G8 leaders have shown a lack of courage in failing to agree concrete measures to support African citizens' efforts to build a stronger continent, says anti-poverty group ONE. As a result, they risk undermining the huge progress that has been made across Africa over recent years which has led to 46.5 million more children attending school and prevented the deaths of 5.4 million children thanks to routine vaccinations.
Commenting on the final communiqué, ONE's executive director Jamie Drummond said:
"While it's good to see that Sarkozy and his G8 friends are talking tough on democracy and accountability, their failure to set out how they will renew their efforts to keep their aid promises to sub-Saharan Africa leaves the impression that they are too busy chasing headlines about the Arab Spring to ensure that the poorest people in the world get the help they need to pull themselves out of poverty.
"Since the Gleneagles G8 Summit in 2005 significant progress has been made in reducing poverty and disease in Africa. We cannot let this progress slip back now - it is in all of our interests to help Africans build a strong and stable continent."
However, ONE has strongly welcomed the positive endorsement by the G8 of transparency laws that will shine a light on the shady finances of the oil, gas and mining industries that operate in poor countries. Greater transparency will allow civil society groups to hold their leaders to account, rooting out corruption and ensuring that all citizens can benefit from the valuable natural resources in their country.
Jamie Drummond commented:
"This is the first time the G8 has supported laws promoting transparency in the extractive sector - a fantastic achievement. We salute the leadership of President Barroso, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron who have all endorsed EU legislation in this area, and the foresight of President Obama for supporting these provisions as part of the US 2010 Dodd Frank Act. We now look to other leaders within the G8, G20, AU and EU, and to the oil and gas industries, to catch up with this debate and commit to legally binding financial reporting standards that can help tackle corruption and provide a cornerstone of good governance in the poorest countries.
"The murky deals between extractive companies and despots need to be a thing of the past - transparency is the future: leaders and companies will have to decide which side of history they want to be on."
ONE also welcomes the G8's support for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI), but has stressed that these warm words must be followed by firm commitments at the meeting of major donor countries in London on June 13. GAVI needs an additional €2.6 billion to support the roll-out of vaccines, including new vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhoea, which together kill 2.8 million children a year.
Jamie Drummond said:
"Increased funding for vaccines could save the lives of 4 million children in the next 5 years. While it's encouraging that the G8 have expressed support for GAVI, the true test will come when Prime Minister Cameron hosts a crucial conference in London in a couple of weeks. We hope that he will rise to the challenge to ensure all countries contribute their fair share to this life-saving work."
However, the final Deauville declaration is much less encouraging when it comes to agriculture, with barely any attention given to it in the final communiqué.
"It appears that agriculture is increasingly becoming an afterthought of the G8, despite the grand promises made in L'Aquila in 2008 at the height of the last food crisis," said Drummond. "This suggests yet again that most G8 leaders were chasing headlines and had no intention of following through on their promises - a very worrying trend. The G20 will have to do much better on fighting famine and food insecurity."
Notes to editors:
ONE is on the ground at the G8 in Deauville from May 25-27 and has staff available for interviews and policy briefings in French, English and German. Please contact Verena von Derschau on +33 6 31 22 89 68 or email@example.com
ONE is a global advocacy and campaigning organization backed by more than 2 million people from around the world dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. For more information please visit www.ONE.org and follow us on Twitter: @ONECampaign