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Regular version of the site

Article

Monitoring Compliance with St. Petersburg Summit Commitments

Russia in Global Affairs. 2007. No. 2.

Over 32 years of its history, the G7/G8 has expanded both its agenda and institutional system, and is now appreciated as an instrument of deliberation, direction-giving and decision-making on global governance issues. It has also become a subject for criticism and reform proposals. The critique mainly focuses on the forum’s representativeness, legitimacy and effectiveness.

There may be three points of departure for reflection on the G8 commitments compliance.

First, when the forum arose in the mid-1970s to respond in a coordinated way to the problems and challenges that the existing international institutions could not cope with, its architects set a very high level of expectations on the meetings’ outcome: they should treat crucial economic, financial and political issues, and they should yield results.

Second, St. Petersburg produced 14 summit documents plus the Chair’s summary totaling 317 specific commitments. Although it has confirmed the tendency for increasing the number of commitments characteristic of the seventh series, this is the highest number of any summit held since 1975. Of these, 216 commitments reflect decisions on the Presidency priority issues: 52 relate to fight against infectious diseases; 114 to global energy security; and 50 to education for innovative society in the 21st century. However impressive this may seem, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “the viability of the decisions hinges on the members’ commitment to their consistent implementation within the systemic strategy of joint actions. Serious and multifaceted work on the St. Petersburg commitments implementation lies ahead, including the period of the German presidency of the G8.” Thus, a weighted assessment of the summit performance and the leaders’ commitment to the decisions made is still to come, inter alia on the basis of compliance study results.

Third, over 32 years of its history, the G7/G8 has expanded both its agenda and institutional system, and is now appreciated as an instrument of deliberation, direction-giving and decision-making on global governance issues. It has also become a subject for criticism and reform proposals. The reform proposals are well known and range from expanding the institution to G10 and G12, restructuring the G20 into L20, restructuring the G8 into G4, abolishing the G8, etc. The critique mainly focuses on the forum’s representativeness, legitimacy and effectiveness.

While it is difficult to argue against proposals to expand the G8 to include China and India, or the rationale for coexistence of the G8 and the L20, it is worthwhile considering what data and instruments of evaluation are available to support, inform or refute the perception of the G8’s shortcomings. It is also useful to analyze what these tools offer for monitoring, comparing and sharing, but, moreover, for communicating the G8 performance results to the wider public.