185 vs. 8, is it a fair trial? [Archives:2005/859/Viewpoint]

July 14 2005

The Editorial Board
I wouldn't want to be in Tony Blair's shoes, especially during last week. For one, they would be too big for me, and secondly, he has not been a very popular man off late.

In the largest campaign ever, activists around the world demanded that the great eight countries take up their responsibility and “Feed the World”. Coming to think about it, this sounds unfair asking only 8 governments to support the lives of more than 80% of the world's population. On the other hand when I remember that those eight countries alone control most of the world's resources, it seems fair.

For the G-8 summit last week the prime minister set three clear goals: a clear statement on the importance of climate change; a substantial package of actions to combat it; and a new dialogue between the developed and developing world that linked climate, energy and development goals and could help secure agreement on the way forward. He fully understood that we might not achieve these goals, and there was discouragement from almost every corner.

Paul Vallely wrote in the Gulf Times on 12th of this month that commenting on the fulfilment of these goals “the people have roared, and the G8 had only whispered in reply. Instead of 50,000 people dying needlessly every day from what Bono calls stupid poverty, the G8 had only reduced that figure to 37,000. Doubling aid by 2010 was too slow; it was like waiting five years to respond to the tsunami. The debt deal was a small, belated step in the right direction, which applied to too few countries, and had too many conditions attached. And on trade there was nothing.”

Moreover, achieving the millennium development goals especially regarding diseases, child and maternal mortality and the promise of universal access to antiretroviral drugs, were not backed up by new money or policies. Nothing new is offered on malaria. For TB, there is only the promise of a conference in 2006. Child and maternal mortality are completely ignored.

However, let us not see not ignore the bright side. This year's summit was rather different from all the previous ones and one could say it is a step in the right direction. Although the summit was overshadowed by bomb attacks in London on the first day of, which brought terrorism on the top of the summit's priority list. Yet, the equation remains and the most great industrial countries are confronted with their responsibilities towards the less advantaged countries, but this time the world is really keeping an eye on the great eight, with demands stronger than ever before.