The leaders of the world’s richest countries have pledged more than one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, vowed to help developing countries grow while fighting climate change and agreed to challenge China’s “non-market economic practices” and human rights abuses.
Speaking at the end of a G7 leaders’ summit in southwest England on Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “fantastic degree of harmony” among the re-energised group, which met in person for the first time in two years.
Johnson said the G7 would demonstrate the value of democracy and human rights to the rest of the world and help “the world’s poorest countries to develop themselves in a way that is clean and green and sustainable”.
“It’s not good enough for us to just rest on our laurels and talk about how important those values are,” he told reporters after the three-day meeting on the Cornwall coast.
“And this isn’t about imposing our values on the rest of the world. What we as the G7 need to do is demonstrate the benefits of democracy and freedom and human rights to the rest of the world.”
But health and environmental campaigners were distinctly unimpressed by the details in the leaders’ final meeting communique.
“This G7 summit will live on in infamy,” said Max Lawson, the head of inequality policy at the international aid group Oxfam.
“Faced with the biggest health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our planet, they have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times.”
Despite Johnson’s call to “vaccinate the world” by the end of 2022 the promise of one billion doses for vaccine-hungry countries – coming both directly and through the international COVAX program – falls far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organisation said is needed to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world’s population and truly end the pandemic.
Half of the billion dose pledge is coming from the United States and 100 million from Britain.
The G7 also backed a minimum tax of at least 15 per cent on large multinational companies to stop corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes.
The minimum rate was championed by the United States and dovetails with the aim of US President Joe Biden to focus the summit on ways the democracies can support a fairer global economy by working together.
Biden also wanted to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing and strongly call out China’s “non-market policies and human rights abuses”.
“With regard to China, and competition in the global economy, we will continue to consult on collective approaches to challenging non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy,” the group’s communique said.
The leaders also said they will promote their values by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of committing serious human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority, and in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.