Edited by Vanessa Corlazzoli and Janel Smith
Civil Society and Expanded Dialogue Unit
G8 Research Group
Download the full G8 and Africa Interim Report (PDF, 68 pages)
The G8 Research Group is an independent organization based at the University of Toronto. Founded in 1987, it is an international network of scholars, professionals and students interested in the activities of the G8. To date it is the largest source of independent research and analysis on the G8, its member states, and related institutions in the world. The G8RG also oversees the G8 Information Centre, which publishes, free of charge, academic analyses and reports on the G8 as well as makes available official documents issued by the G8.
This report was compiled by the Civil Society and Expanded Dialogue (CD-ED) Unit of the G8 Research Group under the leadership of Vanessa Corlazzoli and Janel Smith. The CD-ED Unit conducts research and analysis on the G8s ongoing relationship with major external stakeholders, namely Africa, prospective new G8 member states (China, India, Brazil, Mexico, etc.) and with civil society and non-governmental organizations. In addition to this report on the G8 & Africa, the CS-ED Unit also plans to release reports on the G8 & Climate Change and the G8 & Major Developing States prior to the G8 Summit in July.
The bulk of the research in this report was conducted in January 2005, with an update to include the final report released by the Commission for Africa in March 2005.
The G8 Research Group also hosts the G8RG Analysis Unit, which releases two reports per year detailing the G8s compliance with commitments made across 18 issue areas in the interim year between summits. These parallel reports contain further analysis on issues pertaining to the African continent as well as other issue areas of G8 activity defined more broadly. The G8RG Analysis Unit also releases a pre-summit report detailing prospectives for the upcoming leaders meeting according to country and issue area with the latter featuring numerous themes related to Africa. These are available under "Analytical and Compliance Studies" at <www.g8.utoronto.ca>.
The G8 Research Group welcomes responses to this report. Any comments or questions should be directed to <email@example.com>. Indeed, we are grateful to the many individuals from many communities who responded to our invitation to comment on an earlier draft of this report. Responsibility for its contents lies exclusively with the authors and analysts of the G8 Research Group.
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In 2005, African development will come to the top of the international policy agenda. In addition to the United Nations summit to review its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September, the United Kingdom has made Africa (along with climate change) the centrepiece of its agenda as it assumes the presidency of the G8 in January 2005 and the semi-annual presidency of the European Council in July 2005. To aid this policy package, UK prime minister Tony Blair convened the Commission for Africa to identify the primary issues plaguing African development and to develop bold recommendations for how the G8, the European Union and African states could remedy them. In March 2005, the Commission for Africa released its final report, Our Common Interest, recommending sweeping policy changes for the G8 including an increase in foreign aid by US$25 billion per year by 2010 and another US$25 billion per year by 2015.
The question remains, however, whether the political desire and financial capacity exist among the wealthy states to translate the bold words of the Commission into the bold action by the G8. It is the assertion of the G8 and Africa Interim Report that future actions are best predicted by past actions. As such, this report situates itself as a compendium to the Commission for Africa, detailing what the G8 has done for Africa in the past four years just as the it begins to debate what it should do in the coming decade. This report examines the relationship between Africa and the G8 across 13 issue areas beginning with the G8 Genoa Summit in June 2001 and concluding with the ascension of the UK to the G8 presidency in January 2005. In particular, it follows progress made on the Africa Action Plan (AAP), a comprehensive initiative agreed to by the G8 at its 2002 Kananaskis Summit to promote economic and human development of the continent. In many respects, the AAP is the forerunner of the plan to be agreed upon by the G8 at its 2005 Gleneagles Summit and is the best benchmark by which to gauge the capacity and consistency of the G8 with the African development portfolio.
Overall, this report concludes that the G8 has exhibited an engaged yet uneven record of adherence to its commitments regarding Africa since the 2001 Genoa Summit. Issue areas that garner the largest degree to attention from the G8 are those that require little coordination among G8 states, involve little obligation beyond the commitment of funds and produce ends that are both easily quantifiable and media-friendly. As such, the G8 has delivered an excellent record on debt relief (with its Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative) and the bilateral funding of the Global Polio Eradication Campaign and African peace training centres. To a lesser extent, the commitment of the UK, France and, more loosely, Canada, to raise their foreign aid to 0.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) also moves official direct assistance (ODA) into this category. The noted exception to this trend is funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which, despite being similar in nature to other issue areas in this category, nonetheless demands such high levels of funding from G8 member states as to foster non-compliance.
The G8, however, registers far more poor levels of performance on a broad range of issue areas that demand a much different form of engagement from the institution. Namely, these are commitments that require a large degree of long-term policy-coordination and collective action of the part of the G8 states. As a loosely affiliated organization that does not host a secretariat, the G8 is not well suited to these tasks. This partly explains why large-scale G8 strategies on water and famine and food security, and even the development of the African Peace Keeping Force have been attracted little attention from G8 member states, let alone funds.
The G8 also performs poorly on two other forms of issue areas: those that lack clear quantifiable policy outcomes and those that conflict with the G8 member states national interests. In terms of the former, good governance and the African peer review process are both critical portfolios in African development that, due to their open-ended nature and lack of clear, measurable policy benefits, attract only moderate G8 attention. In terms of the latter, the elimination of trade barriers and agricultural subsidies that punish producers in the developing world has been a long-trumpeted promise of the G8 that has yet to come to fruition. In this case, farm lobbies in the EU and U.S. have made it clear that national interest trumps G8 commitments and it is uncertain if this formula will shift before Gleneagles. Similarly, Russian national interests in the Sudanese energy sector have blocked major G8 action on commitments concerning the Darfur conflict.
As demonstrated by this report, the success of the G8 in following through on its African commitments depends principally on the nature and type of commitment called for, as much as it does on the will of the leaders to implement it. The fact the Commission for Africa has called for bilateral increases in foreign aid and targeted spending on healthcare and debt relief within a strict schedule for adherence places these commitments in line with those the G8 has demonstrated the best record for delivering on. Nevertheless, the Commission also proposes the drastic reductions in G8 agricultural subsidies through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the negotiation of an international arms trade treaty. These are both commitments that involve long-term coordination, collective action and impacts on national interests, rendering them less attractive to G8 leaders when the leave Gleneagles and return home to implement their promises.
Anthony Prakash Navaneelan
G8 Research Group
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