Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 15, 2002
G-8 summit disappoints African hopes, says Henry
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The G-8 summit in Kananaskis was good for Russia but a big disappointment for the African poor, says Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary as he joined other leaders in criticizing the meeting.
"The most positive agreement (that came out of the summit) was to assist Russia in the cleansing of its weapons stockpile," the bishop said July 10.
"But as far as coming to the assistance of Africa I am afraid that the American agenda and George Bush, in particular, managed to co-opt through the alliance he made with Tony Blair to put such stringent conditions on aiding and assisting Africa that really not much happened."
And there is more. "They didn't really address some issues connected with ecology, they didn't really do much in terms of overall debt relief for some of the poor indebted nations and maybe most significantly they more or less ignored the AIDS question in Africa. So there are a lot of negatives and I think a lot of disappointments."
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace was also critical of the summit, saying the G8 leaders squandered hopes for a dynamic relationship with Africa.
According to CCODP, the summit had no new initiatives for Africa and set no firm timetable for implementing changes in aid and trade relationships urged by African nations.
"If words could be equated with dollars and support, African nations could have expected the Kananaskis Summit to mark a turning point in the richer countries' relationship with them," said Jack Panozzo of CCODP.
"The fact is that the G-8 Action Plan is little more than new labels pasted onto old policies. The world's most powerful leaders failed to address the essence of Africa's NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) proposals, offering only rhetoric and recycled promises."
But there were some positive things, Henry said. One was that "cool heads prevailed."
Even more positive was that the summit helped educate people about the reality of today's world, the bishop said. "I think the consciousness of many people was raised."