Will the G8 keep promises?

g8-hokkaido-half.jpgNic Dawes of the Mail and Guardian Online wants G8 leaders at their upcoming summit in Japan to make good on past promises.  He reports that, “A draft text of the G8 communiqué, leaked to the Financial Times, commits the group in broad terms to pledges on aid that were made at the 2005 summit in Gleneagles. But it makes no mention of the previously agreed 2010 deadline to increase aid to Africa by $25-billion annually. Also unmentioned is a target date for spending $60-billion to strengthen healthcare systems in the developing world which was agreed to at last year’s Heiligendamm summit in Germany.

Although Dawes reported that, “Britain was more or less alone in wanting to stick to a firm time-frame on aid, UN officials, poverty relief activists and diplomats”  He did mention iIn addition that, “Germany, for one, is pressing for the Heiligendamm promise on health to be maintained.”

One particular G8 members has received criticism recently for promising more but ‘not enough’. AfricaFocus provided details: “At the end of May, Japan hosted the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), receiving representatives from 52 African countries, including 40 heads of state or government. Government officials were consistently upbeat on the prospects both for African growth and for increased Japanese aid and investment. Civil society networks from Japan and Africa also welcomed increased Japanese involvement, but expressed disappointment at the level of commitment on AIDS funding and the dominant emphasis on private investment over direct support for development goals.”

The Associated Press notes that at least one other the G8 leader may also be aware of these discrepancies.  While there will be much on the Summit agenda about issues like global warming, “Bush himself says a priority of this year’s summit is not advancing new initiatives but making good on ones from previous summits, especially promises for health aid for countries in Africa and other underdeveloped nations. ‘We need to show the world that the G-8 can be accountable for its promises and deliver results,’ Bush said ahead of the summit. ‘America is on track to meet our commitments. And in Japan, I’ll urge other leaders to fulfill their commitments, as well.'”

Unfortunately a few US Senators have been holding US disease control aid hostage, making it difficult for the United States to speak with a united voice at the summit in Toyako, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Summit organizers have released discussion points for ‘Development and Africa‘, which recognizes that this is the midpoint toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It also reviews three past Summits where these issues were discussed and proposes increases in Japanese aid.  We hope that these 8 leaders, with the support from all components of their governments back home, will make good on and even increase their commitments to health and development in Africa.

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