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International Affairs and Institutions, Questions

OAS Mains Q&A: Expansion of G7

Context

Recently, the U.S. President proposed the expansion of G7 to G10 or G11, with the inclusion of India, South Korea, Australia and possibly Russia. Elaborating this logic, the White House Director of Strategic Communications said the U.S. President wanted to include other countries, including the Five Eyes countries.

Question

What do you understand by G7? State the reasons for its proposed expansion.

Sample Answer

The G7 emerged as a restricted club of the rich democracies in the early 1970s. The quadrupling of oil prices just after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, when OPEC imposed an embargo against Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States, shocked their economies.

Although the French were spared the embargo, the chill winds of the OPEC action
reverberated around the world. So, French President invited the Finance Ministers of five of the most developed members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom, for an informal discussion on global issues.

This transformed into a G7 Summit of the heads of government from the following year with the inclusion of Canada in 1976.And the European Commission/ Community (later Union) joined as a non-enumerated member, a year later.

Reasons for its Proposed Expansion

  • The expansion of G7 has been believed to be a plan to unite all traditional allies to deal with assertive diplomacy of China. The proposal comes amid ongoing issues between the US and China which includes Hong Kong’s autonomy to Taiwan, the origins of Covid-19, South China Sea tensions and trade issues.
  • The world is in a state of disorder and the global economy has stalled with COVID-19. Nations need resilience to cope with the current flux and revival of multilateralism as the problems have become unresolvable internally.
  • Existing international institutions have fallen short to address the present issues
    which forces the need for a new mechanism to help in attenuating them. It would be ideal to include in it the seven future leading economies, plus Germany, Japan, the U.K., France, Mexico, Turkey, South Korea, and Australia. A new international mechanism will have value only if it focuses on key global issues.

Extra-material: Priorities for India

  • India would be vitally interested in three issues: international trade, climate change,
    and the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Second order priorities for India would be cross-cutting issues such as counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation.
  • An immediate concern is to ensure effective implementation of the 1975 Biological
    Weapons Convention and the prevention of any possible cheating by its state parties by the possible creation of new microorganisms or viruses by using recombinant technologies.
  • On regional issues, establishing a modus vivendi with Iran (co-existing in peace) would be important to ensure that it does not acquire nuclear weapons and is able
    to contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan, the Gulf and West Asia.
  • The end state in Afghanistan would also be of interest to India, as also the reduction
    of tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea.

What is the Five Eyes network?

The Five Eyes (FVEY) network is an intelligence alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States. As per a former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the Five Eyes is a ‘supra-national intelligence organization’ and is not accountable to the laws of its countries. 

History of Five Eyes

In 1943, after World War II ended, the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement to continue sharing the intelligence inputs between them. The agreement was known as the British-U.S. Communication Agreement (BRUSA) which was later renamed as the United Kingdom-United States of America Agreement (UKUSA). 

The Five Eyes was primarily formed to handle the global threats mainly from the Soviet Union, China and several other eastern European countries. In the following years, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were added and the agreement is known as Five Eyes Alliance. Canada became a part of Five Eyes in 1948 while Australia and New Zealand became its part in 1956. 

Norway in 1952, Denmark in 1954 and West Germany in 1955 joined the Five Eyes Network as third parties. 

Country-wise coverage of the Five Eyes

1- United Kingdom: The United Kingdom closely monitors Europe, European Russia, Middle East, and Hong Kong.

2- United States: The United States focusses on the Middle  East, China, Russia, the Caribbean and Africa.

3- Canada: Canada monitors Russia and China. 

4- Australia: Australia is responsible for South and East Asia. 

5- New Zealand: New Zealand is responsible for monitoring Southeast Asia,  South Island at Waihopai Valley, south-west of Blenheim, and on the North Island at Tangimoana. 

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