The Diplomatic Dispatch

The British Ambassador to Sweden blogs on The Local

Posts Tagged ‘G8’

A Future for Syria

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Our Foreign Secretary was in the Middle East talking with the US and regional leaders about the Syria crisis.

With 93,000 killed, six million fled from their homes, rising extremism and major regional instability, the stakes could not be higher for the region and beyond.

We should not forget that this began as a struggle for freedom by largely moderate communities who wanted political change and were brutally repressed by the regime.

The UK’s priority is to find a political solution. The G8 Summit the PM chaired last week reiterated that the political process should deliver a transitional governing body with full executive authority.

The meeting of Ministers in Doha this weekend was an important opportunity to work for progress towards a political settlement, including through a second Geneva conference and to increase our support to the moderate opposition as they build a credible alternative to the brutal Assad regime.

We must not accept what Assad wants us to believe – that the only alternative is extremists and terrorists. There are millions of Syrians who want a peaceful and democratic future. We should be on their side.

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Threats Old and New

Friday, April 12th, 2013
This week, Foreign Ministers from the Group of Eight (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, US and Russia) met in London. They looked at a wide range of issues, including the situation in the Middle East (specifically Syria and Iran), Africa, DPRK and climate change.
Two particular issues they addressed illustrate that diplomacy has a role to play in tackling threats as old as warfare is and as new as today’s and tomorrow’s technology.
As G8 President, the UK has prioritised the issue of rape and sexual violence in conflict. The Government has announced £10 million in extra funding to tackle this scourge. Other G8 countries also announced new commitments.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has been working with the UN and NGOs on this, including UNHCR special envoy, Angelina Jolie. Attending the G8, she said:
Rape is not a women’s issue, or a humanitarian issue, it is a global issue and it belongs here at the top table of international decision-making”.
The UK aims to address the culture of impunity for those who use rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.  G8 leadership, along with the UN and EU, will, we hope, give new impetus to efforts to end one of the most devastating aspects of modern warfare and address one of the main reasons why it is so difficult for communities to come back together after conflict.
A very different type of threat comes from the cyber domain. G8 Ministers looked at the question of cyber security, specifically how to best balance security considerations with freedom of expression online. The UK and Sweden have worked closely on this, including at a joint event with Nordic and Baltic partners in January. But there is still a great deal of work to be done internationally to build countries’ capacity to minimise and combat cyber threats.
Earlier this week, William Hague announced a new Global Centre for Cyber-Security Capacity Building at Oxford University that will work bilaterally with countries on capacity-building projects.
Click here to read more about the outcome of the G8 Ministerial and the UK’s overall objectives for our Presidency this year.

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Trade, tax, transparency: the UK G8 agenda

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Next year Britain chairs the G8, the group of the world’s most developed Western economies. So what you might ask?

Some people ask: does the G8 still matter, when we have a G20, embracing also the emerging powers, including Brazil, India and China?

The UK’s answer is “Yes”. The G8 is a group of like-minded nations who share a belief in free enterprise as the best route to growth. And as the countries make up half of the world’s GDP, what we do can help solve vital global issues, stimulate economies and encourage prosperity all over the world.

The G8 Summit next year will be held in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, a tribute to the success in promoting security and prosperity in that long-troubled part of the UK.
It will be focused on three priorities. Advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency.

There is no greater stimulus for growth in the world economy than trade. As the G8, we have a collective responsibility to drive forward trade liberalisation.  The UK and Sweden are leading EU efforts to finalise a free trade agreement with Canada and to launch negotiations with Japan and America over the next year. We want G8 leaders to agree how we will accelerate progress across our ambitious trade agenda. An EU/US deal could provide an enormous boost to jobs and growth adding over £50 billion to the EU economy alone.

People rightly get angry when they work hard and pay their taxes, but see others not paying their fair share. So this G8 will seek to maintain the momentum on strengthening of international tax standards. We will look to go further on tax havens by improving tax information exchange. And we will work with developing countries to help them improve their ability to collect the tax that is due to them.

The UK is meeting our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on aid from 2013 – and we will be holding other countries to account for their promises too. We will also be leading the way in the battle against hunger with a special event on food and nutrition a few days before the main meeting, to follow up on this year’s Olympic Hunger Summit.

The UK wants to use this G8 to support what David Cameron calls the “golden thread” of conditions that enable open economies and open societies to drive prosperity and growth for all. These include the rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, and the presence of property rights and strong institutions.

Transparency and accountability are vital for this. Take the issue of mineral wealth. We need to make sure that, for developing countries, this is a blessing not a curse. So the UK is leading efforts in the EU to require oil, gas and mining companies to publish key financial information for each country and project they work on. And I want this G8 to drive greater transparency all around the globe so that revenues from oil, gas and mining can help developing countries to forge a path to sustainable growth, instead of fuelling conflict and corruption.

These defining advances in trade, tax and transparency could lay the foundations of long-term growth and prosperity for generations to come.

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