Wednesday, June 30, 2010

G8/G20 Summit

An avid member of Model UN at my school, I have some comprehension of the Millenium Development Goals. However, I know that even adults do not fully understand these goals or the G-8 and G-20 Summits that occured this past weekend. Established in 2000, members of the United Nations agreed on 8 target goals that would aim to improve social and economic status of the world's poorest countries. The current Secretary General of the United Nations is Ban-Ki Moon of Korea.
The 8 MDG:
1. Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty                         
2. Achieve universal primary education                            
3. Promote gender equality and empower women            
4. Reduce child mortality            
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases  
7. Ensure environmental sustainablity
8. Develop a global partnership for development      

The set year for achievement of these goals in 2015. The G8 summit is an annual meeting of the leaders or "core members" of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Commission, Japan, Russia, Italy, France, and Germany. This year was the 36th anual G8 summit and was held in Huntsville, Ontario. The "Group of 8" (G8) just refers to the 8 leaders; the European Commission is also represented. The purpose is to discuss global issues such as terrorism, energy, health, poverty, trade, foreign affairs, etc. The G20 is the group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. Together the G20 compromises 85% of the globe's gross national product. The 2010 G20 summit was held in Toronto, June 26-27, and consisted of the 20 leaders. In contrast to the G8, the purpose of the G20 is to respond to financial crisis as well as discuss reforms of the global economy and the international financial system. However, there were mixed reviews of the outcome of these summits. Many protestors felt that there was lack of discussion of maternal and prenatal needs, NGO's were virtually blocked from all negotiations, and G20 "aimed too low and promised too little for a still fragile and volatile global economy" (The Guardian). Dennis Howlet, Canadian coordinator of Make Poverty History exclaims, "Many of us have expertise on these issues, and our job here is to provide background information and commentary. It’s an indication that the Canadian government does not recognize the important role civil society plays. It’s a step backwards." NGO stands for Non- Governmental Organization, and is probably the most useful weapon in a Model UN debate. They provide funding when a country or government cannot afford a relief effort or diar crisis; common NGO's include the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and Greenpeace. They are essential in any peace treaty or agreement and it is sad that they were not recognized as part of the negotiation process. However, the next Millenium Development Goals Summit is Sep 20-22, 2010, in New York, New York. At this summit hopefully NGO's will play a more vital role and advancements will be made toward reaching the goals.

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