How can the G7 improve its effectiveness by increasing its compliance rates? Data on commitment outcomes make it possible to quantitatively answer this question
During its almost 50-year existence, G7 members have collectively produced 5,584 commitments to address issues such as health infrastructure, global development, trade and financial regulation. However, on average, only 61% of these commitments are met in full. Data on commitment outcomes collected by the G7 Research Group make it possible to quantitatively answer the question of how the G7 can improve its effectiveness by increasing its compliance rates.
Data on compliance with commitments made at G7 summits were analysed to determine any patterns that could be leveraged to improve commitment outcomes. Using each member’s commitment outcomes for 596 individual commitments (n = 5,237), the impacts of various summit and commitment characteristics were fitted to an ordinal logistic regression model. This showed that mentioning values of democracy and human rights in the commitment, holding a ministerial meeting on the relevant issue before a summit or forming an official-level body on the relevant issue significantly increases the probability of compliance. Conversely, mentioning financial contributions significantly decreases the probability of compliance. There is also a small overall annual increase in the probability that a given commitment was met.
No effect was found for holding a ministerial meeting on the relevant issue after a summit, holding multiple ministerial meetings on the issue or holding multiple ministerial meetings closer to the date of the summit, having more overall commitments, having more commitments on the same issue, using high-binding language in the commitment text, mentioning other G7 summits, mentioning major international organisations or mentioning specific timetables.
There was also variation in the probability of compliance across G7 members. The United Kingdom, European Union and Canada were more likely to meet commitments, and France, Japan, Italy and Russia were less likely to do so. No effects were found for the United States or Germany.
The member that hosts the G7 summit also plays a role in the probability of commitment compliance. When the UK, US, Japan and Germany hosted the summit, compliance was more likely. Compliance was low the year Russia hosted the summit. No effects were found for other hosts. (Note, the EU was the location of the 2014 summit but not the host as such, after Russia was suspended from the G8 after the annexation of Crimea.)
Likewise, probabilities of success varied by commitment issue. Commitments related to information and communications technologies and digitalisation were almost twice as likely to be met, the highest of any issue. Compliance was also more likely for commitments regarding labour and employment, macroeconomics and energy. Compliance was less likely for commitments on democracy, food and agriculture, regional security, climate change, conflict prevention, development, trade, crime and corruption, education and gender.
Economic factors play a role in compliance. On average, each additional $1,000 per capita gross domestic product in a member is associated with a 12% higher probability of that member fulfilling its commitments.
Despite the large amount of data, it is extremely difficult to determine whether the factors that increase the probability of G7 compliance do so through a causal process or are only correlated with other circumstances that induce compliance. For example, it is possible that ministerial meetings are held specifically because G7 members are particularly invested in tackling a given issue. Such a focus could mean members would have a higher probability of complying with related commitments even without a ministerial meeting.
The low overall explanatory power of the model is also of concern. Even when considering all the summit and commitment characteristics, member and commitment issues discussed in this study, only 5.9% of the overall variance in G7 compliance could be explained (McFadden’s pseudo R2). This suggests that most compliance with commitments may be determined by factors outside the G7’s control or could even be highly random.
Nonetheless, there is hope for increasing G7 effectiveness. Of the variables examined, the most plausible causal relationships – even though confounds remain – is through holding a ministerial meeting before the summit and creating official-level bodies on the relevant issue. These actions may allow members to coordinate policy priorities and increase attentiveness to issues important to the G7.
Increasing G7 effectiveness by leveraging patterns associated with higher probabilities of compliance is extremely difficult, as most performance is likely determined by factors outside the control of the institution. However, the possibility remains that holding a ministerial meeting before the summit and creating official-level bodies on the relevant issues can increase the probability of compliance with G7 commitments.
Note: Full data and coding are available at https://github.com/rapsoj/