Syria and the G8: Only a dinner party discussion

One has to wonder: What was the point of the G8 Summit?

by Luke Coffey on 19 June 2013 08:41

The leaders of the G8 have wrapped up a two-day summit. Although tax, transparency, and trade (the so-called three Ts) were priorities on the official agenda, the civil war in Syria dominated the headlines.

This change of plans demonstrates one of the biggest problems with huge international summits such as the G8: The agenda is etched into stone well in advance of the actual summit, so there is little flexibility to adapt the agenda to current events when required.

Conferences such as the G8 have rigid agendas, with various sessions typically focused on a set of issues (in this case, the three Ts). If a major world event (such as the war in Syria) occurs, it has no place on the agenda. Conferees must squeeze it in among the other agenda items, resulting in too little discussion.

In the case of the G8, the only time all eight leaders sat down together to discuss Syria was at Monday night’s dinner. The idea that Syria can be discussed over “Roast Fillet and Braised Shin of Kettyle Beef and Violet Artichokes” would be comical if the situation wasn’t so serious.

In the end, the Lough Erne Declaration lacked any meaningful advancement in the three Ts. Far from concrete solutions, the declaration simply outlines more aspirations and goals. Furthermore, the declaration will not change the current debate about the future of Syria one bit. One can only wonder: What was the point?

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