Tutorials and Discussions

Discussion #2
TAs: Kristiana Powell, Jacob Young, and Denisse Rudich
"The G8 Summit and System"

Video Link | Audio Link

Picture of Discussion Participants In this session, the teaching assistants examine whether the G8 is an effective institution for global governance. They investigate the G8's label as a concert of democratic powers and its exclusion of countries with different ideological foundations. The TAs discuss the lack of representation from large and divergent regions such as South America and Africa and pose questions to the body's legitimacy.

The core principles promoted by the G8's composition are explored. The neo-liberal economic principles that bind the concert of globally influential countries and provoke these powers to work for a more peaceful, prosperous and stable world are questioned. The TAs point out that the G8 does not implement many of its policies without the aid of other international institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the United Nations. They debate whose principles the G8 is "democratically" furthering through these other international institutions.

The TAs point out potential drawbacks to the G8's composition, with its mainly wealthy, Western, neo-liberal members, and its lack of stable institutional features like a permanent secretariat or consistent format. They examine the varied agendas that reflect the different host countries' priorities and whether these agendas reflect salient international issues and incorporate the less-developed world or merely represent the hosts' domestic interests.

Kristiana, Jacob, and Denisse then address the issue of G8 expansion. They discuss whether expansion would reduce the institution's effectiveness. The TAs examine the G8's membership criteria, which promotes democratic ideals, according to the concert equality model, and liberal economic principles. They then propose possible candidates for expanded membership, including: China, Brazil, and India. The TAs emphasize the need for a current G8 member state to promote the inclusion of another country, as when Britain vied for the acceptance of Russia. They question the democratic criteria necessary to become a member of a body with such a debatable democratic record.

Finally, the TAs discuss whether the G8 is moving towards greater inclusiveness with the invitation of two African leaders at the upcoming Kananaskis Summit. They question if the inclusion of these developing country representatives is merely an isolated event. Will the Kananaskis agenda realize the balance needed to focus on broad international concerns that are rooted in current high politic issues like terrorism? Will the countries comply with initiatives proposed by smaller international actors?