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The G8 rule, and the rest can like it or lump it

01.01.70

Helen Womack's report on the G8 meeting ("G8 summit has few results, but Russia is firmly in the fold", July 19) mentions Russia's introduction of guests from other countries, and suggests that future discussion is likely to centre on the purpose of this organisation and its membership.
The present constitution of the club consists of six Western First World and predominantly Christian countries and Russia, eastern European, now economically transforming and a Christian country despite its past. The final member is Japan, differing from the rest by not being Christian, but unlike most other Eastern countries because of its economic position.
A similar situation exists in the United Nations Security Council. Here the five veto-holding permanent members are Britain, the US, France, Russia and China. There is no Muslim representation in either group.
These groupings exclude vast sections of the world's population so that decision-making in high places is distorted by the narrowness of this focus. Basically, a deal between the big five or the big eight becomes the plan for the rest of us.
In Australia, we're generally safe enough because we are a client state of the US. But other unrepresented states must wear the decisions of the powerful, knowing that their opinions will have no backing in world opinion. Thus the slaughter of the Karen people in Burma by a military junta goes unpunished, but Iraq must be attacked because it uses chemical weapons on its own people. Similarly, North Korea and Iran must be censured for having nuclear bomb potential, while India, Pakistan and Israel can be ignored while committing that same offence.
Finally, the big five of the Security Council are also distinguished by being the world's leading manufacturers and distributors of weapons. The US equips Israel, and the Russian Kalashnikov is the weapon of choice for fundamentalist militia everywhere.
Protected by their veto, the great powers are insulated from critical opinion, and whatever they say becomes law for everyone.

Don Brown Narrabeen

Expert opinion

Halter Marek

02.12.06

Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing

02.12.06

Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi

02.12.06

Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace

02.12.06

Bill Pace
World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
Peter I. Hajnal

01.12.06

Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group