The G8, otherwise known as the Group of Eight, is an assembly of world leaders who meet annually to discuss global issues.  Each year, the G8 holds a Leaders’ Summit, in which Heads of State and Government of member countries meet to discuss and attempt to reconcile global issues. The G8 works throughout the year to tackle important contemporary topics such as the economy and climate change.   Global policies are discussed and created but, adherence to these policies is not obligatory, and other countries can decide whether or not to obey. The G8 has seen many contentious issues including: George Bush’s refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty on carbon emissions, the G8’s positive attitude towards globalisation, the G8’s provision of aid, and plans for development and debt-relief in the developing world and the United States’ role in the war in Iraq.

This year the summit is being held in Northern Ireland at the at the Lough Erne golf resort in County Fermanagh. The Security operation set to be one of the biggest the UK has ever witnessed. Protesters are always present at the annual summit but this year as well as the anti-capitalist demonstrators, a G8 in Northern Ireland also has to be prepared for action from the continuing terrorist threat posed by dissident republican and loyalist paramilitaries opposed to the peace process.

The countries that comprise the G8: Russia, France, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada are the twentieth century’s old economic guard and really have had their day in guiding world economic affairs as witnessed by the lack of effectiveness in controlling the world’s financial markets and banks over the last ten years. The denouement of the G8 was the 2007/8 recession that became a depression and nearly brought about the economic and financial destruction of many economies around the world including some of the G8 members such as Italy, the UK, Canada and the USA. So, in the 21st century, what is the point of the G8 when the second largest economy in the world, China, is not even a member?  And that is without mentioning the powerhouse economies of Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and India. This is why the G20 summit also held annually is far more important in real terms of countries represented, although some would say that it lacks real effective financial control as well. On balance do we need both of these summits every year? Are they just another political junket?

As in the Bilderberg Group annual meeting last week in Watford, attended by many of our politicians and senior civil servants, we need transparency at G8 and G20  in the matters discussed and decisions taken that affect us the British public, at the very least because we are paying for it. There have already been protests in London regarding this year’s G8 summit in an event called Carnival Against Capitalism which used the slogan “against the 1%” as a reference to an increasing concentration of wealth and influence. The protest movements against the G8 summits worldwide will continue to grow until such time as we have transparency in all their dealings.