Thursday, June 7, 2007

The G8 Summit

Wokring sessions of the annual G8 Summit, this year in Heiligendamm, Germany, begin today. The German Government, which holds the rotating presidency and is serving as host, has set the main topics of the agenda (program outline here; short version of the Summit themes here; a longer one here) as "shaping globalisation, climate protection and helping Africa to develop." Though the Heads of State gathering is of obvious importance, much G8 work and decisionmaking is done earlier and at lower levels. In the months and weeks leading up to the Summit, ministers gather, including, this year, finance (and national central bank governors), justice and interior, development, and environment ministers. And to prepare the ministers, lower-level officials meet. For example, for the Justice and Interior Ministers Meeting, which took place this year on May 23-25 in Munich, much preliminary work is done by the Lyon/Roma Group, which focuses on counterterrorism and organized crime. The declarations made by the ministers are of interest, as they indicate areas of commonality, cooperation, and direction among these States. The Justice and Interior Ministers adopted three such declarations: a concluding declaration, which focused on counterterrorism, intellectual property rights enforcement, combating sexual abuse of children, recovery of the proceeds of corruption, and integration of immigrants, a declaration on Afghanistan counternarcotics, and a declaration reinforcing the international fight against child pornography. When the Foreign Ministers met in Potsdam on May 30, in addition to discussing Kosovo, Iran, North Korea, and many other matters of concern, they adopted a declaration on the rule of law. Such declarations might be casually dismissed as nonbinding and hortatory, but their careful negotiation and subsequent lives belie such simple characterizations. We will see what comes of the main event.