Frequently Asked Questions

What is the G8 and G20 Summit?

The G8 and G20 Summits are meetings of the heads of states, financial ministers and bankers of the richest countries in the world. The IMF and World Bank and other institutions are also present.

The G20 consists of finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America.  The 20th member is the European Union, represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank.

In addition, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings.

History and Processes of the G8 & G20

Since 1997 when Russia joined the G7, the G8 Summit has been a meeting to discuss how to manage the global economy, by focusing on international trade and relations between the richest and poorest countries. Questions of East-West North-South economic relations, energy, and terrorism have also been recurrent concerns. Over time, agendas of these summits have broadened considerably to include issues such as unemployment, the information highway, the environment, crime and drug trafficking, and a host of political-security issues ranging from human rights through regional security to arms control. Although decisions made at these summits do not have an administrative infrastructure, they have a strong influence on policies at the national and international level.

The responsibility of host rotates throughout the summit cycle at the end of the calendar year, as follows: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia (as of 2006), Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. Throughout the year, the leaders’ personal representatives – known as sherpas – meet regularly to discuss the agenda and monitor progress.  The G8 consists of France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia (as of 2006), Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada.

Due to the changing nature of the global economy, the Group of Twenty (G-20) was established in 1999 and is made up of  Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of 19 countries and the rotating Council presidency of the European Union and the European Central bank.  This group was established to deal with emerging concerns about the global economy in the 1990s.  The first meeting of the G-20 took place in Berlin, on December 15-16, 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers.

At the Pittsburgh G20 summit in 2009, the G20 announced that it would replace the G8 as the main grouping for managing the global economy. This transition took place partly because of the growing strength of some of these economies, but also because of perceptions that without integrating these economies, the legitimacy and dominance of the G8 was in crisis.  The G20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world’s population. The G-20’s economic weight and broad membership gives it a higher degree of legitimacy than the G8, and a broader approach to managing the global economy and financial system.  However, the ideological framework of the G20 remains the same as the G8, pushing for neoliberal policies (free-market capitalism and unrestrained deregulation). 

What is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism is an ideology that guides many of the decisions of the G8 and G20 countries. It became the dominant approach to organizing the economy in the 1980s, and argues that by allowing capital to move globally, a wealthier and more productive society will emerge. However, neoliberal policies lead to increased corporate control, and to increased levels of inequality between the rich and the poor – both locally and internationally. Neoliberalism believes that government programmes and protections should be reduced in order to increase economic growth.  However, with the globalization of the economy, this growth benefits fewer and fewer multinational corporations. Neoliberal policies include cuts to social services and support, a reduction of tariffs and the privatization of the public sector – including health care, education, social services and environmental protection.

How Do I get I involved with March 4 Freedom Tornto Campaign?

You can get involved in numerous ways:

  • sign up for our listserv
  • promote the network and get others to sign up
  • join a volunteer team  

Why Protest Against Meles Zenawi at  the G8 and G20 Summits?

Different organizations and individuals have different reasons for protesting the G8 & G20 meetings.

Ethiopians across the globe want the world to know that they have had enough of genocide, crimes againsthumanity, war crimes and other human rights violations, all being perpetrated by Meles Zenawi and his cronies. 

The toll of living under unending tyranny, oppression and humanitarian crises is now reaching a critical tipping point in Ethiopia that experts fear could lead to a violent explosion. In response, this regime is tightening its grip, hoping to hold at bay the rising dissent and discontent, but even with the increasing repression, there is evidence that the pressure may be becoming too strong to  control. 

Recently, the International Crisis Group reported what Ethiopians have been saying for a long  time—if the international community continues to ignore the level of ethnic tensions and anger  towards this regime, we may see the simmering tensions explode into violence that may destabilize the entire region of the Horn of Africa. It is well known that it is the US and donor aid from rich countries that is propping up this government which, in turn, is terrorizing its own citizens. Even as these ominous reports have come out, new money has poured into this regime,  further emboldening the corrupt rulers. 

Ethiopian are frustrated about the foreign policies of free countries, like the Canada, US,  Japan the  UK, Germany, the EU and others that support dictators who suppress democracy in third world countries like Ethiopia. In fact, such policies can at times even endanger our own future security by radicalizing some against Western donors who feel that they are not given the chance to  contribute to democratic change in Ethiopia through nonviolent methods. Critical action is  needed, including more accurate and comprehensive media coverage of the issues affecting  Ethiopians and others in the Horn of Africa. 

As the press diligently covers the abuses of democracy and human rights of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan, why is Ethiopia’s dictator and human rights abuser given a free pass? 

The Meles regime is committing horrific atrocities in Ethiopia  and destabilizing and therefore playing a significant role in exacerbating terrorism across the globe.  Meles Zenawi is committing acts of terror against innocent civilians, as are the likes of al Qaeda, in these places. Ethiopians believe that for a healthier and more prosperous stable Africa to emerge, they  demand leaders who care about the people, for “no one will be free until all are free.” The  struggle for freedom, justice, the rule of law and the respect of the human and civil rights of all  Ethiopians is the primary work of Ethiopians, but they ask those in free countries to refrain from  creating obstacles to them by aligning with dictators. 

For questions or an interview with March for Freedom, please contact  visit the website at: www.march4freedom.org.

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