Protecting Citizen Safety in a Committed and Comprehensive Way:
Challenges for the G7 Foreign and Security Ministers' in 2018
Brittaney Warren and John Kirton, Director, G7 Research Group
April 24, 2018
Just as G7 security and foreign ministers began their joint meeting in downtown Toronto on the early afternoon of April 23, a deadly incident in the north of the city tragically killed 10 individuals and injured another 15. Although the incident has not been linked to terrorism or national security, it understandably raised questions about the inspiration behind the attack. Be it inspired by similar ISIS-led attacks, such as those in Berlin and Paris in 2016, or the product of an individual suffering from poor mental health and inadequate care, this violent event so close in time and space to the meeting of the foreign and security ministers underscored the importance of the G7's work on both of these potential causes. It raised questions about how much G7 leaders have committed to combat terrorism and how well they have complied with the commitments they have made.
Since the G7's creation in 1975 it has made 372 collective, politically binding, future-oriented commitments on terrorism.
The first came at the G7's Bonn Summit on July 16-17, 1978. Here G7 leaders made three commitments on aircraft hijacking and hostage taking. They made no terrorist commitments at the 1979 Tokyo Summit but made five at the 1980 Venice Summit and seven at the 1981 Ottawa Summit. Between 1982 and 1985, just five terrorism commitments were made, all from the 1984 London Summit, with cooperation and coordination highlighted. The number of commitments then rose to 14 at the 1986 Tokyo Summit and 13 at the 1987 Venice Summit, before dropping again to fewer than 10 commitments made at each summit between 1988 and 1996. The 1997 Denver Summit saw a rise back to 13, with another drop at the following four summits.
The shocking al Qaeda terrorist attack on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, ushered in a new phase of G7 terrorism governance. At the Canadian-hosted 2002 Kananaskis Summit, the G7 made a record 20 terrorism commitments. At the 2003 Evian and 2004 Sea Island summits leaders made 36 and 33 commitments, respectively. The 2005 Gleneagles Summit focused largely on sustainable development but made 14 terrorism commitments. Russia then increased the G8's attention to the issue at its 2006 St. Petersburg Summit, which produced 23 commitments. The 2007 Heiligendamm Summit produced 29.
Attention to terrorism between 2008 and 2015, in the form of commitments, mirrored the pattern prior to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States. In this period, the number of commitments made each year stayed below 13. But with the rise and spread of ISIS and other non-state terrorist actors in the Middle East and Africa, and the spillover into G7 members helped by rising inequality and the easy spread of misinformation via the internet, the G7's resolve to counter terrorism was renewed. Indeed, 31 commitments were made at the 2016 Ise-Shima Summit and an all-time high of 45 were made at the 2017 Taormina Summit. At Taormina the leaders also produced a stand-alone Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism. They also made the G7's first commitment on mental health in the communiqué, although this was in relation to public health rather than security.
Of the G7 leaders' 372 terrorism commitments, the 31 assessed for compliance show average score of 77%. This is slightly higher than the G7's overall compliance with the 512 commitments assessed across all issue areas at 75%.
On the three commitments made the 1978 Bonn Summit that were assessed, average compliance was only 57%. With the one commitment made at the 1981 Ottawa Summit, compliance was 50%. The one commitment each assessed from the 1996 Lyon Summit and the 2000 Okinawa Summit had 92% and 70% compliance, respectively. Compliance then rose to 100% with the single commitments assessed from both the 2001 Genoa and 2002 Kananaskis Summits. The two commitments from the 2003 Evian Summit also had a high 91%.
Compliance then dropped to 50% with the single commitment assessed from the 2004 Sea Island Summit, before rising again to 100% with the one assessed from the 2005 Gleneagles Summit. This pattern repeated: compliance was 57% with the one commitment assessed from the 2006 St. Petersburg Summit, before rising again to 75% with the two assessed from the 2007 Heiligendamm Summit. However, compliance then dropped to just 39% with the one commitment assessed from the 2008 Hokkaido-Toyako Summit.
This low compliance was short-lived. Both the 2009 L'Aquila Summit, with one assessed commitment, and the 2010 Muskoka Summit, with three assessed commitments, had high average compliance of 89%. The 2011 Deauville Summit's one assessed commitment had 78% compliance and the four from the 2013 Lough Erne Summit had 72%. Compliance spiked again to 100% with the single commitment assessed from the 2014 Brussels Summit. Compliance was 88% with the two commitments assessed from the 2015 Elmau Summit and was 75% with the three assessed from the 2016 Ise-Shima Summit.
The two priority commitments on terrorism made at the May 2017 Taormina Summit secured strong compliance of 85% at the halfway mark until the Charlevoix Summit on June 8-9, 2018. However, the commitment to "pursue policies that advance mental health improvements across the globe" had the lowest interim compliance, at a mere 13%. With this commitment all G7 members, apart from the United Kingdom and European Union, made no progress and thus received scores of −1 for non-compliance.
Even should the April 23 tragedy in Toronto turn out to be uninspired by terrorists, it still reminded Canadians and the world watching the G7 foreign and security ministers' meeting of the 21st century's proliferation of non-state threats, including non-communicable diseases such as mental health. It reminded Canadians of the attacks on military personnel in Ottawa and Quebec in October 2014, and of the more recent attack at the mosque in Quebec City in January 2017.
It thus underscored the need for G7 security ministers and their leaders, who will soon meet in Charlevoix, Quebec, to come together to take an even more vigorous and comprehensive set of measures to prevent such tragedies in the future, including paying greater attention to the health and well-being of all of the world's citizens.
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Brittaney Warren is Director of Compliance and lead researcher on climate change and the environment for the G7 Research Group, the G20 Research Group and the BRICS Research Group, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She has worked in Spain and in Peru where she conducted field research on a sustainable development project with women living in extreme poverty. She has published on the effective use of accountability measures in summit commitments and on the G7 and G20's compliance and governance of climate change and digitalization. Follow her at @brittaneywarren.
John Kirton is director of the G7 Research Group, and co-director of the G20 Research Group, the Global Health Diplomacy Program and the BRICS Research Group, all based at Trinity College at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is also a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at China's Renmin University. A professor of political science, he teaches global governance and international relations and Canadian foreign policy. His most recent books include Accountability for Effectiveness in Global Governance, co-edited with Marina Larionova (Routledge 2018), China's G20 Leadership (Routledge, 2016), G20 Governance for a Globalized World (Ashgate, 2012) and (with Ella Kokotsis), The Global Governance of Climate Change: G7, G20 and UN Leadership (Ashgate, 2015), as well as The G8-G20 Relationship in Global Governance, co-edited with Marina Larionova (Ashgate, 2015), and Moving Health Sovereignty in Africa: Disease, Govenance, Climate Change, co-edted with Andrew F. Cooper, Franklyn Lisk and Hany Besada (Ashgate, 2014). Kirton is also co-editor of several publications on the G7/8, the G20 and the BRICS published by Newsdesk Media.
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