Advocates and supporters of the summit process view these communiques, or declarations as documents that do, in fact, have an important impact in altering subsequent behaviour. There are others, however, who contend that the final communiques are intentionally left vague, are largely rhetorical, and impose imprecise obligations. Moreover, even when precise results and far reaching agreements are secured, there is much doubt about whether they are kept when the leaders return home to their respective national bureaucracies, agendas and interest groups.
Thus, scholars, bureaucrats and journalists remain deeply divided on the question of the summit's overall credibility. Yet there exists very little empirical work on the actual record of compliance, or the extent to which summit members subsequently comply with the agreements reached at the summit table.
The one major study of summit compliance, dealing with the summit's economic and energy agenda from 1975 to 1989, finds that compliance varies widely by country and issue area. (Von Furstenberg and Daniels, 1992) As Appendix A indicates, Britain and Canada have the highest compliance record, and France and the United States, the lowest. Moreover, the authors conclude that "the degree to which commitments in the area of energy have been lived up to in the past stands out from commitments in all other areas", while compliance with trade commitments is also strong; development issues reside in the middle range. Given this variation by country and issue area, a detailed examination of the G7's recent compliance record in the fields of environment and development areas is required to identify what sustainable development initiatives, supported by what countries, will produce durable progress at Halifax and beyond.
This paper will thus address the following questions:
II. To what extent, and how rapidly, has each of these commitments been kept? Areas where there has been the longest commitment but the least performance might be particularly ripe for action.
III. How does Canada's record of compliance compare with that of each of the other summit members? As Summit host, Canada might wish to highlight those areas where its claim to leadership is real.
IV. What causes a high degree of compliance with G7 environment and development commitments? By understanding the conditions that facilitate compliance action, one can further identify which issues are ripe for forward movement at Halifax.
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