No Governance, No Party

July 20, 2009

Paola Subacchi

Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House

Despite the worst expectations in the weeks before the summit, the G8 gathering in L’Aquila handed over neither a significant outcome nor an embarrassing disaster. Participants seemed pleased with the Italians who were praised for their excellent job in managing the whole choreography and delivering a great party. The Italian organisers must felt relieved, especially as some commentators seemed prepared to support Italy’s expulsion from the G8 on the ground of poor organisational skills and its Prime Minister’s penchant for scandals.

The idea that Italy was risking the expulsion hit the main headlines in the first day of the summit, with no further follow-up. But it is disconcerting and interesting at the same time. It is disconcerting because of the implicit assumption that the G8 membership could be decided on the basis of how efficient a country is in organising a meeting and how effective, and credible, the leadership of the hosting leader is. But the organising country does not equate the entire G8 even if it plays an important role in shaping the summit, and determining its relevance.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Heiligendamm Process: Extending the G8-G5 Dialogue

July 10, 2009

Yesterday, in their joint declaration, G8 and G5 countries committed themselves to work together to address international governance challenges. To facilitate continued dialogue on issues such as investment, intellectual property and climate, the leaders announced an extension of the Heiligendamm Process – renaming it the Heiligendamm-L’Aquila Process (HAP) – the structured dialogue among the officials of the established industrialized countries  and the major emerging economies of the global South – China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico.

In this exclusive video, Andrew F. Cooper interviews Ulrich Benterbusch, Director of the Heiligendamm Dialogue Process at the OECD. Since the 2007 Heiligendamm G8 Summit, Mr. Benterbusch has been the primary facilitator of this program that has allowed for confidence building and partnerships among G8 and G5 states, development of common policy towards critical global issues, as well as spill-over affects for the international financial institutions.

Read the rest of this entry »

The G8 and the Global Food Security Crisis

July 9, 2009


Jennifer Clapp
CIGI Chair and Professor, Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo

Food security is on the agenda as the G8 leaders meet this week in L’Aquila, Italy. It is an appropriate moment to be addressing this important issue, as the FAO recently announced that the number of undernourished people on this planet has now surpassed 1 billion. This is an historic high for the number of people experiencing severe hunger.

It is extremely troubling that global hunger is on the rise despite the fact that food prices on international markets are lower today than they were last year at this time, when the G8 leaders last met. When looking at the factors contributing to this situation, it becomes clear there are multiple complex causes to the current food situation, many of which have sources in rich countries. These problems have been exacerbated by the current economic crisis as it spreads from North to South.

G5 Leaders Shifting the Balance

July 9, 2009


Andrew F. Cooper
Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, CIGI

While the BRIC group of states have grabbed a great deal of attention with their landmark leaders’ summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, 15 June 2009, their expanded G5 alter ego has been a significant force at this week’s G8 Summit in L’Aquila.

Coined by Goldman-Sachs, the original BRIC investment acronym has moved from a laudatory account of the rise of 4 big economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to a geo-political reality. Such a shift indicates the extent to which we are moving into a more contested global order. In many ways, the BRIC countries are more interesting for their differences than their similarities. Brazil and India are robust democracies. Russia is a managed democracy. China is a one party state. India has a fast rising population. Russia is in serious demographic trouble with a sharply reduced life expectancy. Brazil and Russia are resource rich. India and China are resource dependent.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Up Up and Away: Hu Leaves G8 Before it Begins

July 8, 2009


Gregory Chin
Senior Fellow, CIGI

Some air has just been let out of the G8 balloon. Chinese President Hu Jintao has left the G8 Summit in L’Aquila Italy, to return home to deal with domestic unrest in China’s far western autonomous region, Xinjiang – leaving him unable to attend the Day Two meetings between the G8 and the “G5” emerging economies. Hu has left behind Dai Bingguo, State Councilor to represent China’s top leader.

Dai Bingguo is no slouch inside the Party command. In addition to being the government executive that is most responsible for overseeing the country’s foreign affairs, Dai is the director of the office of the Party’s powerful Leading Small Group for Foreign Affairs, and the office of the Party’s Leading Group on National Security. He is a key official in the new Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the US and China, and a point person on China’s relations with Africa and the Arab world. Dai Bingguo is clearly a safe pair of hands both inside the Party and government hierarchy. Read the rest of this entry »

G8 L’Aquila: Deflecting a post-G8 Moment?

July 7, 2009

Growing antipathy in the G8 process, largely as a result of the successful operation of two G20 summits, has constrained the Italian hosts of the 2009 session to be held in L’Aquila this week. Various formations of multilateral meetings seem to be crowding out the traditional central decision-shaping role of the G8 club.

In this video, Gregory Chin interviews Dr. Paola Subacchi – Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House – to discuss the momentum of the G20 process, how the Italian presidency has managed this competition, and the possibility of a G2 condominium of power between the United States and China.

Read the rest of this entry »