Presentation of the G8
Created at the initiative of France in 1975 to address the first oil crisis, the G8 is an informal group of advanced economies, which meets once a year at a Summit of Heads of State and Government. It has essentially a role of guidance and political impetus.
G8 members are France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. Composed of six members at its creation in 1975, and seven with Canada in 1976, the group became the G8 with the progressive inclusion of Russia beginning from 1998. The European Union (then EEC) has been associated since 1977. G8 members represent 15% of world population, 65% of GDP, two thirds of international trade.
The members of the G8 strive to identify measures to take together, where they can make a difference, with respect to major matters concerning the political issues of security and globalization. Lacking a legal personality or permanent secretariat, the G8 is not an international institution and does not take binding measures.
Over the past 30 years, the G8 has been the main international forum providing guidance and impetus in areas expanding over time: economy right from the beginning, as well as development, peace and security, the environment and climate change. It made it possible to set up a collective framework for regulating globalization.
Since the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009, which marked a major step in the reform of world governance, making the G20 the “main international economic forum”, to reflect the new world balances and the growing role of emerging countries, the G8 has been redefining its role.
The “new G8” is refocusing on geopolitical and security issues, the partnership with Africa, in its dual political and economic dimensions, and on the discussion of subjects of common interest to the G8 countries, which face specific challenges.
Its added values lies in its efficacy, based on its direct and informal character, the tradition of joint projects and a desire shared by its members to shoulder their responsibilities.
The G8 is chaired on a rotational basis, from 1 January to 31 December of a given year, by each of its members in the following order: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. The European Union participates in the G8 as an observer; it is represented at the Summit by the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.
The country that has the presidency organizes and hosts the Summit, and prepares it by convening meetings of ministers, senior public servants and experts ahead of time. The presidency is also responsible for communication on behalf of the G8 and relations with countries that are not members of the G8, international organizations, NGOs and civil society in general.
France is chairing the G8 in 2011 for the sixth time. In the past, it has hosted Summits in Rambouillet in 1975, Versailles in 1982, Paris in 1989, Lyon in 1996 and Evian in 2003.
The Summit provides the opportunity for a frank, informal discussion among leaders on key issues on the international agenda. It results in the adoption of a political statement, possibly accompanied by additional statements, sectoral action plans and other documents.
For a dozen years, the G8 has taken the habit to organize a meeting with African leaders during the Summit. Traditionally, the founding countries of the New Partnership with Africa (NEPAD) are invited - South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal - as well as the country chairing the African Union (AU) and the country chairing NEPAD. On certain occasions, leaders from other countries have also been invited.
The Summit is prepared by “Sherpas”, the name given to the personal representatives of the heads of State and government. They meet several times before the Summit to discuss the agenda and negotiate texts. In France, the Sherpa is the French President’s diplomatic advisor, Mr. Jean-David Lévitte.
The Sherpas are assisted by the Foreign Affairs and Finance “Sub-Sherpas”, as well as by the political Directors of the foreign affairs ministries and the personal representatives for Africa of the heads of State and government.
The presidency also organizes ministerial meetings, which prepare the Summit but which also have their own agendas and are the subject of public statements.
The Foreign Affairs Ministers meet once prior to the Summit and a second time in September in New York on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to discuss foreign policy and security issues. Political Directors prepare these meetings.
Other ministerial meetings may be organized. In 2011, a ministerial meeting will be held on transatlantic drug trafficking and the crime that goes along with it, bringing together the countries of the G8 as well as other Latin American and African countries that are affected first and foremost by this problem.
Personal representatives for Africa / Forum for the Partnership with Africa
In 2002, a network of personal representatives for Africa of the heads of State of government of the G8 was set up to enter into a dialogue with the New Partnership with Africa (NEPAD). In 2003, France drew on this network to prepare the G8 Evian Action Plan for Africa; it expanded the scope of this group by creating the Forum for the Partnership with Africa, which is open to the leading bilateral and multilateral lenders, European lenders in particular.
The personal representatives for Africa meet several times prior to the Summit with the personal representatives of the leaders of African countries who are invited to the Summit to prepare this meeting.
The Forum for the Partnership with Africa meets at least twice a year. It is co-chaired alternately by two African countries and two development partner countries (the country chairing the G8 and an OECD country that is not a member of the G8). Since 2005, it has been tasked with monitoring commitments made in support of development by African States and their development partners, in the context of an exercise of mutual liability.
There is no official language of the G8, because the G8 is a consultative process and not an international organization. The Heads of State and Government express themselves in their own languages at the Summit. Consultations prior to the Summit process are conducted in English.
|1976||United States||San Juan, Porto Rico|
|1983||United States||Williamsburg, Virginie|
|1989||France||Paris, Grande Arche|
|1990||United States||Houston, Texas|
|1997||United States||Denver, Colorado|
|2004||United States||Sea Island, Georgie|
|2005||United Kingdom||Glenaegles, Ecosse|
Updated on : 27.10.10