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'Do This One For Me, George': Blair, Brown, Bono, Bush and the 'Actor-ness' of the G8

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Since the G7/G8 was created at Rambouillet in 1975, it has evolved from being only a venue for diplomacy to becoming a diplomatic actor in its own right. Heads of government, foreign ministers, finance ministers, sherpas, and later other ministers who started meeting and communicating annually at G7 summits, began to generate shared meanings and form a collective identity, even if shifting, that was different and distinct from the identities of the member governments. Participating in the G8 has over time changed the interests of its members, including those of its most powerful member, the United States, across a whole range of issue areas. For example, Britain's leadership of the G8 in 2005 and agenda-setting for the Gleneagles summit pushed poverty reduction in Africa to the fore as a policy priority for G8 members, without which it would have fallen much farther down the foreign policy priority ladder, particularly in Washington. The British G8 agenda facilitated activism by anti-poverty NGOs and eminent person diplomats in raising global social consciousness on the issue and demands for change. The effect of G8 agenda-setting supports the argument that the evolution of multilateral organizations into diplomatic actors in their own right has changed the character of contemporary diplomacy in important ways.

Affiliations: 1: Political Economy, Bennington College, Bennington, VT 05201, United States; 2: European Policy Centre, 155 rue de la Loi, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium


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