Africa: Sign-On Letter to G7, 06/08/02

Africa: Sign-On Letter to G7, 06/08/02

Status: OAfrica: Sign-On Letter to G7Date distributed (ymd): 020608Document reposted by Africa Action Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at


Region: Continent-WideIssue Areas: +economy/development+ SUMMARY CONTENTS: This posting contains a sign-on letter on Africa policy to be sentto G7 finance ministers. The letter is initiated by ActionAid USA,Africa Action, the 50 Years Is Enough Network; and TransAfricaForum. As indicated below, organizational sign-ons from groups,including the country where they are based, should be sent to the50 Years is Enough Network at, by 5 pm U.S. eastcoast time on Wednesday, June 12. [The G7 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and USA.When joined by Russia (for some meetings), they are called the G8.The European Union also participates in the summits.] The sign-on letter is preceded by a brief update on recent U.S.congressional action on funding for HIV/AIDS, one of the issuesthat should be high on the agenda of the G-7 leaders. It isfollowed by selected links to more information on the forthcomingG-7 summit in Kananaskis, Canada and related protest actions.A related posting sent out today contains excerpts from a critique from the South African Council of Churches and the South AfricanCatholic Bishops Conference of the current content of the NewPartnership for African Development (NEPAD), which featuresprominently on the Kananaskis agenda.

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Africa Action UpdateUnder strong pressure from the Bush White House, the U.S. Senatevoted on June 6 by a narrow margin of 49 to 46 to turn down theDurbin/Specter amendment, a bipartisan proposal to raise additional funding for global action against AIDS to $500 millionthis fiscal year, to be channeled through the Global Fund forHIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and bilaterally. An alternate proposal from Republican Senators Frist and Helms for $100 million for bilateral funding for programs to block mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, passed, after Senator Frist agreed to White House demands to reduce the original amount of $500 million for this purpose. As a result the bill, still to be finalized in consultations between the House and Senate, now contains only $200 million total for HIV/AIDS. The Bush administration is reportedly preparing a proposal of itsown for additional funding for HIV/AIDS in future years. Advancenews stories say the proposal will probably focus on bilateralfunding for prevention of mother-to-child-transmission.Of the $10 billion a year required for the Global Fund, only $725 million has been raised for this year, its first year of operation. G7 countries as a group have pledged approximately 8 percent of what they should pay, while the U.S. has pledged approximately 7 percent. See:


ORGANIZATIONAL SIGN ON TO G7 FINANCE MINISTERS - AFRICA POLICYPlease send ORGANIZATIONAL (not individual) sign-ons to: <>, and include your locationThe following letter is initiated by: ActionAid USA; Africa Action;the 50 Years Is Enough Network; and TransAfrica Forum Deadline for sign-ons: Wednesday, June 12 - 5 pm U.S. Eastern time Statement to the G7 Finance Ministers, on the occasion of their meeting in Halifax, Canada - June 14-15, 2002 We, the undersigned groups, call upon you, the Finance Ministers of the G7 countries, to use the occasion of your meeting on June 14-15 to commit to an agenda that will address Africa's mostcritical economic challenges. We welcome the proposed focus on Africa at this year's G7 Summitin Kananaskis, Canada, and we urge you to ensure that action istaken that will make a real difference in reducing poverty andpromoting development. It is critical that this meeting create a new framework for partnership between the G7 and African countries, based on a firm commitment to dismantling the barriers to Africa's economic development and addressing the continent's most urgent priorities.

The official African initiative, entitled the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), is likely to frame much of the discussion at the G7 meetings. This is a significant new plan defined by a group of African leaders that seeks to address the continent's development challenges. However, NEPAD is still an emerging initiative that requires broader consultation among African leaders and civil society. In recent weeks, many of the most-respected African civil society organizations and coalitions [e.g. the Council for Development and Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Third World Network-Africa, and the Trade UnionAdvisory Committee to the OECD Group, as well as many prominentAfrican development experts, have publicly deplored the extremelylimited consultations -- which excluded many African governmentsentirely, as well as the continent's civil society -- involved indrafting NEPAD. In its current state, NEPAD reflects the prevailing economic perspectives of donor countries rather than those defined by Africans themselves. It cannot become the cornerstone for a new partnership between African governments andG7 governments until it has first become a partnership betweenAfrican governments and their own people. Unless this initiativeis more fully informed by African voices, it cannot be regarded asa blueprint for Africa's development. The focus of the upcoming G7 meetings, therefore, should be on theparticular role and responsibilities of the G7 countries themselves. The agenda must address the actions required of G7 governments to remove the impediments to poverty reduction in Africa. The G7 Action Plan for Africa, drafted in secret byofficials of G7 countries and designed to complement NEPAD, doesnot address Africa's most immediate priorities.

The Plan utterlyfails to focus on the concrete actions already available to G7governments that would have a real and positive impact.Specifically, the G7 governments have the power to cancel Africa'soppressive burden of illegitimate foreign debt; the resources toincrease investments in human development and especially to fullyfinance the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria;and the influence to redress the structural imbalance in traderelations between rich and poor countries. This should be theAfrica agenda in Halifax and Kananaskis. Africa's burden of foreign debt, much of it arguably illegitimateor "odious," represents the single largest obstacle to thecontinent's development. So long as African countries are forcedto spend almost $15 billion per year repaying debts to G7countries and the international financial institutions, they willbe unable to address their urgent domestic needs. The constantoutward flow of desperately needed resources undermines povertyreduction initiatives and cripples efforts to cope with thedevastating impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis. The currentinternational debt relief framework, the Heavily Indebted PoorCountries (HIPC) Initiative, has failed to resolve Africa's debtcrisis. Even by its own measure, this framework is not reducingdebt to levels described by the World Bank as "sustainable". TheHIPC plan is a flawed approach to addressing Africa's debt crisis.It offers insufficient relief to a limited number of countries, itties debt relief to specific austerity measures, and it serveschiefly the interests of creditors. It fails also to address thequestion of illegitimacy hovering over so much of this debt."Enhancements" of HIPC at this time of gathering crises could onlybe seen as a shell game. A serious commitment to addressingAfrica's challenges must begin by releasing the continent fromdebt bondage. There is an urgent need for a greater commitment of resources fromthe G7 countries to support African efforts to address the continent's health crisis and related social and economic challenges. Increased public investment of this kind should be seen as an obligation of G7 countries. The enormous wealth of the world's richest countries is directly related to the impoverishmentof Africa and the global South more broadly.

The growing disparity between the poor and the wealthy in the world is both unconscionable and destabilizing. More money is essential to address the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa and to stem the spread of the pandemic worldwide. The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an important new mechanism to finance the war on AIDS. Currently, itseffectiveness is being undermined by a lack of funding from rich country governments. Whereas the Global Fund requires $10 billiona year if it is to succeed in financing both prevention and treatment, especially the provision of essential medicines, lessthan $2 billion has been pledged so far. The war on AIDS can bewon. But only if the G7 commits far greater resources than it hasto date. Just as the committed funding for combating HIV/AIDS is far short of what is needed, so too are resources, including fresh researchin the service of the public interest rather than private profit, dedicated to fighting health challenges with a longer history in Africa. Diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria remain major killers in Africa, despite the fact that we already know how to control them; what we lack is the political will and the resourcesto get effective treatment to Africans. More broadly, the G7 should invest in promoting health and education for Africa's people as a foundation for sustainable growth. It is widely recognized that such investments in human development are indispensable to poverty reduction. They are also essential if the Millennium Development Goals are to be met. Yet, levels of development assistance from rich countries have fallen in a consistent downward trend in the past decade. Despite repeated commitments from western governments to provide 0.7% of their gross national product (GNP) for official development assistance, not one of the G7 countries reaches half of that figure. The true measurement of the G7's new commitment to Africa will be revealedby the degree to which these figures change as a result of theKananaskis summit. While debt cancellation and increased public investment by rich countries must form two key pillars of a successful approach to Africa's economic challenges, trade can also play an importantrole. In order for trade to generate sustainable growth, however,there must be a more equitable trading relationship between rich countries and African countries. Over the past two decades, the vulnerability and marginalization of African countries in theglobal economy has been exacerbated rather than eased by trade liberalization policies imposed by external powers. Africa's shareof world trade has declined to less than half of what it was in1980, resting now at only 1.5%. African economies remain over-dependent on primary commodities, while trade barriers imposed byrich countries severely restrict access for African products to foreign markets. Changing this dynamic will require a commitment on the part of the G7 countries to simplify expanded market access for African goods and to dismantle trade barriers. It willnecessitate the establishment of more equitable terms of trade andan end to the current double standards in international traderules. At present, developing countries face tariff barriers thatare four times higher than those encountered by rich countries.These barriers cost poor countries an estimated $100 billion ayear. Trade can only be a successful contributor to economicgrowth in Africa to the extent that the G7 countries take actionsto level the playing field in the global economy. Finally, a new partnership between the G7 and African countries must be based on a shift away from the practice of imposing economic policies dictated by G7 governments and the InternationalFinancial Institutions. Instead, a true partnership must focus onpriorities and strategies defined by African countries themselvesto reduce poverty and promote development. Your meeting in Halifax must move beyond rhetoric to immediate actions such as debt cancellation that would make a real difference for Africa's people. >> Please send ORGANIZATIONAL (not individual) sign-ons to: <>, and include your location. Thank you!


Additional Related LinksG8/G7 Information Centre http://www.g7.utoronto.caG8/G7 2001 Summit in Genoa 2000 Summit in Okinawa G6Billion People's Summit in Calgary http://www.g6bpeoplessummit.orgG8 Activism Years is Enoughhttp://www.50years.orgAction Aidhttp://www.actionaid.orgTransAfrica Forum ************************************************************

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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