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As Bono and Geldof praise G8, NGOs say G8 deal is a "betrayal"

IMCista | 09.07.2005 06:00 | G8 2005 | Free Spaces | Repression | Social Struggles | London | World

They've been privately fuming for months at the unnaccountable way in which celebrity campaigners like Bono, Geldof and Richard Curtis have consistently hijacked the Make Poverty History campaign and message. But finally, as the G8's disappointing communique was released, it was only now that the NGOs' anger finally boiled over as they sat with their heads in their hands.

Statement by World Devlopment Movement

G8 condemn Africa to miss Millennium Development Goals

Responding to the outcome of the G8 summit World Development Movement (WDM) Head of Policy, Peter Hardstaff said:

The final communiqué is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of campaigners who listened in good faith to the world leaders' claim that they were willing to seriously address poverty in Africa. More importantly it is a disaster for the world's poor. The agreements on trade, debt, aid and climate change are nowhere near sufficient to tackle the global poverty and environmental crisis we face.

"We are furious, but not surprised. Calling on the G8 to Make Poverty History this year was always a brave attempt to put aside 30 years of knowledge of G8 failures and suspend our disbelief at the notion that the countries responsible for causing so much poverty could become the solution.

"A historic breakthrough was promised, instead we saw a tiny step. The deals on debt and aid fall way short of what is needed to achieve global poverty reduction targets and on trade it's business as usual as the G8 attempt to bulldoze more liberalisation out of the poor. These tiny sums of money are nothing more than a sticking plaster over the deep wounds the G8 are inflicting by forcing failed eeconomic policies such as privatisation, free trade and corporate deregulation, on Africa.

"Add the lack of anything meaningful on climate change and this once again proves that the G8 is not a legitimate body to be tackling these urgent global problems, this should be the last G8. The minor moves on aid and debt need to be taken forward in other institutions such as the UN where the G8 can't backtrack on them.

"The campaign to secure justice for the world's poor is far from over."

On trade,

The G8 countries made no significant unilateral commitments to change their damaging trade policies sending a clear message that they will only consider taking action if poor countries liberalise in return. The G8 push to get poor countries to liberalise has even extended as far as offering 'aid for trade' bribes - giving poor countries some extra aid money in return for liberalisation.

This is despite the fact that UN research demonstrates that the liberalisation forced on least developed countries during the 1990s was associated with rising poverty, with the countries worst affected being those that had liberalised most[i]- even though these countries received substantial aid during the same period.

Peter Hardstaff said, "The G8's approach on trade seems to be 'Ask not what we can do for the poor, but what the poor can do for us'."

On aid,

The modest increases to be delivered by 2010 will be too little too late - and far from the $50 billion a year the UN say is needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thanks to pressure from Germany and France, it looks like Gordon Brown's International Finance Facility may be financed through air ticket taxes rather than aid budgets. While this may address the gaping flaw in Brown's IFF - the likely drop in aid budgets once repayments kick-in[ii] - the money will not be new
and the tax will not be raised to a level that could reduce greenhouse gas

On debt,

The re-announced cancellation initiative is a step forward but it is woefully
inadequate. Only 18 countries currently qualify (with a possible further 20) when over 60 have been identified as needing immediate debt cancelation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore the amount of money on offer can only address about 10 per cent of the multilateral debt problem.

A potential crumb of comfort on aid and debt is a statement from the G8 recognising that poor countries should be free to determine their own economic policies. However, George Bush has made it very clear that the US only supports giving money to countries that are pursuing free market policies, this calls into question his willingness to abide by this promise.

The key test will be whether the G8 countries make good on this action by abolishing the economic policy conditions attached to bilateral aid, debt relief and World Bank and IMF loans.

On climate change,

The G8 failed to take any significant steps to address the greatest environmental crisis facing human kind. The poorest people in the world will be the ones who suffer most from this inaction.


[i] UNCTAD. (2002). Least Developed Countries Report 2002: Escaping the Poverty Trap. Geneva. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

[ii] See WDM report The International Finance Facility: Boon or burden for the poor?

G8 condemn Africa to miss Millennium Development Goals




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