June 30, 2002

The "Group of Eight" industrialized countries (G8) met last week, in Kananaskis, Alberta. $300,000,000.00 was spent on security, and Prime Minister Jean Chretien's goal of keeping aid for Africa on the agenda resulted in some shakey commitments for maybe twice that for AIDS. Billions were promised for Africa, but no one actually believes that the full amount will be delivered in any meaningful way.

The "New Partnership for Africa's Development" (which is referred to the grimly accurate acronym NEPAD) was pitched to the G8 as a way to solve all of Africa's problems (big promises for poverty reduction, health improvements, etc.). All that for only $64 Billion. Of course, for the African nations to get that far, they had to develop the plan in close consultation with the World Bank and IMF, and ignore many people and organizations who represent the actual concerns of their respective countries. All kinds of requirements have to be met before the money is made available, etc.

There are plenty of criticisms of NEPAD as too little, too late, but the most damning that I've heard was from Stephen Lewis, the UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, who spoke at the "Group of Six Billion" (G6B) people's summit in Calgary. His keynote speach is available from the Alberta Indymedia Centre, and is well worth listening to.

Notably, he quotes NEPAD itself: ""Unless these epidemics [AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis] are brought under control, real gains in human development will remain an impossible hope." And then notes that the G8 leaders and governments have been neglecting or simply ignoring the pitiful state that the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria is in. He goes on to elaborate on just how big a problem AIDS is in Africa with some truly grim stories of how one out of every two people who are trained to treat AIDS die before their training is finished, how 2000 infants are infected every day. The statistics are all the more grim for their preventability.

If what Lewis said is remotely true (and there's little reason to doubt it), it seems clear that AIDS in Africa needs to be dealt with before anything else can happen. And yet, all the leaders can talk about is "economic development."

Other links:

Monkeyfist G8 Resources

I made a cool poster (200k, pdf) which illustrates and describes the ways in which the G8 dictate economic policy to developing countries. I also made a globalization reading list (150k, pdf) that has some excerpts from good articles on globalization that I've read.

Indymedia Centres: Alberta. Protests were smaller than usual (between 10 and 20,000 total), spread out between Ottawa, Calgary, and Kananaskis, and peaceful. As a result, they were all but ignored by the press, which seems to have an allergy to actually asking people why they're protesting.

A print interview with Stephen Lewis (whose son, Avi Lewis, is married to Naomi Klein.. one big happy family of Canadian lefties).

posted by dru in blog