Group of Eight concludes Muskoka summit, reaffirms own essential role

12:52, June 27, 2010      

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at his closing news conference at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, June 26, 2010. (Xinhua/Host Photo/Francis Vachon)

The Group of Eight (G8) concluded its 2010 annual summit here on Saturday after issuing a declaration about its shared views and approaches for major global challenges, and reaffirmed its own essential role in international affairs.

"We had a very successful summit. We have refocused the G8 on its strength, development, peace and of course global security challenges," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the G8 rotating president for the year and also chair of the current summit, at a closing press conference.

In the declaration issued upon the summit's conclusion, the G8 said that its annual summit this year took place as "the world begins a fragile recovery from the greatest economic crisis in generations."

The summit, which drew leaders of the world's eight major industrialized countries, the European Union and 10 selected African and Latin American developing countries to the tranquil and picturesque Canadian region of Muskoka, covered a wide range of topics from the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and food security to climate change and support for Africa, as well as many complex issues of international peace and stability.

As one of the major achievements of the summit, the G8 leaders formally endorsed and launched the Muskoka Initiative, aimed at improving maternal, newborn and child health globally.

According to the Muskoka Declaration, the G8 has undertaken to mobilize 5 billion U.S. dollars of additional funding for the Initiative over the next five years, while other partner countries and foundations have committed to additional funding of 2.3 billion dollars to be disbursed over the same period.

The initiative is expected to significantly reduce the number of maternal, newborn and under-five child deaths in developing countries, and help accelerate progress toward the MDGs, said the G8 leaders.

In another fresh step, the G8 launched a Muskoka Accountability Report, in a bid to increase transparency on the implementation of its own commitments, something the group said all international organizations and forums should do.

"We welcome the Muskoka Accountability Report: Assessing action and results against development-related commitments and will ensure follow up on its conclusions and recommendations," said the summit Declaration, adding that the Accountability reporting in 2011 will focus on health and food security.

This year's G8 summit was widely seen as a key prelude to the Fourth Summit of the Group of 20 (G20), slated to begin in Canada' s largest city Toronto -- about 2.5 hours of car ride from Huntsville -- in just a few hours. And it is the first time for the G8 and G20 summits to be held back to back in one country.

The G20, which is composed of all major developed and emerging economies in today's world and therefore has a broader representation, has emerged as the world's premier forum for international economic cooperation and policy coordination since its first summit in 2008 in the depth of global financial crisis and economic recession.

However, the G8 leaders firmly rejected the idea that their group might one day get replaced by the G20.

In response to a relevant question at Saturday's closing press conference, the Canadian prime minister said that although the G20 has done a magnificent job in dealing with the financial crisis, it also has limits, and that the G8 will remain "equally vital" as the G20 and other key international bodies and forums.

"It is central that the G8 keeps its promises going forward. This is essential to the credibility and effectiveness of this forum as an organization," he said. "The G8 has been reshaped and re-energized."

The Muskoka Declaration also stressed that the G8 has " demonstrated the capacity to design credible approaches to meet the challenges of our times."

"For over thirty years, it (the G8) has shown that its collective will can be a powerful catalyst for sustainable change and progress," the document stated. "We, the G8, are determined to exercise leadership and meet our obligations."

It was also confirmed in the summit document that France, which will take over the rotating G8 presidency from Canada next year, will host the next G8 summit in 2011.

"Leaders welcomed the offer of France to host the next Summit in France in 2011," said the Declaration, without specifying when and where exactly the next summit will be, or whether it will once again go side by side with its G20 counterpart.

Source: Xinhua


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