G8 2004: More said than done, and not enough said

Savannah, GA. The world's most powerful leaders fell short of the grade at this year's G8, the international agency Oxfam today said. The Leaders spoke welcome words, but made little progress on fulfilling the lofty promises they made two years ago at Kananaskis.

"When all's said and done, a lot more was said than done," said Oxfam's Barry Coates. "The leaders put few dollars to their concern for the world's poor." This year's negligible outcome on aid and trade reform constitutes a challenge to the UK to raise the bar next year.

The G8's preoccupation with Iraq and the war on terror left barely two hours for their discussion of Africa's pressing problems.

"Africa doesn't need photo opps, it needs debt cancellation and peace keepers," said Irungu Houghton, Oxfam Africa Policy Advisor. "The steps announced to fulfil the letter of their commitments to Africa on AIDS and debt relief are simply not up to the challenges the continent faces.

"Today's announcement on debt relief is only a stop gap measure and won't do enough to lighten the burden on poor countries," Houghton said. "The leaders contemplation of further help must lead to much broader and deeper relief so that these countries can invest in improving the lives of their citizens."

There were some positive elements. The G8's joint statement on the crisis in Sudan was a welcome and practical embrace of the Africa Union's principle of non-indifference.

With the Global Peacekeeping Initiative, the United States has shown at least the intent to fulfil its part of the Africa Action Plan. "We have concerns about how it will be implemented and resourced, but it holds promise," said Coates. "To succeed, the initiative must include African partners and be kept separate from the ongoing war on terror."

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