L’Aquila Bends the G8 Model Out of Shape

July 8, 2009

Berlusconi-sm

Andrew F. Cooper
Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, CIGI

The G8 Summit at L’Aquila is a study in contradictions. The Italian presidency’s approach remains a languid one amidst an intense global recession. Here, style trumps substance. The site of the summit – re-located at the last moment in sympathy with the victims of the devastating earthquake is still a work in progress. The host government from the start lacked any overarching vision for the Summit. The brand trotted out in the last few weeks, that L’Aquila represented a “summit of principles”, crumbled quickly amidst its inconsistency with the scandals associated with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The United States tried to rescue the G8 by taking on some elements of leadership. Key sherpa meeting were called and shaped by American officials. A big delivery has been promised in the form of a major initiative on food security. Yet, these moves can not mask the reality that the US has already moved on from prioritizing L’Aquila to focus its attention on the Pittsburgh G20 on September 24-25. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dilemmas in Renewing US Multilateralism

July 8, 2009

As US President Barack Obama attends his first G8 summit, questions linger on his ability to renew American  multilateralism. While the new president has certainly developed enormous goodwill among other major countries, critical tests of his interest in utilizing multilateral institutions to address economic and security issues remain on the horizon.

In this video, Andrew F. Cooper interviews Keith Porter – Director of Policy and Outreach at the Stanley Foundation – on the anticipated renewal of US multilateral activities and what types of policies it can take to make the world more secure.  The G8 and G20 Summits, in his view, provide a stage for sorting out many of these types of questions as the informal agenda of this “rolling meeting” of important world leaders opens up avenues for targetted multilateralism.

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Expectations for Obama’s First G8 Summit

July 2, 2009

US President Barack Obama has quickly developed his diplomatic profile, having attended the G20 London Summit, the Summit of the Americas, conducted a state visit to the Middle East, and held numerous bilateral sessions in Washington and abroad. In the coming months, he will not only chair the G20 Pittsburgh Summit but also host China’s President Hu Jintao for strategic bilateral talks, in what many have labelled a ‘G2’ meeting.

In this video, Andrew Schrumm interviews Robert C. Fauver, a former G7/G8 sherpa under the Clinton administration and now president of Fauver Associates LLC, on what he anticipates from Mr. Obama’s first appearance at a G8 summit. He suggests that from the outset, the president is faced with a difficult choice on which forum – the G8 or G20 – provides the best opportunities for what he wants to accomplish, both in terms of macro-economic policy as well as geostrategic discussions.

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Tests of G8 Variable Geometry

July 1, 2009

Andrew F. Cooper
Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, CIGI

The Italian hosts of the 2009 G8 summit have placed great weight on implementing the concept of ‘variable geometry’. Instead of a back-to-basics approach in which an inclusive and fixed membership meets, over the three days of the summit, L’Aquila will have an à la carte orientation.

This is not to suggest that the G8 club will not have some time to itself. The first day of the summit will be ‘members’ day in which the established G8 will meet on their own. The focus will be on the world economy in the morning, global issues including climate change in the afternoon and security/political issues in the evening. The discussions in each of these segments will be crowded. Especially so as there will be intense conversations about exit strategies for the financial crisis, the importance of stretching the regulatory regime, building consensus for Copenhagen, and reactions to situations in Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan to list just the most obvious issues.

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