Tutorials and Discussions

Discussion #5
TAs: Sonali Thakkar, Matt Griem, and Petra Kukacka
"The G8's Role as an Anti-Terrorist Organization"

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Picture of Discussion Participants In this discussion the teaching assistants explore the substance and structure of the G8's response to terrorism. The TAs question whether the G8 has the proper mandate to take on security concerns and make sustainable commitments. Moreover, they point out the members' difficulties in dealing with their own "terrorist" groups.

The TAs focus on various logistical concerns such as the infrequency of G8 meetings, and the G8's lack institutional structure. They admit that the G8 consists of some of the most powerful countries in the world, especially in areas of finance and military capability; however, the TAs question whether the G8 countries can effectively utilize these strengths to sustain anti-terrorist policies that can be implemented and enforced consistently. They then explain that other international institutions, like the United Nations, are often criticized for being over-institutionalized, too bureaucratic, or even stagnant compared to the flexibility provided by the G8. The G8's lack of a concrete mandate and consistent agenda could be seen as a positive attribute rather than a negative one.

The TAs note that the G8 seems to be the de facto international institution that is currently dealing with terrorism. The UN Security Council has the issue on the agenda but does not really have the mandate to enforce any initiatives. The TAs admit that the discussion of terrorism at the G8 provides a starting point for a solution. They note that G8 is not going to create a global police force, nor would the member states be willing to risk their sovereignty past a certain degree of autonomy.

The TAs examine the lack of consensus over the definition of terrorism. They question whether we are going to see more realistic approaches to cooperation, especially with states outside G8 membership. Areas of concern for the G8 include developing countries that may serve as a potential breeding ground for new terrorists.

Finally, the TAs end the discussion with numerous questions. Is the G8 a reactionary or proactive organization? The US hegemony theory has merit when dealing with terrorism, how much weight will it bear on the agenda? Finance ministers have been very active on terrorism, is the G8 more effective in economic sphere rather than the security/military sphere? Is there cooperation? Canada, Russia and Italy, arguably the weaker members, are very supportive of a G8 response to the attacks, will the stronger powers follow suit? Can the G8 enforce even broader anti-terrorist measures? Does the G8 have the political will to do so? Will the G8's sheer economic might be enough? Will the G8 members be willing to share information, even it infringes on their sovereignty?