RESPONSE TO G8 COMMUNIQUE
Make Poverty History has become an unprecedented movement of passion, energy and solidarity. Never before have so many people in the world come together, fully united in demanding action to end poverty, with a roar for justice that they felt was impossible to ignore.
Today the G8 have chosen not to do all that campaigners insist is necessary to free people trapped in the prison of poverty. Important steps have been taken - steps that will bring hope to millions.
But more action is urgently needed if they are to play their role in bringing about real change for the world's poorest people and consigning extreme poverty to the history books.
To secure a deserved place in history, the G8 must go a lot further and secure real change by working with other world leaders at the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals and talks around the World Trade Organisation. The people of the world are already on the road to justice.
They expect their leaders to be with them. Today's announcement has shown that the G8 need to run much faster to catch up.
The G8 have not met the challenge of trade justice as clearly set out by Make Poverty History. There is language in the communiqué on letting African countries set their own trade policies. Yet at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) they continue to force open developing country markets. What we have asked for is action not words.
G8 leaders decided not to set a date for ending the export subsidies that destroy livelihoods of poor countries around the world. By forcing free trade on poor countries, dumping agricultural products and not regulating multinational companies they have chosen not to take the necessary decisions to make poverty history.
The challenge of trade justice remains. The governments of the G8 must now urgently take these steps at the WTO and in other trade negotiations as well as through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Rich countries are the obstacles to trade justice. This must stop if trade is to benefit the poor rather than keep them in poverty.
The G8 has done no more than confirm the proposed deal by the G8 Finance Ministers, cancelling some of the debt owed by some countries. The principle of cancelling 100 per cent of the debt owed to multilateral institutions is a positive step, and a tribute to the unceasing efforts of Make Poverty History campaigners and campaigners worldwide; but this debt deal is a small step compared to the giant leap that was called for.
While an important contribution, the G8 debt deal will provide less than $1 billion this year - the equivalent of no more than one dollar per person in the countries that are due to benefit. It is an inadequate response to the global debt crisis, which needs an estimated $10 billion a year of debt cancellation to eradicate extreme poverty.
Major issues on debt remain unresolved - the damaging economic policy conditions attached to debt relief, the many indebted countries not on the list, debts not covered by the deal.
So there is much more work to be done - the deal is yet to be ratified and then it needs to be delivered. Our campaigners expect more and will be continuing to seek significant improvements and advances during the rest of the year.
While this aid increase is a step forward, it is far from the historic deal that millions around the world have been demanding.
There is no doubt that this aid increase will save lives and Make Poverty History campaigners can be really proud of the role they have played in securing it. But this aid will still arrive five years too late and falls far short of the scale of aid that is needed to end poverty in the world's poorest countries. In real terms, much of the pledged funds are a restatement of recent aid announcements.
For most of the 50 million children who will die of poverty over the next five years, the G8 leaders have offered too little, too late. By 2010, we will still see the awful inequity whereby a child dies every 3.5 seconds, just because they are poor.
The G8's promise of US$48 billion boost to aid in five years is mostly made up of money already pledged. MPH calculates that only around US$20 billion is new money. Some of this money is also likely to be raised through borrowing from future aid budgets, rather than new contributions.
Make Poverty History welcomes the G8's recognition that poor countries should be free to decide their own economic policies. These words must now be turned into actions by putting an end to the damaging conditions that the World Bank and IMF push on impoverished countries.
If the G8 are really serious about reducing poverty, they should be doing much more to improve the quality of their aid, including untying aid from donors' goods and services and ensuring that aid is focused on the poorest. On both areas, they have offered warm words, but little in terms of concrete commitments.
G8 leaders have produced one of the summit's successes by responding courageously to the scale of the AIDS emergency. In pledging AIDS treatment to everyone who requires it by 2010, the G8 have started to restore hope to the 40 million people currently living- and dying- with HIV.
However, insufficient new aid will undermine the target's delivery. The additional aid announced today is not sufficient or fast enough to truly make AIDS history.
Positive people will now be looking to donors to deliver full AIDS funding at the Global Fund Replenishment conference this September. Without adequate financing, this bold and visionary target could become another of the broken promises that litter the history of the pandemic.
In the last 20 years the G8 has repeatedly failed to take the action it could to eradicate poverty. This has been an unprecedented year in which millions of people have campaigned to make poverty history and the UK government have responded by placing Africa on the agenda as a priority for the G8.
They have worked hard with European Union and G8 colleagues to deliver significant steps towards debt cancellation and more and better aid. Throughout this summit, the UK government have demonstrated leadership on these vital issues.
The G8 choosing not to deliver all that campaigners feel is necessary will disappoint the millions of campaigners in the UK but we will judge the UK government by its contribution to the delivery of all our campaign demands for trade justice not free trade, more and better aid and debt cancellation for all developing countries.
The G8 has missed the opportunity to make progress on climate change, the impacts of which are already affecting poor countries and will seriously undermine efforts to eliminate poverty in the long term. We now look to the UK's Presidency of the EU for effective action to rectify this lack of progress.