G8: post-Summit analysis (part 1)

Welcome to the first installment of what will likely be a small series of posts talking about reactions to the G8 Summit that just finished.  By the way, now you can check the new “G8 Summit” page, link on the right, to keep track of posts on this topic.  (Another small step in my ongoing effort to keep this site from descending into dis-organized chaos.)

Here’s a story by Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post, discussing what happened – and didn’t happen – to get more aid to Africa.

Interestingly, but not especially surprisingly, there seem to be two main interpretations of what happened.  While pretty much everyone acknowledges that it could have come out a lot worse for Africa than it did, some are emphasizing the G8’s progress, while others insist it didn’t go nearly far enough.  Prepare to be shocked: much of the enthusiasm seems to come from the G8 governments themselves, and the criticism from advocates and NGOs.  Go figure.

Read on for some excerpts from Abramowitz’s article:

The United States and other members of the Group of Eight industrialized countries this week reiterated their commitment to doubling aid to Africa by 2010, seeking to assuage growing concern that they will miss the ambitious targets they set three years ago in Gleneagles, Scotland.

They promised to create a global partnership of governments and nonprofits to address the food crisis that threatens to wipe out recent gains on the continent. They instituted new “accountability” procedures to ensure that wealthy countries fulfill their promises of aid to Africa. […]

Africa has been a particular interest for President Bush, and his aides pronounced themselves pleased by progress at the summit, particularly new initiatives to train health workers, address tropical disease and provide 100,000,000 mosquito nets to help prevent malaria. […]

“The lesson of this summit is that the emphasis is on implementation and on delivery,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “The emphasis is on turning words into action and making them far more concrete than ever they have been in the past.”

Before leaving Japan for Washington, Bush also hailed “progress on alleviating sickness in Africa.” He told reporters that “we had a comprehensive agenda on helping those who are being affected by disease live healthy lives.”

But many nonprofit and advocacy groups that sent people to observe the summit were more critical. Many expressed alarm over recent studies showing that the G-8 will probably miss its overall development goals unless it dramatically steps up efforts. The United States is not viewed as in danger of missing its target, but many activists think it is not doing enough relative to its wealth and size. […]

Kel Currah of World Vision International, a Christian relief and development organization, applauded the U.S. initiative [emphasizing accountability from the G8 countries] but said the bigger problem is that issues such as AIDS and food demand more money than the Group of Eight is willing to consider.

“Accountability is good,” Currah said. But accountability for low aid numbers “is not going to achieve the desired impact we are all looking for. We need more money.” […]

A more fundamental concern among activists and experts on Africa is whether the passion has disappeared from the G-8 effort on the continent. […]

A few quick comments:

  • Re. “global partnership of governments and nonprofits to address the food crisis”: sounds good…let’s hope it actually happens, and in a practical enough way that it can actually help.
     
  • Re. “new initiatives to train health workers, address tropical disease and provide 100,000,000 mosquito nets to help prevent malaria”: sounds really good, especially the concreteness about the mosquito nets (although “new initiatives” is one of those phrases that couldn’t possibly get vaguer).
      
  • Re. Brown and Bush’s comments: it’s good to see that accountability is a big issue, but things are still awfully vague (and even vaguer on some other issues, like climate change).
     
  • Re. “many activists think [the US] is not doing enough relative to its wealth and size”: nothing new here…the US often has the advantage of saying they’re doing more than anyone else – big and rich countries can get hard numbers on their side, but you really need to take size and wealth into account to see who’s doing their fair share.  Looking at which countries do the most per capita, or relative to their overall budget – I find that much more telling.
     
  • Re. “Ken Currah of World Vision”: go, World Vision!  First, I think Currah is right.  Second, I love seeing a Christian organization publicly associated with such strong advocacy for humanitarian work.
     
  • Re. “whether the passion has disappeared from the G-8 effort on the continent”: I hope not.  This shouldn’t be just another fad issue.
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~ by h.e.g. on July 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “G8: post-Summit analysis (part 1)”

  1. A great supporter of World Vision is AIDtoCHILDREN.com.

    AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a dual-purpose site for building an English
    vocabulary and raising money for under privileged children in the most impoverished places around the world.

    Check it out at http://www.aidtochildren.com

  2. Hey Mike, thanks for the link. That’s a cool site!

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