What Is the Group of Eight (G8)?

The Group of Eight (G8) is an assembly of highly developed and modernized nations that have established a position as leaders and pacesetters for the industrialized world.

Understanding Group of Eight (G8)

The Group of Eight (G8) is eight of the world's economically leading countries that, in a cooperative effort, meet periodically to address international economic and monetary issues. The origins of the group date back to 1975, when it was then known as the G6, with a membership consisting of the U.K., the U.S., France, West Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The nations that currently make up the G8 cohort are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, and France.

G8 is considered global policymaking at its highest level. The G8 includes the Group of Seven countries along with Russia. Russia, although not a full member, had been in attendance since 1994. However, Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea. In 2017, Russia announced its intention to permanently withdraw from the G8. The group has sometimes been referred to as the G7 recently due to Russia technically being in nonmember status.

G8 nations see themselves as an elite and exclusive group, and indeed they do wield significant power, as their combined wealth and resources comprise roughly half of the entire global economy. The G8 is not an official, formal entity like the United Nations, and has no legislative or authoritative power. The G8 group can, however, compile recommended policies and plans that its members can work collaboratively to implement.

G8 Issues and Actions

Each year, the group hosts an event called the G8 Summit. Member nations take turns hosting the summit. In recent years, protestors have been a prominent part of these summits. The protests, which have in some cases turned violent, often center on complaints that the group excludes emerging and developing nations like India and Latin American countries that are playing an increasingly important role in the global marketplace.

Recent G8 cohorts have come together to discuss issues they have identified as being a high priority and having an urgent impact on global security and stability. These critical issues include terrorism, cybersecurity, global warming, energy conservation, and economic development.

Leaders from the G8 nations, including presidents, prime ministers, cabinet members, and economic advisors, assemble in this forum to exchange ideas, brainstorm solutions, and discuss innovative strategies that will benefit each individual nation as well as the world as a whole.