Learn more about G8
|Current G8 Leaders|
The Group of Eight (G8) consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Together, these countries represent about 65% of the world economy<ref>United Nations Development Programme</ref>. The hallmark of the G8 is an annual political summit meeting of the heads of government with international officials, though there are numerous subsidiary meetings and policy research.
The Presidency of the group rotates every year. For 2006 it was held by Russia, and a 2006 summit of all G8 leaders was held in Saint Petersburg from July 15 to July 17 at the Palace of Congresses. The next chair of the G8 is expected to be German Chancellor Angela Merkel followed by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In the last months Spain has expressed its interest in joining the G8. The Spanish economy is growing fast and it will likely surpass Canada in 2008.
 Background and history
The G8 countries has its roots in the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent global recession. These troubles lead the United States to form the Library Group, a gathering of senior financial officials from the United States, Europe, and Japan, to discuss the economic issues.
In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing invited the heads of state of six major industrialized democracies to a summit in Rambouillet and proposed regular meetings. The participants agreed to an annual meeting organized under a rotating presidency, forming what was dubbed the Group of Six (G6) consisting of France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. At the subsequent annual summit in Puerto Rico, it became the Group of Seven (G7) when Canada joined at the behest of U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1976. The European Union has attended meetings since it was first invited by the United Kingdom in 1977<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>.
 Participation of Russia and formation of the G8
In 1991, following the end of the Cold War, the USSR (now Russia) began meeting with the G7 after the main summit. This group became known as the P8 (Political 8), or colloquially the "G7 plus 1", starting with the 1994 Naples summit. Russia was allowed to participate more fully beginning in the 1997 political summit, marking the creation of the Group of Eight or G8. Russia was not included in the meeting of financial officials as it is not a significant economic power; "G7" now refers specifically to the meeting of the respective Finance Ministers and Governors of the Central Banks.
At the initiative of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, "Group of Seven" became the "Group of Eight," with Russia attending most sessions. This was a gesture of appreciation from President Clinton to then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin for pursuing economic reforms, and for their neutrality with respect to the eastward expansion of NATO.
On February 18, 2005, U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) called for Russia to be suspended from the G8 until democratic and political freedoms are ensured by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 Structure and activities
The G8 is not supported by a transnational administration, unlike institutions such as the United Nations or World Bank. The presidency of the Group rotates among the member states annually, with the new president assuming his or her position on 1 January. The country holding the presidency hosts a series of ministerial-level meetings leading up to a mid-year three-day summit with the heads of government, and is responsible for the safety of the participants.
The ministerial meetings bring together ministers in topics such as health, law enforcement, labour, development, energy, environment, foreign affairs, justice and interior, terrorism and trade to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. The best known of these is the G-7, which now refers specifically to the annual meeting of the financial ministers of the G-8 minus Russia, as well as a representative from the European Union. However, there also is a briefer "G8+5" meeting for the finance ministers of the full G-8, as well as the People's Republic of China, Mexico, India, Brazil, and South Africa.
Under the auspices of G7 a special program for the implementation of the Information Society was established in 1994. The Global Information Society held meetings February 25 to February 26 in 1995 in Brussels and May 13 to May 15 in 1996 in South Africa.
In June 2005 the G8 Justice and Interior ministers agreed to launch an international database on paedophiles, expected to be set up by the end of the year. Other countries may join later. The G8 also agreed to pool data on terrorism, subject to the restrictions of the various countries' privacy and security laws. 
In June 2005 the national science academies of the G8 nations - and Brazil, the People's Republic of China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action , and explicitly endorsed the IPCC consensus.
 Economic Power
Critics assert that members of G8 are responsible for global issues such as global warming due to carbon dioxide emission, poverty in Africa and developing countries due to debt crisis and unfair trading policy, the AIDS problem due to strict medicine patent policy and other problems that are related to globalization.
The debate drives discussions on property rights, global economics, international politics, morality and many other aspects. For example, some defenders believe that patent laws are essential property rights that encourage medical discovery. On the other hand, some critics say that parallel importation is a way out. Some others believe that African poverty is due to the rampant government corruption on that continent while some critics say it is a problem of unfair international trading. Most debate is related to discussions on globalization.
Pressure has also been put on G8 leaders to take responsibility to combat problems they are accused by some of creating. For example, Bob Geldof organized Live 8, a series of concerts on July 2 and July 6, 2005 held worldwide and intended to promote global awareness, to encourage G8 leaders to "Make Poverty History." The concerts were timed to coincide with the 31st G8 summit. Organizers of the concert series have also proposed that G8 member nations adjust their national budgets to allow for 0.7% to go towards foreign aid as outlined in Agenda 21 of the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992.
Another criticism is that the G8 is now a "snapshot of history". With countries like Spain, India, Brazil and China excluded, the G8 no longer represents the main economic powers of today's world, as it did when it was created.
The opening day of the 2005 summit meeting in Scotland (7 July, 2005) was accompanied by a series of synchronized bombings in the London Underground and in a London double-decker bus that claimed more than 50 lives and wounded hundreds more. An organization calling themselves the "Secret Group of Al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe" claimed credit for the attacks. The attacks are assumed to be in retaliation for the UK's participation in military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, although terrorism has been perpetrated against western states by Islamic fundamentalists prior to those actions. The global attention focused on the G8 summit was presumably leveraged by the terrorists for maximum symbolic effect. The strike also followed abruptly after the International Olympic Committee announced London as the site of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Prime Minister Tony Blair denounced the attacks as 'barbaric', and returned to London to oversee the situation, but announced that the business of the summit would continue.
Most recently, the G8 summit in Russia, which was supposed to discuss Iran's nuclear weapons programme, was interrupted by the renewed crisis in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
 G6/7/8 Summits
The location of the summit meetings rotate annually among member countries in the following order: France, United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, Russia (also the order in which each nation joined the Group). Thousands of reporters descend on the summit site to cover the world's most powerful leaders.
- See also: G8 logos
 See also
- World Social Forum
- G20 industrial nations
- G20 developing nations
- Forum for the Future G8 meeting on Middle East reform
- The Developing 8 Countries (D8), a group of eight large developing Muslim nations
- G11, a group of Eleven developing countries
 External links
- History of the G8 - UK government site
- Government of Canada - G8 official Canadian government site
- 10 Downing Street - G8 and EU Presidencies official United Kingdom government site
- USINFO - Aid To Africa Site official United States Department of State site
- University of Toronto - G8 Information Centre research group
- Guardian Unlimited - Special Report: G8
- BBC News - Profile: G8
- Red Pepper G8 Special: articles and resources
- Kremlin.ru - Government site of Russia Kremlin.ru (english)
- Italian Government (Italian, English)
- German Government (Deutsch, English, français)
- New Statesman, 4 July 2005, "We are deeply concerned. Again" - G8 development concerns since 1977
- Medish, Mark. "Russia — Odd Man Out in the G-8", The Globalist, 24 February 2006.
- Oxford Energy Comment. "The G8 and Russia: Security of Supply vs. Security of Demand?", Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, August 2006.
- G8 research group, "G8 Research Group's Information Centre"
- G8 research group "G8 Live" Live news and blogs from St. Petersburg summit by University of Toronto student members of the G8 Research Group
 Earlier G8 Summit Activism
- G8 Pictures
- 2006 G8 Summit - Chronicle of Global Resistance
- 2006 G8 Summit - Protest Reports & Photos
- 2006 - Worldwide Protests Slam G8 Support of Nuclear, Coal, Oil
- G8 Summit Evian June 2003 - Protest Reports & Photos
- "G8 Activism": 2002 G8 Summit and earlier archives
 Current and Future G8 Summit Activism
- Call to Action against G8 + 5 Energy Minister's Meeting on Climate Change, Oct 3-4, 2006 in Mexico City
- G8 Summit 2007, Heiligendamm, Germany - "Already there is broad resistance"
- Rising Tide North America - Against Climate Change and the G8
- Reclaim the Commons - Visionary Ecological Resistance
- International section of Indymedia Russia
- "G8 Summit 2006, St.Petersburg, Russia" (plentyfact wiki)
- Network Against G8
- Dissent Network Against the G8 (English) info bulletin #1
- "The G8, NATO, SCO and Iran" (Blog Entry)
- Camcorder Guerillas - "Why Close the G8?" film (On the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland)
- Live 8
- Make Poverty History Campaign (Official Site)
- One: The Campaign to Make Poverty History (Official Site)
- "G8 St.Petersburg, Russia"
- Causes of the Debt Crisis
- G8 2006 Info- and Pressgroup
- G8 Summit + Photoshop