G8 makes new pledges to support Arab Spring

May 27, 2011 By Molly Lester

This week, leaders representing the eight largest industrialized nations met in Deauville, France to discuss development issues alongside ongoing political and economic concerns over two days of meetings.  A primary topic was economic recovery in the Middle Eastern and North African nations moving towards democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring. To support democratic transitions in these countries and spur economic growth, the G8 leaders pledged $20 billion to Egypt and Tunisia.  The draft communiqué issued on the subject said multilateral development banks would provide the $20 billion commitment, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested additional funding from the International Monetary Fund and other Arab countries could bring the total to $40 billion in assistance.  France and the United Kingdom have pledged additional bilateral aid, but President Obama made no new commitments beyond the $2 billion he pledged in his speech on the Middle East last week.

Non-governmental organizations in both the U.S. and U.K. have publicly criticized their leaders for making additional pledges while past G8 commitments remain unfulfilled.  Glenys Kinnock, Opposition spokesman for international development in the British House of Lords, joined these criticisms and called on countries to follow through on existing pledges for aid to Africa.  Robert Zachritz, director of government relations for World Vision, gave the summit a “B minus” and claimed that the G8 have fallen “about $19 billion short” on agriculture and global health pledges.  It is likely that these same issues will come up at the Group of 20 nations meeting in November, leading some to call for a single “G” forum and urging G8 leaders to shift the agenda to the more-inclusive G20.