Welcoming Remarks and Introduction by Professor John Kirton, Director, G8 Research Group. Third Draft. Unedited. Seven Minutes.
It is a great honour for us - the members and friends of the G8 Research Group - to welcome you to the University of Toronto today.
It is a particular pleasure for several reasons.
Over the years we have had the privilege of meeting several G7 leaders. But you, sir, are the first to have honoured us with a visit to our home to discuss our work.
Moreover, as students of the G7, we know that Italy's initiatives to construct an institution with the proper membership has done much to enable Canada to make its vital contribution to the forum.
We also know of the distinguished record of Italy and Canada in joining together from the start to shape the G7 in desirable ways. It was they who first made it a forum to deal with political and security issues and thus with the full range of challenges the international community now confronts.
On a personal note, we understand that your first ministerial-level involvement in the G7 Summit was here in Toronto in 1988. As that Summit was held in part at the University of Toronto, we thus say "Welcome Back."
And we say this with particular enthusiasm. For, as fellow scholars, we are proud to claim you as one of our own.
We at the University of Toronto also started our involvement with the G7 in 1988. At that time, with the Summit coming to Toronto, we mounted a program of research, teaching and public education aimed at informing Torontonians, Canadians and the world's media of what the G7 was, what it did and what it could do.
Since that time we have become an ever-expanding global network of scholars, students and professionals, who follow the work of the G7 and now G8, and related institutions such as the new G20.
What you see in this room is but a small part of the G8 Research Group. For much like the G8 itself, we are an outward-looking, international network, rather than a single organization physically fixed in one place. We typically come together only once a year, with our members flying in from around the world to attend the annual Summit.
Our network is based on partner institutions throughout the G8 - notably in Cologne, London, and Oxford, in New York, Washington and Los Angeles and in Tokyo. I am pleased that Mr. Uda, who represents us in Tokyo as Director of the LSE Forum, was able to join us for today's event.
Our mission is a simple, but ambitious one - to serve as the world's leading, independent source of information, analysis and research, on the institutions, issues and members of the G8.
This mission reflects our vocation as scholars - to understand global governance in a world where the G8 is an increasingly effective centre for shaping global order.
It also reflects our responsibilities as citizens - especially at a time when many call for greater transparency, accountability and civil society participation from the world's leading international institutions.
Being part of the G8's democratic society, we seek to foster understanding of the G8's operations, accomplishments, challenges, and potential.
To this task we bring an intimate knowledge of the institution. Indeed, our members include distinguished former sherpas, led by Dr. Sylvia Ostry, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Studies, where our research activities are based.
We also bring independent judgment, knowing as scholars that that G8 and the world will only benefit from a disciplined, caring but critical, and credible appraisal of the G8's work.
Our activity centres on four programs - research, teaching, information, and documentation.
At the centre of our research activity are the books in our "G8 and Global Governance" series. Produced by scholars and practitioners associated with the Group, they often flow from the conferences we mount with partner institutions in the G8 host country, just before the Summit each year.
Our research includes individual contributions in many other forums. One example, I am proud to say, is a contribution to an important collection - Il Vertice Dei Sette - produced by the Italian Institute of International Affairs when Italy last hosted the Summit.
Our Research Program also contains annual analyses of the Prospects for the Summit, Performance Assessments of its co-operative achievements, and a monitoring of the Compliance of member governments with its commitments after the leaders fly home. You will be pleased to know that on both Performance and Compliance, we find that Italy has recently been doing rather well.
To briefly outline our other activities, I would like now to call in turn on three colleagues:
The first is, Carole Moore, Chief Librarian of the University of Toronto Libraries where our electronic G8 Information Centre is operated;
The second is Linda Corman, Head Librarian of the Trinity College Library where our G8 Research Library Collection is housed; and
And the third is Gina Stephens, Co-ordinator of the G8 Research Group, who directs our analytic studies and field program.Carole …
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