(Declaration of Civil Society Participants in the International Solidarity Days of the G8 Action Network, 8 July 2008)
The G8 Summit opened in Hokkaido yesterday with the usual rhetoric of concern about conditions in Africa. These are statements that few people in Africa and the rest of the world take seriously, given how far the G8 governments are from raising the US$20 billion they pledged for Africa at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005.
Indeed, if there is anything that distinguishes this particular G8 summit, it is its low credibility. In George Bush, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Yasuo Fukuda, we have a group of discredited leaders who are very unpopular with their own electorates. Moreover, in addition to their broken promises on Africa, the G8 have failed miserably to deliver on their other pledges, notably, canceling the debt of the poor countries, raising aid levels to 0.7 per cent of the GDP of the G8 countries, promoting development through trade, and tackling climate change.
As the G8 meet, the world is reeling from four crises that are unfolding simultaneously: the skyrocketing price of oil, the massive rise in the price of food, the financial crisis that is bringing the global economy to its knees, and the acceleration of global warming. To expect the G8 to come up with solutions to these crises is to expect the impossible since these are the inevitable consequences of the G8’s promotion of a project of globalisation that has mainly benefited and enriched their corporate elites.
Structural adjustment under the aegis of the G8-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund and trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization and free trade or economic partnership agreements have destroyed the productive capacity of agriculture in the developing countries. This is one of the central causes of the tremendous rise in food prices, along with speculation on food commodities by financial operators and the diversion of corn and other crops from food to agro-fuel owing to subsidies provided by the US, EU, and other rich country governments. It is important to note that the agricultural crisis has increased the misery of children and of women, who make up the bulk of global agricultural work force.
The sufferings of people throughout the world from the dizzying rise in the price of oil is the inevitable result of the conversion of global transportation systems into extreme dependency on oil by an unholy alliance between the big oil monopolies and the automobile giants of the G8 countries.
The subprime crisis that has unraveled global finance stems from the push for financial deregulation by banks and other financial institutions in the G8 countries, which has triggered scores of other crises over the last three decades including the devastating Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the Argentine financial crisis of 2002.
Global warming’s fundamental cause is the continuing overconsumption in the G8 and other developed countries that is inextricably linked to policies encouraging high rates of economic growth to sustain the profits of transnational corporations. To protect corporate profits, the US, Japan, and Canada, in particular, have opposed meaningful binding targets for reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
We expect that the G8 later today will come up with so-called solutions, like committing money to support the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds, promising more cash for the World Bank to support agricultural production, or promising support for a new Green Revolution in Africa based on genetically modified seeds. Not only will these initiatives not address the fundamental causes of
the crises; they will most likely exacerbate them. Among the likely consequences are a greater debt burden for the developing countries and greater displacement of small peasants and greater control of land by transnational agribusiness.
People throughout the world are today paying for the malevolent policies of pro-corporate globalisation. Among those who have suffered the most from developments not of their own making are the world’s indigenous peoples, including the Ainu people of Hokkaido. This is ironic, given the fact that the Ainu and other indigenous nations have placed a supreme value on a respectful human relationship with the environment which G8 economic policies have sundered. We declare our solidarity with the Ainu people and call on the Japanese government to take measures to make real and meaningful the Diet’s recent recognition of their status as indigenous people under the United Nations’ Indigenous Peoples’ Covenant.
The current crises are a forceful reminder that the G8 is a self-appointed agency of rich country governments that has no legal status. It was set up in 1975 to serve as some sort of informal government to manage the world economy to ensure the maintenance of the status quo at a time when developing countries were emerging as global actors. After over 30 years, this regime has become a massive fetter on the advancement of the welfare of people and the planet. Unable to come up with positive responses to the people’s suffering, the G8 increasingly resorts to military and police repression. Symbolic of the anti-people character of the G8 are the Japanese government’s deportation of international activists who sought to participate in the democratic discussions of the parallel people’s assemblies, its refusal to grant visas to others, and the police’s excessive and abusive control of peaceful demonstrators. In this regard, we express our solidarity with the 24 deported Korean activists and the four people arrested during the Peace Walk of July 5.
The world today demands economic arrangements that are built on equality and peace, are subject to democratic control, promote gender equality, support food sovereignty, and sustain rather than pillage the environment. The world is ready for such people-based solutions to the pressing problems of our time. One indication of this heartening development is the active participation of large numbers of concerned Japanese youth in the anti-G8 activities--a development that stems from the negative impact on their own lives of neoliberal policies in Japan itself. Another is the proliferation of anti-G8 activities in different parts of the world during the last few days, including the People’s Forum against the G8 in Mali.
The G8 stands in the way of the people. It is high time to disband this mafia of the rich and powerful. Let us join together to make the Hokkaido Summit the last summit of the G8.