x Harper: 'A New' G8
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A ‘new’ G8:
building on Muskoka’s foundations

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, prime minister, Canada

Last year’s summit in Canada left a strong legacy – especially in terms of advancing women’s and children’s health and of accountability for development commitments – and the current French presidency is building on these themes

From "The 2011 G8 Deauville Summit: New World, New Ideas." edited by John Kirton and Madeline Koch
Published by Newsdesk Media Group and the G8 Research Group, 2011
To download a low-resolution pdf, click here

The 2010 Muskoka Summit reaffirmed the G8’s value as a forum for like-minded countries to discuss the most pressing global challenges and take action on them. In Muskoka, leaders were able to exchange frank views on peace and security issues and on development challenges, while also delivering on several key issues, most notably the pressing need to improve women’s and children’s health in the developing world.

The Muskoka Summit was built on the foundations of accountability and results. First, G8 leaders launched the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, catalysing support for women’s and children’s health and committing more than $5 billion in new and additional funding up until 2015. Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, the Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation joined the G8 to commit an additional $2.3 billion. The G8 process also provided critical momentum to the UN secretarygeneral’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, through which an unprecedented $40 billion was raised to improve women’s and children’s health – including funds pledged through the Muskoka Initiative. The Muskoka Initiative demonstrated the G8’s commitment to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its value in mobilising resources required to advance key MDGs.

Accountability for development commitments was another centrepiece of the Muskoka Summit and a strong legacy for future summits. Leaders agreed that following through on commitments is essential to the credibility and effectiveness of the G8, and this remains a Canadian priority for 2011 and beyond. The G8 released the Muskoka Accountability Report, assessing action and results against development-related commitments and leaders committed to follow up on the report’s recommendations. This report has shown G8 leadership by setting a ‘gold standard’ for reporting responsibly and transparently on the commitments we make.

Canada remains committed to advancing maternal and child health and accountability. I am honoured to continue Canada’s international leadership on these issues as cochair of the new UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, which will develop an accountability framework to help ensure that the commitments made through the Global Strategy and the G8 Muskoka Initiative make a real difference in the lives of women and children around the world.

Canada seeks to sustain and build on the success of Muskoka in 2011, under the leadership of the French G8 presidency, so I am pleased to see that several of the priorities established by the French presidency will build on themes discussed at Muskoka. Accountability will remain at the centre of G8 discussions, including those with our African partners. Delivering on G8 commitments on health and food security will also be front and centre in France’s year.

The G8 has a consistent record of strong commitment to leadership and action on the range of international peace and security challenges confronting the globe. At the Muskoka Summit, G8 leaders made important advances on the peace and security agenda. We notably called on Iran to comply with its international obligations and engage in a transparent dialogue on its nuclear activities, and demanded that North Korea abandon all nuclear proliferation activities and refrain from committing threatening hostilities against South Korea. We discussed the need for the government of Afghanistan to show progress in addressing its security and governance challenges. The concrete results of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, launched at the Kananaskis Summit in 2002, was also welcomed by G8 leaders in Muskoka. As well, G8 leaders continued to actively seek comprehensive and coordinated approaches to help those states and regions struggling to tackle their security vulnerabilities, including terrorism, organised crime and trafficking in drugs, arms and people.

Events over the past year, including recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, confirm the need to build on the momentum generated in Muskoka on peace and security. I am pleased that the French G8 presidency will provide continuity with regard to priority Canadian initiatives such as transatlantic drug trafficking from Latin America to Europe, via Africa. France held a ministerial meeting on this subject on 10 May. This is a logical follow-up to Canada’s initiative at the Muskoka Summit. This drug trade is a prime example of a pressing threat that crosses many borders and has significant impacts in several areas. I believe that the G8 is well placed to improve international cooperation on this problem. I look forward to continue our discussions in Deauville on these and other critical and pressing issues.

But even as we make progress on some issues, new ones will continue to emerge. As noted above, prevailing threats to global security and prosperity need to be addressed. The G8 remains an important part of the global governance system, and one that is well positioned to mobilise action by assuming a leadership role and then mobilising a broader coalition. International cooperation is now more important than ever. Canada, in part through the G8, is playing a role in driving new work on important issues.

Over the past several years, we have witnessed the need for the international architecture to be flexible and adaptive in order to deal with crises. The landscape has changed, and the G8 has responded by focusing where it is most needed. In 2011, we must continue to seek credible solutions to global problems – with innovation, creativity and concrete results. We look forward to continued collaboration with our international partners, to effectively confront pressing global issues.

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