While there was immediate criticism from many NGOs after the final G8 2005 communique, the situation now, just a few weeks before the St Petersburg G8 Summit in Russia, is just as depressing.
Some movement yes, but nothing like what's needed.
As to climate change and energy, well, there's plenty of reasons to be protesting against the G8.
- the independent
One child has died from poverty, conflict or disease every three seconds since the leaders of the world's richest nations met 11 months ago in Gleneagles, under pressure to make poverty history. The statistic has remained unaltered since the famous "click" commercials over a year ago, when celebrities such as Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue and Brad Pitt lined up to click their fingers every three seconds, to mark the death of another child.
G8 'failing to meet aid pledges' - BBC report
UK charity Oxfam says increases in aid from the world's richest countries are not enough to meet promises they made at the Gleneagles G8 meeting last year.
The G8's broken promises: Time to really Make Poverty History
Broken bands, broken promises
At Gleneagles in July 2005, the G8 - an unelected body made up of eight of the world's wealthiest nations - promised to start making poverty history by increasing debt relief and aid. But their most important promise, that poor countries would be allowed to decide their own economic policies, has been broken.
If the G8 had really meant it, they would have proposed abolishing all the harmful economic strings - like privatisation and liberalisation - attached to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans, grants and debt relief. This did not happen. Providing more money for the poor will not work unless there is an end to these policies.
Eighteen countries have had their debts to the IMF and World Bank cancelled, and this is a good step forward. But many more will have to wait years to benefit because of the damaging economic hurdles they must jump first.
Debt relief target for world's poorest is massive underestimate: up to $590 billion needed 14/06/06
New research says official debt relief target for world's poorest is massive underestimate: up to $590 billion needed
And basic health and education needs could be met in just five years if the richest nations honoured existing aid commitments says the research published today, Wednesday 14 June, as creditors meet to celebrate 50th anniversary of the Paris Club.
New research from nef (the new economics foundation), published on the day that the Paris club - the informal group of the world's creditor countries - meet to celebrate 50 years of rescheduling the debts of the world's poorest, shows that if the world's richest countries honoured their aid commitments for just five years, all unsustainable the debt of the poorest could be written off to such a degree that the basic health and education needs of the world's poorest people could be met.
In a new nef research paper, 'Debt relief as if people mattered', the Jubilee research programme (an official successor to the Jubilee 2000 campaign and project of nef), proposes a radical new approach to debt cancellation - based on the amount of revenue that a government can be expected to raise without increasing poverty or compromising the meeting of basic human needs. This means a change from the traditional approach to debt cancellation based on crude financial measures - towards protecting government spending needed to meet basic human development needs as well as not taxing those people who already live below the poverty line.
nef's new analysis adopts an ethical poverty line of $3 per person a day - a level more compatible with the basic human rights of well-being and health than the $1 and $2 a day poverty lines used by the World Bank and others. Based on this, and using data for 136 countries, nef has calculated which countries will need 100 per cent cancellation of their debts and which will need some debt relief to reduce their debt to a sustainable level.
The results show that:
* Of the 136 countries surveyed, between 51 and 54 needed complete cancellation of their debts and between 32 and 53 needed partial cancellation on human rights grounds. Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, need 100% debt relief, amounting to $11.8 billion and $10.5 billion, respectively.
* Based on the ethical poverty line of $3 a day, the net present value of debt that should be cancelled is between $424 and $589 billion depending upon the proportion of government revenue that can be allocated to debt service without causing severe hardship to the population.
* This is between 31 and 43 per cent of all outstanding developing country debt. This sounds a lot until it is compared with the shortfall in the aid target of 0.7% of rich countries' GDP - $120 billion in 2005 alone. If rich countries had met the target each year since 2000 it could have wiped out all this debt.
* For example in Cambodia - not currently benefiting from debt relief, but eligible for 100 per cent cancellation under the new proposals - almost 10 per cent of infants die before they reach their first birthday. In Kenya - also not currently benefiting from debt relief - almost 7 per cent of children die before their first birthday -compared to less than half of one per cent in the UK.
* nef calculations show that even at the lower level of $2 a day, substantial further debt cancellation is needed for a wide range of countries if their debt is to be brought down to sustainable levels.
* "Debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations is no longer simply a matter of justice, it is a moral imperative. We must move towards a system based on debt relief as if people mattered if we are to have even a chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goals -the international targets on halving global poverty - by 2015," said David Woodward, head of nef's Global Economy Programme
nef's research shows that substantial debt relief is urgently needed beyond that provided under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and the 2005 G8 deal. Even the amounts currently committed to relieve the debts of low and middle-income countries fall far short of the levels needed.
In adopting the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), all the world's countries have made a commitment to reduce global poverty by 2015. The Millennium Goals also reinforce earlier commitments to universal rights, including in health and education. But, as nef's research emphasises the MDG targets will be impossible to meet as long as developing countries have to use vast shares of their resources to meet crippling debt service payments.
Traditionally, debt sustainability has been judged along crude financial lines. A country's ability to pay is assessed by looking at its income, primarily from export earnings, with no account taken of the demands on government funds. In many of the world's poorest nations, debt service payments have taken precedence over providing people with a basic standard of living. The approach set out in this research paper provides a much needed alternative.
"This is the second of a three pillar approach to debt relief. It promotes a concept of debt sustainability which puts the rights and basic well-being of people first and those of the creditors second. We believe it is a fundamental human right to have basic needs met - for food, clean water, shelter, education and health", says Stephen Mandel, nef researcher and author of the report.
National governments have an obligation towards their citizens to provide for the meeting of their basic needs. Human rights are violated if, in order to meet debt service payments, a government is forced to ignore basic health and education requirements and to tax poorer citizens so that they cannot pay for adequate food or shelter..
Campaigners demand action on G8 AIDS pledge
ActionAid - UK
Rich countries’ G8 promise to ensure universal access to treatment for HIV and AIDS will be broken unless firm commitments are made at this week’s UN High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS, campaigners announced today.
In the run up to the meeting in New York, starting on Wednesday (31 May), ActionAid is calling on world leaders to deliver the resources needed to fight a disease that kills 8,000 people a day worldwide.
Simon Wright, UK Head of ActionAid’s HIV and AIDS campaign, said, "At last year’s G8 summit the leaders of the richest countries were clear in their commitment to fighting HIV and Aids. To fail to deliver the resources or policies to meet this target would be a betrayal of millions of poor people in developing countries. Sadly, it looks like this is the direction in which we’re travelling."
In July 2005, the G8 pledged to support 'universal access' to HIV prevention, care and treatment by 2010. It is estimated that $20billion per annum will be needed to reach this target, but as yet no plan has been formulated to reach this and no international targets fixed.
Further, rich countries appear uninterested in changing policies that prevent production of generic drugs at a fraction of the cost. The US, for example, has been widely criticised for making treatment packages conditional on the use of US manufactured drugs.
Leonard Okello, Head of ActionAid’s International HIV and AIDS theme, said, "The G8 pledge is looking as if it might become a meaningless gesture. The world’s most powerful leaders made a big deal about fighting HIV and AIDS but the political will has evaporated. It’s time for the talking to end – we need money on the table now."
OXFAM (lead of MPH)
One Year On from Gleneagles: Significant progress, but much more needed (see pdf):