The current G8 leaders are:
The Group of Eight (G8) consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Russia. The hallmark of the G8 is an annual economic and political summit meeting of the heads of government with international officials, though there are numerous subsidiary meetings and policy research.
- 1 Background and history
- 2 Structure and activities of the Group
- 3 Criticism of the Group
- 4 G8 and Terrorism
- 5 Past G6/7/8 summits
- 6 Future G8 summits
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
Background and history
The G8 has its roots in the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent global recession. These troubles led the United States to form the Library Group, a gathering of senior financial officials from the United States, Europe, and Japan, to discuss the economic issues.
In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing invited the heads of state of six major industralized democracies to a summit in Rambouillet and proposed regular meetings. The participants agreed to an annual meeting organized under a rotating presidency, forming what was dubbed the Group of Six (G6) consisting of France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. At the subsequent annual summit in Puerto Rico, it became the Group of Seven (G7) when Canada joined at the behest of U.S. President Gerald Ford.
Participation of Russia and formation of the G8
In 1991, following the end of the Cold War, the USSR (now Russia) began meeting with the G7 after the main summit. This group became known as the P8 (Political 8), or colloquially the "G7 plus 1", starting with the 1994 Naples summit. Russia was allowed to participate more fully beginning in the 1998 Birmingham summit, marking the creation of the Group of Eight. However, Russia was excluded from the meeting for financial ministers as it was not a major economic power; "G7" now refers specifically to this ministerial level meeting.
At the instigation of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, "Group of Seven" became the "Group of Eight," with Russia attending most sessions. This was a gesture of appreciation from President Clinton to then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin for pursuing economic reforms, and for their neutrality with respect to the eastward expansion of NATO.
Because of Russia's relative economic (and democratic) instablility, there are select G7 sessions on economic affairs in which they do not participate. On February 18, 2005, U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain called for Russia to be suspended from the G8 until democratic and political freedoms are ensured by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Structure and activities of the Group
The G8 is not supported by a transnational administration, unlike institutions such as the United Nations or World Bank. The presidency of the Group rotates among the member states annually, with the new president assuming responsibility on 1 January. The country holding the presidency hosts a series of ministerial-level meetings leading up to a mid-year three-day summit with the heads of state, as well as ensures the safety of the participants.
The ministerial meetings bring together ministers in topics such as health, law enforcement, and labor, to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. The best known of these is the G-7, which now refers specifically to the annual meeting of the financial ministers of the G-8 minus Russia, as well as officials from the European Community. However, there also is a briefer "G8+5" meeting for the finance ministers of the full G-8, as well as China, Mexico, India, Brazil, and South Africa.
Under the auspices of G7 a special programme for the implementation of the Information Society was established in 1994.
In June 2005 the G8 agreed to launch an international database on paedophiles, expected to be set up by the end of the year. Other countries may join later. The G8 also agreed to pool data on terrorism, subject to the restrictions of the various countries' privacy and security laws. 
In June 2005 the national science academies of the G8 nations - and Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action , and explicitly endorsed the IPCC consensus.
Criticism of the Group
Since the agenda of G8 is usually about controversial global issues, critics often refer to the G8 as an unofficial "world government." The annual summits are often the focus of anti-globalization movement protests, notably at the 27th G8 summit in Genoa in 2001.
Critics assert that members of G8 are responsible for global issues such as global warming due to carbon dioxide emission, poverty in Africa and developing countries due to debt crisis and unfair trading policy, the AIDS problem due to strict medicine patent policy and other problems that are related to globalization.
The debate drives discussions on property rights, global economics, international politics, morality and many other aspects. For example, some defenders believe that patent laws are essential property rights that encourage medical discovery to begin with. On the other hand, some critics assume that parallel importation is a way out. Some others believe that African poverty is due to the rampant government corruption on that continent while some critics say it is a problem of unfair international trading. Most debate is related to dicussions on globalization.
Pressure has also been put on G8 leaders to take responsibility to combat problems they are criticized of creating. For example, Bob Geldof organized Live 8, global awareness concerts on July 2 and July 6 in 2005, to encourage G8 leaders to "Make Poverty History." Organizers have also proposed that G8 member nations adjust their national budgets to allow for 0.7% to go towards foreign aid as outlined in Agenda 21 of the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. The concerts were timed to coincide with the 31st G8 summit.
- http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Debt/Causes.asp (Causes of the Debt Crisis)
G8 and Terrorism
- Main article: 7 July 2005 London bombings
The opening day of the 2005 G8 Summit in Scotland, 7 July, 2005, was accompanied by a synchronized series of bombings in the London Underground and in a London red double-decker bus that claimed more than 50 lives and wounded hundreds more. Credit for the attacks was immediately taken by the "Secret Group of Al-Qaeda's Jihad in Europe". The attacks are assumed to be in retaliation for the UK's participation in military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, although terrorism has been perpretrated against western states by Islamic fundamentalists prior to those actions. The global attention focused on the G8 summit was presumably leveraged by the terrorists for maximum symbolic effect. The strike also followed abruptly after the International Olympic Committee announced London as the site of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Prime Minister Tony Blair denounced the attacks as 'barbaric', but announced that the business of the summit would continue.
Past G6/7/8 summits
The location of the summit meetings rotate annually among member countries in the following order: France, United States of America, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, (also the order in which each nation joined the Group, excluding Russia who joined last). Thousands of reporters descend on the summit site to cover the world's most powerful leaders. In 2004, a new record was set in the demographics of the reporters as then fourteen year-old Alan Blinder and fifteen year-old Troy Lewis covered the Sea Island Summit in Georgia for Y'all Magazine. The two became (and remain) the youngest credentialed summit participants in G-8 history.
Future G8 summits
|32nd G8 summit||2006||Russia||Saint Petersburg||en.g8russia.ru|
- Government of Canada - G8 official Canadian government site
- 10 Downing Street - G8 and EU Presidencies official United Kingdom government site
- USINFO - Aid To Africa Site official United States Department of State site
- University of Toronto - G8 Information Centre research group
- Guardian Unlimited - Special Report: G8
- BBC News - Profile: G8
- Red Pepper G8 Special: articles and resources
- Kremlin.ru - Government site of Russia Kremlin.ru (english)
Earlier summit activism
- http://www.nog8.org/ (2004 summit)
- http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/evian/ (2003 summit)
- http://g8.activist.ca/ (2002 summit)
- "What do anarchists want?, In light of the G8"
Current & future summit activism
- http://g7plus1.blogspot.com/ (future summits)
- Camcorder Guerillas - "Why Close the G8?" film (Gleneagles Summit)
- http://www.dissent.org.uk/ (Gleneagles Summit)
- http://www.g8alternatives.org.uk/ (Gleneagles Summit)
- http://www.makepovertyhistory.org (Make Poverty History Campaign)
- http://g8-2006.plentyfact.net/index.php/Main_Page (wiki on G8 2006, Russia)
African media coverage of G8 2005
- AfricaVox Reports - African journalists at G8 2005 7 Journalists reporting on Gleneagles
- AfricaVox Blog - African journalists at G8 2005 7 journalists blogging Gleneagles
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