Jun 19th, 2013 12:40 AM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
There are two ways to analyse a G8 communiqué. One is what you do in the minutes after it is issued, desperately scanning sentences, paragraphs, whole pages in seconds; your eyes alert for key words. Trying to build an instant impression of whether they’ve pulled a fast one, whether things have come out better (don’t hold your breath) or worse (more like it) than you had expected.
In these moments, the smallest things loom the largest, like the use of “for example” rather than “including” (the latter meaning that what follows it may actually happen, the former meaning that what follows was probably opposed by everyone around the table except the host). Communiques need this kind of fast and brutal scrutiny. Without it, the fleeting media spotlight might move on before genuinely significant downgrades (or even upgrades) in the text are spotted, and the chance to test leaders against their pre-summit intentions is left until nobody is listening.
The other way to analyse a communiqué is what you do later the same day, on a flight, or with a glass in hand, or sitting up in bed before you finally submit to sleep after days of summit madness. This one involves actually reading it.
The 2013 communique produced yesterday when the G8 wrapped up their meeting, including the one-page ‘Lough Erne Declaration’, is unusual in being worth a proper read. There is a thread running through it. It isn’t too long. And it has some passages that may be genuinely significant in mandating bold action in the months and years ahead.
Take the declaration, a list of ten sentences that, taken together, demand a pretty high standard of behaviour for G8 members from now on. Point four: “Developing countries should have the information and capacity to collect the taxes owed them – and other countries have a duty to help them.” It’s easy to find holes. The repeated use of “should” rather than the tougher “will”, for example, has not gone unnoticed. But picking such nits misses the big opportunity.
Campaigners should take this declaration at face value, advertise it widely and throw it back at G8 leaders every time they fall short. Whether that’s by failing to defend the land rights of marginalised people, excluding developing countries from access to information about the revenues they are losing to tax havens and wealthier countries, or caving in to the lobbying efforts of ‘big oil’ to keep secret the payments they make to governments.
There are undoubtedly disappointments in this communique. The biggest let-down is around the failure of the G8 as a whole to agree to compile information showing who actually benefits from the ownership of each company. If the G8 had agreed to do this and publish the results, they really would have put some rev in the transparency revolution. The fact that they didn’t manage to agree to compile these even for the use of law enforcement agencies is depressing (though five of the G8 are going to consult on doing at least this much). It now falls to the UK and France, who showed leadership, to drive a positive European approach on ‘beneficial ownership’ through the European Union.
Another blow is the lack of new money to put behind positive words on agriculture. David Cameron conceded early on that this would be a ‘leave your chequebook at home’ summit. Nobody can argue with the call for funding to address Syria’s humanitarian emergency. But the $1.5 billion raised in an afternoon for Syria happens to be about the same as the shortfall in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme that last year’s G8 promised to fill – a promise so far entirely undelivered. Ranking desperate human need is a dangerous business, but many will wonder why the chronic emergency of extreme poverty and hunger does not command the same cash call as the acute crisis in Syria. Both are a matter of life and death.
However, elsewhere in the communique (analysed by my colleagues Verity Outram and Alan Hudson) are tantalising signs of how far the tax and transparency debate has moved in the last year and the extent to which developing countries could benefit. The G8 makes clear that developing countries must be able to participate fully in the exchange of information needed for them to effectively collect the taxes they are due. The push for transparency in the extractives sector, so important for resource-rich developing countries, is buoyant after Canada pledged to match EU and US legislation in a pre-summit announcement. And the little-reported Open Data Charter has been agreed which could transform the way government information is presented and publicised, putting into citizens’ hands the means to hold their governments to account.
All of which means there is plenty of cause for encouragement from Lough Erne, and those who pushed this rock up the hill have something to show for their efforts. The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign should feel proud, holding together a 200-strong coalition to deliver a message that captured attention and leveraged action.
350,406 ONE members who signed petitions calling on the G8 to fight malnutrition and unleash a transparency revolution made their presence felt too, and helped ensure that the eyes of the whole world, not just Britain, were watching and willing a positive result.
Transparency champions from Africa and Asia joined ONE on Saturday to tell the Prime Minister about the human impact of a lack of transparency and their own brave accounts of fighting corruption. And the performers, volunteers and supporters who came together last week for ONE’s agit8 campaign, reviving great protest songs to energise a call for G8 leaders to act, have made their mark and added to a powerful new sense of momentum in the global fight against extreme poverty.
Then there is David Cameron’s role. His style and politics may be different from his predecessor and the 2005 Gleneagles Summit remains, for now, the high-water mark for anti-poverty campaigners as far as G8 summits are concerned. He will have to take responsibility for where this summit fell short just as he should take credit for where it delivered. But he brought energy and a compelling and coherent idea to this G8 presidency and sold much of it to his counterparts.
If activists hold leaders accountable for the commitments made today just as they did eight years ago, and those leaders show by their actions that they meant what they wrote, the Lough Erne communique may yet form a very significant chapter in the story of how extreme poverty was ended. That’ll be worth a read.
What do you think? Tell us how you have been involved in events leading up to the G8, and what you think of the outcomes in the comments below.
Apr 11th, 2013 10:57 AM UTC
By Joseph Powell
This post was originally published on Trust Law.
The fight against corruption is messy, unpredictable and often dangerous. In developing countries it has historically been most acute in countries with large deposits of oil, gas and minerals, and involves the diversion of huge sums of money that could otherwise be spent on poverty eradication.
That’s why this week’s agreement in Brussels for all 27 European Union member states to require extractive companies to publish the payments they make to governments is potentially such a game-changer. Transparency of this kind releases information that will make it harder for natural resource wealth to be lost to corruption or captured solely by elites.
The European decision follows a similar US law which passed in 2010 and came into force last year. It is to the credit of policy-makers on both sides of the Atlantic that the laws match each other in many respects, including requiring reporting to be on a project-by-project basis and for publication of all payments over EURO 100,000/$100,000 respectively. Both sets of lawmakers also rejected industry pressure for an exemption for reporting in the most autocratic countries where secrecy laws might be passed in the future, deciding these were precisely the places where greater transparency is needed most. This is the new global standard for legally binding transparency in the extractive industries.
Now attention should turn to two key issues: globalising the standard even further; and putting in place a plan for ensuring all the forthcoming data is used for accountability purposes.
The G8 focus on natural resource governance presents an opportunity to make progress on both. First, the G8 countries not covered by Dodd-Frank 1504 or the EU Accounting Directive should commit to passing their own equivalent measures by the end of the year. Canada, home to over 2000 extractive industry companies and the largest non-African investor in mining in Africa, is a natural priority. Mining groups and civil society are currently working together to make a recommendation to government in the coming months for how this might work in practice. As co-chairs of the G20 anti-corruption working group Canada is also well placed to win support from other major players in the sector, including Australia, South Africa, Brazil and China.
The G8 can also help mobilise financial support to help the end-users of extractives data hold governments to account. These include parliamentary committees, supreme audit institutions, media, international organisations and local civil society. A new multi-donor ‘Follow the Money’ fund could be set up to support this. There must also be international vigilance to support the activists on the frontline of campaigns against corruption, such as the Publish What You Pay coalition member recently arrested in Gabon.
The momentum in favour of transparency and openness in the extractive industries is remarkable. It is testament to the organisation and commitment of the activists involved, and to the bravery of political leaders who persevered and stuck to their principles in the face of fierce lobbying. This is deservedly a moment for celebration but it would be a mistake to become complacent. The battles to make this transparency standard truly global, and ensure the data delivers the improvement in people’s lives that all sides want to see, will be just as tough. Europe struck an important blow in the fight against corruption last night. Now we must make sure it is not the last.
Apr 10th, 2013 6:34 PM UTC
By Eloise Todd
We did it. After months of our hard campaigning, last night European leaders reached a deal that requires oil, gas, mining, and logging companies to publish the payments they make to governments.
Previously, these payments were made in secret, fuelling corruption; but this victory will help promote accountability. Now citizens will be better able to ensure that the money generated in resource-rich countries is used for vital services like schools, roads and hospitals.
This deal is a historic milestone in the fight against corruption and your actions made all the difference.
More than 162 000 petition signatures; more than 8000 postcards and countless handwritten letters and tweets all made sure our voices couldn’t be ignored.
Help us spread the word that change is possible by shouting about this incredible news.
As Bono said, “Europe’s leaders have stepped up and delivered a gamechanging breakthrough tonight. Transparency is one of the best vaccines against corruption, and now citizens the world over will know what their country’s resources are really worth. I’m delighted for the activists that have campaigned so hard for this to happen and applaud the bravery of politicians who stood up to fierce lobbying and got the deal done.”
And it wouldn’t have happened without you. Thank you again.
Feb 15th, 2013 10:24 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Meet our January ONE Member of the Month, Mark Shaw! Mark is a student at University College London, and in this guest blog he tells us what he’s been up to.
2013 has been really busy so far. I’ve been sorting out a conference on Global Health at UCL to increase support for ONE and other global health societies at my university, spread the campaigns on campus.
The conference was a huge success, with 120 tickets sold and ten fantastic speakers, plus plenty of people leaving inspired. Topics included women’s health, non-communicable diseases, health worker migration, HIV AIDs and conflict, which had a special focus on the conflict in Syria. ONE were incredibly supportive and helped put us in touch with some of our speakers.
As a result of the conference, we have formed a group of ONEers at UCL who hope to keep events coming throughout the year, including debates, lobbying opportunities and campaigning.
I also went to the launch of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign to tackle global hunger held at Somerset House. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet other ONE members from across the country.
Just last week I joined some bleary-eyed ONE campaigners at 7am at the Eurostar terminal in London, hoping to catch David Cameron on his way to Brussels for the EU budget meeting and do some last minute lobbying. We didn’t manage to spot him but did hand out lots of campaign leaflets to travellers and chat to people about saving the EU aid budget from cuts.
Massive thanks to Mark for all his tireless campaigning this month! If you want to get more involved with ONE events and campaigns in your area, get in touch at email@example.com
Feb 12th, 2013 3:33 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
For months now, we’ve called and you answered. You signed our petition, wrote letters and sent postcards, delivering our critical message directly to leaders in capitals across Europe: leaders must protect lifesaving development aid in the on-going EU budget negotiations.
Your voice was heard.
When leaders arrived in Brussels last Thursday for what would become the final budget negotiation between governments, levels of development aid were being threatened with potentially deep cuts. But thanks in large part to your incredible campaigning in these final weeks, when the numbers were released, development aid to the world’s poorest was protected at current levels, despite cuts to the overall EU budget for the first time in history.
Though the EU still has a long way to go in order to keep its promises to the world’s poorest, we managed to avoid a disastrous step back. It was the voices of citizens across Europe that helped ensure that current levels of aid were protected.
However, the fight isn’t over yet. We’ll need you in this final battle of the campaign as we work to make sure the European Parliament will do everything within its power to protect lifesaving aid to the poorest before they sign off the deal.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us this far. We couldn’t do it without you.
Feb 6th, 2013 12:31 PM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
Tomorrow, EU leaders will meet in Brussels to decide the EU budget for 2014-2020, including the proposed €51 billion of lifesaving EU aid to the world’s poorest.
EU aid works. Between 2004 and 2009, it helped enrol more than 9 million children in primary education, vaccinate 5.5 million children against measles, and connect more than 31 million people to clean water. If the proposed €51 billion EU aid budget is adopted, in the next 7 years 15 million more children could be enrolled in school, 9 million more could be vaccinated and 51 million more people could be connected to clean water.
But proposals for smart European aid are under serious threat. At the last summit in November, proposed development assistance to the world’s poorest was slashed by €6.1bn. And some leaders want to make even deeper cuts that could take funds below current spending levels: this would have a devastating impact.
Ahead of this week’s critical talks, ONE members from all over Europe have been rallying to ask European leaders to protect lifesaving EU aid at the proposed levels.
In the next step of our Lifesaver campaign, ONE estimated that it would cost just 3 euro cents (or 2 pence) per week, per EU citizen to reverse proposed cuts to aid for the poorest. ONE members have therefore decided to make their small change count! In the UK, over 2000 ONE members have asked for postcards to send their 2 pence to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to protect proposals for lifesaving EU aid in the budget negotiations. In Germany, ONE members have sent postcards to Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding their 3 cents. In Brussels, the team collected by hand over 230 postcards for President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy including around 60 Brussels-based interns and young professionals who came to our meet-up last week. ONE Brussels hand delivered postcards to Van Rompuy’s staff and passed on the message that Europeans are counting on him to ensure their voices are heard. ONE has also started handing in postcards to the other European governments at their embassies in Brussels.
In France, as part of the French version of ONE’s Lifesaver campaign, “sauveteur du siècle”, ONE members have mailed more than 500 postcards to President François Hollande, urging him to make sure that, in Winter sales season, EU leaders don’t try to make savings on the back of the world’s poorest.
In parallel, ONE also estimated how much it would cost each government per year to reverse the cuts to the proposed €51 billion for EU aid. For Germany that’s €174mn, for the UK €113mn and for France €154mn – peanuts compared to overall annual government spending.
Beside the “Make Your Change Count” action, ONE has also launched a tumblr blog (in French, German and English), a hilarious take on the serious day-to-day work of Lifesaver campaigners fighting to protect aid in the EU budget.
Finally, in order to help people get their heads around the confusing EU budget figures, we have produced an infographic on what current cuts on the table to the proposal for EU development aid could actually mean on the ground. The figures are stark: if the proposed cuts are agreed on, 1.9 million less pupils could be enrolled in primary school. If deeper cuts are decided, the impacts would be even worse. The infographic is also available in French and in German.
Why not help spread the word? You can start by signing ONE’s petition to protect European aid.
And to learn more about the impact of EU aid on the ground read these 5 stories about successful EU-funded projects in Africa.
This week really matters – we’ll keep you updated and hope to see EU leaders doing the right thing tomorrow and protecting lifesaving EU aid for the world’s poorest.
Jan 31st, 2013 5:34 PM UTC
By Alicia Blázquez
This morning the Berlin team met outside the German Finance Ministry today for a mini-stunt. The occasion: Deputy ministers had a meeting to discuss the budget for 2014 and the necessary cuts to reach the “black zero” (no, not a Coke, but a budget with no new debt).
We were there to convey one message: Don’t use the red pen (a German phrase for cuts) on the poorest of the poor. We handed out red pens and postcards with that message to people walking into the ministry, but – most importantly – to at least half of the Deputy Ministers as they were driving in.
We approached their cars and gave the postcards and pens directly to their drivers. Check out the pictures below and the full album on Facebook.
Across Europe ONE members have been asking their governments not only to protect national Aid budgets, but also to protect the lifesaving European Union Aid budget – you can join them by taking action here.
Jan 24th, 2013 4:25 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
On 23 January, UK Prime Minister David Cameron made an important speech on the UK and Europe.
In his speech, Cameron set out what, in his view, Europe did and didn’t do well. As part of this he specifically recognised the role of the European Union in fighting global poverty; stating:
“We believe in our nations working together … to tackle climate change and global poverty.”
And he is right – the European Union plays a crucial role in tackling global poverty (see the result of its aid spending here).
Mr Cameron’s comments could not be better timed because this lifesaving European aid is under threat of being cut!
European leaders are meeting in Brussels on February 7-8th to decide the next European Union budget for 2014-2020. Already more than €6 billion in EU aid to the world’s poorest has been cut from the proposed European Commission budget – and some member states want to cut the proposal even more. This cut would mean a significant reduction in lifesaving European aid (you can see here the impact that this could have). Yet this actually works out at a little over a pound a year – or roughly two pence per person a week.
At ONE, because of the results this lifesaving aid would have, we don’t want leaders to meet the original proposals for the European aid budget. This aid is worth the cost and Europe should live up to its aid commitment (especially as this aid more than pays for itself in economic benefit back to Europe).
We are so adamant in our belief that we’re sending European leaders two of our own pennies to show that we don’t mind paying this tiny amount.
We think it is important to put pressure on leaders ahead of this summit on the 7-8th so they don’t cut European aid and often Actions Speak Louder! So if you would like to let your government know that you don’t think they should cut this lifesaving aid then you can also send your two pennies – just click on the link to find out more.
Dec 11th, 2012 12:47 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
Yesterday, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) released a report on DFID’s oversight of EU aid. The report, based on a limited number of case studies in three recipient countries, found that both DFID and EU institutions could work more closely together in delivering aid, and that EU institutions’ monitoring and results frameworks should be strengthened.
EU aid is internationally recognised as high quality, including by DFID in its own Multilateral Aid Review. In comparative studies such as the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) index, developed by the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution’s Center for Global Economy and Development, aid from EU institutions to the world poorest consistently ranks among the most effective across a number of indicators. Thanks to EU aid, more than nine million children enrolled in primary education, more than five million were vaccinated against measles and more than 31 million people were connected to drinking water between 2004 and 2009. In 2010, more than 150 million people receive EU humanitarian assistance.
There is, of course, always room for improvement. The ICAI has highlighted the important work that the EU still needs to do in strengthening co-ordination among EU institutions and in reinforcing its own performance management and results framework. These steps are essential in achieving and monitoring results, and for measuring value for money. The EU is aware of these weaknesses and over the past year has been taking steps address them:
The UK government has been instrumental in securing these recent improvements in EU aid. We have confidence in the EU’s ability to implement these changes with DFID support. The ICAI report serves as a useful benchmark for both DFID and the EU in thinking about the best ways to do this. In implementing these reforms, and building on existing results, it will be important for the EU to be sufficiently funded. The EU aid budget – principally the Development Co-operation Instrument and the European Development Fund – should therefore be supported at the levels proposed by the European Commission during current negotiations of the next seven-year EU budget.
Dec 3rd, 2012 4:43 PM UTC
By Erin Finucane
This World AIDS Day, right on the heels of our hard-fought campaign around the EU budget, ONE members in Brussels continued their take over the EU institutions and the city-at-large.
In conjunction with the launch of ONE’s AIDS Accountability Report, ONE members handed out 1000 red ribbons in the European Parliament Wednesday and Thursday with Michael Cashman MEP. Cashman, a long-time advocate in the fight against AIDS, also shared his story for ONE’s YouTube campaign, “It Starts with Me.”
On Thursday, ONE had a presence at the European Commission for a screening of “The Lazarus Effect,” the (RED)/ HBO documentary that highlights the transformative impact of AIDS medicine. Hosted by the Commission’s stagiaire (intern) film club, the screening was followed by a discussion about the ONE’s HIV/ AIDS campaign work and how everyday EU citizens can get involved in the fight.
Our World AIDS Day efforts culminated in the annual AIDS Solidarity March on Saturday where we walked through the streets of Brussels with local Francophone and Flemish NGOs. Accompanied by drums and armed with ONE bands, we marched with hundreds of AIDS activists and survivors. The march ended with a reception at City Hall and the presentation of four panels of the original AIDS quilt. It was a beautiful opportunity for ONE to represent the global fight against HIV/ AIDS while standing in solidarity with local partners fighting the battle here at home.
Check out the photos from our World AIDS Day activities here:
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.