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Old 06-26-2002, 11:43 AM   #1
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What the G8 Should Say

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What the G8 should say
Wednesday, June 26, 2002 Print Edition, Page A13

If the leaders gathered in Kananaskis were truly committed to global prosperity, here's the declaration they would sign


CALGARY -- The leaders of the G8 nations, having been blessed for two days with the opportunity to reflect on events of the past year and the challenges posed by the future, offer the following Declaration of Kananaskis. We do so as representatives of the world's most prosperous peoples and keepers of much of its wealth, in the hope that it will inaugurate a new and more equitable era in global relations.

The meeting was our first since Sept. 11, when the people of the United States suffered terrorist attacks on a scale unprecedented in human history. We are united in our resolve to defend our peoples from politically motivated acts of violence. We wish to reaffirm the central role of the United Nations in ensuring global peace and security. We recognize that co-operative initiatives are more productive and less likely to generate friction among the world's peoples than unilateralism.

True security is intimately related to fairness in the generation and distribution of prosperity. Our reflections have led us to the conclusion that in many important respects, we and our predecessors have widened differences rather than narrowing them, and failed to keep the principles of fair dealing foremost in our relations with the rest of the world.

As leaders, we have been too slow to challenge those who use their power in arbitrary ways to the detriment of the common good. Our stewardship of the world's natural resources has been deficient. We have promoted global economic strategies that, while generating considerable wealth and holding out the real prospect of real human development, have left hundreds of millions of people behind.

One of our biggest moral failures is our inability to curb the international arms trade. We recognize that it is unconscionable to allow massive weapons transfers to governments and individuals with proven track records of human-rights abuse. It makes no sense to spend our taxpayers' money on foreign aid programs, while at the same time allowing arms transfers -- for profit or political ends -- to fuel wars that reverse any gains made through the provision of such assistance. We agree to cut off immediately the flow of weapons to governments and individuals with proven track records of human-rights abuse.

We have also been slow to appreciate the trauma caused by conflict over natural resources. Demand for products such as diamonds, timber, minerals and oil, coming principally from the developed world, fuels vicious wars and extensive human suffering. We will instruct our officials to devise more efficient ways of regulating such commerce and curbing abuses. We know our citizens do not wish their own prosperity to be rooted in the deprivation of others. We pledge to work with our corporations to implement codes of conduct with rigorous evaluation mechanisms to ensure that our economic gains are arrived at fairly.

Such problems are particularly acute in Africa. That is one of the reasons we embrace the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a set of principles for economic recovery in the world's poorest continent.

NEPAD contains many worthwhile initiatives, but a sober assessment of Africa's difficulties leads us to the conclusion that in the short term, its problems cannot be addressed through trade and investment strategies. We are therefore pleased to announce an immediate doubling of foreign aid for Africa. Children bear no responsibility for that continent's ills, yet they represent its greatest hope. Therefore, the majority of the aid increase will be destined for education initiatives. We have also set ourselves the goal of doubling Africa's exports to our countries over the next three years through a combination of measures, including the reduction of tariff barriers and phasing out of agricultural subsidies.

We are eager to support NEPAD because it is a strategy for development led by Africans themselves. But we are resolved that it must be a partnership with all Africans, not merely statesmen and government officials. We have listened to the voices of Africans in the trenches, confronting the tragedy of poverty, disease and lost opportunity, and we are resolved that our partnership in NEPAD will be a partnership with all Africans.

In our own countries, participatory democracy means much more than simply casting ballots in elections, and we will work with our African counterparts to ensure that broad consultations with African civil society precede the adoption of our NEPAD action plan.

We have also devoted considerable attention to the problems of the Middle East, including the latest initiative from the United States. Our talks left us in unanimous agreement that sustained engagement by major world powers is crucial to defusing tension in the region, and that the convening of an international conference aimed at a lasting peace settlement could be a positive step. At the same time, we are aware that no people wishes to have decisions concerning their leadership or their future imposed on them from abroad, and we remain committed to a peace that recognizes the long-established rights of all sides.

In our discussions on the Sept. 11 attacks, we agreed that while it is tempting to ask our peoples to participate in a vaguely defined "war on terrorism" with a plethora of battlefronts and no discernible end, it would be highly irresponsible to do so.

We are resolutely opposed to the use of violence in pursuit of political ends. We will stand together to fight international criminal conduct, whether by individual attackers, organized gangs, illegal political organizations or the leaders of rogue states. We acknowledge the right of the United States or any other nation to respond forcefully when attacked.

But we also recognize that our peoples will be most likely to support such efforts when their goals are clearly enunciated and their methods are well understood. Therefore, we undertake to focus our counterterrorism efforts on clearly identified threats. We will not use our legitimate right to defend ourselves against attack as a cover for other agendas, and we will not seek to involve our allies in inappropriate campaigns.

We also acknowledge that in the past, some of our nations have condoned or even encouraged the use of violence against innocent civilians for political ends. We have armed and otherwise assisted some of those who now constitute the gravest threats to international peace and security.

It is time to promise never again to allow a misguided conception of our interests to lead us into morally indefensible decisions. We will work harder to ensure that our support is conditioned on respect for international humanitarian and human-rights law, which we recognize as one of humanity's finest achievements over the past century.

To our own citizens, we promise to act in ways that preserve their aspirations and security. To others, we promise to work toward a rapid narrowing of the gaps that have separated us for far too long. We humbly subscribe to this declaration, in the hope that we shall personally live to see the day when all the world's peoples have access to the opportunities which our own are privileged to enjoy.
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