June 3, 2004 - As host of the G8 Summit, the United States must take steps to assure that the partnership developed between the G8 and Africa over the past three years is not downgraded at this June's summit at Sea Island, Georgia. A Special Report from the Council on Foreign Relations, produced in cooperation with Chatham House in London, warns that the United States--focused on the Middle East and elsewhere--risks slowing the momentum achieved by the G8 in Africa. "Africa's plight is a matter for global concern," the report concludes. "[It's] poverty, marginalization, and security all impinge on the well being and security of the G8 countries."
The report Freedom, Prosperity, and Security--The G8 Partnership with Africa: Sea Island 2004 and Beyond was authored by Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, the Council's Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow and Director of Africa Policy Studies. Co-chaired by J. Brian Atwood of the University of Minnesota and Robert Browne of the Twenty-first Century Foundation, it is the product of meetings in the United States and London with experts from Africa and G8 member countries. The report shows that Africa serves important American interests.
- Terrorist cells have penetrated the continent, attacking American embassies, and causing increased concern to American commanders in NATO and EUCOM;
- Africa is rapidly becoming a major source of oil for the United States, accounting for 20 percent of new oil coming on the world market;
- Africa has forty of the 147 members of the World Trade Organization and is playing an important role in the negotiations in the Doha round of world trade talks.
Following initiation of the Council project and participation with administration officials, the United States has now decided to invite six African leaders to confer with the G8. The report commends this decision. It opens the door for the United States "to fully incorporate African issues into the G8 discussion of the three themes of the summit: [freedom, prosperity and security]," as Africa is relevant to the G8's concerns in all three areas.
The Council's report shows that Africa has had a prominent place on the G8 agenda the past three years and argues that the reasons are clear:
- Africa alone has not shared in the worldwide growth of trade, capital investment, and development of the 1990s;
- Africa is at the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with nearly 30 million people infected and more than two million deaths each year; and
- Major conflicts in Africa have crippled many countries and drawn the G8 into sending military contingents to restore peace and providing massive amounts of humanitarian assistance.
The report also adds that the United States has a good performance regarding Africa to showcase at the summit. The president's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief targets Africa for billions of dollars to combat the disease over the next five years; the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act has opened the U.S. market further to African products and produced an estimated 190,000 new jobs on the continent; and the United States has introduced the Millennium Challenge Account that promises substantial additional assistance to countries making progress in sound economic policies, good governance and fighting corruption.
Although other regions and issues may well dominate discussion at the G8 summit this year, the United States should assure that the momentum in the partnership with Africa is maintained. "Symbols and substance are both important to keeping the G8-Africa partnership alive."
Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, national membership organization and a nonpartisan center for scholars dedicated to producing and disseminating ideas so that individual and corporate members, as well as policymakers, journalists, students, and interested citizens in the United States and other countries, can better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other governments.
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