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Oxfam International

Gleneagles: what really happened at the G8 summit?

Oxfam briefing note - Oxfam International

29 July 2005

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The G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland, from 7-8 July 2005, was a time of high drama, hope, and disappointment.

A series of reports published prior to the summit, including the reports of the Commission for Africa and the UN Millennium Project, underlined the fact that without immediate and sustained action by the richest countries, poverty would continue to claim millions of lives and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015 would not be met.

The UK government signalled from an early stage its intention to make action on Africa a centrepiece of its G8 presidency in 2005. All G8 leaders went into the summit under unprecedented worldwide popular pressure. The Global Call to Action against Poverty, a worldwide alliance of anti-poverty coalitions, groups, organisations, and individuals from 70 countries, including each of the G8 nations, mobilised around the need for concerted action against poverty. The UK coalition, Make Poverty History, organised a march of over 225,000 people in Edinburgh, and Live 8 concerts highlighting the need for action were watched by over 2 billion people around the world. These actions raised the profile of poverty in a way never seen before. All of these factors combined to raise expectations that the G8 summit at Gleneagles would deliver the extraordinary: a real breakthrough in the fight against poverty.

During the last-minute negotiations as the summit concluded, however, the true nature of what was being agreed remained unclear. Events were overshadowed by the London bombings, leading to an inevitable shift of tone and emphasis in the summit discussions and a considerable reduction in attention to the outcome.

Oxfam's reaction to the summit is clear. Progress will be made on the MDGs because of the welcome steps taken at the summit and in the G8 finance ministers' discussions that preceded it in June 2005. No previous G8 summit has done as much for development, particularly in Africa. However, along with other organisations and fellow campaigners, Oxfam is disappointed that in the light of undisputed need and unprecedented popular pressure and expectation, neither the necessary sense of urgency nor the historic potential of Gleneagles was grasped by the G8.

This briefing note aims to assess what was agreed at Gleneagles, looking specifically at the following areas in which Oxfam works: aid, debt, trade, conflict, education, health and HIV/AIDS.

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