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2003-06-03

Leaders of the World’s Richest Nations Issue "Vacuous" Statement on Poverty

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French President Jacques Chirac allowed activists and nations from the Global South to give their input, but critics say action is needed, not just words.

The G-8 summit in Evian, France came to a close today.

Leaders from the seven richest nations in the world plus Russia issued an evasive closing statement which declared "Our shared objective is a fully sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq."

Last night at dinner, the leaders discussed a highly critical document prepared at an alternative summit last week by a thousand activists. That document included calls for full debt relief for the nation’s poorest countries, the enforcement of labor rights and the creation of international rules to curb pollution.

As the Associated Press puts it, this was part of French President Jacques Chirac’s attempt to demonstrate to the world that the G-8 is not just capitalism’s most exclusive club, but a collection of powerful nations taking into account the needs of the billions of people in the world living in poverty.

But Bush missed the discussion on the alternative summit document, as he had already left for the Middle East. And none of those recommendations made it into the final, official document.

Chirac also invited a record number of 11 world leaders from developing nations to participate in the opening day of talks, including several from Africa.

The final statement listed many measures to help alleviate famine and water shortages. But a spokesman for British aid agency Oxfam told the BBC the document is "vacuous." Another Oxfam spokesmand told the Agence France Presse: "Not only are there no firm commitments. Even the rhetoric is watered down compared to last year."

Last year’s summit in Canada drew up an ambitions action plan on Africa. But critics say nothing has changed.

  • Njoki Njehu, 50 Years is Enough Network
  • Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory, based in Amsterdam.

Links:

50 Years is Enough Network

Corporate Europe Observatory

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