects were that it would fulfil this mission and meet the broader contemporary challenges when it assembled for its 37th summit, in France once again. Alone among international institutions, the G8 offered the smart, synergistic solutions that come from a comprehensive agenda embracing democracy, security, development and the economy, and anything else its likeminded leaders felt the world needed addressed.

With an energetic, ambitious French host eager to lead, with a modest, multilateralist America ready to follow and with all other members committed to come together to confront the current crises, the Deauville Summit was due to deliver some of the big, bold, broad advances badly needed by the world as a whole.

This it did in substantial measure, as Deauville proved to be a summit of striking success that drove democracy in several central ways (appendix to come).

On the defining issue of advancing the Arab awakening, Deauville offered a strong unified statement of the G8 leaders determination to do whatever necessary to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians in Libya, and their recognition that for this to happen, its murderous dictator, Muammar Gaddafi and his regime “must go.” To support democratic development in Egypt and Tunisia, where the Arab awakening began, it produced a framework for massive financial and economic support, immediately mobilized $20 billion from the multilateral financial institutions for the first step, promised more from donors to scale this up and supported the creation of a new Middle East Development Bank to do for the region what the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development had done for the first democratic victory starting in Europe in 1989.

In the economic domain, where a new stage of the eurocrisis was erupting, the G8 strengthened the 2010 G20’s Toronto terms on fiscal consolidation by 2013 by having Europe, the United States and now Japan that they would move to meet the goal. On the new internet economy, the G8 pledged to govern this new growth frontier in accordance with democratic principles, and institutionally develop G8 governance in the 21st century by making the e-G8 Forum a permanent part of summits to come.

In the development domain, the G8 kept faith with its partnership with Africa first forged at the Kananaskis Summit in 2002. And in the governance domain, the leaders agreed that the G8 would meet next year in the United States, dispelling any doubts about whether America and the world need this distinctive democratically devoted club.

This striking success in driving democracy forward across several central dimensions was driven by several shocks that showed the vulnerability and opportunities of G8 countries, notably the democratic revolution and repression in North Africa and the Middle East and the natural and nuclear disasters in Japan. With few established multilateral institutions adequate to address these challenges, G8 members had to combine their globally predominant, internally equalizing capabilities to do so. In this process they were reinforced by all members’ devotion to common democratic principles, their substantial political control, capital, continuity, competence, conviction and civil society support, and the controlled, constricted participation of their G8 club at Deauville.

[back to top]

Franceís Plans and Preparations

Plans

France’s plans for the Deauville Summit began well before its start. At the previous G8 summit, in Muskoka, Canada, on June 25-26, 2010, the leaders had announced they would meet in France in 2011. The next day, at the G20 summit in Toronto, G20 leaders declared they would hold a single G20 summit in 2011 and do so in France.

On August 24, 2010, in his speech to his ambassadors, French president Nicolas Sarkozy outlined his goals for both summits. In the brief passage on the G8, coming at the end of the lengthy speech, he identified peace and security and development as the subjects the Deauville Summit would address.

Preparations

The French started their serious preparations with their G8 colleagues in November, including the internet among the subjects they wished their summit to address. The Americans resisted the inclusion of the internet, then and throughout, arguing that it was a subject better left for the G8. The French followed a standard sequence of sherpa meetings (appendix to come). But as the summit drew nearer, new subjects were added. These included natural disasters and nuclear safety, after the shocks in Japan on March 11, and the Arab awakening in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Like the 2010 Muskoka Summit, for which only ministers of finance, foreign affairs and development had met, the French held several G8 ministerial meetings, with interior ministers replacing the development ones (appendix to come). An intensive series of lead-up bilateral meetings among the heads also contributed to the preparations.

Compliance Momentum from Muskoka

Further momentum came from the solid performance of the G8 in complying with the priority commitments from its 2010 summit. The G8 Research Group’s final compliance report, covering the period from June 26, 2010, to April 25, 2011, showed overall G8 compliance at +0.46, on a scale from +1.00 to -1.00. This score was only slightly lower than the confirmed final compliance score of +0.53 for 2009-10 and +0.48 for 2008-09. For 2010-11, the compliance was led by last year’s host Canada and Russia at +0.61, the U.S. at +0.56, the United Kingdom and Germany at +0.50, France and the EU at +0.44, Japan at +0.28 and Italy at +0.17.

By issue area, compliance was led by security subjects: Afghanistan at +1.00; non-proliferation, civilian security and terrorist security at +0.89 each; terrorist capacity building and natural disasters at +0.78 each; terrorist cooperation at +0.67. Then came the Kimberley Process at +0.56, official development assistance and nuclear safety at +0.67, and trade, climate emissions reductions and HIV/AIDS at +0.22 each. Neglected tropical diseases and investment in food security and agriculture had +0.44. The L’Aquila Food Security Initiative was 0. The commitment on the Copenhagen accord was -0.22, and the commitment on health care funding was -0.56. It was the last three areas that required the deficit-ridden government to mobilize massive new money where compliance was least.

The Physical Summit

The summit itself was held in the experienced, easily secured seaside resort town of Deauville, with 12,000 military and police personnel (Augier 2011). They protected 2,500 delegates and 2,000 accredited media for approximately €20 million (France Info May 2011).

The Summit Schedule

The Physical Summit

The summit itself was held in the experienced, easily secured seaside resort town of Deauville, with 12,000 military and police personnel (Augier 2011). They protected 2,500 delegates and 2,000 accredited media for approximately €20 million (France Info May 2011).
The G8 leaders met for Thursday and Friday. The first day was only be the eight G8 leaders plus two — the president of the European Union and the European Commission. The summit started on Thursday, May 26, at 12:45 with the official welcome of leaders. There was a working lunch on May 26 on solidarity with Japan and the global economy. The French host felt it was important to send a strong signal of support for Japan as a results of the disasters that stuck in March — which were not foreseen in January but had become one of the major topics on the G8 agenda, in terms of the global economy to try to help Japan cope and of nuclear safety. Both Japan and nuclear safety will also be a topic for the G20 when it meets in Cannes in November.

The first working session on the afternoon of May 26 was on climate change and cooperation with emerging countries. The G8 was fully aware that its members were developed industrialized countries and thus should lead global partnerships on various issues such as climate change.

The second session of the afternoon was on the internet. There was one hour of discussion with eight internet leaders, who presented to the G8 leaders some of the ideas that emerged from the two days of discussion in Paris on May 24-25. Then there was a break enabling the leaders to give press conferences.

Dinner that evening focused on all political issues, especially non-proliferation, Iran and the other political issues of the day including the Middle East Peace Process. The results were reflected in the final declaration. One of the key factors was the ability to discuss these matters in a comfortable setting on the planche de Deauville.

Friday was devoted to the outreach sessions with various invited leaders. In total there were 25 heads of delegations (compared to 40 on the final day of the 2009 L’Aquila Summit in Italy): 18 heads of state and government, the two heads of the European Union and five leaders of international organizations — Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, Robert Zoellick of the World Bank, John Lipsky of the International Monetary Fund, Amr Moussa of the Arab League, and Jean Ping of the African Union.

The first meeting on Friday of half an hour saw the leaders adopt the declaration that had been finalized by their sherpas during the night. Some political issues such as North Korea and terrorism were also discussed. These were the topics where the sherpas had worked very hard and that were already cleared for the leaders.

The second session was on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) spring. It included the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and the international organizations, including the Arab League. It was scheduled for about one hour from 10:15 to 11:15.

The third morning session was with the African countries, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as a G8 tradition. An initiative of host Nicolas Sarkozy that was accepted by his G8 colleagues, France added the three “new” democracies of Africa: Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Béji Caïd Essebsi of Guinea and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger. Each had been elected through a democratic process in the month before the summit, and Sarkozy had attended Ouattara’s inauguration the Saturday before the Deauville Summit. At this session, the leaders discussed the needs of these countries as well as regional crises, the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and development. This session went through lunch.

After lunch came the press conferences in the afternoon. Sarkozy met with the non-governmental organizations (NGOs). There was no specific counter summit at Deauville. Indeed, France invited about 40 NGOs to participate in this way to extend the summit’s work. The meeting was hosted in a separate location in the press conference centre at Deauville's Hippodrome, allowing for as much interaction with the various leaders as possible.

[back to top]

Prospects

Democratizing North Africa and the Middle East

Deauville’s defining challenge was to realize the vision set by the G8 summit in 2004 — to bring democracy, and the human development that flows from it, to the Middle East and North Africa, the one global region most left out by the transformation from the victory of the democratic powers in the Cold War. Nicolas Sarkozy’s France, David Cameron’s United Kingdom and Stephen Harper’s Canada lead the effort to protect innocent lives in Libya. All other G8 members had provided essential support in different ways. The Arab League and the United Nations had endorsed the military mission. The G8 thus defined a future for a Libya free from the deadly grip of the Gaddafi family.

It also produced a framework to provide economic support to embed and extend freedom in the rest of the region starting in Egypt and Tunisia (appendix to come). This task will require G8 governance for many years to come.

Another achievement was to send a strong signal of condemnation to Syria.

The G8 further addressed the Middle East Pease Process, reinvigorated by Barack Obama’s new plan unveiled on the summit’s eve.

Containing Natural and Nuclear Disasters

In the wake of the unprecedented natural-turned-nuclear disasters in Japan, the G8 leaders considered how to strengthen nuclear safety standards while using nuclear power to fuel a more climate-friendly, energy-secure future. This had been done before with some success following the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986.

They also reconsidered the global regimes for responding to the natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, that so frequently strike powerful countries such as the United States, Japan and China, and very poor ones such as Haiti and Bangladesh (McBean 2011).

Following the successful exchange rate intervention by their G7 finance ministers and central bank governors on March 17, 2011 — their first such move in a decade — the G8 leaders decided how best to ensure financial stability and economic growth for Japan and the tightly integrated world beyond.

Securing Afghanistan and Pakistan

On security, G8 leaders addressed their strategy for winning their longest war, in Afghanistan-Pakistan, amid the new demands in North Africa. The Americans, Canadians and others were due to hand over the combat rules to Afghanistan to the Afghans, starting in 2011. America’s elimination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan weeks before the summit provided a boost. But it raised new questions about the relationship with Pakistan and how to take advantage of the boost to strengthen a political and diplomatic accommodation in Afghanistan.

Countering Terrorism

The potential spread of al Qaeda–affiliated terrorists to the Middle East and North Africa and the responsibility to protect innocent civilians and humanitarians in Afghanistan as well as Libya made the G8’s counter-terrorist agenda an unusually complex challenge this year.

Good Governance

Partnership with Africa also embraced new security challenges. These included sustaining democracy in Côte d’Ivoire, and controlling piracy off Somalia, a drug trade running from the Americas through Africa to Europe, and mercenaries recruited in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa killing civilians in Libya at the behest of the Gaddafi regime.

Development and African Partnership

Partnership with Africa also embraced new security challenges. These included sustaining democracy in Côte d’Ivoire, and controlling piracy off Somalia, a drug trade running from the Americas through Africa to Europe, and mercenaries recruited in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa killing civilians in Libya at the behest of the Gaddafi regime.

With only four years left to meet the Millennium Development Goals, G8 leaders sought to maintain their advances against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and polio.

They also sought to deliver their historic 2010 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, with Canada again in the lead.

One new opportunity to support the forthcoming United Nations summit on September 19 on non-communicable diseases of cardiovascular and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes. These were the number-one killers of their own citizens as well as those in the emerging and most developing countries too.

Accountability

To ensure their actions were effective and to convince the legislature and citizens of their cash-strapped countries to mobilize more money, the G8 needed to strengthen the Muskoka initiative on accountability launched at the Canadian summit in 2010. With the publication of the Deauville Accountability Report on the eve of the summit, the leaders needed to define the next steps. They further needed to see how they can work more closely with their African partners in this regard (G8 2011).

Innovating on the Internet

To ensure their actions were effective and to convince the legislature and citizens of their cash-strapped countries to mobilize more money, the G8 needed to strengthen the Muskoka initiative on accountability launched at the Canadian summit in 2010. With the publication of the Deauville Accountability Report on the eve of the summit, the leaders needed to define the next steps. They further needed to see how they can work more closely with their African partners in this regard (G8 2011).

Innovation on the internet and in environmental technologies offered the G8 a low-cost opportunity to leapfrog over the current energy and food insecurities to provide a more productive and prosperous life for all. Inspired by the vision at their Okinawa Summit in 2000 and the confidence that came from leading the world in the creative capabilities that count in these fields, G8 members identified paths that could make the current 21st-century technological transformation as beneficial as those changes brought railways, electricity, telegraph, telephones and computers in centuries past.

On the internet the e-G8 Forum in Paris on May 24-25 fed fresh insights to the G8 leaders at Deauville. They met with internet business leaders at the summit, and decided to hold a similar e-G8 every year. The G8 leaders agreed on the need to cover security, intellectual property and fiscal sustainability. The preoccupation was with the principle of “no regulation that hinders innovation.” Freedom was put in first place. The G8 leaders agreed to work together and affirm the principle of minimum regulation.

Green Growth

In its treatment of green growth, the G8 did what such summits do best, by setting an innovative vision where the economy and environment could work together for the benefit of both. It mobilized many institutions and instruments to advance this ideal. It admirably affirmed the importance of the historic “Rio +20” conference on sustainable development in Brazil in June 2012, and others on the route.

Climate Change and Biodiversity

The G8 disappointed many on the issue of climate change by doing little beyond reaffirming past promises. However, it did usefully note the benefits of controlling climate change for improving health and other goals. It gave biodiversity a badly needed boost, declaring the current rate of loss “unacceptable” and linking it with climate change. Yet it took few steps to solve the vital challenge at hand.

International Institutionalization

Deauville also did much to develop global governance through the institutionalization of the G8 and bodies beyond. It announced that the U.S. would host the 2012 summit, dispelling any doubts that the G8 summit was about to disappear due to the scepticism of the U.S. and its president. Indeed, in promising to hold e-G8 Forums at all future G8 summits Sarkozy suggested there will be many more to come.

Beyond the G8, Deauville offered support for a new Middle East Development Bank to finance the democratic revolution there.

[back to top]

Dimensions of G8 Governance

In its direction setting, by affirming democratic principles and norms, the G8’s Deauville performance was very high. The "Declaration of the G8 on the Arab Springs" affirmed open democracy 22 times across seven component values and individual liberty another three across three components. The "G8/Africa Joint Declaration: Shared Values, Shared Responsibliities" affirmed democratic values 26 times across seven component values and the values of individual liberty 12 times across 12 components. In the main document, "G8 Declaration: Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy," the values of democracy and liberty were affirmed 97 times, appearing in five of the ten sections.

[back to top]

Causes of the Deauville Summitís Performance

The prospects for high performance from the G8 at Deauville flow from the particular configuration of causes that the concert equality model of G8 governance has shown produce strong G8 summit success in the past.

High Shock-Activated Vulnerability

The prospects for high performance from the G8 at Deauville flow from the particular configuration of causes that the concert equality model of G8 governance has shown produce strong G8 summit success in the past.

First, the Deauville G8 was spurred to high performance by the high level and breadth of the recent shocks that had exposed the vulnerability of its most powerful members, induced them to adjust, and inspired all to pull together for the G8 and global good. The lead-up to Deauville saw world oil prices spike to a 2.5-year high of $127.02 a barrel for Brent Crude and $113 a barrel in April for the WTI crude. These were deadly terrorist attacks in Moscow, Niger and Morocco. Also arising were the combined ecological and nuclear shock in Japan. In the economic domain came the financial shock in Europe from sovereign debt bailouts in Ireland and Portugal and a prospective restructuring in Greece, a food and commodity shock. In the classic security domain arose a war involving most G8 members in Libya, exacerbated by the Libyan invasion on May 1 of the British and Italian embassies in Tripoli.

These shocks hit most G8 members directly, with only energy-rich, terrorist-free Canada largely unscathed. The terrorist and ecological shocks, and even that in Libya caused G7/8 to respond at the ministerial level in the lead-up, including the G7’s first co-ordinated exchange rate intervention in ten years to help a struggling Japan.

High Multilateral Institutional Failure

The prospects for high performance from the G8 at Deauville flow from the particular configuration of causes that the concert equality model of G8 governance has shown produce strong G8 summit success in the past.

First, the Deauville G8 was spurred to high performance by the high level and breadth of the recent shocks that had exposed the vulnerability of its most powerful members, induced them to adjust, and inspired all to pull together for the G8 and global good. The lead-up to Deauville saw world oil prices spike to a 2.5-year high of $127.02 a barrel for Brent Crude and $113 a barrel in April for the WTI crude. These were deadly terrorist attacks in Moscow, Niger and Morocco. Also arising were the combined ecological and nuclear shock in Japan. In the economic domain came the financial shock in Europe from sovereign debt bailouts in Ireland and Portugal and a prospective restructuring in Greece, a food and commodity shock. In the classic security domain arose a war involving most G8 members in Libya, exacerbated by the Libyan invasion on May 1 of the British and Italian embassies in Tripoli.

These shocks hit most G8 members directly, with only energy-rich, terrorist-free Canada largely unscathed. The terrorist and ecological shocks, and even that in Libya caused G7/8 to respond at the ministerial level in the lead-up, including the G7’s first co-ordinated exchange rate intervention in ten years to help a struggling Japan.

Second, the long-established multilateral institutions had a high failure rate in coping with these shocks and the vulnerabilities that lay behind. There were no global multilateral organizations of consequence dedicated to deal with energy, terrorism and ecological shocks, or the Deauville economic issues of the internet, innovation and green growth. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Hyogo Framework on natural disasters failed to prevent or respond well to the nuclear and natural disaster in Japan. The support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the European bailout in Greece failed to prevent the contagion to Ireland, Portugal, and Greece again or to protect a disaster-afflicted Japan from a soaring exchange rate for the yen. The three food organizations in Rome — Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agriculture and Development and the World Food Programme — and the World Bank struggled to cope with rising food prices. To be sure, the United Nations Security Council had authorized the use of “all means necessary” against Libya in Resolution 1973. But it was unable in late April to activate its responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Syria and elsewhere in a democratizing North Africa and Middle East.

The newer G20 was similarly inactive and ineffective in addressing these shocks and priority issues. This was true for even those such as the eurocrisis and Japan’s exchange rate that matched the G20’s core mission of producing financial stability for the world.

Moderate Predominant Equalizing Capabilities

Third, in overall relative capability, the global predominance of the G8, while declining, remained a majority of the global total, even in the face of the rapid rise of the emerging economies (including Russia on both sides of the G8 — non-G8 divide). However, within the G8, internal equality increased sharply due to the decline of the value of the U.S. dollar and U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth relative to most other members of the G8. Moreover, in the specialized capabilities most relevant to the Deauville agenda — the internet, innovation and green economy, African development and military security in Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the G8’s global predominance and internal equality remained high. The same forces that increased American and Japanese vulnerability at the top — rising oil and commodity prices — raised the overall capabilities of Canada and Russia at the bottom, reinforcing the G8’s overall global performance and increasing its internal equality even more.

Overall Global Performance

The decline in the G8’s global predominance in overall capabilities was driven by the soaring value of the currencies of the emerging economies. This included China’s renminbi whose link to the U.S. dollar remained tight. In the year leading up to Deauville, the renminbi appreciated 5% against the U.S. dollar in nominal terms and more in real, inflation-adjusted terms. Since the start of 2011, it appreciated 2.3% in nominal terms.

Forecasts for real GDP growth in 2011 placed the U.S. at 3.1%, but China at 9.4%, India at 8.6%, Brazil at 4.4%, Turkey at 4.8%, Mexico at 4.3%, Korea at 4.5%, and South Africa at 3.5% (Atkins and Giles 2011).
Within the G8, equalization of overall capabilities was high. It was driven largely by the general decline in the U.S. dollar against the currencies of the other countries in the club. By the end of April 2011, the U.S. dollar had dropped almost 8% against a trade-weighted basket of currencies during the previous nine months. It fell 3.8% in April alone, to end at its lowest level since July 2008 when crude oil had peaked above $145 per barrel. Conversely, by the end of April, oil-rich Russia’s rouble had risen to its highest level against the U.S. dollar since late 2008. It had an 8% gain in 2011 to reach US$27.79.

A similar equalization took place in GDP growth. In 2010 GDP growth in the G8 had been led by Japan, Germany and Canada, with the US in the middle, and France, the US and Italy below. In the year to end of April 2011, the G8 growth leader was Russia at 4.5%, Germany at 4.0%, Canada at 3.3% and then the US at 3.1%. US growth in the first quarter of 2011 was only 1.8% at an annualized rate, less than the UK’s at 2%. Real GDP growth forecasts for all of 2011 put the U.S. at 3.1%, the UK at 1.8%, and the eurozone at 1.7%, but Russia at 4.4%.

Overall Internal Equality

Within the G8, equalization of overall capabilities was high, driven largely by the general decline in the US dollar against the currencies of the other countries in the club. By the end of April 2011, the US dollar had dropped almost 8% against a trade-weighted basket of currencies during the past nine months it fell 3.8% in April alone, to end at its lowest level since July 2008 when crude oil had peaked above $145 per barrel. Conversely, by the end of April, oil-rich Russiaís rouble had risen to its highest level against the US dollar since late 2008, with an 8% gain in 2011 to reach 27.79 US.

A similar equalization took place in GDP growth. In 2010 GDP growth in the G8 had been led by Japan, Germany and Canada, with the US in the middle, and France, the US and Italy below. In the year to end of April 2011, the G8 leader was Russia at 4.5%, Germany at 4.0%, Canada at 3.3% ad then the US at 3.1%. US growth in the first quarter of 2011 was only 1.8% at an annualized rate, less than the UKís at 2%. Real GDP growth forecasts for all of 2011 put the US at 3.1%, the UK at 1.8%, and the Eurozone at 1.7%, but Russia at 4.4%.

Specialized Capabilities

In the realm of the most relevant specialized capabilities, the G8 had very high externally predominant and internally equal military capabilities needed to enforce the responsibility to protect in Libya. The same was true in cyberspace. This was also the case in official development assistance (ODA), which the G8’s African partners coming for a dialogue on the summit’s second day valued a great deal. The G8 contributed over 70% of the global ODA, with its members contributions as follows (in U.S. dollars): U.S. $30.154 billion, UK 13.763 billion, France 12.916 billion, Germany 12.723 billion, Japan 11.045 billion, Canada 5.132 billion, Italy 3.111 billion and Russia 0.472 billion (Cheyvialle 2011).

High Common Democratic Principles

Fourth, in the common democratic principles of its members, the character and commitment of G8 countries remained high. Free and fair elections were held without irregularities in Canada. In Russia, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev openly disagreed with each other in the lead-up to parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections in 2012. The G8’s democratic devotion deepened with all members’ support at the United Nations for the use of “all necessary means” to meet the international responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Libya. It was notable that at the UNSC and elsewhere, several non-G8 members of the G20 stood on the other side.

Moderate Political Control, Capital, Continuity, Competence, Conviction and Civil Support

Fifth, the G8 leaders came to Deauville with a moderate level of political control, capital, continuity, competence, conviction and civil society support. Their political control and capital were low, while continuity, competence, conviction and civil society support were high.

Control

Political control was low. America’s Barack Obama lacked control of his legislature. Japan’s Naoto Kan faced the possibility of a party coup. Germany’s Angela Merkel had weakened support from her Lander, and thus in the upper chamber and from her coalition partners in the FDP. Britain’s David Cameron lead a coalition government. Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi had a thin and fragile coalition, approaching a minority in parliament, and did poorly in the first round of elections in his bastion of Milan. Visible disagreements between Russia’s Medvedev and Putin grew. Only Canada’s Stephen Harper arrived with high political control, with his third general election victory, his first majority government and the virtual death of a separatist party just secured on May 2.

Capital

Political capital was low in most G8 countries. In the U.S., due to rising gas prices, by the late April, 57% of Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy and almost 80% felt the economy was stagnating or worse (Kirch-Goessner 2011). The elimination of bin Laden on May 8 led to a strong surge in Obama’s general support, but it would likely not last long. In Japan, a Kyodo poll in early May showed only 13% thought Prime Minister Kan was exercising sufficient leadership, 46% that he was not exercising much and 30% that he was exercising none at all (Dickie 2011). In Germany, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster that called into question nuclear energy, in the state elections in Baden-Wurtemberg in early April, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU increased its votes but lost power as the Greens doubled their vote to 24% (Peel 2011). In Russia, by late April, support for Medvedev and Putin’s United Russia party had dropped to a new low of 43% Putin’s trustworthiness was 53% and Medvedev’s 46% (Clover 2011).

Continuity

Deauville benefited from the high political continuity of the G8 leaders. All were summit veterans. They were led by Berlusconi coming to his tenth summit, having hosted three of his own in 1994, 2001 and 2009. Angela Merkel and Stephen Harper were coming to their sixth summits, each having hosted one before. Sarkozy was at his fifth summit and his first as host. The relative newcomers were Medvedev at his fourth summit, Obama at his third and Kan at his second, with none having hosted before. From the European Union came Herman Van Rompuy to his fourth summit and Jose Manuel Barroso to his seventh. With no novices and with experience concentrated in the leaders of the less powerful countries, there was a high depth, spread and offsetting equality of experience in both domestic political management at home and G8 summit diplomacy abroad.

Competence

Professional competence was low, as few leaders had any ministerial or professional background in the issue areas that made up the Deauville agenda. On peace and security, none had been defence or foreign ministers or had a military background. On African partnership, none had been development ministers or worked in or for Africa before. On the internet, innovation and green growth, almost none had previously served in the relevant ministries or fields. Merkel’s experience as a physicist and as a minister of the environment helped on the nuclear safety and green growth files. The many leaders who were lawyers, led by Obama and Medvedev, drove Deauville direction-setting emphasis on human rights and the rule of law.

Conviction

The personal convictions the leaders brought to Deauville matched well the summit agenda and were compatible as a convergent set. Sarkozy was committed to restoring France’s international leadership and saw the Mediterranean, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as a natural focus for his ambitions as seen in his Mediterranean summit in 2008. Obama was committed to poverty reduction especially among Afro-Americans at home and by extension, among African partners abroad.

Civil Society Support

Civil society support for both the G8 as an institution and its priority issues was high. Canada’s Harper, who had hosted the 2010 summit, won his first majority government on May 2, 2011. He drove the opposition Liberals Party — which, during the election campaign, had continually criticized the high costs and allegedly non-existent accomplishments of the G8 Muskoka Summit — to a new low of third place.

On Deauville’s centrepiece issue of democratizing Libya, in host France a strong majority supported French military intervention for the cause. In Canada all four major political parties did. Just before the summit, the global faith leaders met in Bordeaux and approved a statement sent to the G8 (Hamilton 2011, Bordeaux Religious Summit 2011).

High Constricted, Controlled Participation

Sixth, the constricted, controlled participation of the Deauville summit was high. As with the 2010 Muskoka Summit, it was a back-to-basics, two-day affair in a remote resort town where G8 leaders met alone on the first day, and were joined by their African partners on the second. Unlike 2010, they were free of the distraction of having to rush out at the end of the second day to start a G20 summit that evening in a city nearby. They were joined by the new leaders of Egypt and Tunisia to discuss their political and economic transformations (Reddy 2011). From sub-Saharan Africa, the newly elected leaders of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Niger were added at the last minute as guests. The choice of guests matched the summit’s priority agenda and deepened the democratic character of the club. The shared social purpose should more than offset the transaction costs the additional participants brought. Deauville’s 25 heads were far fewer than L’Aquila’s 40.

[back to top]

References

Atkins, Ralph and Chris Giles (2011). “In a Tight Spot,” Financial Times, April 7, p. 9.

Augier, Philippe (2011), “Deauville Welcomes the G8,” in John Kirton and Madeline Koch, eds. The G8 Deauville Summit May 2011: New World, New Ideas, pp. 24.

Bordeaux Religious Summit (2011), Statement of the Bordeaux Religious Leaders Summit.

Cheyvialle, Anne (2011), “Aide du développement: les pays riches,” Le Figaro, May 27, p. 8.

Clover, Charles (2011). “Medvedev and Putin Losing Ground in Opinion Polls,” Financial Times, April 23/24, p. 7.

Dickie, Mure (2011). “Pressure Builds on Kan after Safety Aide Quits,” Financial Times, April 23-24, p. 2.

G8 (2011), Deauville Accountability Report: G8 Commitments on Health and Food Security: State of Delivery and Results. <www.g8.utoronto.ca/summit/2011deauville/accountability.html>.

Hamilton, Karen (2011), “Faith forum calls for Inspired Leadership,” in John Kirton and Madeline Koch, eds., The G8 Deauville Summit May 2011: New World, New Ideas (Newsdesk Communications: London), pp. 184-5.

Kirch-Gaessner, Stephanie (2011). “Obama Seen as Failing on Economy,” Financial Times, April 23-24, p. 3.

Kirton, John and Madeline Koch, eds., The G8 Deauville Summit May 2011: New World, New Ideas (Newsdesk Communications: London).

McBean, Gordon (2011), “Simultaneous disasters: learning lessons from Japan’s devastation,” in John Kirton and Madeline Koch, eds., The G8 Deauville Summit May 2011: New World, New Ideas (Newsdesk Communications: London), pp. 56-57.

Peel, Quentin (2011). “Poll Defeat Fuels Merkel’s Critics,” Financial Times, March 28, p. 3.

Reddy, Sudeep (2011). “World Bank Weighs More Aid for Tunisia to Rebuild Economy,” Wall Street Journal, May 5, p. 11.

 

[back to top]

Appendices to come.

[back to top]


G7 Information Centre

Top of Page
This Information System is provided by the University of Toronto Library and the G7 and G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
Please send comments to: g8@utoronto.ca
This page was last updated May 27, 2011.

All contents copyright © 2017. University of Toronto unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.