G8 Update

I’ve got lots of articles rounded up, so I’m basically just going to give links and excerpts.  There’s a lot of overlap among the articles, but – as always – they’re just different enough that seeing them all can be helpful.  Click “Continue Reading” this post to see longer excerpts, in which I’ve tried to highlight the most unique and/or significant parts of each article.

G8 Leaders Agree to $60B To Help Fight Disease in Africa (Kaiser Network, July 8)

Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations on Tuesday at their summit in Hokkaido, Japan, agreed to spend $60 billion over five years to fight diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa, AFP/Google.com reports. […]

However, some aid workers and nongovernmental organizations have expressed concern about the aid pledges and say that because the commitments are not legally binding and actual spending is hard to track, the donor countries may fail to meet their promises.

G8 Summit To Address Aid to Africa; Leaders Urged Not To Backtrack on Pledges to Continent (Kaiser Network, July 7)

Although aid to Africa was a focus of the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where leaders pledged to double aid to the continent to $25 billion by 2010, advocates have accused some G8 nations — particularly Canada, France and Italy — of falling short on their contributions (Foster, AP/Yahoo! News, 7/7).

Campaigners Warn G8 Not To Renege On AIDS Commitments (Medical News Today, July 7)

Amid fears that critical AIDS pledges made at previous G8 summits will be reneged at this year’s meeting in Japan, over 200 civil society organisations from more than 60 countries have signed a letter to G8 heads of state underscoring the fundamental need to fulfil the promise of universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.

G-8 discusses system to follow-up on aid pledges (Joseph Coleman, Washington Post, July 7)

An aid group founded by U2 frontman Bono calculates that the Group of Eight top industrialized nations has delivered only $3 billion of the additional $25 billion promised for Africa for everything from AIDS drugs to training peacekeepers.

Now the Africans and their allies want a new system to make sure rich nations come through.

 

MORE EXCERPTS:

More from G8 Leaders Agree to $60B To Help Fight Disease in Africa:

Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations on Tuesday at their summit in Hokkaido, Japan, agreed to spend $60 billion over five years to fight diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa, AFP/Google.com reports. In a joint statement, G8 leaders set a timeframe of five years to meet the $60 billion target made at last year’s summit in Germany. The group also reconfirmed pledges made at its 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to increase aid to Africa by $25 billion by 2010. Leaders also set a goal of providing 100 million insecticide-treated nets to curb the spread of malaria in developing countries by the end of 2010 (AFP/Google.com, 7/8).

However, some aid workers and nongovernmental organizations have expressed concern about the aid pledges and say that because the commitments are not legally binding and actual spending is hard to track, the donor countries may fail to meet their promises. In a statement, G8 leaders said, “We are firmly committed to working to fulfill our commitments.” They also said that aid from the group and other donors should be reassessed and might need to be increased after 2010 (Nishikawa, Reuters, 7/8).

According to AFP/Google.com, G8 leaders said they would take “concrete steps” to fight HIV/AIDS, including through “sexual and reproductive health and voluntary family planning programs.” […]

Max Lawson of Oxfam said the G8 “must not break this promise to the world and Africa,” adding, “For rich countries, this is peanuts. For Africa, this is life and death” (AP/International Herald Tribune, 7/7). Charles Abani of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty said, “Promises are not being met. We are in a crisis. … Families have to choose food or education, and food or health” (Wall Street Journal, 7/8). He added that one problem concerning pledges is that countries recycle them, announcing aid in one area such as education and then moving the same money to another area to meet new demands — meaning the total amount of money promised does not increase.

More from G8 Summit To Address Aid to Africa; Leaders Urged Not To Backtrack on Pledges to Continent:

Last month, the group DATA reported that donors are “off track” in delivering on their commitments and that “with every ‘off track’ year that passes, fully delivering the commitments by 2010 becomes more difficult” (Washington Post, 7/7). The Africa Progress Panel also released a report last month that said G8 commitments will fall $40 billion short of their targets under current spending plans (Financial Times, 7/7). […]

Oliver Buston, a spokesperson for ONE, said, “There are good plans being developed. We also know when efforts are made, great results can be achieved. But the problem is these plans are not being backed by serious financing.” Buston added, “It is as if the G8 has built a car but they have not put any fuel in it. It is time for that to change” (Financial Times, 7/7). Wole Olaleye, a Pan Africa Policy researcher with ActionAid International, said the threat of the G8 backtracking on its HIV/AIDS commitments is real. According to Olaleye, “G8 funds have made a difference — the number on treatment has increased dramatically and this is enabling millions more people to keep working, thriving and looking after their families.” Olaleye added, “However, the need remains enormous: three-quarters of people who need HIV/AIDS treatment are still not receiving it. Almost 90% of HIV-positive pregnant women are still unable to get drugs that could prevent the virus being passed on to their child” (Ooko, Xinhuanet, 7/5).

During the summit, G8 leaders also intend to include a clause in a set of health-related guidelines that would ease travel restrictions on HIV-positive people, according to sources close to the negotiations.  (See my earlier post on this issue.)

More from Campaigners Warn G8 Not To Renege On AIDS Commitments:

 Calling on the G8 to “honour the AIDS commitments that have already been made” the letter reminds the leaders that ,”This year’s G8 summit will leave a legacy. The question is whether this summit’s legacy will be one of action appropriate to the challenges of our times or just another meeting filled with more promises postponed.”

Three specific pledges are highlighted: ensuring that universal access remains on the G8 agenda, publishing firm plans and timetables to deliver on existing commitments, and establishing a high-level G8 AIDS mechanism to review progress and inform G8 strategy and commitments on health and HIV and AIDS specifically. […]

“The solemn pledge of the 2005 Gleneagles summit that has been reiterated in each of the successive G8 summits, inspired the 2005 World Summit and served to set the benchmarks for the United Nations High Level AIDS meetings of 2006 and 2008” says Marcel van Soest, Executive Director of the World AIDS Campaign. “To abandon this promise now calls into question the credibility of all G8 commitments including the Millennium Development Goals.”

Signatories to the civil society letter include labour unions, youth coalitions, women’s organisations, positive people’s networks, faith based organisations, and international and national development and AIDS organisations.

Here are the letter’s text and signatories.

More from G-8 discusses system to follow-up on aid pledges:

The G-8 opened their summit in northern Japan on Monday with a discussion with eight African leaders over the progress in aid increases to the continent _ and how the wealthy countries have fallen short. […]

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among leaders who proposed that top Africa advisers in each G-8 country track promises and periodically compare notes with African countries on compliance, a Sarkozy aide said. Aid groups said Japan had floated a similar proposal for aid goals. […]

At the meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, the [G8] laid out an ambitious plan to boost aid to Africa by $25 billion a year by 2010 _ more than doubling aid to the continent compared to 2004. […]

Bono’s aid group, ONE, calculated that the G-8 had delivered only $3 billion of the additional $25 billion for Africa and that development assistance for agriculture _ increasingly important because of rising food prices _ had fallen as a percentage of total aid from 1980 to 2004.

A plan to stop tuberculosis has been significantly underfunded, 33 million African children still do not have access to school, and drugs for HIV/AIDS patients were available to only 30 percent of Africans needing them _ far short of the goal of 80 percent, a report by ONE said.

 

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~ by h.e.g. on July 8, 2008.

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