‘G8 could do much more’

London, November 27:

World leaders have broken promises made at the Group of eight (G8) summit last summer, according to a leading member of the Make Poverty History (MPH) campaign. A report by Save the Children says that governments have failed to ‘listen hard enough to their public’ and concluded that ‘the leap forward demanded by MPH campaigners has not been delivered’.

Matt Phillips, author of Did World Leaders Make Child Poverty History? and head of public affairs at Save the Children, said, “Make Poverty History was unequivocal in what it was demanding; long-run eradication of poverty. But we have a generation of leaders who aren’t willing to deliver that.”

He said the campaign saw 10 million people wearing the white band, 250,000 taking to the streets of Edinburgh and 540 organisations coming together to push for an end to world poverty — “The politicians had a mandate to do much more than they did.” All the efforts were focused on persuading the heads of the world’s richest countries to give more aid, slash debt and promote fairer trade for the world’s poorest. Bob Geldof pronounced G8 the most important summit Africa had ever seen. “On aid, 10 out of 10. On debt, eight out of 10,” he claimed.

Phillips criticised governments for failing to use two key opportunities in September — the UN Millennium Summit and the annual meeting of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) — to make the ‘rhetoric’ of G8 a reality. The report highlights progress, such as a clear timetable for EU countries towards giving 0.7 per cent of national income in aid and debt cancellation for 18 countries by the WB, IMF and Africa Development Bank. But it says there were more than 60 countries needing debt cancellation and the agreement to remove ‘damaging economic policies’ as a condition for debt cancellation and aid had not been followed through.

Phillips said the UK led many of the agreements and was the strongest advocate of change at G8. However, it had been too quiet in subsequent meetings. John Hilary, director of campaigns

for War on Want, said G8 delivered two out of 10 on aid and one out of 10 on debt. “We feel we have been deceived by the government.” The British prime minister’s office said it was too soon to expect major changes.